The San Francisco Unified School District and the unions representing teachers, staff and others reached a tentative agreement this evening that will keep public schools open, for the present.
The three-page agreement, which you can read here, centers on time off for Covid-19, masks, and testing. The tentative pact was banged out in a seven-hour session today, following an earlier session last week.
At an impromptu Zoom press conference, the unions were ebullient, noting that they received all of their demands. They will now receive an extra 10 covid-related sick days to either recover or care for others, the district has committed to providing high-quality N95 or KN95-type masks for staff and students, and it has additionally agreed to provide enough testing that students and staff can request one a week.
Cassondra Curiel, the president of United Educators-San Francisco, noted that the 10 days’ leave is effective immediately, and can be applied for retroactively. The district has already amassed some 100,000 high-quality masks and is in the process of disseminating them, and the agreement calls for a “constant” number to be on hand. And testing must be provided at all school and worksites; Curiel anticipated that 60,000 tests must be on hand at any time.
In a statement, SFUSD Superintendent Vince Matthews said, ” I’m grateful to our labor partners for their work in ensuring we can continue to support students where we know they learn and thrive best — in school. We are glad to be able to provide additional sick leave in recognition of our employees’ ongoing commitment to the health and safety of our school communities.”
Last week’s session between the unions and district came on the same day as a planned teacher “sickout.” Hundreds of teachers and staff, whether because of illness or in order to make a statement, did not come to work. The district has been struggling to keep classes running amid heavy teacher and student absences.
The teachers’ union earlier accused the district of fomenting a testing crisis by failing to provide students with at-home tests prior to the winter break and require a negative test to return to instruction.
Curiel thanked the district and her fellow union representatives for today’s agreement. But she added that “this may not be the last bump,” and additional agreements may have to be made as covid continues to ravage this and every city.
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