San Francisco SUES its own school district and board of education to get 'kids back in classrooms as quickly as possible' amid COVID shutdown

 San Francisco has become the first city in California to sue its own school district and education board in a bid to force officials to reopen classrooms amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

While several other lawsuits from parents, teachers and teacher unions have been filed across the US, San Francisco is believed to be the only city in the US that is suing its board of education and school district, which has 52,000 students. 

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the lawsuit alleges that the San Francisco Board of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District have violated a state law that required districts to adopt a clear plan during the pandemic as it relates to in-person education. 


The plan was supposed to describe actions they 'will take to offer classroom-based instruction whenever possible'.

However, the lawsuit, which will be filed by the city's attorney, Dennis Herrera, with the blessing of Mayor London Breed, says the law requires a plan to be in place particularly for students who've experienced 'significant learning loss due to school closures'.

According to the suit, district data has shown that learning loss has hit students of color and low-income students extremely hard, especially since they've spent nearly a year relying on virtual learning.  

San Francisco has become the first city in California to sue its own district and board in a bid to force officials to reopen schools amid the coronavirus pandemic. Students in California are seen during in-person learning in September 2020

San Francisco has become the first city in California to sue its own district and board in a bid to force officials to reopen schools amid the coronavirus pandemic. Students in California are seen during in-person learning in September 2020 

San Francisco sues schools to reopen classrooms amidst pandemic
Loaded: 0%
Progress: 0%
0:00
Previous
Play
Skip
Mute
Current Time0:00
/
Duration Time2:14
Fullscreen
Need Text

Herrera called the district's plan to welcome students back to classrooms 'ambiguous', adding that it's also full of 'empty rhetoric'. 

Herrera said he will file a motion on February 11 asking the San Francisco Superior Court to issue an emergency order compelling the district to begin the reopening process. 

He said the lawsuit is a way of trying to get 'kids back in school as quickly as possible'.

'It's a shame it has come to this,' Herrera told the Chronicle. 'The Board of Education and the school district have had more than 10 months to roll out a concrete plan to get these kids back in school. So far they have earned an F. Having a plan to make a plan doesn't cut it.'

Mayor London Breed (pictured) said she supports Herrera's lawsuit because the data shows that Black, Latino, Asian and low-income students have lost significant academic ground while learning virtually

Mayor London Breed (pictured) said she supports Herrera's lawsuit because the data shows that Black, Latino, Asian and low-income students have lost significant academic ground while learning virtually

According to the district's in-person learning plan, the first phase of public schools reopening was scheduled 'no sooner than January 25'.

That phase was supposed to include 12 sites for pre-K and the severely disabled children. 

The plan continues with reopening deadlines set through March, with each phase gradually bringing more students back to in-person learning. 

But after the district was unable to reach an agreement with the United Educators of San Francisco, officials canceled the plan without announcing a new one. 

A group of union educators are urging a strike if reopening begins without all school employees having access to the COVID-19 vaccine, PPE and training. 

Named in the lawsuit is superintendent Vince Matthews who said it was 'unlikely' that students in middle school and high school will return to their campuses this academic year.

Mayor Breed told the Chronicle that she supports Herrera's lawsuit because the data shows that Black, Latino, Asian and low-income students have lost significant academic ground while learning virtually.   

'This is not the path we would have chosen, but nothing matters more right now than getting our kids back in school,' Breed said in a statement. 

'This is hurting the mental health of our kids and our families. Our teachers have done an incredible job of trying to support our kids through distance learning, but this isn't working for anyone.'

Meanwhile, there are more than 15,000 students in the city who are back in their classroom at private schools, and with proper precautions being taken, there have been no outbreaks of the virus.   

Herrera believes that because his 'lawsuit is based on the law' that he may see some success with getting public schools reopened. 

The suit alleges that the San Francisco Board of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District violated a state law that required districts to adopt a clear plan during the pandemic as it relates to in-person learning

The suit alleges that the San Francisco Board of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District violated a state law that required districts to adopt a clear plan during the pandemic as it relates to in-person learning

'This is really simple, and it's focused. It's in everybody's interest to have kids back in school,' he told the Chronicle. 

In California, with 6 million public school students, teachers unions say they won't send their members into an unsafe situation.

Gov Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has said he will not force schools to reopen but instead wants to give them an incentive and has proposed a $2billion plan that has met with criticism from superintendents, unions and lawmakers. 

It would give schools extra funding for COVID-19 testing and other safety measures if they resume in-person classes. Schools that reopen sooner would get more money.


Newsom told educators that he is willing to negotiate but that certain demands, including the call by unions to have all teachers vaccinated before school starts, are unrealistic given the shortage of shots.

