When Will SSFUSD Allow Students Back to School: Parents Want Answers

South San Francisco, CA  March 3, 2021

Many parents are getting angry that a year has passed and the District has not yet announced when our schools will open for regular sessions with many citing this distance learning is just not working. While ‘learning hubs’ appear to be successful for those students struggling with their education, it has not been equitable for all students and that is a great concern. “Don’t get me started on the inequities of public education based on where you live and no child left behind.” one parent stated. “Just because we’re in So City doesn’t mean our kids deserve any less of an education than someone in Palo Alto or Marin or even a few miles off in San Mateo.”

 

Schools in other districts have opened, as well as local private schools, yet parents are still waiting to learn when our District will move forward. “The district has sent out 3 surveys yet nothing has happened after the surveys.” another South City parent tells us. “The superintendent said in the last board meeting that yet again another survey is going to be sent out. So basically all SSFUSD has done is send surveys.”  The District website does not include the survey results, or the actual surveys.

 

Our District closed our schools a year ago, and staff has worked hard to find ways to help students continue learning via a few different methods, including Distance and Hybrid learning, in addition to the ‘learning hub’. However, the majority of parents who have reached out to Everything South City the past few months have found these methods lacking and want their children back in school full time. Further, many have questioned the safety of students using ZOOM as the program has been hacked several times with some experiences of the hacker showing nude body parts. “This is unacceptable” a parent exclaimed.

“I’ve heard South City won’t open schools until the State’s tier of Orange has been reached.” a parent said yet that information was not confirmed in the update provided by Trustee John Baker on his FB page dated February 22nd:

 

A collection of items related to our road to reopening and other supports based on the Board’s agenda this week and other public communications:
1. No changes have been made to the preliminary return plan that was approved by the Board on Dec. 10 and sent to families on Dec. 14. *** District officials and the Board are constantly reviewing developments***, including monitoring case and vaccination rates, and working with staff to see if and when any changes should be made.
2. Teacher and student-facing staff vaccinations are now allowed by the State! In response, the San Mateo County Office of Education is offering a staff vaccination event this week. The District is working with its staff to monitor vaccinations and offer vaccination opportunities.
3. As part of our physical classroom prep, the Board will on Thursday consider approval of a contract for a full, independent review of HVAC systems at all our campuses. District Staff has already completed installation of new, at-minimum MERV-13 filters in classrooms that can accommodate them and is deploying portable air purifiers in those that can’t.
4. We expect more learning hubs to open in the upcoming weeks as more sites are prepped, staff recruited, and funds secured. More to come!
5. Our colleagues in the San Mateo County Office of Education have implemented “four pillars” essential to creating and sustaining the safest, most healthy environment for when more students and staff when students are on campus: 1. Health and Hygiene, 2. Face coverings, 3. physical distancing, and 4. limiting gatherings. These pillars are the base of our return plan. See: https://www.smcoe.org/…/pandemic-recovery-framework-for…
6. Our meal distribution continues at Spruce, El Camino, and Westborough from 4-5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Meals are FREE to anyone under 18, regardless of financial or enrollment status.
7. There are other workings behind the scenes going on that have not been finalized, so I can’t yet share.
8. Finally, contrary to some rumors I’ve heard in the community, no decisions have been made as to if/when students will (or will not) return. We understand the difficulties that a lack of a firm schedule presents, but want to remain as flexible as possible to meet the changing course of the pandemic.
(I’m also asking our President to ask staff to update the SSFUSD webpage with more current information rather than “Discover SSFUSD’s plans for reopening in the fall of 2020.”)
Thank you for your patience, for your understanding, and working with us to ensure our students, their families, and our staff are all safe.

 

Board Agenda’s have focused, in part, on demands made by the Teacher’s Union, including updated HVAC systems through-out, and more to be done before returning, with many parents echoing “Teachers want zero risks to return but that will be impossible, life always has risks. With vaccines available and herd immunity picking up. They say they will open up when science says they can yet those susceptible to this virus are elderly and those with other health concerns, the majority of our teachers should be back educating our children!”

Other areas of concern on the Board’s agenda have focused on the Board by-laws for electing officers, filling vacancy, financial reports including Measure J funds, with a great deal of time and attention discussing if police officers should return in their SLO role on campus. (Special meeting 1.21.21 CLICK HERE for minutes) Many have opined monies would be better used for medical staff on campus, not police.

