School board clarifies reopening plan for San Francisco

Reopening timeline detailed as educators get vaccinated

With recent developments clarifying when schools may reopen, the San Francisco Board of Education recapped on how and when schools may host in-person classes. 

The presentation, held at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday, came days after the school district announced a tentative plan for schools to reopen April 12. It also comes after the state’s decision to vaccinate educators, staff and students expected to go back to in-person classes, an initiative that began March 1. 

All the while, the pressure to reopen schools has heightened since Feb. 11, when City Attorney Dennis Herrera sued the school district for not providing in-person instruction. 

The Tuesday session revolved around the timeline, the tentative agreement regarding instruction, testing and vaccines and the family survey for students in Phase 2B.

Greg John, chief of labor relations at San Francisco Unified School District, led the conversation and noted that the in-person class shift would include pre-K through fifth grade and day class students regardless of grade level. Those uncovered in the agreement were middle through high school students.  

John said that accommodations for students choosing to continue online classes would be offered. To lighten the burden on teachers choosing to continue teaching students, the board has planned to assign in-person substitute teachers to fill in during the times educators would be teaching online. 

People would be required to stay 6 feet apart, follow public health guidelines and minimize contact between students and teachers. 

“[The plan is] not perfect, and it’s going to be a bumpy ride… but the important aspect that people keep in mind is that we are all doing this together,” said Vincent Matthews, SFUSD superintendent.

Local companies are also contributing to the effort to vaccinate educators. Daniel Menezes, the chief human resources officer, revealed that Walgreens had offered 1,500 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines in addition to Kaiser offering enough supply to vaccinate the entire SFUSD staff. 

Vaccinations for faculty would only be required if the county remains in the red tier but would no longer be mandatory if the county reaches the orange tier.

In order to move forward with a more concrete plan for reopening, the importance of the family survey was stressed by Myong Leigh, the deputy superintendent of policy and operations. The survey was meant to gauge how comfortable families were with their kids returning to school and how many were willing to try out the in-person format.

“Responses to the surveys will be used to design the schedule for spring and … to allow families to express their preferences for returning to in-person learning,” Leigh said. 

Though those presenting skipped over the day-to-day schedule shown in their PowerPoint, as the meeting went into public commentary, most individuals expressed concern over the district’s proposition.

“I think it didn’t feel like there was a connection between those who made [the schedule] and those who do the work,” said Megan Caluza, a behavioral analyst and special educator at the school district. 

Parents and members of the public can keep up with the school district’s progress toward reopening on its website.

By Karla O

Karla Orellana is a Creative Writing major and Journalism minor at San Francisco State University

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