The governor of California offers $ 2 billion to reopen personal schools

SACRAMENTO, California – Gavin Newsom, governor of California, on Wednesday announced a plan for schools to resume teaching next spring, with the youngest students and those who have struggled the most with distance education, while spending $ 2 billion. state aid for coronavirus testing. , personal protective equipment and increased ventilation in the classroom.

“Safety is the key. The reopening of a school for personal education will not address the issue of safety,” Newsom said, promising sanctions for schools that do not follow safety rules.

But ‘personal instruction … is our standard,’ he said, referring to the pitfalls of distance education, including heightened anxiety, depression and unnoticed child abuse.

The president of California’s largest teachers’ union said he was pleased that Newsom was finally recognizing the need for stricter safety standards as part of any reopening plan. The Tobias Boyd, president of the California Teachers Association, said he hopes the formal guidelines Newsom wants to announce next week will create a coherent government-wide plan rather than creating more confusion for parents and school districts. ‘

Newsom, a Democrat, said his government had been in talks with influential teachers’ unions for months and had a “very, very constructive relationship” with the powerful bargaining units.

Los Angeles Unified School District students stand socially in a hallway during a luncheon at Boys & Girls Club in Hollywood, Los Angeles on August 26, 2020.Jae C. Hong / AP File

The administration’s promise to provide regular testing and contact detection when outbreaks occur is crucial to making teachers feel comfortable in the classroom again, said State Superintendent of Public Education Tony Thurmond.

California Teachers’ Federation President Jeff Freitas noted that Newsom calls the promised state funding, vaccinations for educators and priority over safety, calling it “the starting point our state and its schools should consider for personal education.”

Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading expert on infectious diseases, reflected Newsom’s claim that schools can open safely, and noted in an online briefing what he calls an ‘almost counter-intuitive’ finding that schools look ” do better when it comes to the level of infection ”than the community at large.

“If you really want to bring society back to a form of normality, one of the first things you have to do is get the kids back to school,” Fauci said.

Many schools already offer personal lessons, even with severe coronavirus cases, and there have been few outbreaks, said Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the California State Board of Education and an emeritus Stanford University education professor. More than 1,730 schools received state exemptions to reopen classrooms.

“Even in places with a high rate of transmission, they go to school safely,” she said.

Newsom said his recommendation is driven by growing evidence that there are lower risks and increased benefits associated with personal tutoring especially for the youngest students. It comes amid increasing pressure from parents to reopen campuses.

Although California is still consumed by a growing pandemic crisis, he and Darling-Hammond said it is realistic to expect many schools to start reopening as early as February or March.

Newsom insisted on a phased approach that first focuses on those in second-grade transition school, as well as children with disabilities, those who are confined to technology at home, and children who have struggled most with distance education.

Other grades will be phased in during the spring, but distance education will still be allowed if parents and students want it, and for those who have health issues, making it risky to return to the classroom.

The $ 2 billion that Newsom will recommend in his budget next week is an average of $ 450 per pupil, weighted up to $ 750 in schools with more vulnerable populations.

The reaction among state legislators broke down, according to party parties, with Kevin Kiley, one of Newsom’s fiercest critics, saying the plan ‘moves the needle slightly in the right direction’, but it creates more complexity for reopening. The Democratic leaders of the Assembly and the Senate Education Committees have pledged to work with Newsom, with Sen. Connie Leyva calling his plan “a positive step forward.”

Newsom said he will also work with lawmakers in the state on ways to help students recover from learning losses.

“It would be a mistake to say it’s a lost year,” Thurmond said. “It’s a year in which we retain life, where we survive.”

Among the safety measures in Newsom’s proposal are the universal wearing of masks, increased contact detection during outbreaks, regular virus tests for all students and staff, and preference given to educators for vaccinations.

Dr. Naomi Bardach, a University of California, San Francisco pediatrician and school safety expert, will lead a team of state health, education and occupational safety officials to help develop safety plans.