FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Governor's Press Office
|Thursday, January 14, 2021
Governor Newsom Launches Transparency, Accountability and Assistance Measures in the State's Safe Schools for All Plan
New Safe Schools for All Hub – schools.covid19.ca.gov – launched as a one-stop shop for state guidance and resources on safely resuming in-person instruction
School staff and parents can report school-specific safety concerns to the State Safe Schools Team via online web portal and telephone hotline
School administrators can request technical assistance on developing and implementing safety plans from the State Safe Schools Team via online web portal
Consolidated and updated guidance provides framework for safe reopenings and reflects additional resources to implement school-centered COVID-19 testing
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the launch of transparency, accountability and assistance measures related to the Safe Schools for All Plan. The Safe Schools for All Hub – schools.covid19.ca.gov – was launched as a one-stop shop for information about safe in-person instruction, and will be updated frequently.
“Learning is non-negotiable, and getting our kids and staff back into the classroom safely will help us continue turning the corner on this pandemic,” said Governor Newsom. “With proposed new funding and ongoing conversations with districts, school employees, stakeholders and the Legislature, we remain committed to our Safe Schools for All Plan and helping all students – with a focus on those in disproportionately impacted communities – get the help they need to return to in-person instruction.”
Today’s announcement follows on the December unveiling of the Safe Schools for All Plan and reflects the best available science regarding safe in-person instruction, which the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently summarized. The Plan is built on four pillars: (1) funding; (2) safety & mitigation; (3) oversight & assistance; and (4) transparency & accountability.
The four pillars of the Governor’s Safe Schools for All Plan advance a comprehensive, multi-faceted strategy to ensure that, as transmission rates decrease, the first priority for California communities is to resume in-person instruction. 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 Governor’s 2021-22 State Budget proposed a historic level of funding for schools – nearly $90 billion, including $3.8 billion above the Proposition 98 Guarantee, fulfilling a long-term commitment to treat the Guarantee as a floor, not a ceiling.
The Budget proposes early action to provide relief to schools managing the pandemic:
- Expanded Learning ($4.6 billion). The Governor proposes $4.6 billion for schools to expand educational opportunities, including summer school, prioritizing students from low-income families, homeless youth and others disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
- In-Person Instruction ($2 billion). The Governor also proposes immediate action on $2 billion for schools to safely resume in-person instruction, prioritizing schools that are safely open now or plan to safely reopen in February and March. Details can be found here.
These proposed investments build on existing state and federal funds to support school responses to COVID-19, including $5.3 billion from California’s 2020-21 State Budget, $1.8 billion from CARES Act I and $6.7 billion from CARES Act II. For example, by February 2021, Los Angeles Unified School District will have received an average of more than $2 million per school to support quality distance learning and to safely resume in-person instruction.
2. Safety & Mitigation
CDPH has issued consolidated and updated guidance, which was first issued in June 2020. The updated guidance includes:
- Consolidated Requirements. The guidance consolidates Cal/OSHA requirements applicable to all employers (effective November 30, 2020) and requirements from the previous CDPH guidance (first issued on June 5, 2020).
- Heightened Mask Requirements. The guidance now requires masks to be worn by all students regardless of age, and recommends disposable surgical masks for staff who come into regular contact with others. All public schools can leverage state-negotiated master contracts for masks.
- Streamlined Process for Elementary Schools. Consistent with the latest science demonstrating that in-person instruction can be implemented safely, especially for elementary schools, the updated guidance streamlines the process for schools serving K-6 grades to resume in-person instruction if they are in the Purple Tier under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
To help explain the latest updates, including the underlying science, the State Safe Schools Team will host a webinar at 3:00 p.m. today (1/14). Register here.
In addition, new resources and guidelines to support implementation of school-centered COVID-19 testing have been issued. The state will support schools to implement testing – up to once per week for staff and students – including access to the state-built and operated Valencia Branch Lab, which offers PCR tests at one-third the market rate and 48-hour turnarounds. Schools seeking direct support from the Valencia Branch Lab may find details here.
3. Oversight & Assistance
The State Safe Schools Team – a cross-agency team led by Dr. Naomi Bardach and composed of designated experts from CDPH, Cal/OSHA and educational agencies – will help oversee and assist local implementation of safe in-person instruction. To support oversight, CDPH issued two directives requiring data concerning:
- Reopening Status. Schools will be required to report the status, scale and model of reopenings every other week.
- Transmissions. Schools will, consistent with current federal and state law, be required to report any positive COVID-19 cases for individuals who have been on school sites to their local health departments, which then report the data to CDPH.
To ensure school leaders understand how to plan and implement safety measures, school administrators can request technical assistance from the State Safe Schools Team by submitting a request at the Safe Schools for All Hub (schools.covid19.ca.gov) or by clicking here.
4. Transparency & Accountability
To ensure public transparency, the two reporting directives will also support an interactive GIS map that will be launched on the Safe Schools for All Hub in the coming weeks.
Additionally, to ensure accountability for planning and implementing adequate safety measures, the State Safe Schools Team launched:
- Safety Portal & Hotline. School staff and parents can submit safety concerns about specific schools online or via telephone. The State Safe Schools Team will monitor reports and, when appropriate, will intervene with technical assistance and/or enforcement actions. Due to resource constraints, the Team will not be able to respond to every person submitting a concern, but will track patterns and intervene when state involvement is warranted. Please find the Portal on the Hub or click here.
- All-County Letter. The Team today issued an all-county letter providing greater clarity and highlighting key issues raised by schools that are currently open or plan to reopen in the near term.
The transparency and accountability measures will ensure that both the public and state agencies are able to ensure safe and expeditious returns to in-person instruction.
To learn more, please visit the Safe Schools for All Hub (schools.covid19.ca.gov), which will be updated regularly.