OAKLAND, Calif. (KERO) — On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom provided an update to the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, announcing that the Oakland Coliseum would be used as a mass vaccination site as well as addressing the reopening of schools and sports.
During the press conference, Newsom was asked about teachers getting vaccinated and the concerns over safety when it comes to reopening schools. Newsom said teachers and staff at local schools are still one of several groups that have priority when it comes to vaccine distribution.
He said data has shown that transmission of COVID-19 is low at schools. He made a push to reopen public schools. He did not provide a timetable or details on how it would be accomplished but said that he wanted to re-open K-6 schools first, followed by high schools, and colleges, and universities.
Robert Meszaros with the Kern County Superintendent's Office said that though Newsom's focus is on opening K-6 grades. "He will not mandate schools reopen and instead, those decisions are left to school district administration and elected board of trustees after input from stakeholders," Meszaros said.
WATCH NEWSOM DISCUSS SCHOOL REOPENINGS:
When discussing school athletics, Newsom said a return would be tier-based - as counties move up tiers more sports can return - and based on the type of sport. For example, Track and Field, which is already back -- can be done outdoors and requires minimal physical contact -- which is why it returned sooner than football, even though Newsom said the drive to return to high school sports is driven mostly by football.
WATCH NEWSOM DISCUSS SPORTS REOPENINGS:
When asked about a recent lawsuit from a group of San Diego parents and athletes looking to have sports return, Newsom said he wasn't worried about the lawsuit, that he understood their feelings but will not change the re-opening process.
Newsom also touched on vaccinations for teachers and school support staff. Meszaros added, "Teacher and support staff are essential workers and we an advocate for them being prioritized for vaccines. As we understand it, the education sector is next in line. With that being said, vaccines should not be a prerequisite for reopening. There are examples of schools that have opened without teachers being vaccinated and those have not proven to be vectors of transmission. The most important thing is to adopt a COVID-19 safety plan with numerous layers and ensure you are following it with fidelity. I believe the districts in Kern are doing just that."
WATCH THE FULL PRESS CONFERENCE: