“Safety is key,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom in a press conference the morning of December 30, 2020, about starting to reopen California schools in the near future. “Just reopening a school for in-person instruction on its own is not going to address the issue of safety.”

Calling in-person instruction “our default,” he laid out the reasons why he’s making a return to classrooms a priority for California. He mentioned many of the shortcomings of remote learning such as increased behavioral issues, isolation, undetected child abuse, and non-participation.

The plan he laid out for the coming spring begins with returning the youngest students to school as early as February, with state assistance for testing, protective equipment, and better ventilation in classrooms.

E. Toby Boyd, president of California Teachers Association, the state’s largest teaching union, is glad that Newsom is “finally recognizing” the vital need for strict safety standards as part of the plan to reopen California schools. He hopes the formal guidelines, due to be released soon, “will create a coherent statewide plan rather than creating more confusion for parents and school districts.”

The plan will occur in phases, with the youngest students first, progressing up through the grades, and retaining remote learning options for those with health vulnerabilities or those who don’t choose to take the risk. The reopening of California Schools includes a $2 billion budget that will come to approximately $450 per student, and up to $750 per student at schools with more vulnerable populations.

Newsom’s plan is backed by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has consistently been a voice of reason throughout the pandemic. California has a team of state health, education, and occupational safety officials working to make the plan as safe and thoroughly planned as possible. But many are still cautious about returning children to classrooms and trusting them to obey safety protocols meant to protect them and their teachers.

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