SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco Unified School District welcomed back preschool through 3rd grade students at 22 of the city's 64 elementary schools Monday for the first day of in person learning since the city shutdown in March 2020.
"I feel wonderful. This has been like a dream come true," said Maelene Lintz as she stood in line for her kids to receive a health screening outside of Bret Harte Elementary School before they headed in to class.
Marquez Boyd said his second grader was doing ok with distance learning but needed to be back in the classroom to see his peers.
"It's more for him to be sociable, he had been missing interacting with kids. Only going to the park a couple hours a day isn't enough," Boyd said.
SFUSD's Superintendent and San Francisco's Mayor greeted kids outside Bret Harte Elementary in San Francisco's Bayview District.
"I am really happy for them. I am happy for their future," said Mayor London Breed.
"It's just the beginning. I want us to be in a better place, to do more and let more kids be allowed here. But this is better than it was, so I am going to appreciate this moment," she said.
Bret Harte will welcome back 4th and 5th graders next week. The superintendent said more schools will open this month.
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"Today, we started with 22 schools. By end of this month it will be 107, 22,000 students. So your time is coming, if you are elementary," Superintendent Vincent Matthews said.
Only a few middle and high school students will return to the classroom this school year.
"For middle and high schools, our focal groups are returning on April 26. Our focal groups include our moderate and severe special education, our homeless and foster youth, and students we have struggled to engage. We are still looking at the possibility of getting one grade level back but for most middle and high school it will be the Fall," Matthews said.
The Mayor said she will keep pushing for more students to return.
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"Over 50% of our residents have been vaccinated, at least with their first dose. Over 85% over 75 have been vaccinated. We are in a really good place. So at this point, there really is no reason we can't open our schools safely," Mayor Breed said.
The moms who did get to send their kids off agree that it is time, saying being at home is just not the same.
"They've been out of school for too long. These are the sponge years. They need to learn and I am not a teacher, I am just a mom," Lintz said.
The principal at Bret Harte said about 80% of students chose to return to class rather than continue distance learning.
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