Regarding re-opening the schools again, the November 2020 Board meeting minutes reflect this information from Superintendent Dr. Moore:

Dr. Moore said the District is working on the return to in-person form that will be submitted to the County. Since the County went to the purple tier, the District is now using that to help with the re-opening waiver application for schools. So if the Board decides to wait and maintain distance learning, SSFUSD will still have a plan for whenever they decide to bring students back on campus if the Board decides to continue with the tentative start date, they want to make sure they do their best to get the plan written and submitted for approval

At this November meeting it appeared Trustee Flores understood some of the concerns parents have been expressing as the minutes show:

Vice President Flores said he wanted to make sure everyone understood that mounting evidence indicated prolonged distance learning could have long-term effects on students and families,
including future dropout rates and lower income in later years. Parents and caretakers are suffering and the system for many is not working. Under the current system, learning loss is occurring. There needs to be in-person learning for those who want it and distance learning for those who don’t.

Yet he continued that he also understood the safety issues and what the cost might be to the District to implement them. To view the full 155 pages of minutes CLICK HERE for the November 30, 2020 meeting on REOPENING. Note ALL agendas and minutes can be found CLICK HERE.  (Note at the time of this writing minutes available were up to the special meeting January 21, 2021)

 

Superintendent Dr. Moore sent out an email on February 24th updating parents the following:

February 24, 2021

Dear SSFUSD Community,

 

I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you that we have worked tirelessly with the County of San Mateo and the San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) to get our district employees vaccinated. Our district is part of a regional working group that includes other San Mateo County school districts. The San Mateo County Health Department has agreed to prioritize vaccines for employees working at school districts with the most resource challenged students in the following order:

 

• Group 1: Educators and staff who have been working in person with students

• Group 2: Educators and staff who have been working at school or district offices

• Group 3: Educators and staff who have been working remotely

 

Next week, I will distribute another letter with more details about the steps we are taking to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff when schools reopen. We will also share the planning efforts we have taken this year.

 

As you may recall, the Board of Trustees decided to expand learning hubs and prepare for bringing back small cohorts of students once San Mateo County has returned to the “orange tier” for two weeks. The small cohorts will allow us to provide additional instructional supports for identified students with higher- level needs. After that, we will gradually invite back students whose parents/guardians indicated a preference for hybrid learning and continue to explore opportunities for students to socially connect on campus.

 

While the school board has not given further direction at this time, we continue to discuss and explore reopening options with our trustees and our local unions. As new information becomes available about our reopening status, I will be sure to communicate it in a timely manner.

 

Your voice is important to us and the landscape is ever-changing. That is why we intend to distribute another parent and staff survey soon that will inform our planning efforts, decision-making, and

next steps.

 

Thank you so much for your patience and partnership; it has been a year filled with unanticipated challenges, but your involvement and perseverance has helped us to continue moving forward as best as we can.

 

In gratitude,

 

Dr. Shawnterra Moore
Superintendent

2.24.21_ Superintendent’s message on vaccines final version 2.pdf

 

 

The next Board meeting is scheduled for March 11th with WRITTEN Public Comments DUE TODAY

– you can still register to speak live .

You may send your comments to the Board of Trustees and our Superindendent at the email addresses below:

jbaker@ssfusd.org

dlujan@ssfusd.org

mrichardson@ssfusd.org

pmurray@ssfusd.org

Smoore@ssfusd.org

 

 

“I can tell you this whole year is a wash unless you were in private school and we’ve done a disservice to our children by not prioritizing their education.” a parent laments. “Tiers are arbitrary- “science” dictates kids should be in school full-time now, as many private schools already are. Parents are way too docile on this.” another parent stated. “We need to organize and protest to get our voices heard- perhaps in front of the District office with media covering it. Our kids are being hurt by this closure that is not based in science, only rooted in fear and control.”

Many local teachers have said they really miss their students and look forward to getting back to a normal schedule. “This has been a huge learning curve for us too, we’ve spent hours beyond our required time to find ways to make this work best. It is frustrating to us too.” a teacher from one of our elementary schools told us. “This past year has been hard on everyone.”

 

To that, the majority of students, District staff, and parents agree.

**Please see SSFUSD letter sent later this day, March 4th, HERE.

EDIT ADD 3.4.21 – thanks to Gloria L for this updated share from UNICEF and to RT for the post from San Francisco’s Angela Alioto

 

“A tragedy for the future of humankind.” UN Secretary-General António Guterres on a visit to our pandemic classroom installation highlighting the 168 million students out of school for almost a year due to COVID-19. As he has warned before, we’re facing a “generational catastrophe.” Reopening schools – and reopening better – is more urgent than ever. Children cannot afford another year of school closures.

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Please note an update to our website has rendered public comments not visible – we continue to find a solution to this issue. Thank you again for your patience.

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