Governor Newsom aims for complete return to in-person K-12 instruction in the fall


ryan bough

Screenshot of California Gov. Gavin Newsom via YouTube

By Aleea Evangelista

On April 14, California Governor Gavin Newsom held a press conference to discuss the transition from distance learning to in-person instruction as California schools reopen for learning at Shepherd Accelerated Elementary School in Roseland, California.

After a year of online learning in a pandemic, California students from kindergarten to high school are returning to campus. In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, students have attended classes remotely.

As school districts across the state reopen, Newsom prioritized a complete reopening for all California schools for the upcoming school year.

“We must prepare now for full in-person instruction come this next school year” urged Newsom.

Ventura County has reopened many elementary, middle and high schools throughout the 20 school districts that serve approximately 140,000 students. On March 17, Ventura County moved from the purple tier to the less restrictive red tier, which allowed for all schools within the county to reopen.

“This is a challenging transition, but we’re finally at that point [where] 9,000+ schools—as of last month—of our 11,000 schools in the state have firmly either reopened or have announced a date for in-person instruction” remarked Newsom.

Newsom discussed the mental health impact of remote schooling on children learning at home. In order to alleviate these effects, Newsom stressed the state’s focus on a safe, timely return to in-person instruction in which children can socialize and have a form of normalcy on campus.

However, Newsom is hopeful that the state’s preventative and protective measures to the COVID-19 pandemic can provide a safe reopening for schools. California’s phase 1B vaccine eligibility prioritized education and childcare workers in order to prepare for a return to campus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children younger than 16 years old are not authorized for the COVID-19 vaccine.

As schools reopen, social distancing practices and masking are utilized. Classrooms have adjusted to accommodate these changes in learning through frequent COVID-19 testing, accessible personal protective equipment and contact tracing.

The state approved Senate Bill 86, a legislative plan to allocate $6,557,443,000 to school districts reopening by April 15. In a March 5 press release, the bill outlined how the funds would be divided, “$2 billion will fund safety measures to support in-person instruction, such as personal protective equipment, ventilation upgrades and COVID-19 testing, while $4.6 billion will fund expanded learning opportunities such as summer school, tutoring and mental health services.”

“The schools have never been more resourced, and with a resourceful mindset, we have the capacity to finish the job to get all of our kids safely back into in-person instruction” said Newsom.

For more information about school reopenings, please visit California’s Safe Schools for All Hub.