For Immediate Release
March 4, 2022
Contact: Amanda Hart, firstname.lastname@example.org
SFUSD, Unions Announce Transition to Recommended Masking in Middle and High Schools Beginning March 12 and April 2 for All Sites
San Francisco (March 4, 2022) – The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and representatives from the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), Local 21; Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 1021; United Administrators of San Francisco (UASF); and the United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) announced today that starting March 12, 2022, masking will be strongly recommended but not required at middle and high schools, and at central office worksites.
The agreement between SFUSD and its unions also states that starting April 2, 2022, masking will be strongly recommended but not required at all district schools and worksites, including PreKindergarten, Transitional Kindergarten, elementary and K-8 schools.
On March 12, California will adopt new indoor mask policies and move from mask requirements to mask recommendations in schools. The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) announced that the City will align with the State to remove the requirement that children wear masks in TK-12 schools and early childcare settings beginning March 12.
“We are committed to following public health guidance, and our health officials have stated that masks in schools are no longer required but still recommended. We are starting with middle and high schools, where there are higher vaccination rates, in order to give more time for families of younger students to get their children vaccinated,” SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. “We recognize changes in masking and contact tracing practices will be a transition for our community. Throughout this pandemic we have had to constantly change but I trust we are moving in the right direction when we follow the science.”
“United Administrators of San Francisco (UASF) is in full support of our joint MOU created by the Unions of San Francisco and the District,” UASF President Michael Essien said. “It allows ample time for our staff, students, and families to adjust to the new procedures regarding group tracing and masking.”
“Since the beginning, UESF, along with the other unions of SFUSD, have prioritized and advocated for safety standards that meet the needs of our community. Together we organized and won quality masks, regular testing, ventilation, and COVID sick days. And with all of those multilayers of mitigation outlined in our ongoing health and safety agreement still in place, we support an ease in the mask mandate that still provides time for our youngest students to get vaccinated,” said UESF President Cassondra Curiel.
“SEIU 1021 is proud to have continuously stood up for the health and safety of SFUSD students, families, employees, and our community throughout this pandemic, and we will continue to do so. The latest agreement is yet another step in this direction and ensures that all San Francisco children are able to get the education they need and deserve in our public schools,” said SEIU 1021 SFUSD Chapter President Rafael Picazo.
“IFPTE 21 is honored to stand beside our union siblings as we worked diligently with District staff to advocate for those who are most vulnerable,” IFPTE 21 President Jan Gyn said. “Securing agreements like the one we did yesterday is an investment in our communities and maintaining safe environments for our members, students and the staff of SFUSD.”
As part of the agreement to transition to recommended masking, SFUSD will direct school site and central office leaders to post at the entrances of all schools and worksites signage that says masks are strongly recommended for all staff, students, and visitors.
SFUSD officials meet and confer with labor group representatives before making any major changes to the district’s COVID-19 safety protocols.
Effective March 24, 2022, SFUSD will implement the group tracing method of COVID-19 contact tracing. Group contact tracing allows students who are close contacts to stay in school and test unless they have or develop symptoms. SFDPH strongly recommends childcare and schools implement a group tracing approach to decrease the number of missed school days.
In the event of a positive COVID-19 case at a school or work site, SFUSD will make every effort to make available upon request from the site administrator in-person on-site assistance for staff and families to access testing, as well as backup assistance (e.g. staffed telephone assistance in the appropriate languages for registering for tests).
SFUSD will continue to provide an adequate supply of COVID-19 tests at school and work sites for all staff and students to be able to test between days 3 and 5 of exposure. SFUSD has been distributing PPE, including tens of thousands of surgical and cloth masks as well as some KN95s, to all schools since reopening for hybrid learning in spring 2021. SFUSD is operationalizing one of the largest COVID-19 testing efforts in San Francisco and has made reliable testing regularly available to students and staff since last spring.
SFUSD is actively following health and safety protocols in compliance with state and local public health guidance to curb the spread of COVID-19, so that our schools can remain safe, welcoming, and healthy environments.
In the event of a change to public health guidance regarding masking or group tracing, or in the event that the COVID-19 Community Level according to the CDC reaches the “High” category in San Francisco County, SFUSD and the unions agree to meet and confer upon request from either party.
All SFUSD students and staff, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or where their work location is, are expected to use the rapid tests distributed to them by SFUSD immediately prior to returning from spring break. Spring break takes place March 28 – April 1, with students returning to schools on Monday, April 4.