'If everybody has to be vaccinated, we might as well just tell people the truth: There will be no in-person instruction in the state of California,' he said.

The biggest districts, including Los Angeles and San Diego, say the plan sets unrealistic rules and timelines.

'The virus is in charge right now and it does not own a calendar,' the 300,000-member California Teachers Association warned in a letter. 'We cannot just pick an artificial calendar date and expect to flip a switch on reopening every school for in-person instruction.' 


While it was believed the Los Angeles Unified District would follow San Francisco with a lawsuit, the district recently said it has no plans to sue. 

Across the US, teachers are fighting with their school districts about reopening schools the safe way. 

In Chicago, the rancor is so great that teachers are on the brink of striking. In Cincinnati, some students returned to classrooms Tuesday after a judge threw out a teachers union lawsuit over safety concerns.

While some communities maintain that online classes remain the safest option for everyone, some parents, with backing from politicians and administrators, have complained that their children's education is suffering from sitting at home in front of their computers and that the isolation is damaging them emotionally.

In Nashua, New Hampshire, the school board voted to stick with remote learning for most students until the city meets certain targets on infections, hospitalizations and tests coming back positive for the coronavirus.

Alicia Houston, whose sons are in sixth and 10th grade, said her biggest frustration is 'not being able to help my children effectively,' even though she has quit her job to attempt just that.

'Watching them become a little bit darker,' she said last week. 'Watching them fall apart. The emotional and mental health piece is one of the most important pieces. A trauma like this is not something they´re necessarily going to recover from right away.'

Some families and their supporters have argued, too, that reopening schools would enable parents to go back to work instead of staying home to oversee their children's education.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a recent study that there is little evidence of the virus spreading at schools when precautions are taken, such as masks, distancing and proper ventilation.

But many teachers have balked at returning without getting vaccinated first against the scourge that has killed over 446,000 Americans.

Kathryn Person, a high school teacher in Chicago, wants to continue teaching remotely so she doesn't risk the health of her 91-year-old grandmother and an aunt battling lung cancer. 

In Chicago, the rancor is so great that teachers are on the brink of striking. A teacher is seen wearing a mask at a school in Princeton, Illinois, in September 2020

In Chicago, the rancor is so great that teachers are on the brink of striking. A teacher is seen wearing a mask at a school in Princeton, Illinois, in September 2020 

Person said she trusts the union will fight school officials if they try to punish teachers who won't go back.

'If they try to retaliate, when that happens we will go on strike,' she said.

President Joe Biden´s administration and Republican senators have dueling proposals for stimulus packages that would distribute billions of dollars to help schools get children back into classrooms.

About 10,000 Chicago teachers and staff and 62,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade were supposed to return to school Monday for the first time since last March.

But the Chicago school system extended remote learning for two more days and called for a cooling-off period in negotiations with the teachers union.

District-wide efforts to vaccinate Chicago's teachers won't begin until the middle of February.

In several states, lawmakers are advancing legislation to require more in-person learning.

An Iowa law, signed on Friday by Republican Gov Kim Reynolds, requires districts to offer full-time in-class instruction to parents who request it. 

Despite concerns that teachers still haven't been vaccinated, they are set to return this month.

In North Carolina, Democratic Gov Roy Cooper faces pressure from GOP lawmakers to reopen more schools. In South Carolina, a bipartisan push to get students back in class five days a week is underway.

'After this pandemic is over, I hope to never do another Zoom call,' said House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, a Democrat. 'I hate it. I can't stand them. I can't imagine being in third or fourth grade and having to stare at a screen in order to learn.'

In Utah, the Salt Lake City school system announced plans to resume in-person learning for at least two days per week under pressure from lawmakers who threatened to cut funding.

The schools chief in Washington state is pushing for teachers to get vaccinated when it's their turn but also insisting they get back to classrooms immediately, shot or not.

'The bottom line is a vaccine is a tremendous safety net, but it is never the thing that is going to create the perfect scenario,' said Chris Reykdal, superintendent of public instruction.

Emily VanDerhoff, a first-grade teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia, and a union official, was scheduled to be vaccinated last Friday. But she and others saw their appointments canceled when the vaccine supply ran low.

The Fairfax County superintendent has unveiled a tentative plan for students to start returning on February 16, but the union says less than 10 per cent of teachers feel it is safe to return.

'Even once we're all vaccinated, it's still going to take having lower community spread for people to feel safe and for it to be safer to have students in the schools,' VanDerhoff said.

San Francisco SUES its own school district and board of education to get 'kids back in classrooms as quickly as possible' amid COVID shutdown San Francisco SUES its own school district and board of education to get 'kids back in classrooms as quickly as possible' amid COVID shutdown Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 05:38 Rating: 5

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.