The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Wednesday, showed off one of the city’s elementary schools that is now ready to reopen, but the Board of Education has yet to say when kids will actually be back in the classroom.
“The challenges and complexities of reopening our public schools during the pandemic, cannot be overstated and definitely are not unique to San Francisco Unified,” Superintendent Vincent Matthews said during a Wednesday press conference.
San Francisco school officials announced earlier this week that they had reached a tentative agreement with the city’s teacher unions on how to safely reopen schools, which the board is expected to ratify next week.
But no reopening date has been mentioned.
“We have every expectation that this agreement will be ratified by the Board, and district staff are preparing accordingly,” SFUSD spokesperson, Laura Dudnick told Fox News. “The district continues to meet with unions over other impacts of in-person learning.”
Just 12 of the city’s 130 schools will reopen in the first wave. The city’s teachers unions have also agreed to come back to in-person teaching only after all teachers and school staff have received the vaccine, while the city remains in the red tier, which indicates that there is “substantial” risk of spreading the virus.
Once the California Department of Public Health reclassifies San Francisco as falling under the lower orange tier, teachers have agreed to reenter the classroom without having first been vaccinated.
There is no clear indication when the first wave of schools will reopen, let alone when all of San Francisco’s 57,000 public school students will return from distance learning.
Only six of the first 12 schools have been set up with safety guidelines and are ready to receive students and teachers, a San Francisco Chronicle education reporter announced on Twitter Wednesday.
The San Francisco Board of Education and SFUSD were slapped with a lawsuit earlier this month by the City Attorney’s office in a last-ditch effort to get kids back in the classroom.
The suit points to the more than 110 private schools that have reopened since September, with fewer than five cases of in-school virus transmission having been reported amongst 15,800 students.
The city has since expanded the lawsuit and drawn attention to the mental health toll distance learning has taken on students.
“Mental health experts report that kids of all ages are experiencing severe mental health problems: depression, anxiety, self-harming behavior, suicidal thoughts. And yet, public schools in San Francisco remain shut,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement after issuing an emergency court order last week. “It’s unconscionable, it’s unlawful and it must end.”
The emergency order has requested the courts take an immediate role in reopening the public school system. A hearing has been set for March 22.