School Funding

Likely masks when SF schools return full time; start times will be shifted


The San Francisco School District has pledged a return to five full teaching days per week in the fall and shared new details on Tuesday on what a robust reopening will look like.

The San Francisco school board had previously pledged in April that the district would plan a full-time return in the fall, and the principal has again reiterated that plan. The district also expects to drop health screenings and surveillance tests, but continue to hide.

“When you hear that, you should think about the pre-pandemic conditions, what school looked like in January 2020,” Superintendent Vincent Matthews said.

District staff said they were planning extracurricular activities, sports and clubs to restore normalcy to students, many of whom struggled emotionally and academically during the pandemic.

But school will not be quite normal yet. The masks will be needed until “more specific advice is provided,” according to a staff report. Class groups will remain the same for elementary schools, but not middle or high schools, and class configurations will be similar to what they were before the pandemic.

In addition to the adjustments related to the pandemic, schools in San Francisco will change the start times. Schools will begin at one of the following three hours: 7:50 am, 8:40 am or 9:30 am The district will standardize the length of the school day to be the same for each grade in each school.

The staggered departure times will save about $ 3 million per year in transportation costs, Matthews said, because each bus can be used to transport students to three different schools. Rather, these funds “can be spent to directly support students,” he said.

Another big change: Each school will have an early release day for students to allow for time planning and professional development for teachers.

Matthews said the district had consulted with several parent advisory groups and school staff on the new schedules.

But some parents and teachers who spoke at the meeting did not see the process as inclusive. “Where was the awareness, where was our contribution, where were our voices?” asked parent Gregory Arenius. “They weren’t at the table, that’s for sure.

“We know some families may have trouble adjusting to your school schedule,” Matthews wrote in a message to parents. “We are making changes because they will have very important benefits that will help create a stronger educational experience for your child.”

More details on specific schools are expected in the coming weeks.

The plan to reopen the district is still subject to state and federal guidelines and union negotiations, which begin next week. The current agreement between teachers and the district expires at the end of June. Some parts are outdated, said teachers union president Susan Solomon. “We need to talk about how we are going to provide students with the extra social and emotional support they will need after spending a year living in pandemic conditions,” she said via email.

District staff said they were waiting for official guidelines to reopen from the California Department of Public Health for the fall and were planning different possibilities in the meantime. State funding for public schools in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal assumes a lack of full-time in-person education, they noted.

Newsom has set June 15 as the date by which nearly all public health restrictions in the state will be lifted. A handful will remain, including masking rules for people who have not yet been vaccinated, and counties may maintain some local restrictions.

Since inviting a small portion of students to return to classrooms in mid-April, San Francisco district staff have reported only 41 coronavirus infections, none of which originated from a school site.

Emma Talley is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ EmmaT332


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