Although pleased with the restoration of billions of dollars in cuts Newsom had proposed, education officials are skeptical about whether they’ll be ready to fully reopen schools in August.
Major school groups are calling for more help to underwrite expenses for cleaning supplies, masks and other safety equipment. Newsom and the Legislature strongly indicate in legislation accompanying the budget that districts should have enough funding to open the new school year, regardless. Districts should “offer in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible” in 2020-21, says Assembly Bill 77. The implication is that districts should not continue offering only distance learning as they did when schools shut down to stop the spread of the pandemic.
Organizations representing school boards and administrators disagree on whether the wording of AB 77 precludes districts from also offering distance learning to children whose parents want to keep them home during the pandemic or a blended model that combines distance and in-person instruction to students in shifts.