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CA superintendents urge Newsom to make changes to reopening plan

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Superintendents in seven of the state’s largest cities, including San Francisco and Oakland, are responding to the governor’s school reopening plan saying it fails to support urban schools districts and low-income areas.

In a letter sent to Governor Newsom on Wednesday, the superintendents call the plan vague and unrealistic by February 1st for communities hit harder by the pandemic.

Governor Newsom’s plan is called the “Safe Schools For All” plan, however, the superintendent at San Francisco United and at Oakland United say the plan doesn’t address the disproportionate impact of COVID on low-income communities of color.

“This feels like a penalty against kids, the students we care about. It’s a penalty against them for not being in families who are financially secure,” Susan Solomon said.

Susan Solomon, president of United Educators of San Francisco, echos the same concerns, the superintendents say the $2 billion school reopening plan, fails to support the needs of urban school districts and doesn’t address the disproportionate impact of the virus on low-income areas.

According to Governor Newsom’s phased plan, the funding would average $450 per student for schools with K through 2nd-grade students back in the classrooms by February 1st. 

The funding would also support testing and provide PPE, contact tracing and vaccinations.

“Our concern is that the San Francisco Unified School District and others could end up losing out on greatly, greatly needed funding because by February 1st our covid numbers will be too high in all likelihood,” Solomon said.

Instead, the school districts call for some of these changes to the plan:

  • An immediate effort to reduce the spread of the virus in low-income communities
  • A clear state standard for covid-related health issues in schools
  • The use of public health funds — Not K-12 educational funds from Prop 98, for COVID testing and vaccination plans
  • Specific funds for special education students 
  • A public timetable for vaccinations of school staff by February 1st

The school districts say the funds must be made available to all schools, not just the ones that have the ability to open by February 1st because of low COVID cases.

They say they also need clearer, more consistent COVID guidelines in the schools.

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