On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom of California announced that young students will return to their schools in California by February. He had said that teachers and school staff would be the next group to be vaccinated.
The governor unveiled a $2 billion budget plan to provide for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), testing measures and other safety protocols. A public database of transmission in schools will also be provided.
The new legislation will force California’s schools in “red tier” counties to reopen, without being given a choice to remain closed. Schools in “purple tier” (most restrictive) zones will have to reopen when they are moved to “red tier” (less restrictive) zones. The plan could face hurdles with teachers’ unions as the current policy offers optional reopening for schools in less restrictive zones.
The focus will be on opening schools for students who are in kindergarten through second grade. Special needs students and those who are in foster homes will be given priority. Schools will also focus on providing education for the homeless, those who belong to low-income groups, and English learners.
The governor has been assailed by Californians for not reopening schools especially after he accepted the fact that his children were returning to the classroom. The children, aged 4 to 11, would study in a hybrid format, in the private school that they attend. Public health experts say that schools have relatively low transmission rates.
Parents can still keep their children home and continue with remote learning, if they wish to, after their schools reopen. Since March over 6 million students from California’s public schools are remote learners.