Credit: Alison Yin for EdSource

The Legislature hurriedly approved emergency financial relief to help school districts cope with the costs of the coronavirus on Monday before adjourning for a month to comply with state and federal orders limiting gatherings to stem the spread of the contagion.

Legislators approved an initial $100 million for K-12 districts and child care centers to cover school cleaning expenses and adopted waivers that will ensure funding for school districts and state-funded child care during school closures. In a second bill, they approved spending up to $1 billion on emergency medical costs, including leasing two hospitals, to expand the capacity to respond to the pandemic.

Also on Monday, the chairman of the Assembly Education Committee, Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, said he would shepherd legislation that would give districts flexibility to meet the state’s minimum instructional time requirements. That has been one of the unresolved issues for districts that have closed schools.

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that assured school districts would be funded during closures and waived the minimum state requirement for 175 instructional days each year. The order also set conditions, including providing school meals outside of a cafeteria setting, like a  “grab-and-go”  process, that districts would have to satisfy to get the money.

O’Donnell’s bill, which has not been published, would apply to those schools that want to make up the academic days — even though a shorter year would be legal. The bill would not provide additional funding, however. It would allow districts to extend the school day and count the extra instructional minutes toward the annual minimum instructional time. School districts would likely have to negotiate the terms and possible extra pay with school employee unions.

The bill that the Legislature passed Monday before adjourning codifies what Newsom set out Friday in his executive order. It says that districts will be funded for closures, based on enrollment figures they had before the outbreak of the coronavirus. And it also guarantees full funding to cover a possible drop-off in attendance if, when school resumes, parents keep children at home who suffer from asthma and other medical conditions. Education groups have sought to hold districts harmless for financial losses due to the coronavirus.

The bill also extends the period allowed for standardized testing for an additional 45 days. The $100 million to cover school cleaning also covers the purchase of protective gear, like masks.

On Tuesday, the Newsom administration will provide a more detailed explanation of its expectations for funding during a school closure. Along with continuing to provide both breakfast and lunch, the order requires districts to offer “high quality education opportunities” through options like online learning, written take-home material and independent study “to the extent feasible.” And it says districts also should provide child care for low-income children and children of first responders and health-care workers “to the extent practicable.”

Some districts are not offering new assignments and planned to use the closures to train staff in how to use distance learning platforms and plan online lessons.

Since Friday, restrictions have tightened, however. The federal government is discouraging meetings of more than 10 people at one time, and seven Bay Area counties have essentially imposed a three-week lockdown for all residents to stay in their homes.

School officials are looking for answers. “What is feasible and practicable has changed and will continue to change, for sure,” said Iván Carrillo, legislative advocate for the Association of California School Administrators. “How do you operationalize what is expected under the new shelter-in-place requirements?”

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  1. Sammi 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    I am after school teacher and a. P.E. teacher, we have been completely forgotten about - we are not getting paid like the other teachers are still, we can't each our classes online. I am now basically out of a job! Now the Bay Area has extended school closures until May 1st, how will we pay bills? How will we eat? What am I supposed to do? Theres no way to get another job!!! Please … Read More

    I am after school teacher and a. P.E. teacher, we have been completely forgotten about – we are not getting paid like the other teachers are still, we can’t each our classes online. I am now basically out of a job! Now the Bay Area has extended school closures until May 1st, how will we pay bills? How will we eat? What am I supposed to do? Theres no way to get another job!!! Please address this and help the people in this situation!

  2. Julie 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    Will Home Daycares receive a grant even if there are no employees due to closing and losing children, being a single parent and having a compromised immune system. I need help.

  3. Don 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    Sadly, many day care centers will need to close permanently due to them being nonprofits. Not ready for this.

  4. Maricela 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    Am a preschool teacher working in a ECE class , which most people call childcare. The staff here is worried about their health being exposed to all the germs the children and the parents bring in . On the other hand we are just as worried about if they do close we loose our pay since we are do not belong to a district. I feel that we have been forgotten!

  5. Heather Lindfors 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    A huge problem I don't see addressed anywhere is day care for younger children. They are not being required to close, but most are anyway. Parents are having to find alternative care and pay double, because refunds are not being offered from the closed centers. If you report further on school closures, so many would benefit from investigation and reporting on relief for day care centers so refunds can be given to parents or … Read More

    A huge problem I don’t see addressed anywhere is day care for younger children. They are not being required to close, but most are anyway. Parents are having to find alternative care and pay double, because refunds are not being offered from the closed centers. If you report further on school closures, so many would benefit from investigation and reporting on relief for day care centers so refunds can be given to parents or relief for the parents directly. At an average of $1,200/month/child, being out the funds and the care is devastating for so many California families.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

      Thanks, Heather. Reporter Zaidee Stavely discusses the serious financial problems child care centers are facing in an article published tonight.

  6. Daniel 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    I also used WeeCare. My wife’s work suggested it and they found us a daycare immediately since our 6 year old’s school closed. I would highly suggest contacting them since many of us are not in the position to take time off or stay home right now