reopening the bay area

Reopening the Classroom: Where Some Bay Area School Districts Stand

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Schools across the Bay Area say they're getting closer to reopening for in-person learning, but exactly how close depends on location.

In San Francisco, there's an agreement with teachers on what will happen before on-campus classes resume.

"I do feel like the sides are together on the health and safety standards," Susan Solomon, president of the United Educators of San Francisco union, said.

Solomon says the buildings are ready. Now, they're ready to move forward when the city reaches the state's red reopening tier – as long as teachers can get vaccines.

"Making sure the vaccines are available is a big part of it, making sure that the contact tracing and testing are put in place," Solomon said.

San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews also says vaccines are key but admits not everything is in the district's control.

"We're not at [phase] 1-B yet, which is teachers, educational staff being vaccinated," Matthews said. "So, the time frame — this is what Dr. Fauci has said repeatedly — is that we don't set the timeline. The virus sets the timeline."

As for other districts, the Oakland Unified School District says it's waiting for more guidance from the state. San Jose Unified School District says it will start limited learning on campus in late February.

In Marin, there has been limited on-campus learning since September. Officials have recorded only 10 school COVID-19 cases, none of them from students to adults.

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a UCSF infectious disease specialist, says schools can and should be opening sooner, especially since young people are unlikely to pass on the virus.

"Looking at the data, the younger kids are less risky, but kids under the age of 20 are also less risky," he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it will likely issue new reopening guidance later this week.

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