More than 600 teachers, school staff absent in San Francisco
More than 600 teachers and aides in San Francisco were absent on Tuesday, causing every district employee with a teaching credential, including the superintendent, to help cover a class amid a surge in COVID-19 infections in the area.
With only 157 substitutes available and despite making use of an estimated 100 available office employees, there was still a shortage of adults to cover all the classrooms, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“This is an unprecedented moment for public education,” Deputy Superintendent Gentle Blythe said, according to the Chronicle.
Among those filling in for absent teachers was the head of human resources, school health officials, labor relations representatives and a district lawyer as well as a chief of staff, chief academic officer and others, the newspaper added.
“Our kids can’t go without teachers and adult supervision,” Blythe added.
Roughly the same number of absences were reported on Monday, the first day schools reopened following the holiday break. But the officials from the teachers union called the move to have office staffers fill in for instructors “utterly unsustainable,” the Chronicle added.
“We see the effects of these decisions in failing to meet the needs of education workers and our students during this pandemic, at the height of the omicron variant fueled surge,” the United Educators of San Francisco said Tuesday, according to the Chronicle. “Conditions have changed, and maintaining safe conditions requires all to step up.”
Over the four-day holiday weekend, the Bay Area averaged about 9,700 cases per day, more than double the previous peak that was seen about a year ago of about 4,700 cases, the Chronicle noted.
Other school districts elsewhere in the country have also struggled with plans to return to in-person classes.
In Chicago, classes were canceled on Wednesday after the teachers union voted against in-person instruction, a move criticized by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D).
“There is no basis in the data, the science or common sense for us to shut an entire system down when we can surgically do this at a school level,” the mayor said.