San Francisco Unions Reach Tentative Agreement With City to Reopen Schools

February 8, 2021 Updated: February 12, 2021

The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and a group of labor unions have reached a provisional agreement on health and safety standards for resuming in-person learning in the city’s public schools.

The SFUSD issued a statement on Feb. 7 that outlines the tentative deal, just four days after the city sued its own school district.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed the lawsuit, with support from Mayor London Breed, a Democrat.

The statement says that the district’s reopening criteria had been updated due to the tentative agreement and the city’s 54,000 students would be able to go back to the classrooms if the following conditions are met:

“San Francisco City and County are in the Red Tier as determined by the California Department of Public Health, and according to California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, and all staff reporting to District school or worksites have had the opportunity (eligibility and access) to be vaccinated at the recommended dosage” or “San Francisco City and County is in the Orange or any lower Tier, as determined by the California Department of Public Health, regardless of the availability of vaccines.”

According to California’s COVID-19 tracking website, 99.9 percent of the state’s population, including San Francisco, is still in the “purple tier,” the highest level of restriction for businesses and activities, as of Feb. 8.

The tentative agreement will go before the Board of Education for ratification on Feb. 16.

“This is a major step forward toward a goal that we share with so many parents: safe reopening of school buildings for students and staff,” the unions stated. “In addition to reaching agreement around baseline safety standards, the unions also negotiated groundbreaking language that provides school district support for vaccine prioritization, availability, and education for their members.”

Unions and district officials face tremendous pressure from parents who have demanded in-person learning for their children.

“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. I am excited we have found common ground on these baseline standards with our unions, paving the way for our gradual reopening of schools,” said Board of Education President Gabriela López.

Schools in San Francisco have been allowed to reopen since September 2020 and the overwhelming majority of private and parochial schools have welcomed students back since then. With almost 16,000 students attending classes again, fewer than five cases of in-school transmission of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus have been reported. The virus causes COVID-19.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.