SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Officials with the city and county of San Francisco and the San Francisco Unified School District on Thursday announced a partnership for assessing the COVID safety of the district’s school facilities.
SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews reiterated the district’s target date of January 25 for a return to in-person learning for the SFUSD’s youngest learners and a group of elementary school students who receive special education services. That date will depend on public health indicators and numerous other prerequisites being in place.
Under the newly announced agreement, San Francisco will provide trained staff to help support the District’s assessments of school facilities. The SFUSD has already assessed 20 schools, but an additional 65 buildings need to be inspected for COVID safety for the district to meet its goal of having the SFUSD’s youngest students and other vulnerable student groups back in classrooms.
Starting next week, San Francisco’s COVID-19 Command Center will deploy 20 Disaster Service Workers (DSWs) to form school site assessment teams. These city employees who perform varying emergency-related services across San Francisco will work with district staff to assess school facilities on a classroom by classroom basis to determine their readiness to receive students and staff for in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Classroom evaluations will include ensuring that classrooms have working windows, assessing classroom furniture, determining the presence of functional hand washing sinks assessing and basic working condition of classrooms including window shades and light fixtures. Site assessment teams will provide the SFUSD with data on school site readiness to accommodate students for either hybrid or full in-person learning.
San Francisco officials have been inspecting school facilities at private and parochial schools for possible reopening since September. The city also launched an online dashboard for parents to track school reopenings.
“We know that opening our public schools is going to be challenging, but the city is ready to do what we can to help get our kids back in schools starting in January,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed in a press release announcing the partnership. “By sending city staff over to help with school building assessments, we can speed up the work that needs to be done to make sure our classrooms are safe and healthy places for our kids and our teachers.”
“While SFUSD conducts annual inspections and regular maintenance related to classroom operability, new inspections are necessary in order to assess conditions in the context of COVID health and safety,” added SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews. “We’ve completed these site assessments at several school sites, but there are dozens more to go. We are grateful to have the City’s partnership to conduct site assessments quickly and thoroughly so we can make any needed adjustments as soon as possible.”
City officials and the school district are continuing to discuss other ways San Francisco can support the SFUSD with returning to in-person learning. On Wednesday, the district announced a plan to enter into an agreement with Curative, a company that will support the District’s plans for having a COVID testing program that meets the needs for reopening. That testing program, along with ensuring classrooms are ready, are key steps in preparing for school reopening.