SF sues itself

Image via iStock

New lines have been drawn in the sand of California’s school reopening battle.

Gov. Gavin Newsom at a Wednesday press conference said he believes schools can safely reopen before all teachers have received the COVID-19 vaccine — a stance that puts him at odds with the powerful California Teachers Association and signals intensified negotiations to come. And in an indication of how difficult it’s been for unions and elected officials to reach a consensus, San Francisco on Wednesday took the unprecedented step of suing its own school district and board of education to force campuses to reopen.

  • San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera“The Board of Education and the school district have had more than 10 months to roll out a concrete plan to get these kids back in school. So far they have earned an F. Having a plan to make a plan doesn’t cut it.”
  • United Educators of San FranciscoWe’ve “been calling for the city to help with resources, such as COVID testing and vaccines, but this has not happened.”

The news came the same day that Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that “vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools” — though the White House later said Walensky’s comments don’t represent official CDC guidance.

With Newsom’s $2 billion school reopening plan indefinitely stalled, the state is running out of time to get its 6.1 million public school students back on campus before the academic year draws to a close. A group of Democratic lawmakers in January introduced a bill that would require schools to reopen once they exit the purple tier, but is also working with the governor’s office to develop a joint solution.

Meanwhile, the battle rages on: A middle and high school in San Diego County reopened this week, prompting the California Teachers Association to accuse them of violating state rules that prohibit schools in purple-tier counties from reopening. County and district officials say they aren’t breaking the rules.

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics. 

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