SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KERO) — School districts will have a $2 billion incentive to reopen as Gov. Gavin Newsom announced financial incentives and testing to school districts that resume classroom instruction by mid-February.
During his COVID-19 press briefing Wednesday, Newsom said this incentives package will go towards support frequent COVID-19 testing for students, teachers and staff. The state's new plan for reopening schools includes the following:
- Funding to support safe reopening.
- Safety & mitigation measures for classrooms.
- Hands-on oversight & assistance for schools.
- Transparency & accountability for families & school staff.
In order to reopen, a county must have a 7-day average case rate of fewer than 28 cases per 100,000 people. Once a county reaches that point, elementary school districts may submit a COVID-19 Safety Plan to both local and state officials.
All students and staff who return to school would be required to wear masks, with the state promising to provide surgical masks to schools.
Part of the state's plan for reopening schools includes the implementation of testing for school staff and students. Those in the Purple and Red tiers, the state's most restrictive tiers, will face symptomatic and response testing as well as asymptomatic testing every two weeks. Counties in the Yellow and Orange tiers, the state's least restrictive tiers, will only face symptomatic and response testing. Counties that have more than 14 cases per 100,000 people will face weekly asymptomatic testing.
Newsom also said that as COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, school staff will be given some priority. He said the state's COVID-19 Drafting Guidelines Workgroup will meet Wednesday to finalize Phase 1B of vaccine distribution.
Parents will still have the option to keep their children learning from home, even if their local schools reopen.
Under Newsom’s plan, districts that offer in-person instruction would receive around $450 per student, a figure that could increase for those from low-income families, English learners and foster youth.