San Francisco has seen a downfall in its level of infections since the beginning of the pandemic. After a tide of CoVID cases over the summer, the city has finally breathed a sigh of relief. Their levels of cases have decreased and it all seems quite bright down in San Francisco at the moment. Restaurants, movie theaters, and museums have also opened at a capacity of 25 percent. The schools, in particular the public schools, however, are still closed.
The private and parochial schools have begun their classes. However, the school district is yet to set a timeline to resume in-person instruction. It is not likely to begin this calendar year.
Many urban districts have already opened or have set dates for the partial reopening of schools. These include New York, Miami, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. San Francisco’s decision to stay closed during this fall has faced resentment from many bodies. These include parents, local health experts, and the mayor, London Breed, who has no control over the school system.
This has also started sharp talks in this politically progressive city. There are debates on how to educate low-income and minority students in a safe environment during the pandemic. There are also questions on who represents the Asian, Latino, and Black families, who comprise the majority of the district.
Frustrations over school reopenings have reached peak
Frustrations in San Francisco reached a peak over the last month when District Administrators told the principals of roughly one-third of the district’s 125 public schools that the communities need to start brainstorming new school names. This is due to the reason that the current names had a historical association with slavery, genocide, colonization, or other injustices. The list consisted of schools named after Abraham Lincoln, Goerge Washington, and the state’s senior US senator, Dianne Feinstein.
Mayor Breed stated that it was offensive for the district to be putting their focus on renaming schools rather than putting forward an appropriate plan to reopen them. 52,000 students of the district have been taking all their classes remotely since school has resumed.
She also added that from her perspective, the school system isn’t being clear about one of the most important things to kids and parents of the city. Furthermore, she added that while the district was making talks about seeking equity by renaming schools, the achievement gap was growing and the kids living in poverty are falling behind.
“Lets not make this about race”:San Francisco Mayor Breed
Mark Sanchez, the president of the Board of Education in response, said that the school renaming process has nothing to do with the reopening preparations. He also added that the district has said that they are far from ready to resume classroom instructions.
Sanchez, a fourth-grade teacher in a nearby district has suggested that the district’s poor Black and Latino parents aren’t eager to send their children back to school. He claimed that only a few well-off families are eager to send their kids back to school.
Moreover, he said, “I would imagine that families are choosing not to go because they’re afraid. These are families that are service industry workers, which come from communities that have a higher rate of infection, who don’t want to put their kids in harm’s way.”
Ms. Breed, however, rejected the idea that the issue of school reopening has divided the families by race. She has said that people from the minority communities are finding it hard to manage their kids’ distance learning. This is due to certain factors such as language barriers etc. “Let’s not make this about race when we talk about children, because all kids matter,” she said.
In a school district survey in early July, nearly 60 percent of families said that they would send their kids back to school, either fully in-person or for a hybrid schedule. Although, white families have responded to the survey at a disproportionately high rate.