Updated data on COVID-19 cases among San Francisco children and in schools

Data Shows COVID-19 Cases Among San Francisco Children is Low and Schools Remain Safe Settings

The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) is closely monitoring COVID-19 cases among children and in schools and is providing critical public health resources to San Francisco communities. These include free vaccinations for all eligible individuals; testing services; critical guidance and support to schools on COVID safety measures. To date, our data demonstrate that cases among San Francisco residents under age 18 have remained stable throughout the pandemic and that schools are lower risk settings when the proper safety protocols are followed. 

SFDPH data on schools and children will be updated on a weekly basis to provide information and context to the COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco as it relates to the impact on children. Weekly updates are now  made public on the City’s COVID-19 dashboards for cases by age.

Vaccinations and boosters are our best defense to protect children. An estimated 90% of children ages 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated, and this age group is also now receiving boosters that will further strengthen their immunity. Children ages 5-11 are now eligible for vaccinations.  We highly encourage all eligible members for the household (5+ years old) to get vaccinated to protect children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. Weekly updates are now made public on the City’s COVID-19 dashboards for vaccines and boosters by age.

Data Highlights on San Francisco Schools

(data from August 16, 2021 to January 17, 2022) 

  • The highly contagious Omicron surge has brought us to a new stage in the pandemic. Cases are very high, but symptoms are mild to moderate for most people, particularly those who are vaccinated and boosted.
  • With the Omicron variant being so transmissible and spreading so rapidly, tracking instances of in-school transmission and outbreaks are no longer an effective public health strategy to manage the spread as there are so many potential sources of exposure.
  • SFDPH will be working with local schools to incorporate updated guidance recently issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to offer an additional approach to contract tracing called group-tracing approach for students exposed to COVID-19 in the school setting. Other critical measures such as vaccinating and boosting students and staff when eligible has been, and continues to be, a major focus of protecting the school community and slowing the spread of the virus.
  • SFDPH recognizes the need to have enough testing resources available to implement the group-tracing approach at schools, which may require time for schools to operationalize while test kits are secured. We will use testing as much as we can as a tool to slow the spread of the virus; when testing resources are stretched we rely more on the other layers of defense that have also proven effective.
  • SFDPH reaffirms support for in-person learning despite the presence of the Omicron variant, as the mental health and educational impacts on students due to social isolation far outweigh the challenges of in-person learning.
  • Schools are safer places for our children to learn, socialize and play when the appropriate safety measures are takenWhen community background rates of COVID-19 are high, we expect to see cases in most settings, including among children and individuals at schools. SFDPH’s guidelines for schools are designed to stop the spread of COVID between people at school while minimizing disruptions to the school community. When the proper layered safety measures are in place, schools are a lower risk environment for children and youth. More information on school guidelines for COVID-19 can be found here.

In-School Transmission from September 2020 - December 2021:

In-School Transmission from September 2020 - December 2021:

  • Data from fall 2021 and the 2020-21 school year indicate that the vast majority of infections are occurring outside of schools.
    • From August 16th, 2021 to December 17th , 2021, there were a total of 12 school outbreaks. An outbreak is defined as three or more laboratory-confirmed cases within a 14-day period in non-related households in which the source of infection occurred at the school, and not another setting. 
    • From August 16th, 2021  to December 17th, 2021, there were a total of 53 suspected in-school transmission events.
    • No outbreaks were verified as having occurred at San Francisco camps and learning hubs during the summer of 2021.
    • During the 2020-2021 school year, there were seven cases of COVID transmission in all schools in San Francisco with in-person learning, including the height of the winter surge. All other cases reported at schools were related to community transmission outside of school. 


Last updated January 27, 2022