Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other states legislators agreed on a proposal that would offer a financial incentive to schools that reopen. The proposal would have kindergarten through second-grade students back in school by April 1. 

Schools in purple tier regions would have younger students return and at risk students from all grades back by the end of the month. Purple tiered areas are considered the most at risk with an infection rate of 8 or more positive cases per 100,000 people. Newsom’s administration has received push back from teachers unions in these areas who say reopening is unsafe. 

Those in red tier counties have been asked to fully reopen elementary schools, including one grade in middle school and high school. Schools who are eligible for the grant and do not reopen by April 1 will lose a percentage of money for each day they are closed. 

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Newsom made the announcement with the help of Senate Leader Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. 

“We cannot turn back the clock and make up for the time our children have lost but we can make up for it in a different way and that’s part of what this funding is about,” Atkins said.

The proposal will offer $6.6 billion dollars in total and $2 billion of that will go toward safety gear. That includes masks, protective shields, ventilation systems and other personal gear. 

“So many of our kids and caregivers are celebrating this day because we all are united on coming back to schools,” Newsom said.

California has deferred to local school districts when making reopening plans in the past. That decision making combined with resistance from teachers unions have kept millions of students home for nearly a year

But teachers are beginning to receive vaccines and were among the 1.8 million people eligible to receive the vaccine at the start of this week. 

Written ByAshley Grams

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