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March 05, 2021 - 4 min read

California’s school reopening plans progress with new resources and timetables

California setting aside 10% of vaccine doses for educators starting in March

The push to reopen California’s schools is gaining momentum heading into spring. The efforts to return to in-person education have varied from district to district, as COVID-19 infections remain high and vaccine supplies limited nationwide. Now, key additions like the state’s Safe Schools for All resource page and vaccine prioritization for educators offer hope for a speedy return to the classroom.

Below you’ll find information and resources about new plans to safely reopen California’s schools.

Legislation and vaccine allotment

On March 5, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into legislation $2 billion in funding for school districts to reopen by April 1. The deal is incentive-based, with a set of guidelines for districts to meet and receive part of the funds. An additional $4.6 billion was included in the plan for summer school and tutoring programs, helping districts combat learning loss during the pandemic.

The legislation also finalizes a previous announcement by Gov. Newsom allocating 10% of the state’s weekly vaccine supply would be reserved for educators, including teachers, support staff, childcare providers, and affiliated jobs (get the details). With California’s current allotment, 10% equals about 75,000 doses per week. State officials are hopeful the federal government can follow through on its plan to increase vaccine shipments by mid-March.

Online resources and CDC guidance

California’s Safe Schools for All plan received renewed attention with the launch of a website featuring interactive maps tracking the reopening status of public and private schools.  The revamped site arrives on the heels of extensive guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on reopening schools. The CDC’s strategy features a “phased mitigation approach” and provides a wealth of information for parents, teachers, and administrators.

Although recommendations from the CDC do not supersede state or local guidance, state officials called the CDC’s approach “highly aligned” with California’s reopening strategies. A "Guidance Crosswalk" PDF on the Safe Schools website summarizes the two approaches along with other mitigation strategies, reopening priorities, and more. Still, a nationwide shortage of vaccine doses may dictate how many actual shots can be administered in the 58 counties across the state.

Keep in mind that to date, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for use down to the age of 16. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are limited to those 18 and older. Vaccines are not yet available for most school-aged children due to a lack of studies showing both safety and effectiveness in younger age groups.

As school reopening plans take shape across California, there is renewed hope for parents who have spent the past year balancing the overwhelming demands of managing their children’s remote learning with the demands of work.

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