California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office launched a website titled the Safe Schools for All Hub on Thursday to provide transparency, accountability and guidance for schools reopening for in-person learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hub will provide information about safety measures for schools using in-person instruction and will be regularly updated, according to a press release from the governor’s office. The website’s launch is part of Newsom’s Safe Schools for All plan, which was launched in December to provide resources, such as funding, to schools looking to reopen.
“Schools should reopen safely according to a phased-in approach that prioritizes our youngest students and students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including students with disabilities,” the press release states.
California’s Safe Schools for All plan includes the Newsom’s proposal to fund nearly $90 billion to schools, according to the press release. He proposed allocating $4.6 billion of the budget to schools expanding their educational offerings, such as summer school, and prioritizing groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Newsom also proposed that $2 billion go toward the reopening of schools, according to the press release.
“The Governor’s budget reduces some but not all of the payment deferrals to California districts, and this will help districts like BUSD to manage cash flow issues,” said Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, Superintendent Brent Stephens in an email.
In order to maintain transparency for schools, the press release added, an interactive map will be launched on the hub. Staff and parents can also use the online hub or call to submit concerns about safety at schools.
BUSD spokesperson Trish McDermott said three elementary schools in the school district have already reopened for smaller groups, and the district’s online reopening readiness dashboards show what safety measures have been added.
“We are working very hard to get children back in school, because we know how hard distance learning is on so many students and their families,” said Ty Alper, BUSD Board of Education president, in an email. “Our priority is opening as soon as it is safe to do so for students and educators.”
Stephens said in the email that Newsom’s plan includes a grant program for school reopenings, and to apply, districts will have to submit a school reopening plan that is separate from the one BUSD gave to Alameda County.
McDermott said because of this, the district will have another step in its reopening process.
“The Safe Schools for All plan from the governor requires another approval process, another reopening plan that all districts now have to submit that, in some ways, mirrors some of the aspects of the county’s plan but, in some ways, is different,” McDermott added.