SAN FRANCISCO—Health officials will begin taking waiver applications from elementary schools, which is a step towards allowing them to open for in-person teaching. Starting August 28, fifty-three San Francisco schools have notified the Department of Public Health that they wanted to apply for these waivers, the city reported. Next week, San Francisco health officials will distribute waiver applications to the schools that have expressed interest in applying.

So far, the schools that have requested applications consist of charter, parochial, and private schools. However, the applications have not included any schools from the SFUSD. SFUSD announced earlier in August that they will continue with online learning, and will bring students back to campus in phases, once it’s deemed safe within the state of California.

San Francisco is still on California’s coronavirus watchlist, which means that certain reopening are limited at the moment, including in-person classes at schools. The waiver applications mean that some elementary schools could be granted approval to reopen despite the county’s status on the monitoring list.

“Schools, community hubs and after-school programs provide a critical source of support for children, youth, and their families, and helped mitigate socio-economic disparities through school meal programs and social, physical, behavioral, and mental health services. Therefore, returning children to learning environments, whether it is a classroom, a community hub, or after school program, remains a top priority for the City,” said Mayor London Breed in a statement on Friday.

If these applications are approved, it would mean that over 9,500 students would be able to return to classrooms, and over 1500 staff members would return back to their jobs on campus. If schools do get approved, one of the rules laid out by the state is that each school must publish its reopening plan online for transparency sake. 

Schools and San Francisco health officials will make further announcements once the applications are processed.