“Zoom in a Room”

Jill Tucker:

Thousands of San Francisco students heading back to their classrooms this month will be carrying their computers to school each day and sitting in front of a screen to learn from their teachers — who will remain at home.

That’s because nearly 500 district teachers and classroom aides scheduled to return to in-person instruction won’t because they have a medical exemption, allowing them to continue teaching online even if their students are at school, where they are supervised by a credentialed substitute or other qualified staff member.

That’s an estimated 10% of eligible educators.

Parents call it “Zoom in a room,” and many are frustrated at the plan for kindergartners or other elementary students showing up to school only to stare at screens.

The arrangement is the latest hitch in a return to in-person learning in San Francisco Unified, which is already among the last large school districts in the country to reopen. The number of teachers and aides on a medical exemption far surpasses that of neighboring districts and is expected to cost San Francisco more than $40,000 per day for substitutes to supervise students in those classrooms, or about $1.5 million before summer break.