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San Francisco district, employee unions, reach agreement on plan to reopen classrooms

Feb. 8, 2021
The plan will not be carried out until the city sees a drop in Covid-19 positivity rates.

Unions representing San Francisco Unified School District employees have reached a tentative agreement with the district on a plan to safely reopen the city’s public schools.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a key component of the agreement allows a return to classrooms once the city reaches the red tier, the second most restrictive level of California’s reopening blueprint, if vaccinations against the coronavirus are made available to on-site school staff.

If the city progresses to the orange tier, a less restrictive category with “moderate” virus spread, teachers and other staff would return without demanding vaccinations.

“The tentative agreement addresses the health and safety standards necessary for the return of students at all grade levels, preschool through 12, and the parties have agreed to meet and confer on any additional negotiable impacts of the district’s plans for the return of middle and high school students,” district officials say.

The agreement will go before the school board on Tuesday. It’s the first significant movement toward return to in-person instruction for the district’s 52,000 students.

But the district will need to reach an agreement with the teachers union on daily schedules and other educational aspects of in-person learning, which means there is still no target reopening date and the district is likely still several weeks, if not months, from bringing the first students back.

Because San Francisco remains in the purple tier, the state’s most restrictive, reopenings presumably would still be down the road.

“This is a major step forward toward a goal that we share with so many parents: safe reopening of school buildings for students and staff,” the unions said. “In addition to reaching agreement around baseline safety standards, the unions also negotiated groundbreaking language that provides school district support for vaccine prioritization, availability, and education for their members.”

[EARLIER: City of San Francisco sues school district to force local schools to reopen]

The announcement came after a week of massive pressure on unions and district officials to reopen the pandemic-shuttered schools. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has sued the district and school board, saying they failed to create a specific and concise state-required plan to reopen. District officials said they did have a plan.

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