Calif. Gov. Newsom announces $2B plan to reopen schools by spring

Calif. Gov. Newsom announces B plan to reopen schools by spring

Principal Alice Hom (R) helps a student get breakfast from the meal cart on a day of in person learning at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 on October 01, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 3:15 PM PT – Wednesday, December 30, 2020

California’s governor announced a multi-billion-dollar plan to return a portion of the state’s students to in-person learning.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) announced the plan Wednesday. To start, the plan would focus on the youngest students, from kindergarten likely through second grade. The goal is to get these students back in the classroom as early as February.

Newsom emphasized that officials will be looking at the spring, such as February through April, to assess whether or not in-person learning is safe again.

“How can we assert more clarity, more focus?” Newsom questioned. “How can we create an establishment of expectation relating to – again – our default of safely bringing our kids back [to] in-person learning, back into the classroom for all those social and emotional benefits?”

Since lockdowns started in March, most California public school students have been learning from home. Most schools have remained closed throughout the pandemic.

Along with the younger age-group, the plan would reportedly prioritize low-income students and those with special needs. The overall cost of the plan is expected to reach around $2 billion, with a focus on testing students and staff as well as providing additional PPE to educators.

Additionally, school staff would be set to receive the next round of vaccinations. Schools would also have to submit a health and safety plan before re-opening, which would then go before the local health department for approval within five days.

Newsom defended the plan by citing the low transmission rates of coronavirus between younger students, which is a point long-held by lockdown critics.

“Safety and mitigation measures clearly–we believe–can prevent transmissions in the school setting,” Newsom stated. “Transmissions among and from younger students–students to students–is simply not common.”

This frame from streaming video from the Office of the Governor shows California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, and Dr. Anthony Fauci during a conversation, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. Newsom has announced the first known case of the new and apparently more contagious variant of the coronavirus in the nation’s most populated state. (Office of the Governor via AP)

According to Newsom, the full plan will likely be available by next week. He is expected to see opposition by teachers unions and other Democrats, who’ve opposed re-opening schools by saying they’re dangerous to teachers. Reports said large districts have failed to reach agreements with these unions on how to re-open safely.

At the beginning of December, a handful of California school districts announced their intent to bring students back into the classroom. Their target dates fall around the end of January.

Safety protocols include closing a school if five percent of students and staff test positive in a two-week period. Furthermore, if 25 percent of schools close in the same period, it would prompt a district-wide shutdown.

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