It only took a threat of a lawsuit to get San Francisco teachers on board with going back to school.
No, not concerns over the wellbeing of the students and their education, a lawsuit.
The San Francisco Unified School District said that it had come to a tentative agreement with a group of unions on Sunday, stipulating that schools can return to in-person learning once the city moves to the red tier.
Currently, the Bay Area region is in the purple tear of California’s COVID classification system, meaning the virus is still widespread, the Daily Caller reports. Teachers would also need to be vaccinated prior to returning to classrooms.
But, if vaccines aren’t readily available, schools would reopen once the city enters the orange tier or anything lower.
“The tentative agreement addresses the health and safety standards necessary for the return of students at all grade levels, preschool through 12, and the parties have agreed to meet and confer on any additional negotiable impacts of the District’s plans for the return of middle and high school students,” the statement says.
President of the United Educators of San Francisco Susan Solomon explained the plan.
“Now we need city and state officials to step up and make vaccines available to school staff now, while UESF continues to focus on finalizing agreements around classroom instruction,s schedules, and continuing to improve remote learning for the students and families who choose not to return even with these standards in place,” she said.
Two days before the agreement, city attorney Dennis Herrera announced plans to sue the San Francisco Board of Education and SFUSD for violating a state law requiring districts to establish a clear plan during the pandemic that details actions they will take to move toward “classroom-based instruction whenever possible,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Herrera blasted the school district for “ambiguous, empty rhetoric.”
Roughly 14,000 students were expected to return to school between January and March as part of a reopening plan for the youngest and most vulnerable students.
But, the school district and teachers union failed to agree.
Some union members even threatened a strike if schools move to reopen before teachers are vaccinated.
This sounds all too familiar: a similar situation is going on in Chicago, where the teachers union seems to be running the show with no regard for the students.
Indeed, the coronavirus lockdowns are hitting K-12 students particularly hard. Not only are they being robbed of an in-person education, they are missing out on critical emotional development and social interaction. A CDC study found that across the country between April and October of 2020, the percentage of emergency room mental health visits increased by 24 percent for those between the ages of five and 11, and 31 percent for those between the ages of 12 and 17, Business Insider reports.
It is critical that schools return to in person learning, as science encourages.