San Francisco Unified School District will reopen its doors for in-person learning for some students staring in January 2021, district officials announced Wednesday.
The announcement marks the return of in-person learning for some public school students -- including those with special needs, preschool students, kindergarteners and first graders -- since classrooms first shuttered back in March due to COVID-19.
According to district officials, starting in January, students who are in special education classes, preschool and those in deaf and hard of hearing classes will return to in-person learning. Afterward, kindergartners and first graders may also be able to return to class.
The district plans on opening schools on a rolling basis for those students at 10 to 15 locations.
Mark Sanchez, SF Board of Education president, said in a statement, "I appreciate the complexity of bringing back staff and students in one of the state's largest public school districts. It is important to proceed with the utmost care and attention to detail when it comes to the health of our students and staff."
Ahead of the schools' reopening, district officials have been ensuring classroom capacities and ventilation systems, in addition to seeking providers who can conduct regularly COVID-19 surveillance testing.
"One major consideration we are grappling with now is the cost and operational logistics of testing staff at regular intervals to ensure proper monitoring and prevent the spread of COVID," Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. "While we're pursuing many options, we haven't yet landed on a solution for this costly endeavor. SFUSD is not alone in facing this challenge; many of our colleagues at large school districts across the state are facing this."
"As much as we educators long to be with our students in person, it is crucial to have procedures and resources in place so that students and educators will be safe and healthy. It is painfully clear that the challenges we face in reopening are due to a lack of necessary resources, which is why it is so very important that we all vote to bring in funding for public schools and services," President of the United Educators of San Francisco Susan Solomon said. "UESF educators will continue to do all we can for our students during this horrible crisis, and to work diligently with SFUSD to improve our students' lives, in crisis distance learning and in returning them to in-person instruction."
While public schools in the city remain closed, earlier this week city officials said so far 56 private, parochial and charter schools have been approved to reopen via the city's waiver process, city officials said.