Hundreds of San Francisco Unified School District teachers and aides were out of school on Tuesday amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, according to the teachers' union that is criticizing the district's handling of testing for the virus.
Classes resumed this week at schools in San Francisco after the winter break, but more than 620 staff members were out on Tuesday alone, according to the teachers' union, United Educators of San Francisco.
Union officials say the district did not develop an adequate plan to handle the latest surge of COVID-19 cases and did not require students and staff to show a negative test result before returning to campus, as some other districts have done. They also accuse the district of not having a plan to distribute a shipment of COVID tests set to arrive from the state later this week.
Their demand to the school district is to fix it.
"Educators are working harder than ever to keep schools open," said Cassondra Curiel, UESF president.. "School districts must have a plan of action to keep everyone safe and I'm said to say this is not the case here."
The union held a briefing Wednesday and raised several concerns including staffing and the lack of a solid testing strategy.
"We are demanding regular consistent testing of staff and students for us to have the real time data around what’s happening in our schools," said Curiel.
A petition calling for a "sick out" is circulating as the union is set to meet with the district Thursday.
There are also questions about when the district will start handing out at-home tests provided by the state, but district officials said they recently received them and are preparing to deliver to school sites.
A parent group has offered to help get them out.
"As of this morning we had 73 parent volunteers ready to get to these sites and distribute these kits to our SFUSD students," said Meredith Dodson with the San Francisco Parent Coalition. "We're excited to be able to help with that."
The district said they've made reliable testing available for students and staff since last spring.