“I see a much brighter future than some are seeing, and I see it happening sooner than many expect,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday. Newsom was addressing fears about a return to in-person instruction for the state’s students in 2021.
“With caveats,” he continued, “I expect our kids back safely and with in-person instruction in the fall.”
So far, according to state figures, 9,000 of California’s 11,000 schools have reopened for at least some days of in-person instruction or have announced a classroom return date.
“We can do this, and we must do it. And we must do it sustainably, and we must prepare now for full in-person instruction come this next school year,” Newsom said. “In order to do that we have to prove that we can safely do this, prove that we can continue the progress we made.”
Newsom cited current and projected progress in vaccination as evidence that the state will be ready.
“We have 23 million people vaccinated. There’ll be over 30 million people vaccinated just in a number of weeks,” said the governor. “We’ll be at 40 million by the middle of next month, the end of next month.
“By August,” he continued, “everybody who wanted a vaccine will have had a chance to have a vaccine and will have many different choices of which vaccine. So I would expect and anticipate that the anxiety will give way to some new reality by August…With caveats, I expect our kids back safely and with in-person instruction in the fall.”
In addition to K-12, the governor said he expects college students to be back on campus “by this fall.” He continued, “I expect people will be enthusiastically making their way into community colleges, our U.C.s.”
The governor on Tuesday released his “Outlook for 2021-22 School Year.” The document was not a policy directive, but “intended to provide a more robust school-specific outlook, in an effort to provide as much transparency and lead-time for planning as possible.”
Newsom and the state legislature passed a $6.6 billion reopening package for schools in March which included $2 billion to help districts resume in-person instruction by April 1.
“This is real money we’re putting up,” he said about school reopenings. “Money is not an object now.”
“Use this money to extend learning opportunities, extend the school day, extend the school year,” said Newsom. “Who says you have to end on June 15? Who says that? We’re not saying that. We’re saying the opposite. That’s what I want to offer: that flexibility.”