San Francisco teachers claim district didn't plan well for latest COVID surge

The San Francisco Unified teacher union plans to speak out on Wednesday about what they say is a lack of planning from the district during this latest COVID surge as more than 600 teachers called in sick the day before.

 In all, 625 out of 3,600 teachers did not come to work on Tuesday, nearly 20% of the entire staff. That is more than double the typical pre-pandemic absentee rate.

 Compounding the problem is also a lack of substitute teachers nationwide.

 "There is a substitute shortage not just in San Francisco but throughout the Bay Area," said district spokeswoman Laura Dudnick.

 SFUSD has been providing students and staff with access to in-person COVID testing at two, separate testing centers operated by the district. Those centers will remain open until January 9.

 The school But a shipment of take-home tests from the state hasn't arrived yet.

 Dudnick said they're hoping to get them later this week.

 The United Educators of San Francisco teacher's union claims there is no organized plan to distribute those tests once they arrive.

 Parent volunteers with the group, SF Parent Action disagree.

 "We've been in close communication with the district over the past week, over the holiday," said SF Parent Action Exec. Director Meredith Dodson. "We just spoke with [the district] yesterday. There's a moving company that's now been contracted to get every single test from the warehouse where they're going to be delivered from the state, to the schools and distributed to each kid. They do have a plan, it's going to take a lot of hands on deck. it's great that UESF wants to help out with that."

At Alvarado Elementary School in San Francisco this morning, most parents told us they felt confident about the COVID safety measures implemented district-wide.

"So far, so good," said parent Servando Cuellar, who has a kindergartner and 3rd grader at Alvarado Elementary. He said he and most other parents got their kids tested after holiday gatherings and travels.

"I think most people are being pretty responsible, because most parents want schools to be open and nobody wants to be "that parent," he said, referring to the fact that no one wants to be the family that causes a COVID outbreak in their school.

 Citywide, San Francisco health officials said Tuesday they are seeing more than 800 new COVID cases a day, up from 300 cases a day a week ago. And that number is expected to increase over the next two weeks, before it wanes.

 A news conference is planned for noon.

KTVU reporter Rob Roth contributed to this report.