SF mayor, teachers union spar over school reopening plan and COVID-19 vaccinations

Liz Kreutz Image
ByLiz Kreutz KGO logo
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
SF mayor, teachers union spar over vaccines, reopening schools
EMBED <>More Videos

Mayor London Breed on Tuesday expressed concerns about the new agreement between the teachers union and the San Francisco Unified School District to reopen schools.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The fight over reopening schools in San Francisco continues.

Mayor London Breed on Tuesday expressed concerns about the new agreement between the teachers union and the San Francisco Unified School District to reopen schools.

She said the current agreement, which requires all staff be vaccinated before returning to the classroom, means it's almost certain in-person learning will not resume this school year.

RELATED: SF public schools prepare for in-person learning, but no date given

"I don't think it's realistic that we can expect schools to open this school year," Breed said during an afternoon press conference. "When you incorporate the vaccine into the requirement, I understand this is something that's important to the union, but at the same time, we are doing everything we can based on supply to get vaccines to people in San Francisco."

The current agreement says San Francisco public schools can resume in-person classes once all staff is vaccinated and the city is in the red tier.

Breed announced that on Feb. 24, San Francisco will enter Phase 1B of vaccinations. That means teachers and childcare workers, grocery store workers and emergency workers, including police officers will be able to get vaccinated.

VIDEO: SF files lawsuit against its own school district to force classrooms to reopen

The city of San Francisco has filed a lawsuit against its own school district and the school board over reopening plans.

Even so, Breed said the vaccine supply shortage means it's unclear how long it would take for all teachers to be vaccinated. She said she wants students to return to the classroom even sooner.

"There's no way I would have ever supported using the legal system to try and get our schools open if we were on a path forward and if it weren't for the Department of Public Health telling us that it is safe to do so," Breed said. "We have to do better. We have to think about these children."

On Tuesday, the city attorney expanded the lawsuit against the San Francisco Unified School District. City Attorney Dennis Herrera added three new allegations, accusing the district of violating students' rights under the state's constitution, discriminating against students on the basis of wealth, and violating state law. The original lawsuit was filed last Wednesday.

RELATED: San Francisco will start vaccinating teachers, food workers in 2 weeks

In a statement, the president of United Educators of San Francisco, the union representing the teachers, responded to the lawsuit and Breed's criticism of the agreement.

"We are frustrated to see the San Francisco Mayor and City Attorney further politicize this difficult moment and continue to attempt to redirect our energy to a frivolous and distracting lawsuit," UESF president Susan Solomon said.

She said the union would welcome the opportunity to work with the city to begin vaccinating teachers before Feb. 24.

"If the Mayor moves quickly to vaccinate teachers and staff and helps provide testing for schools, then we too can move quickly and get our students back to the classroom safely this school year," she said. "This would require collaboration and a real plan that outlines concrete support from the City for vaccines and testing that we have yet to see."