Statement from Mayor London Breed on Importance of Moving Forward With Reopening Public Schools
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today released the following statement following an announcement from the San Francisco Unified School District that there is not sufficient time to complete bargaining in order to reopen any school sites on January 25th. This most recent impasse in negotiations comes following new demands from the labor union on December 15th regarding health and safety requirement that go above and beyond the Department of Public Health’s guidance.
“It is infuriating that our schools are not going to reopen for in-person learning in January. I can’t imagine how hard this is for our families and for our young people who haven’t been in the classroom since March and are falling further behind every single day. We should not be creating a false choice between education and a safe return to classrooms. As a society, we have a responsibility to educate our children, and safety is embedded in that responsibility. We can do both. We must do both.
Right now we are in a surge that requires us to stay home and stop the spread, but when we get through this difficult moment, we need to be ready to get our students in the classroom the moment our public health officials say we can. We can’t create unrealistic standards for in-person learning that aren’t even recommended by the Department of Public Health. I understand the concerns of some of our teachers who are in the vulnerable population, and we should listen to them. But let’s be honest: San Francisco’s public health officials have been among the most conservative in the country in terms of reopening. When they say our schools can start opening again, our kids should be in the classroom the next day.
And we have data that shows our kids and teachers can return to the classroom. Under the guidance of the Department of Public Health, our City’s 78 Community Hubs and 91 private and parochial schools across the City have been open for in-person learning for months and have not experienced any outbreaks. Even now, during this latest surge, the worst we’ve had, there have been no outbreaks. None of this is easy, but by following health protocols we can create safe environments that help us mitigate the spread of this virus and give our kids the learning environment they so badly need.
The City has been providing staffing and resources to help with our public school reopening, and we will continue to do so. But to open our schools next year, SFUSD and our educators have to do the work and planning right now. That means working through the holidays to get this done. The City stands ready to help move this process forward. We cannot give up on getting our kids safely back in school. Nothing matters more.”