SF school board unanimously approves teachers' union agreement to bring some students back

The San Francisco Unified school board on Thursday unanimously voted to approve the agreement with the teachers union on reopening. 

The teachers union will continue voting on that agreement until Saturday.

The principle agreement with educators unions is for in-person instruction to resume in the red tier with vaccinations and the orange tier without.

Now the teachers union will vote on bringing some of the city's youngest public school students back to classrooms on April 12.

A special school board meeting was held at 4 p.m., resulting in a commitment to get pre-K through 12 students back to in-person learning by the first day of the 2021-22 school year. 

Schools Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews and President of the SF Board of Education Gabriela López in a joint letter outlined the progress being made and offered some new details. 

"In the coming months we will be moving forward with planning that adheres to public health directives and includes remote learning options for students who may need to study virtually," the letter said. 

SF Unified officials acknowledged more widespread vaccination availability and how that benefits their plans to reopen schools safely. But they mentioned balancing risk as they move forward in planning for next year.

 San Francisco opened a vaccine clinic for educators, the aim to administer 1,500 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Paraeducator Maurice Milburn received his shot, but predicts it's going to be a rough road to bring students back to in person learning.

"I'd love it to go back to school, but it's just that that's so much that has to be done for it to work," said Milburn.

Dr. Matthews is currently facing a lawsuit by the city attorney aimed at getting schools to reopen quickly.

Wednesday Dr. Matthews announced his plans to retire at the end of this school year.

"For the next three months, we as a district are committed to continuing to provide our distance learning at a high level as we bring students back for in person learning," said Dr, Matthews. "And we are continuing to be focused on summer, making sure that goes well, and then welcoming as many of our students as we possibly can in the fall."

The Board of Education will be tasked with finding a replacement, at this point there is no word about the search, or any plans for an interim superintendent if needed.

Even after a rocky relationship, as the mayor has pushed the superintendent to reopen schools, Mayor London Breed acknowledged how difficult it may be without a superintendent in place.

"It's hard with what the school district is going through to lose its leadership in the midst of trying to get our kids back into the classroom," said Mayor Breed. "But, Superintendent Matthews made his decision to retire, and I know that he's going to do everything he can to try and get us prepared for reopening."

The district has been working with the department of public health to get schools prepared, including adding adequate spacing between students in the classrooms.

Statewide some parents and health experts are now citing a study out of Brown University that says with masking, students can be as little as three feet apart safely rather than six feet apart, and are asking that schools allow more students into classrooms.

SFUSD is the seventh largest school district in California with 56,000 pre-K through 12 students.