Distance learning for San Francisco students started on Monday and with it Mayor London Breed announced the city's latest health order effective immediately, allowing for some in-person activities for children.
The city remains on the state's COVID-19 watchlist due to a rise in cases and school buildings remain closed. But, according to city health officials, in-person educational and recreational activities are crucial to the well-being of children.
The order requires that educational and recreational programs providing care or supervision for school-aged children adhere to safety standards like limited capacity, face coverings, social distancing, health monitoring and cleaning protocols.
With the order in effect, the city-operated Community Learning Hubs can launch on Sept. 14, providing full-day, in-person support for as many as 6,000 disadvantaged students. The hubs will be run by the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families and they'll be staffed by Recreation and Park Department staff.
"As the school year begins, it's critical that we all come together to support our most vulnerable children and youth," Breed said in a statement. "This new order allows us to move forward on our Community Learning Hubs, and provides the guidance that we need for safe and supportive distance learning."
Enrollment for the learning hubs will begin on Aug. 24 and priority may be given to groups like low-income students, public housing residents, foster youth and English language learners, among others. The hubs will initially only serve students from kindergarten through sixth grade, providing help with distance learning, access to technology, meals, outdoor activities, and other educational opportunities.
"The pandemic highlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that our historically marginalized communities have had to deal with. The devastating impacts of learning loss and the huge disruption of COVID-19 are a painful reality we as a city must try to solve for and address," DCYF Executive Director Maria Su said.
"Education improves public health and promotes health equity," Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax said. "The Health Department is advising local schools on safer ways for them to educate San Francisco's children in the COVID-19 pandemic, but everyone in the community has a role to play in reducing COVID-19 transmission enough to allow in-person learning to resume.
"If we want to see kids and teachers back in their classrooms, we all must continue precautions of covering our faces, washing hands frequently, avoiding gatherings and staying 6 feet from others when we go out," he said.
More information about Community Learning Hubs can be found at www.dcyf.org/care.