Unions representing San Francisco Unified School District employees on Sunday announced they have reached a tentative agreement with the district to reopen schools for in-person learning amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The tentative agreement “outlines the baseline health and safety standards and vaccine access to physically reopen public schools,” the unions said Sunday in a statement.
The school district said it will schedule the agreement for ratification by the Board of Education on Tuesday in an effort to get students back to in-person learning.
California has a four-tier reopening system in place, which includes yellow, orange, red and purple tiers. Red represents substantial Covid-19 spread, while orange indicates a moderate spread of the virus.
The agreement would allow teachers and workers to return to school in the red tier if Covid-19 vaccines are made available. Return to in-person instruction can happen without vaccine availability in the orange tier.
“Given the constant shift during this pandemic it’s important to do all we can for the health and safety of our students, families, staff and community,” Board of Education President Gabriela Lopez said in a statement.
“I am excited we have found common ground on these baseline standards with our unions, paving the way for our gradual reopening of schools.”
The district would also provide personal protective equipment for students and staff, socially distanced classrooms and regular testing, among other safety measures.
The school district says it has already submitted applications for the first elementary and early education schools set to reopen, “and site inspections have been completed at some school sites.”
San Francisco filed a lawsuit against its own school district Wednesday to get schools to physically open.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designated teachers in the 1b priority category for vaccinations; and while that means in many states they are not yet eligible to be inoculated, the agency’s director says that does not mean students can’t go back safely.
“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House news briefing on Wednesday. “Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.”