KERN COUNTY, Calif. — On Monday, a statewide plan was announced to help get students back in the classroom, and Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed it into law, the hope is that this bill will not only accelerate schools reopening but help students catch up on material they may have missed.
The bill Governor Newsom signed provides more than $6 billion of funding to school districts including $2 billion to help protect students and staff for in-person learning.
“… let’s get those $ 6.6 billion out into the districts,” said Newsom.
On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom held a virtual signing ceremony for the legislation which will grant $6.6 billion worth of funding to schools across the state of California.
“With many more counties moving into less restrictive tiers, this is the right time, to sign this bill, this is the right time to safely reopen for in-person instruction,” said Newsom.
While Kern County is still in the most restrictive purple tier, the superintendent of schools office believes that this bill will help students and staff a lot.
“The budget package that was signed into law today is very good news for schools because it provides essential funding that will allow them to open up in the safest manner possible as they continue their phased-in re-opening plans,” said Robert Meszaros, Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office.
The funding is broken up into two main pots. The first is for in-person instruction grants which can help with personal protective equipment, and it totals to $2 billion statewide.
“Basically, these are incentive grants to incentive schools that have not already opened for in-person to do so by the end of March based on a set number of criteria,” said Meszaros.
According to Robert Meszaros of the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office, of that $2 billion, about $65.5 million will go to Kern County school districts.
The second pot of money will be divided up to all school districts throughout California, despite whether or not they open by the end of March. These funds will be used as expanded learning grants.
“It will also be important for the learning loss that we are seeing with the pandemic, schools will use the funding to expand their academic programs and also their supports to ensure that the social, emotional needs of students are being met,” said Meszaros.
Meszaros says about $145.5 million will be granted to Kern County school districts, of that of the $4.6 billion worth of expanded learning grants, which could fund things like summer school, tutoring, and special learning programs.
Kern County Superintendent of Schools, Mary C. Barlow also released a statement regarding the bill, saying “There is nothing that replaces the magic that happens inside physical classrooms where students have an opportunity to interact directly with their teachers and peers. For this reason, I applaud the governor and legislature’s $6.6 billion budget package that was signed into law today. The plan will provide the resources necessary for a safe environment and will allow for the expansion of academic and social-emotional supports for students throughout Kern County to mitigate the learning loss experienced during this pandemic.”
At this time, the Superintendent of Schools Office does not have a full breakdown as to how much money will be going to each school district individually. It’s also important to note that vaccinations for teachers are not required for an in-person learning return.