What We’re Doing To Bring All Our Students Back in the Fall

Gabriela López
2 min readApr 20, 2021

Fall in San Francisco is always unique because the weather starts to warm up after the foggy summer. This year, though, it’ll be even more special. We have made a commitment to welcome every student back to in-person learning this fall. And that is what’s going to happen. It means making room for more than 50,000 students, thousands more teachers, and support staff to return safely to our school buildings.

At the school district, we’ve already had a glimpse of what going back to school looks like during a pandemic. We’ve prepared for 22,000 students to return back to in-person learning in April, and the experience is helping us build toward inviting all of our students back. We’re constantly moving, and working to make it happen. It’s a huge undertaking with rigorous safety protocols and learning procedures:

Testing — we will continue to monitor COVID cases and ensure San Francisco’s residents are committing to safety as well, so our students, educators and community members feel safe returning. Last week, students and staff went through 3,000 COVID tests provided by SFUSD, and there were just two positive cases across the district (neither was in person at a school site yet). We’ll continue to test regularly, and share the results transparently so that people feel safe in our buildings. There is even a publicly-available database showing case numbers on our school districts website.

Vaccines — all of our educators have had the ability to get vaccinated. Last Thursday students aged 16 and older became eligible, and we’re reaching out to students in that age group to let them know they can get their vaccine with the support of a loving and caring adult.

Supporting every student — we’ve learned more about how to support our students individually by reaching out to families and understanding from students what they need to learn best. We’re excited to take that individual approach back into the classroom, and tie it to the social and emotional aspect that students gain from in-person contact.

Next week we’ll be welcoming back our middle school and high school students who will benefit most, according to research, from in-person learning. It’s another step on the journey. We’re also continuing to explore the possibility of expanding an entire secondary grade level this semester.

There will continue to be some bumps in the road, I am sure. But we are learning as we go. And after a tough year, I remain optimistic about the future for the San Francisco Unified School District, our students, and our staff. And I’m proud of the work that we’ve all done to get this far, together.

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Gabriela López

Youngest woman ever elected to office in San Francisco and President of the Board of Education whose background in education extends over a decade.