SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Parents, teachers, city leaders, and school board members are all finding it hard to get on the same page for COVID safety in the San Francisco Unified School District.
On Monday night a San Francisco Board of Education member sounded the alarm.
Alison Collins spoke to KRON4’s Haaziq Madyun. It’s a story you will only see on KRON 4.
A tweet from San Francisco Board of Education President Gabriela Lopez reads “After years of this request, San Francisco Department of Public Health is still refusing to come and speak at the school board and answer questions for the public. Our schools and educators are drowning during the omicron surge and we need to hear directly from experts at our meeting next Tuesday.”
Officials at SFDPH confirmed, they are not taking the board president up on the invitation.
“We need to do better at working together to be planning ahead,” said SF Board of Education member Alison Collins.
It is lack of planning for the post winter break COVID surge, on the part of SFUSD and SF city leaders, that SF board of education commissioner Alison Collins believes created a crisis for parents, teachers, and students.
“This is an educational emergency! We have schools that are barely able to function because of lack of staffing. We’re trying to fill gaps with parent volunteers. We’re trying to fill gaps with central office staff, and that’s just not acceptable,” Collins said.
Collins says, limited available testing sites in the district and overcrowded testing locations that are open to the public are two major problems going into the second week of school
“It is hard to find tests. You look to make an appointment and you have a week to wait. that is not acceptable for folks who want to stay safe,” Collins said.
“The line was out the door, around the block, up the hill, and at the end of the day when we shut down there still people who wanted more testing,” said SFUSD parent Alita Fisher.
Fisher is describing her recent experience at public testing site in the city’s Lakeview district. She talks about how the lack of available testing is disrupting the regular school routine of special needs students in the district.
“There’s a lot of families who have kids with disabilities, especially those kids who are immunocompromised. We are really worried about the lack of information, guidance changing under omicron. How transmissible. It is just super scary for families,” Fisher said.
“We know the demand is very high. We are doing everything that we can to get tests into the hands of staff and families,” said SFUSD spokesperson Laura Dudnik.
In fact, Dudnik says this week thousands of take-home tests provided by the state are going out this week.
“So we have about 56,000 of those. We’re working on getting those to schools right now so that schools can get those into the hands of students and families this week,” Dudnik said.
Commissioner Collins says it is not too late for SFUSD to follow the lead of other school districts in the state
“Other districts are doing this better, and we need to learn from them. We need to make it easier for families,” Collins said.