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Governor starts to get serious about reopening schools

Uploaded: Jan 14, 2021
Gov. Gavin Newsom finally has awakened to the reality that young children desperately need to get back into the classroom.

That's true for all students, many of whom have not had in-person instruction since mid-March. It's also reflective of the pressure he's feeling from a variety of political fronts.

The governor made reopening schools the focus of administration this month, calling it out before releasing his record $227 billion budget last week. On this one, the governor is right. He's facing pressure from fellow Democrats in the Legislature, parents and businesses to get kids back into the classroom.

The long-term negative impacts, particularly for children living in poverty, have been laid out by researchers who identified the years of life lost to poor educational outcomes. It dwarfs the total of deaths due to the virus. For kindergartners through third-graders -- the key years for mastering reading and math fundamentals -- Zoom cannot replace a teacher or an aide working hands-on with the student.

The governor ponied up a big chunk of change ($2 billion) to encourage school districts and teachers' unions to reopen schools. Newsom's four children have been attending a private school in person since the fall. The unions, statewide, have balked at returning to the classroom. His initial proposal, that he's asked legislators pass this month, calls for younger students to be back in the classroom by the middle of February and reopening plans be submitted by Feb. 1.

CalMatters reported that California Federation of Teachers President Jeff Freitas issued this statement, "We are in the middle of a devastating COVID-19 surge and any discussion of returning to in-person instruction is premature."

That frames the discussion as Newsom strives to avoid a conflict with the teachers' unions that are major donors to his campaign and other Democratic campaigns. That's statewide, but, short of legislation, the state has little to say about school districts. The state controls the funding, but the decisions are made locally across the state.

Certainly, the governor can push from his bully pulpit, but it's school superintendents, school trustees and local teachers' unions that ultimately will make the decisions. And then parents will decide what is best for their children.

CalMatters reported that large superintendents already have pushed back against Newsom's reopening proposal as has the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office, who called the timeline "unfeasible." Los Angeles Superintendent Austin Beutner said the governor's plan "falls well short of what's needed to help our schools" because it neither sets across-the-board safety standards nor sets a requirement for when schools should reopen.

"It leaves the definition of a safe school environment and the standard for reopening classrooms up to the individual discretion of 1,037 school districts across the state, creating a patchwork of safety standards in the face of a statewide health crisis," Beutner said.

Newsom faces other pressure points, most notably a recall drive that was going nowhere until news broke about his unmasked, indoor dinner at the $350-plate French Laundry in the Napa Valley. That sparked life into the recall campaign that also received an influx of cash last month. How well the governor does with vaccinations and school reopenings will play directly into that campaign.

Here in the Tri-Valley, the regional shutdown has stopped local schools from the reopening process. Pleasanton trustees had voted unanimously in December to reopen the lower elementary grades (pre-kindergarten to second) this month and had received the county approval to do so. The stay-at-home order must be lifted before local schools can reopen beyond the small group instruction being offered currently to students who need more help.

The plan is for hybrid instruction with students attending school for four half-days weekly with Wednesday reserved for virtual instruction. It's similar in Livermore, while Dublin staff is still working on a final version of their plan.

The hybrid plans are a good first step, but should be just that -- a step toward full-day, in-person instruction.


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Comments

 +   12 people like this
Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on Jan 14, 2021 at 10:19 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

All students need to be back in school. And if teachers don't like it, perhaps they're in the wrong profession. The teachers need to think of the kids, not just themselves. Kids have been in private school. It's the teachers union.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Kevin, a resident of Castlewood,
on Jan 17, 2021 at 11:23 am

Kevin is a registered user.

Operation Warp Speed is a another failure of Trump and his administration. They lied about having reserve vaccines. They don't have reserve vaccines and cannot meet the request from states for more and faster distribution. A teacher with underlying medical condition or with an elderly parent at home cannot be expected to go back to school.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Jake Waters, a resident of Birdland,
on Jan 17, 2021 at 6:40 pm

Jake Waters is a registered user.

Stop the hysteria and get the teachers and kids back to school. Plenty of information supporting this. For example the Washington Examiner: Web Link


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Rick, a resident of Danville,
on Jan 18, 2021 at 8:22 am

Rick is a registered user.

"Gov. Gavin Newsom finally has awakened to the reality that young children desperately need to get back into the classroom." The "reality" is that Trump is about to leave the presidency and Obiden/Harris are about to take office. That is the "reality" driving Gov. Gav here in CA, Gov. Guido in NY and Dem Gov's in all foundering Dem dominated states. For Obiden/Harris to have any chance of success, the Dem Party's 'Hate Trump and everything he does' policy has served its purpose despite the massive collateral damage. But then, Dem's/neoprogressives ignore 'collateral damage' in the pursuit of their feckless goals.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Rick, a resident of Danville,
on Jan 18, 2021 at 8:22 am

Rick is a registered user.

"Gov. Gavin Newsom finally has awakened to the reality that young children desperately need to get back into the classroom." The "reality" is that Trump is about to leave the presidency and Obiden/Harris are about to take office. That is the "reality" driving Gov. Gav here in CA, Gov. Guido in NY and Dem Gov's in all foundering Dem dominated states. For Obiden/Harris to have any chance of success, the Dem Party's 'Hate Trump and everything he does' policy has served its purpose despite the massive collateral damage. But then, Dem's/neoprogressives ignore 'collateral damage' in the pursuit of their feckless goals.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Kevin, a resident of Castlewood,
on Jan 18, 2021 at 2:04 pm

Kevin is a registered user.

Jake, at best, there is conflicting information. For example, from today's Wall Street Journal Web Link Europeans are closing schools not because it is not safe for the children but because children are transmitting Covid to adults.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Kevin, a resident of Castlewood,
on Jan 18, 2021 at 2:17 pm

Kevin is a registered user.

Rick, all I can say to you is you, Trump and the rest of Trumpsters including some who are terrorists are LOSERS! You lost the House, the White House and then the Senate. Now, there is a civil war in the Republican Party (Karl Rove agrees). Terrible for mid-term election. Trump tried to overthrow the government unsuccessfully. He is impeached twice. Next, he and his family will be tried for corruption. USA is the greatest country in the world. We have free election that sent a Jewish man and a black pastor to the Senate from a state that was the birth of racism and slavery 400 years ago. Long live the USA and the Constitution!


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