Earlier this month we celebrated all the teachers whose resilience and creativity has helped our children and youth stay connected and learning throughout the pandemic.
This week I want to celebrate more people who are essential to making our schools work for kids –– school secretaries, custodians, security guards, cafeteria workers and teaching assistants, to name just a few.
In the world of public education, these staff are referred to as classified employees, and the California Department of Education has designated the third week of May as “Classified School Employee Week” to honor the many contributions of classified employees.
During this time of distance learning and as we bring back more students for in-person learning and prepare for a full return to in-person learning in the fall, our classified employees continue to go above and beyond to support students and families. Here are just a few examples of the work classified employees are doing.
Since closing schools due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the San Francisco Unified School District has distributed over 6.7 million meals to children and families in San Francisco. This month, we celebrated National School Lunch Hero Day to recognize the more than 200 SFUSD student nutrition service’s staff who remain committed to finding new ways to meet the need of feeding San Francisco children.
Our school lunch heroes are at locations across the city serving Grab & Go meals; providing healthy lunch and snacks to students attending in-person at over 100 schools; and providing door-to-door delivery service for 300 distance learners.
Another group of classified employees who deserve our recognition and appreciation are custodians. Custodians are cleaning and disinfecting campuses daily to ensure students and staff are learning in a safe environment in person; they make sure to open classroom windows at schools each morning to allow for better ventilation; and they ensure schoolyards are clean.
Our security guards provided assistance at our citywide nutrition service centers as well as when we had remote teaching sites all across The City during distance learning. They are now back on our sites greeting students as we have returned to in-person learning.
I could go on and on about the wonderful members of our classified staff who keep our schools running, our children fed, our campuses clean and safe, and provide much needed support for students, teachers and families.
If you know an SFUSD classified employee, please make a special effort to thank them this week.
Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.