SAN FRANCISCO—County health officials allowed two San Francisco high schools to return to in-person classes on Monday, October 26. Private schools Archbishop Riordan High School and the Sterne School passed city inspections and consequently received permission, the San Francisco Chronicle first reported.
The SF Department of Public Health states that a COVID-19 health and safety reopening plan is required for schools to operate in person again. These plans must be available on the school or school district’s website and submitted to the county Office of Education. They are also handed over to health officials.
Archbishop Riordan High School labels their plan on their website “Riordan Infection Mitigation Plan.” It includes written step-by-step instructions, a coming training video, and a community pledge to sign.
The plan states “students will stay at least 4-6 ft from other people,” conflicting with health orders that recommend at least six feet of distance between people in public settings. Additionally, the school will not allow gatherings in large groups—including prayers—and it will have rearranged furniture and signage to show one-way traffic flows throughout campus. Students are asked to wear masks and disinfect their desks each day. The classes will be split into two groups, “purple” and “gold,” the school’s colors, and they will be on campus at least twice per week on alternating days.
“On Fridays, cohorts will possibly alternate on campus every week for extracurricular enrichment while the rest of the student body engages in asynchronous learning,” reads the website. Siblings will be in the same group. A mandatory student supply list is part of the plan and it includes at least 80 percent ethanol or 75 percent isopropyl hand sanitizer, a package of disinfectant wipes, and a pencil sharpener.
Along with the Community Health Pledge, which acknowledges student and family responsibility and school rules, families are required to sign a Risk Acknowledgement Form which says that “each parent or guardian must determine for themselves if they are willing to take the risk of enrolling their child.”
Sterne School’s Application for Reopening has similar strategies to those of Archbishop Riordan High School’s; students will be split into “green” and “blue” groups which attend classes twice per week on alternating days. Friday classes at Sterne School are taken at home. The school reports they estimate 60 students to be in the high school, leading to seven-person class sizes. Student desks will be separated by six feet and outdoor “breezeways” will act as hallways. Students are asked to always wear masks. Families and employees must get tested for coronavirus 7 to 14 days before class resumes.
San Francisco County schools closed in March due to coronavirus shelter-in-place orders. In Alameda County, officials announced on Wednesday, October 28, that November 8 is the earliest date that middle schools and high schools are permitted to resume in-class learning.
On October 1, Alameda County announced elementary schools would be able to reopen on or after October 13. Currently, 58 schools in the area have either opened or submitted a plan to do so, most of which are private schools.