SFUSD allows 2,000 qualified middle, high school students to return to classroom

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The San Francisco Unified School District allowed 2,000 middle and high school students to return to school Monday morning for the first time since the shutdown in March of 2020.

That is less than 8% of the 25,672 of kids in 6th-12th grade in San Francisco.

"We truly wish we could open all of our schools for every student now. We will continue to work on solutions that meet the diverse needs of our San Francisco families," said Superintendent Vincent Matthews. He appeared at International High School along with school board members to welcome back students Monday and celebrate the occasion.

Students must meet one of these requirements to be allowed to return: lived in this country less than four years, homeless, in foster care, in public housing or struggling with distance learning. They determined that by a student's engagement. If a student has been signing in to Zoom less than 40% of the time, they qualify as struggling.

"That's exactly what we have focused on in this school district is those students who are needing in person learning the most. And given safety protocols that we are taking seriously, we are taking phase in approach to make sure we are being safe," said School Board President Gabriela Lopez.

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From Frost Elementary School, custodian Ben Moreno has been working since the pandemic began to clean his campus. Now, his work shifts to creating a safe environment for a return to in-person learning in San Jose.

"I am excited to come back to school because I do have the opportunity to see my teachers, my classmates and hang out with them and to feel connected to school and learn a little more," said Litca Badilla, who moved here from Honduras three years ago.

Jiahui Wen moved from China four months ago. Monday marked his first day ever of in-person learning in San Francisco. He said his teacher is very funny and he is excited to meet the teacher in person.

The Superintendent says this phased in approach helps officials learn what it takes to open schools safely.

"We're learning about the amount of PPE we need to have, the masks we need to have. We're learning how we traverse through the schools, the ways we enter the schools, the way we exit the schools. We're learning the staffing that it's going to take to get all of our students back," he said.

Matthews says the school district is dedicated to bringing all students back to the classrooms in the fall.

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