New Deal Says California Schools Could Reopen By End Of March

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Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislators have struck a deal to get California public school students back into the classroom by the end of March, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The deal was announced by Newsom on Monday and was brokered between Newsom, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon — all of whom are Democrats —according to the AP. It dictates that if California public schools are able to get students back into the classroom for in-person learning by the end of March, the legislature will green-light $6.6 billion worth of funds for these schools, the AP reported.

Unnamed sources told the AP that the plan is complicated. A simply-stated version of the plan is that schools located in locked-down areas of California will have to have students back in class up to at least the second-grade level, and provide in-person accommodations for students with certain special needs, the sources told the AP. This includes students that are disabled, foster children, homeless children, English learners, and students without adequate access to technology or are at risk of abuse, the AP reported. (RELATED: Gavin Newsom Less Than 100k Signatures Away From Facing Recall Election)

In districts the state has deemed to be one level below the locked-down districts, schools hoping to get some of that $6.6 billion in funding will be required to bring all elementary students, and at least one middle and high school grade, back to the classroom, according to the AP.

Students and teachers would not be required to be vaccinated to return to school, but testing for COVID-19 is required in locked-down districts, the AP reported.

Districts that fail to meet these requirements by March 31 will see the amounts of funds for which they are eligible decrease by 1% each day after the deadline, sources told the AP. The deal would also allow districts to circumvent teachers unions’ approval to get back to school, according to the AP.

California, the nation’s most populous state, has over 1,000 school districts, more than 10,500 schools, more than 6.1 million students, and nearly 320,000 teachers, according to the California Department of Education.