SAN FRANCISCO—In an attempt to have schools reopened, the City of San Francisco filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco Board of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District. The lawsuit was filed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera with the support of Mayor London Breed on Wednesday, February 3 against the San Francisco Unified School District to re-open the school doors amid the pandemic.
School systems are facing pressure from parents and politicians to end virtual learning. The lawsuit says school administrators are violating a state requirement that districts adopt a clear plan to offer in-person instruction. The district previously planned to welcome back children and students with disabilities in late January, but the timeline was extended after labor negotiations failed.
Nearly 16,000 students at private and parochial schools in the city have been learning in person with fewer than five cases of suspected in-school transmission. In a recent video Attorney Dennis Herrera is seen saying that the board’s plan is ambiguous and empty rhetoric. In a press release statement Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews stated:
“We are working to get our school buildings open as quickly as possible. This is a frivolous lawsuit. It appears that the City Attorney has not read through our plans or joined the hours of open meetings we have had on the topic of safely returning to in-person learning. It is simply untrue that the Board and district have no plan to reopen schools. SFUSD has a very comprehensive plan with specific steps around health and safety and what in-person learning will look like for our focal student populations to return as soon as we can complete all the clearly laid out steps. It does not benefit our community to have the school district and City fighting. It is a waste of time that we don’t have.”
Daily coronavirus infections in San Francisco County fell in January 2021. Hospitalizations also declined. On the CDC website, they offer advice for re-opening schools that read:
“It is critical for schools to open as safely and as quickly as possible for in-person learning. To enable schools to open and remain open, it is important to adopt and correctly and consistently implement actions to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, not only inside the school, but also in the community. This means that students, families, teachers, school staff, and all community members should take actions to protect themselves and others where they live, work, learn, and play. In short, success in preventing the introduction and subsequent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools is connected to and dependent upon preventing transmission in communities.”
Steps have been listed on the district’s online dashboard, which include stockpiling three months of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies and training staffers on new protocols and coming to an agreement with teachers union about other practices. Teachers unions also say that they won’t go back to classrooms until they are vaccinated.
Herrera intends to file a motion on Thursday, February 11 asking a judge to issue a preliminary injunction compelling the district to act.