California Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislators from the State Senate and Assembly have announced a $6.6 billion incentive for schools that reopen before April 1.
“Since the height of the winter surge, we have successfully shifted the conversation from whether to reopen schools to when,” Newsom said.
Two billion dollars will be mainly put towards increasing safety measures for in-person learning, such as purchasing more personal protective equipment (PPE), upgrading ventilation systems and providing COVID-19 tests. The rest of the $4.6 billion will fund summer programs, mental health programs, tutoring and other measures to resolve learning disparities.
Public schools will be required to offer in-person learning for all kindergarten to second grade students and for special or high-needs students. If school districts that meet the twenty five or below cases per hundred-thousand standard choose not to open by April 1, they will lose 1% of their funding for every school day that in-person instruction isn’t offered.
Huntington Beach Union High School District schools have been open since Feb. 2.
Schools under the red tier or lower must offer in-person learning to all elementary school students along with at least one middle school or high school grade in order to qualify for funding.
The funding package will also secure 10% of the vaccines for education staff such as teachers, administrators, counselors and bus drivers. It will help schools track and report cases effectively with $25 million for the State Safe Schools Team that works on conducting safety reviews and investigations in case of COVID outbreaks in schools.
In an effort to speed up the return to schools, each school received PPE needed for three months at no cost, along with direct technical and financial assistance to school districts.