SF public school reopening delayed indefinitely

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Students in San Francisco's public schools likely will not be returning to in-person learning for several more months after the district and its teachers’ union failed to reach an agreement to reopen classrooms.

San Francisco Unified School District officials had originally targeted January 25, 2021 as the reopening date and planned to bring back the youngest students and those with disabilities to six elementary schools. But the district announced Friday that disagreements over proposed working conditions have pushed back that timeline indefinitely.

According to the district, the main hurdle is that labor groups have proposed delaying a return to any in-person instruction until San Francisco is in the orange or "moderate" COVID-19 tier.

State guidelines dictate the county would need to see fewer than four new cases a day for every 100,000 residents and a positivity rate below 5%. The county is currently in the purple tier with 23.9 new cases a day and a 3% positivity rate.

"This pandemic has required us to live with a great deal of uncertainty and it’s simply not over yet," said SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews. "I am disappointed that we cannot offer a guaranteed date for when we can resume in-person learning for our youngest and most vulnerable students."

San Francisco Mayor London Breed called the delay "infuriating," in a statement: "I can’t imagine how hard this is for our families and for our young people who haven’t been in the classroom since March and are falling further behind every single day. We should not be creating a false choice between education and a safe return to classrooms. As a society, we have a responsibility to educate our children, and safety is embedded in that responsibility. We can do both. We must do both."

The mayor said city officials are ready to work through the holidays to help the district and unions come to an agreement and make progress towards reopening.