The recommendation was driven by increasing evidence that there are lower risks and increased benefits from in-person instruction particularly for the youngest students, he said. It comes amid increased pressure on schools to reopen campuses based on those rationales.
“As a father of four, I know firsthand what parents, educators and pediatricians continue to say: in-person is the best setting to meet not only the learning needs, but the mental health and social-emotional needs of our kids,” Newsom said in a statement.
The proposal comes as California remains consumed by a growing pandemic crisis.
Newsom called for a phased approach focusing first on those in transitional kindergarten through second grade, as well as children with disabilities, those who have limited access to technology at home and those who he said “have struggled more than most with distance learning.”
Other grades would be phased in during the spring, but remote learning would continued to be allowed if parents and students wish, and for those who have health vulnerabilities that make it risky to return to the classroom.
Aside from the $2 billion in assistance that Newsom said he will include in his proposed budget next month, he said his administration will push for safety measures.
Those include frequent testing for all students and staff, up to weekly testing in areas with high rates of virus transmission. All students and staffs should have masks, there should be increased contact tracing for those who test positive for the virus, and he backed making school staff a priority for vaccinations.
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