San Francisco Teachers Refuse to Return to the Classroom Without a Vaccine

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Teachers in San Francisco are under pressure to get back into the classroom fast, but the union says that won’t happen until it’s safe – and schools need more money to get there.

“The real question is why isn’t our society, why isn’t our city, state, federal governments providing us the adequate resources to have safe and successful and equitable schools?” said Kung Feng, executive director of Jobs With Justice.

During a virtual press conference Friday, the unions representing San Francisco teachers, and other staff, told reporters that employees would return to school in the red tier as long as all on-campus staff has been vaccinated.

But the head of the CDC has said she doesn't think teachers need to be vaccinated before they can safely return to school.

The union says if employees can’t be vaccinated,  they won’t return to class till the city reaches the far less restrictive “orange COVID-19 monitoring tier.”

Either way --  the union wants a specific standard in place first.

“What we really need is updated ventilation systems, PPE, robust and reliable testing, and contact tracing for staff and students, small, stable cohorts of students in classrooms, and vaccinations,” said Susan Solomon of United Educators of San Francisco.

On Wednesday, the city of San Francisco sued the school district and the board of education, demanding the district to come up with a realistic plan to get kids back to class as soon as possible.

In a statement to NBC Bay Area about Friday’s proposal, the communications director for the city attorney’s office said:

“We’re not going to inject ourselves into someone else’s collective bargaining negotiations. The scientific consensus from public health experts at the CDC, the state, and the San Francisco Department of Public Health is that it is safe to reopen schools with appropriate precautions. We urge the leadership of SFUSD and its unions to move with the urgency this crisis demands.” 

The mayor’s office issued a statement noting private schools and city learning hubs have been operating for months without a single outbreak.

The San Francisco Unified School District said it plans to respond to the union’s proposal quickly to reach an agreement.

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