STORY BY GARV VIRGINKAR
Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a revised school reopening plan this morning, the centerpiece of which is a $2-billion grant from the state government in order to aid schools in their transition to in-person instruction.
If approved in January, the funds will provide districts that open for in-person instruction $450 dollars per student; the state will give priority aid to schools with large numbers of low-income students or English learners.
The state is targeting mid to late spring as the timeframe for students’ return.
The governor cited recent studies showing that schools which have implemented standard safety procedures such as mask wearing and social distance do not act as superspreader events.
Under the purple tier of coronavirus restrictions — which much of the state is still under — schools that had not begun in-person instruction prior to the purple shift are prohibited from reopening for in-person instruction.
Teachers will be given priority for vaccination, and all staff and students will be given and required to wear personal protective equipment. A public database tracking infections and positive tests within schools will be launched in the near future.
Newsom maintains that the priority for reopening is still to bring younger students, mainly those in grades TK–2 into the classroom first, citing lower rates of depression and both social and emotional development; older students will be phased in through the spring.
“[In-person learning] is especially important for our youngest kids, those with disabilities, those with limited access to technology at home and those who have struggled more than most with distance learning,” Newsom said.