San Francisco public schools won't reopen for in-person learning in January

Maura Dolan
A view of one of California's most beloved coastal gems: the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline are seen from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

San Francisco public schools won’t reopen for in-person learning in January because of a breakdown in negotiations between the school district and teachers unions over coronavirus safety, the San Francisco Unified School District said.

“The district cannot meet all of the new requirements SFUSD’s labor unions have proposed, and there is not sufficient time to complete bargaining in order to reopen any school sites on Jan. 25,” the district said in an online statement.

The biggest barrier, the district said, is a demand by labor groups that no staff or students return for in-person learning until the state puts San Francisco in the orange tier, reserved for places with moderate transmission of the coronavirus. The state’s color-coded reopening system ties reductions in new coronavirus cases and the rate of positive coronavirus tests to eased restrictions.

San Francisco is now in the purple tier, indicating widespread transmission. Elementary school students and pupils with disabilities had been expected to return to classrooms in late January.

Mayor London Breed called the announcement “infuriating.”

“I can’t imagine how hard this is for our families and for our young people who haven’t been in the classroom since March and are falling further behind every single day,” she said in a written statement. “We should not be creating a false choice between education and a safe return to classrooms.”

When San Francisco recovers from the current surge, Breed said, “we need to be ready to get our students in the classroom.”

Breed said San Francisco health officials had been among the most conservative in the nation in reopening sectors.

“When they say our schools can start reopening," the mayor said, "our kids should be in the classroom the next day.”

There have been no outbreaks in the city’s 78 community education hubs or the 91 private schools that have been open for indoor learning, Breed said.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.