On December 30, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom released the Safe Schools for All plan, California’s framework to support schools to continue operating safely in-person and to expand the number of schools safely resuming in-person instruction. Informed by growing evidence of the decreased risks and increased benefits of in-person instruction – especially for our youngest students – Governor Newsom is advancing a strategy that will help create safe learning environments for students and safe workplaces for educators and other school staff. The plan was developed in partnership with the Legislature, and the Governor will propose an early action package to ensure schools have the resources necessary to successfully implement key safety precautions and mitigation measures. Components of the plan will be launched in the coming weeks.
The Administration’s strategy focuses on ensuring implementation and building confidence by bringing back the youngest children (TK-2) and those who are most vulnerable first, then phasing in other grade levels through the spring. This phased-in return recognizes that younger children are at a lower risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19. At the same time, distance learning will remain an option for parents and students who choose it and for those whose health status does not allow them to return to school in the near term. Please find additional details about the rationale behind the plan here.
California’s Safe Schools for All framework to safe reopening of in-person instruction is built on four pillars:
Funding to Support Safe Reopening: The Budget will propose for immediate action in January, $2 billion to support safety measures – including testing, ventilation and PPE – for schools that have resumed in-person instruction or phasing in of in-person instruction by early spring.
Safety & Mitigation Measures for Classrooms: To further ensure health and safety in the classroom, the Administration will support implementation of key health measures. This will include frequent testing for all students and staff, including weekly testing for communities with high rates of transmission; masks for all students and staff, including distribution of millions of surgical masks for school staff; improved coordination between school and health officials for contact tracing; and prioritization of school staff for vaccinations.
Hands-on Oversight & Assistance for Schools: Dr. Naomi Bardach, a UCSF pediatrician and expert on school safety, will lead the Safe Schools for All Team, a cross-agency team composed of dedicated staff from CDPH, Cal/OSHA, and educational agencies. The Team will provide hands-on support to help schools develop and implement their COVID-19 Safety Plans. These supports include school visits and walk-throughs as needed, webinars and training materials and ongoing technical assistance.
Transparency & Accountability for Families and Staff: A state dashboard will enable all Californians to see their school’s reopening status, level of available funding and data on school outbreaks. Additionally, a web-based “hotline” will empower school staff and parents to report concerns to the Safe Schools for All Team, which will lead to escalating levels of intervention beginning with technical assistance and ending with legal enforcement.