California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Friday guaranteeing continued state funding for schools through their various closures in response to the COVID-19, or coronavirus, pandemic.
In the executive order, Newsom waived several state and local laws that would otherwise prevent closures of schools. In order for districts to qualify for the continuance of funds, however, they must continue to pay their employees, according to the order.
Newsom’s order directs schools to use the funds from the state for remote learning, supervision of students during school hours when needed and feasible, continued school meals and other “high quality” educational activities
“Closing schools has had a massive cascading effect for our kids and their families,” Newsom said in a press release. “The needs of California kids must be met regardless of whether their school is open or closed.”
Newsom also used the order to direct the state education department and the California Health and Human Services Agency to develop plans to overcome lack of access to internet connectivity and the reliance on schools for meals that some students face. He also directed the departments to look into how to ensure students with disabilities continue to receive specialized education remotely.
According to the order, the agencies have a deadline of March 17 to issue their recommendations.
“This allows schools to put safety first without jeopardizing the financial resources needed to meet the needs of our students,” California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said in the press release.
The order also directs the state’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency, in collaboration with the California Health and Human Services Agency, to develop a plan to support working parents with childcare during ordinary hours, also with a deadline of March 17.
The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development will also be working with state employers to encourage flexibility in terms of work hours and child care, according to the release.
“The State of California is working around the clock to help those districts and provide best practices to ensure no kid is left behind,” Newsom said in the press release.
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