Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced a new plan to reopen the state's schools in phases over the next few months.
"As a parent of very young children, in person-instruction -- there's just no substitute for it. It's so much more difficult for a 4-year-old to focus on a device than a 14-year-old," Newsom said.
Schools across the state that wish to reopen will be required to submit a safety plan to state and local governments. If those plans are not disapproved five days after being submitted, the schools will be allowed to reopen. Local health departments will monitor the schools that open and they must maintain a level of COVID-19 infections below 28 people per 100,000. Staff would be required to wear surgical masks as will students in the classroom.
State contract tracers will work with local health departments to monitor those schools that reopen under the proposed plan.
Remote learning opportunities will still be available for students.
"Distance learning will still remain an option for parents and students,'' he said. "There's a lot of trepidation, we recognize that, a lot of anxiety, about going back into the classroom, which one has to clearly acknowledge. Not just for our teachers but also for our parents, particularly with kids who may have unique conditions.''
Newsom also said Wednesday that he was proposing another $2 billion in funding to support schools reopening in the spring, with a focus on bringing younger elementary students, students with disabilities, and those in foster care back into classrooms first.
Currently, only 9 counties have a seven-day average of new cases below the threshold proposed by Newsom. Those counties include: Alameda, Humboldt, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Sonoma
Newsom's proposal also includes increased testing for all school staff and student, with the frequency of testing dependent on the county's current status. He says that he hopes to have the entire state on track for in-person instruction to resume by early spring 2021.
The new plans to reopen schools come just one day after the state indefinitely extended the regional stay-at-home orders for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley amid a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The Bay Area and the Greater Sacramento area are also facing a possible extension.
Photo: Getty Images