SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco Unified School District announced on Friday that the district and the teachers union have tentatively agreed to get some of its youngest students back in the classroom starting April 12.
City officials say the first wave of students in Phase 2A (small cohort/group return) to go back to in-person instruction will be Pre-K through second grade. Additional students will be offered in-person options before the end of April.
SFUSD says Supervisor Shamann Walton helped mediate the agreement that will give families options including student focal groups who may return to a near full day of school, five days a week.
The district said with few exceptions, elementary students will stay with their teacher. SFUSD will follow public health and safety guidelines with regards to physical distancing in classrooms.
"This is an important step on our path to reopening schools. We continue to be committed to ensuring every student and family in the San Francisco United School District is receiving the support they need," San Francisco Board of Education President Gabriela Lopez said in a press release. "Whether it be parents and caregivers trying their best to support their children, or teachers working nonstop to support learning during a pandemic. We're all in this together."
The district said they will continue to provide distance learning for the remainder of the school year that ends in June.
"We are enthusiastic to share this progress and we also know that some students and families who want to return will not be able to at this time," Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. "We recognize that distance learning is not ideal for most students and many families have struggled with a full year of distance learning. We truly wish we could reopen schools for everyone."
The district has implemented a staff vaccination program as part of their agreement with labor unions. The district said SFUSD sent 4,000 personalized priority access codes to staff to be vaccinated. This was after a delay and reports of teachers from other counties already getting their codes.
In a statement, United Educators of San Francisco, which represents more than 6,000 SFUSD employees, said the city and district "need to make good on their commitment to get school staff vaccinated ASAP."
They clarified that there is tentative agreement on class size that keeps it at 22 students for PK-3rd grade. They also agree that community members who choose to stick with distance learning will not be left behind.
The debate over how and when to open schools has been a hotly-contested issue. Last week, the teachers' union said they had lost confidence in the superintendent and called for a mediator. In recent weeks the school district has also seen daily 'Zoom-in' outdoor classroom protests held at Dolores Park with parents and students present.