The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) reached an agreement on how to safely reopen their public school system Tuesday night, but the fight on actually getting kids in the classroom is far from over.
Several hours into the board meeting, the board voted unanimously to open schools before the end of the school year.
But the SFUSD will still need to hold a separate vote on the number of days and hours that teachers and students will return to the classroom during the week and any return is liekly at least two months off, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
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“We’ve agreed to health and safety standards with all of our labor representatives,” Superintendent Vincent Matthews said Tuesday. “For the past several weeks we’ve been consulting with the United Educators of San Francisco regarding the instructional plan for this spring.”
San Francisco’s teachers union has agreed to come back to classroom-based instruction after all teachers and school staff have received the vaccine as long as 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 lowers the city’s classification to the orange tier, teachers have agreed to in-person teaching without having first been vaccinated.
“Our goal has been and continues to be to maximize daily in-person instruction for students and to maintain as much consistency as possible,” Matthews said in virtual event Tuesday.
But the SFUSD caught the nation’s attention after the city of San Francisco filed a lawsuit against its own Board of Education in an attempt to get them to establish a concrete plan on safely reopening schools.
The suit noted that the board had 10 months to create a plan but instead focused on renaming 44 schools they believed were offensive for their representation of racism or colonialism – including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
The plan is estimated to cost between $400,000 and $1 million to change uniforms, insignias and school signs.
But following another round of legal battles in connection with its determination to change school names, San Francisco’s school board president Gabriela López announced Sunday that it will be putting a pause on the controversial move to rename schools.
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“Reopening will be our only focus until our children and young people are back in schools,” she said in a statement Sunday. “We’re canceling renaming committee meetings for the time being.”
Lopez said that when talks on renaming the schools do start up again, they will allow for more “community input,” but said she will not “comment publically on renaming until schools are reopened.”
Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Enikia Ford Morthel said Tuesday that the board will be bringing back the youngest students first, with preschool through second grade students returning for in-person training.
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Only 12 of the city’s 130 schools will reopen during the first wave, and not all will be able to receive in-person instruction for the entire week.
One teacher will be assigned per group of students, which means some students may have a new teacher for in-person teaching – a sticking point that has frustrated teachers.
The city has not said when all of its 57,000 public school students will be able to return to the classroom.