Reopening Schools Safely
Like many parents, I feel somewhat relieved. California is finally on track to bring back more students for in-person learning this month.
As Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, I played a key role in the negotiations that led to AB 86, a compromise between the Governor and the Legislature to reopen schools - first for younger students and vulnerable students of all grades; then expanding it, as COVID-19 infection rates decrease. My original bill, AB 10, which I introduced in early December, provided the groundwork for the final plan, which was just signed into law.
Under AB 86, the state is allocating $6.6 billion to school districts, giving them the resources and tools necessary to safely let many of our children return to their classrooms. While this does not force schools to reopen, it does provide guidelines and financial incentives for them do so. The funding also addresses learning loss, allowing for longer school days or summer school to help students catch up. In addition, the state has set aside 10% of its vaccine supply for school employees, adding another level of safety for campuses to resume operations.
It's unfortunate that many school districts have not fully embraced AB 86, including San Francisco Unified, where my children attend. I'm disappointed they are not reopening as many schools as the state plan requires to receive funding. All-virtual lessons have taken a mental and academic toll on our kids, and we cannot let this manner of learning go on indefinitely. I will continue to work with local administrators throughout my Assembly district to see what else we can do bring more students back to the classroom.
For more information, staff and parents can visit the State of California Safe Schools For All hub here. Constituents should also go to my website for information on an event scheduled for Tuesday, March 16 at 6:30 pm, when I will be a part of the San Mateo County Office of Education's virtual town hall discussing school reopening. I look forward to hearing more about best practices all school districts can utilize to provide safe in-person instruction.
Assemblymember, 19th District