SF distributes vaccine priority codes to city schools

San Francisco has received its first vaccine priority access codes from the state for teachers, Mayor London Breed announced Wednesday.

San Francisco has received its first vaccine priority access codes from the state for teachers, Mayor London Breed announced Wednesday.

The codes are part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s previously announced effort that began Monday to allocate 10 percent of the state’s vaccine to educators amid ongoing negotiations on bringing students back to learn at physical school sites.

The San Francisco Unified School District and United Educators are currently focused on opening 38 school sites, known as wave 1 and wave 2 schools, beginning with grades kindergarten through the second grade. No date for reopening has been set yet.

Since an agreement between the district and teachers’ union requires vaccinations of teachers before in-person teaching would resume while The City remains in the state’s COVID-19 red tier, the access codes could help facilitate that effort. The City moved into the red tier Wednesday, out of the most restrictive tier, as cases have declined across the state.

“Last night, we received our first vaccine priority access codes from the state for our educators who are in the classroom or who are heading back soon,” Breed said in a statement. “We’ve distributed this first set of codes to the San Francisco Unified School District for distribution to public school educators and support staff, including charter schools, that are slated to return to the classroom first.”

Breed also said that the Department of Public Health “is working directly with our parochial and private schools to make sure their teachers who are teaching in person have access.”

About 2,600 codes were given to SFUSD for their wave 1 and wave 2 schools and 1,000 to private and parochial schools that have returned to in-person learning, according to the Mayor’s Office. The City also has additional codes it has yet to distribute.

“SFUSD has now gained access to 2,650 unique codes from The City and is sending those codes to staff who are currently working in person at school sites and/or who are in the first group scheduled to return,” the school district said in a statement. “SFUSD continues to work with The City to expedite the process of getting vaccines for all staff members who are a critical part of the district’s return to in-person learning.”

San Francisco opened up vaccine eligibility to teachers last week, but appointments are limited due to the lack of vaccine supply.

“These codes can be used to schedule appointments at Moscone Center and other Bay Area sites now,” said Breed, who has been calling for schools to open for in-person learning. “While these access codes are meant to prioritize those teaching in person or those returning to the classroom soon by opening reserved appointments only, all educators can continue to have access to vaccination appointments as they have had since last week.”

In a joint statement Wednesday, Board of Education President Gabriela Lopez and San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews were critical of The City for not doing more to help teachers get access to the vaccine.

“We have an agreement with our employees to begin opening school sites once The City is in the red tier and staff have been vaccinated,” Matthews said in a statement. “Until we move to the orange tier, any delays in getting staff vaccinated will result in senseless delays in opening schools. The City has had the ability to vaccinate our educators for over a week and staff are still having trouble getting appointments. As we’ve repeatedly stated, we need The City to immediately prioritize access for our educators.”

Lopez said, “As we continue to make progress on our negotiations to return to in-person learning, we need all the support we can get from city partners.”

“I’d like for our city partners to join us in putting on a teacher vaccination day like nearby counties have for their educators,” she said. “Up to now, teachers have been scrambling to make appointments at Walgreens and CVS, but without the priority codes, they had to get things done the best way they could.”

Education workers “will receive up to 75,000 single-use codes statewide to make an appointment to be vaccinated,” said a Feb. 25 statement from the governor’s office.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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