Newsom Administration Issues School Reopening Guidance, Launches Safe Schools for All Hub

Following up on an announcement in late December, the Newsom Administration this week issued its guidance for reopening schools for in-person instruction during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Administration, the Safe Schools for All Plan focuses on four pillars: 1) funding; 2) safety and mitigation; 3) oversight and assistance; and 4) transparency and accountability. Each of these areas is detailed below:

  • Funding: The Governor’s FY 2021-22 Budget Proposal includes significant investments to support safe in-person instruction for schools statewide, including:
    • $4.6 Billion for Expanded Learning – Funding to expand educational opportunities, including summer school, prioritizing students from low-income families, homeless youth, and others disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
    • $2 Billion for In-Person Instruction – Funding to safely resume in-person instruction, prioritizing schools that are safely open now or plan to safely reopen in February and March
  • Safety and Mitigation: The Administration highlights updated guidance from CDPH, including:
    • Consolidated Requirements – Updated guidance consolidates Cal/OSHA requirements applicable to all employers and requirements from the previous CDPH guidance.
    • Heightened Mask Requirements – 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 are able to leverage state-negotiated master contracts for masks.
    • Streamlined Process for Elementary Schools – The updated guidance also streamlines the process for schools serving K-6 grades to resume in-person instruction if they are in the Purple Tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
  • Oversight and Assistance: The Administration has established a State Safe Schools Team to oversee and assist local implementation of safe in-person instruction. To support this oversight, CDPH issued two data-related directives:
    • Reopening Status – Schools will be required to report the status, scale, and model of reopenings every other week.
    • Transmissions – Schools will be required to report any positive COVID-19 cases for individuals who have been on school sites to the local health departments, who then report the data to CDPH.
  • Transparency and Accountability: The Administration will be building out an interactive map detailing reopened schools over the coming weeks. Other actions include:
    • Safety Portal and Hotline – School staff and parents can submit school safety concerns online or via telephone. The State Safe Schools Team will monitor reports and intervene with technical assistance and/or enforcement actions, where necessary.
    • All-County Letter – The State Safe Schools for All Team issued an all-county letter providing clarity and highlighting issues raised by schools that are currently open or plan to reopen in the near term.

To support its Safe Schools for All Plan, the Administration additionally launched the Safe Schools for All Hub, an online one-stop shop for all information about school reopening processes. The full guidance from the Administration is available here.