California lawmakers reach deal to open schools

California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) – California lawmakers are pushing forward with a $12.6 billion plan to re-open schools to in-person learning by April 15th.

Assembly members say the full assembly expects to vote on the bill next week with or without Newsom’s blessing.

This plan would put student groups who need the most support in schools by April 15th — Even if counties are still in the purple, most restrictive tier.

It also puts teachers at the front of the line for vaccinations.

On Thursday, state assembly members announced a $12.6 billion plan to reopen schools.

The breakdown of the plan includes $2 billion in reopening funds to assist with opening schools for in-person instruction this spring, $4.6 billion in learning loss funds for things like in-person summer school, and $6 billion in federal reopening aid.

Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco who chairs the budget committee says schools would need to start in-person learning for certain student groups by that April deadline in order to receive full funding.

“For schools to get access to the $2 billion of reopening, they will have to bring back small cohorts of 12 or fewer students, cohorts of the students I described: homeless youth, foster youth, English language learners, really the youth that is having the biggest challenges with learning,” Phil Ting said.

This applies to schools in the most restrictive, purple tier. 

As for schools in counties in the red tier, they must offer in-person instruction to all students K through 6, in addition to the K through 12 cohort students, previously mentioned.

Districts that can’t meet these requirements can opt-out of state aid.

The bill also requires the California Department of Public Health to move school staff to the front of the line in vaccine distribution.

However, Senator Bill Dodd says priority should be placed on getting students back into school, whether or not all school staff is vaccinated.

“Waiting until the vaccines are out for our kids to get back to school is not the answer and we just need legislators to stand up, yell for that and stand up for our kids,” Bill Dodd said.

Like Senator Dodd, Governor Gavin Newsom says the plan is a step in the right direction but still needs some work.

In a statement, Governor Newsom says, “[The plan] doesn’t go far enough or fast enough.”

Assemblymember Ting says the full assembly expects to vote on the bill on Monday, even though Governor Newsom hasn’t agreed to it yet.

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