San Francisco's high school seniors to return for in-person learning before graduation

High school seniors in the San Francisco Unified School District will get a chance to return to campus and connect with classmates and teachers face-to-face again before closing out their high school careers.

Under a new agreement reached with the Union Educators of San Francisco (UESF), the district will allow 12th graders to return to in-person instruction starting Friday, May 14.

"UESF brought the initial proposal to SFUSD so that our current graduating seniors would have the opportunity to spend some time in-person on campus with teachers and their peers during their last few weeks of high school as they say goodbye to classmates and prepare for graduation and the next chapter of their lives," Susan Solomon, UESF President said in a statement issued to KTVU.   

Earlier, the district had sent a survey to families of high school seniors to gauge their interest in returning to limited in-person activities for a few weeks this spring before the end of school instruction on June 2.

"SFUSD is working on more opportunities for high school seniors who are celebrating this milestone in life to come together in the last weeks of school," the district stated in a frequently asked questions section it set up. Those opportunities included college and career assistance, tutoring and study hall, and/or wellness support. 

The majority of high school and middle students were largely left out of the district’s initial reopening plan, which allowed for its elementary and preschool students to gradually return to classrooms on a rolling basis last month. 

The plan did allow for almost 2,000 middle and high schoolers in "focal populations" to return for in-person learning three weeks ago. Those in focal populations included students in special day classes, students experiencing homelessness, those living in foster care and public housing, and students who have had limited engagement learning virtually. 

As far as what the opportunities for the wider graduating class of 2021 would look like, school officials said that seniors would likely have limited days on campus-- no more than one to two days a week. 

In addition, not all SFUSD high school campuses would be reopening and students would likely be engaging with staff from other schools, different from their own. 

"Activities will be hosted at a select few high school host sites, probably not at your regular school site, and will be supervised by adult staff from various schools across SFUSD," the district said.

And of course, social distancing and other health and safety guidelines would be enforced.

SFUSD stressed that on-campus opportunities would only be available to seniors who were registered or signed up so they urged participants to respond to the survey if they’re planning to take part. 

The on-campus events will be separate from in-person graduations set to be held June 1-3. 

"UESF conducted a survey of our secondary-level members, seeking volunteers for this important role," the union said, adding that enough educators have stepped up to allow for the return of 12 graders to the classroom. "We are looking forward to seeing our students in person," union officials added. 

SFUSD said that it would have more details about the plans at its regular San Francisco Board of Education meeting on Tuesday at 4 p.m.