SF students get ready for in-person learning in the fall

Brooklyn Robinson will start 8th grade next year at Gateway Middle School. He’s happy to get vaccinated, keeping in mind the importance of keeping community safe. He and his mother live in Bayview. – Photo: Daphne Young

by Daphne Young, Education Editor

Students are leading by example at Burton High School in San Francisco’s Portola area, where they’re lining up to get vaccinated. Some are even earning Giants baseball tickets to a future game!

“We’re seeing parents, grandparents, cousins, nephews, nieces, aunts.” said Dr. Maria Lopez, president of Mission Wellness. “Anybody can come get vaccinated. Some people come and then they text their neighbor. The great thing about this week is that we’re offering Giants tickets,” said Dr. Lopez. “They come and get a vaccine and then they get a voucher for a Giants ticket.” 

For the past month, San Francisco Unified School District has provided COVID-19 vaccination clinics at Burton High School and other SFUSD schools.

Since anyone 12 years and older can now get vaccinated, SFUSD student wellness ambassadors like Joyce Truong are urging students to come and get the shot. “I volunteered to be here because I want to tell youth to get vaccinated so they can go back to in person school in the fall,” said Truong.

Fellow Wellness Ambassador Alan Wang has another reason why he thinks students should get vaccinated. “There’s a new Delta variant coming on and people who are unvaccinated are at greatest risk, so if you want to protect yourself from new variants, including the Delta one, then get vaccinated,” said Wang. 

Bay View Education Reporter Daphne Young toured Burton High School’s COVID-19 clinic, speaking with a range of people including student wellness ambassadors Joyce Truong and Alan Wang, SFUSD Superintendent Matthews and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who came for the day to tour the facility, calling it an exemplary model for educational sites all over the state.

The SFUSD COVID-19 Clinic at Burton High School is open to the public until Aug. 12, 2021. The hours are 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. 

Thirteen-year-old Brooklyn Robinson, who attends Gateway Middle School, stopped by with his mom to get vaccinated. He says he’s glad. “I feel like I want things to be normal again and that’s why I came here to get the vaccine. So, we can get our world back together … and keep the community healthy,” said Brooklyn. 

Brooklyn’s family lives in Bayview and his mom says her own medical issues forced her to bring her son to get vaccinated. “I think it’s necessary because I’ve had a lot of health problems due to surgery on my knee. So, everybody in my family decided to get the shots because they wanted to be around me, I guess, and they couldn’t come into the hospital. And I finally decided it was time for Brooklyn. Just for his safety,” said Ms. Robinson.

Dr. Maria Lopez agrees. “The important thing is that we’re offering vaccines here in the neighborhood and for SFUSD families. It’s not just for students. Anybody in the community can come. Just come on in. We have a federal pharmacy vaccine supply so anybody can get vaccinated here at Burton,” said Dr. Lopez. 

SFUSD Board of Education President Gabriela Lopez adds, “What we know about schools is communities trust us first. They trust their teachers, families especially. So, it’s important that we can bring them to a space where they feel safe and there’s a lot of trusted sources. Now we’re partnering with experts, medical experts, and we’re building leadership among our youth.”

A 2020 photo collage of Burton High’s students in their classrooms. This fall 2021, kids and teachers will return to in-person learning – safely, and regardless of vaccination status. – Photo: SFUSD

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond visited San Francisco in late June and toured Burton High School’s COVID clinic. Thurmond applauded the student wellness ambassadors and young people who’ve come to the clinic for leading the way in helping to get other students vaccinated. 

“I think it’s very special that this district has commissioned these ambassadors to be peer mentors and communicators to other young people about the importance of vaccines,” said Superintendent Thurmond. “There’s no question that all California schools are moving towards being opened in-person during the fall. And we all know that the game changer for making that happen and keeping our schools opened safely is getting a vaccine. So, I want to commend everyone at SFUSD for leading with these great examples. We hope to replicate some of those examples statewide,” said Thurmond.

Thurmond added that on July 21st, the State of California plans to roll out a similar program aimed at getting more young people vaccinated across the state. 

Those families who don’t want their kids to get vaccinated will also be welcomed back to class in the fall.

Meanwhile, SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews continues to urge families to keep getting vaccinated so students will be ready for the fall. On May 25, 2021, SFUSD officially announced that the district plans to offer in-person learning at all SFUSD schools. So he suggests summer as a great time to get 12-year-olds and teens vaccinated.

“If you can’t get here to Burton, there are places all over the city to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Matthews. “What’s most important is the more people we have vaccinated the more effective we are going to be at preventing the spread of COVID-19,” he added. “The best way that we as San Franciscans take care of each other is by getting vaccinated.

Board of Education President Gabriela Lopez reminds us that those families who don’t want their kids to get vaccinated will also be welcomed back to class in the fall.

“One thing that we’ve made clear for our families, even going back to getting COVID tested, is that this is not anything that we’re enforcing or pressuring families to do,” said Lopez. “We understand there are many, many issues and reasons why people make that decision not to.

“The main part of our goal is to give you all of the information, to provide a space that’s near you, available to you with all of the necessary information and we’ll welcome students as they come. Everyone will have a seat at our schools,” said Lopez.

For more information about the SFUSD COVID-19 Clinic at Burton High School and other SFUSD school locations go to www.SFUSD.edu.

References

https://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/

https://www.sfusd.edu/about-sfusd/sfusd-news/current-news-sfusd/sfusd-preparing-full-return-fall-2021#:~:text=San%20Francisco%20(May%2025%2C%202021,the%202021%2D22%20school%20year

Daphne Young is the Education Reporter at the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper. The Chicago native is an award-winning journalist who’s covered news for radio and TV stations around the country. She attended San Francisco State University and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. If you have an education story that you’d like to see the Bay View cover, please contact Daphne by email: education@sfbayview.com.