Returning Jan. 25 Students to Be Voted Next Week by S.F. School Board Members

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On Tuesday, the San Francisco School Board suggested allowing public schools to reopen by January 25 of next year. According to several reports, three of the seven Board Education members agreed to this proposal.

Due to the pressure brought in earlier weeks concerning the schools’ reopening date, the board has decided to settle with January 25 as the specific day of the return. Mayor London Breed openly encourages campuses to resume physical classes for their students, along with the agitated complaints from parents demanding schools’ fixed resuming of students’ physical school attendance.

A few of the district’s main reasons for not giving a fixed back-to-school schedule are the ongoing negotiations with teachers and the lack of school resources to welcome back thousands of students after many quarantine months due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

However, Breed and other proponents proclaimed that the reopening of schools could help parties involved to struggle less with the education system. By letting schools resume their normal operations, students struggling academically and socially with distance learning can learn their lessons better with a teacher physically present to guide them. Additionally, working parents can also do their work more freely without worrying too much about their children’s academic challenges with online learning.

The idea proposes that the reopening process can be done in groups, depending on batches’ priority. According to the measure, the right to resume classes could be granted to a school administrator, starting with elementary schools prioritizing students suffering from moderate to severe ailments and incapacities. Preschool, transitional kindergarten, kindergarten, and first-grade pupils may follow. According to district staff, the first phase of the reopening would include at least 10,000 students returning to school campuses. Other grade sections would follow suit on a rolling basis.

During recent weeks, many parents question the division’s resolution of considering school reopenings as one of its utmost priorities. Due to these suspicions, the S.F. School Board largely dodged the issue during official briefings.

According to S.F. School Board member Jenny Lam, the entire board would push the plan’s voting process as early as next week. Vice President Gabriela Lopez and Stevon Cook spearheaded the proposal, and Lam is also one of the plan’s co-authors. 

On Monday, Lam issued an official statement regarding the issue. 

“The board needs to get to governing and ensuring the district work toward a concrete plan,” declared Lam. “At the heart of this is our students and their education,” she added.

Furthermore, Mayor London Breed expressed her affirmation on the proposal through a letter sent to Mark Sanchez, the school board’s present. In her letter, Breed said that she acknowledges the people’s fear of increasing cases due to schools reopening in the middle of the pandemic. However, she still encourages the proposal to push through despite these concerns.

“I urge you to continue this important work,” Breed said. “Our goal as a City should be to get our cases numbers down so that we can get our kids back in school starting in January,” she added.

To address parents’ and school staff’s concerns with the reopening, district officers would propose the option for families to continue their children’s distance learning schedule if they are not comfortable with their kids attending face-to-face classroom sessions. 

Meanwhile, other parents tearfully admitted their children’s emotional and academic struggles with online courses. Kathya Correa Almanza, a high school senior and student board member, expressed her gratitude towards those parents who spoke up regarding the matter. According to her, many of her fellow students are having a hard time with the new school learning methods.

“I appreciate the reality check,” stated Almanza, adding, “We can hear your voices.”

District officials must submit to the board a reopening outline for elementary schools on December 8 of this year once the proposal gets officially approved.