Parent and educators’ questions on reopening schools…
Last night the Superintendent shared more detailed plans about staff efforts on reopening schools. It was very helpful to see movement in key areas, like testing, and also hear more details and timelines for bringing various groups of students back to schools.
Additionally, I am also deeply appreciative of my colleague’s efforts to expand this conversation and make this process more transparent. Commissioner Jenny Lam, Stevon Cook, and Gabriela Lopez have introduced a resolution to expand on the Superintendent’s work which delineates clear timelines and additionally calls on the Superintendent to partner with City agencies like the SF Department of Public Health and health experts at UCSF. You can read the proposed resolution here in English and Spanish. We plan to vote to approve it next Tuesday, during a special meeting on November 17, 2020.
While this progress is reassuring, I still hear frustration from staff and families that the decision-making process still doesn’t feel inclusive. Even as a Board Commissioner, I often feel like an audience member at our meetings. One specific example is that district staff made a decision to reduce the number of students it proposes to initially bring back, eliminating second graders who were originally included in discussions this summer. When asked about it at last night’s meeting, I was told the change was made this fall, yet for some reason information was neither shared with the public nor Board members. When changes that impact large groups of students are made without input, it decreases trust with families who rely on us to keep them informed.
For these reasons, I am pushing for more transparency and accountability in the coordination and decision-making process. I am working with Commissioner Jenny Lam to introduce an amendment to Commissioner Lam, Lopez and Cook’s resolution and will share details later this week. Public feedback has been wide-ranging and it is unlikely we will be able to create a plan that meets every family’s needs. Nonetheless, I believe it is important to ensure we are transparent about who, how, and why we make decisions in this process. Additionally, I’d like to see Board Commissioners take a more active role in ensuring accountability and partnership with city and community partnerships.
I continually feel like I am asking when and where we will collectively look under the hood of our district’s re-entry plans, and it often seems like folks nod in agreement, and then move the agenda along. I know this process is time-consuming and not everyone needs to know all the details, but I think for parents and educators like me, it helps to understand how decisions are made. Sharing obstacles and challenges also allows City officials, families, and private partners to help. I believe that this is a big part of building trust with our SFUSD community, which is especially important if we are going to ask educators, families, and students to trust in our district’s ability to keep them and their families safe.
Questions about School Reopening
I’ve been asking the following questions of staff which will hopefully be answered at next Tuesday’s Board meeting on November 17, 2020, at 3pm. (Click here to see upcoming Board Meetings as they are posted.)
How many total students are enrolled in the following groups: PK, K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12?
Of students in those groups, how many families are interested in returning to sites? How are we surveying families to determine interest?
Please break out distinctions between Moderate Severe and Deaf and Hard of Hearing students who will be served in Phase 2a. Which disabled populations will this serve?
Please explain phased student groupings: 2A/2B. Who is in which groups and how were these groupings decided?
Where do student fit that are currently identified by coordinated care as needing in-person academic support?
How are staff establishing what a safe/ventilated room is? How are we measuring WHO recommended air exchange rate of 6/hour?
How are staff establishing seat capacity? Is this based on 6” social distancing for all students or some other method (e.g. partitions)?
How many classroom seats are available at various grade levels? In which schools?
What will be required in order to reorganize class lists to accommodate varying needs for in-person learning? How will this impact folks who choose to stay in distance learning? (If the teacher to student ratio is 1:12, how will this impact distance learning?)
How will instruction change with in-person learning as compared to pre-COVID learning? (How will this affect school schedules and potential teacher assignment?)
How are staff currently surveying families based on the basic conditions we plan to provide? (What do we plan to provide?)
What were the previous survey results? How did they break down by race, SES, and neighborhood?
How is the district currently surveying staff based on basic conditions we plan to provide?
What are the minimum requirements for SFDPH testing of staff?
- Exposure testing
- Symptoms testing
- On-demand/as needed