The order called the school district’s decision to remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic “unconscionable and unlawful” and alleged it had violated children’s constitutional rights.
With public schools in San Francisco — and elsewhere in the US — having been shuttered for nearly a year, many officials have been pushing to resume in-person education even as some teachers voice concerns over the health risks.
In the city’s filing Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court, attorneys argued that a preliminary injunction should be granted on multiple grounds, stating that the San Francisco Unified School District’s “failure to reopen schools violates the constitutional right to attend school.”
Earlier this week, the district reached a tentative agreement with the teacher’s union that in-person teaching could resume either once the city is in the orange tier of the state’s reopening criteria, or once all staff is vaccinated. Mayor London Breed said if that agreement stands, it’s likely that schools would not resume this school year.
The city argued remote learning is “having horrific mental health consequences for children,” with the University of California, San Francisco Children’s hospital reporting “the highest number of suicidal children seen and treated in the emergency department on record.”
The San Francisco Unified School District said it was working with the city and labor unions to reopen as soon as possible.
“We wholeheartedly agree that students are better served with in-person learning,” the district said in a statement. “This is a frivolous lawsuit and is taking resources away from the reopening process. We have called on the City to make vaccines available and to support staff and student surveillance testing. These calls have not been answered but are exactly what we need to move this process forward.”
City attorneys also took issue with the suggestion that all teachers must be vaccinated before in-class instruction could resume.
“The scientific consensus of federal, state and local health officials is that it is safe to return to in-person instruction with basic precautions, like masks, physical distance, handwashing and proper ventilation,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. “Vaccines are not a prerequisite.”
A court date for the issue is scheduled for March 22.
CNN’s Dan Simon wrote and reported from San Francisco. Madeline Holcombe wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Sarah Moon contributed to this report.
Source: CNN – US News