Feb 3, 2021 - Health

San Francisco sues school board, district to resume in-person classes

People walking past Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco in December 2020.
People walking past Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco in December 2020. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The city of San Francisco filed a lawsuit against its own school district on Wednesday to try to reopen schools as the coronavirus pandemic persists, City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced.

Why it matters: The suit alleges that San Francisco school board’s reopening plan violates a California mandate requiring districts to adopt a clear procedure “to offer classroom-based instruction whenever possible” during the pandemic.

What they're saying: "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," Herrera said.

  • “Various public schools in Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Napa counties have all figured it out,” he added. “Private and parochial schools in San Francisco have figured it out. In-person instruction needs to be the Board of Education’s singular focus..."

Context: Teachers unions in the state have said they won’t go back to classrooms until they are vaccinated and more COVID-19 safeguards are in place.

  • School board and district officials cited a lack of testing and vaccines in San Fransisco and new variants as reasons for holding off on reopening campuses, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The big picture: The lawsuit seeks a court order directing the district to prepare to offer in-person instruction, saying "the school district and its independently elected leadership have already squandered months of opportunity to develop a real plan as required by state law" and "it is possible to do so safely" at this time.

What to watch: "If granted, the order would compel the district to act at that point, before the final outcome of the case," Herrera's statement said.

Go deeper