(Photo via Dan Gaken/Flickr)

Mayor London Breed joined the city’s Department of Children, Youth and Their Families on Thursday to celebrate the completion of the first semester in the city’s Community Hubs, which provide in-person support for some 2,000 students citywide as public schools remain closed.

The hubs launched back in September and have since expanded to 78 locations, providing in-person distance learning support, meals, internet access and activities. Those enrolled in the hubs include low-income students, homeless students, foster youth and those in English Language Learners classes.

Breed said the success of the hubs could be used to help the city and the San Francisco Unified School District navigate the reopening of schools for in-person learning in the near future.

“These hubs have made a difference in people’s lives, and they have been safe, even in this challenging time,” Breed said during a virtual briefing.

“The lessons we’ve learned at the hubs can inform the hard work that we’re doing right now to reopen our public schools. While some people are questioning whether that’s safe to bring our public school students back to the classroom, it’s important to keep in mind that we haven’t had any (COVID-19) outbreaks at the hubs or at the private schools that have already opened for in-person learning,” she said. “It will take a lot of work but I believe we can and we must open in-person learning as soon as possible.”

The hubs were launched through an effort by several city departments, including the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families and the Recreation and Park Department, among other organizations and agencies.

“The initial success in maintaining health and safety protocols across all 78 hub sites provided meaningful data for the Department of Public Health and the city’s COVID Command Center, as we continue to support our schools to reopen safely,” said DCFY Executive Director Maria Su.

To further address the needs of students enrolled at the hubs, Comcast announced during the briefing that it’s donating 800 new laptops for eligible students, in addition to providing the recipients and their families with free internet service for a year.

Looking toward the next semester, which starts on Jan. 5, the city hopes to expand the hubs to serve 3,000 students.