March 5, 2021

Two-plus months after Gov. Gavin Newsom first proposed $2 billion in grants to coax school districts to send younger students back to school, the Legislature passed a significantly modified version with the same funding, and Newsom signed it this week.

But will the new law, coming amid rapidly falling Covid infection rates, speed the reopening process? It depends which district and which parents you ask. We speak with Fresno Unified Supt. Bob Nelson, who strongly criticized Newsom’s original proposal, but is now working with his employee unions to try to meet the April 1 deadline to send some students back to the classroom.

Two parents we interview offer opposite views.

Scott Davison, an attorney who has a son in Carlsbad Unified, said the new plan “is not going to move the needle much” in terms of reopening. Active in Open Schools California, a new statewide parent group pushing for immediate in-person instruction, Davison said Newsom should issue an order forcing teachers back to the classroom.

Alana Levitt, a parent with 1st and 5th graders in Santa Monica-Malibu Unified, commended the new plan as “a step in the right direction.” An associate director of a preschool that’s been open since July, Levitt said she understands how complicated it is to put safety measures in place, and a pilot program of sending students for a limited time in the afternoon strikes her as appropriate for now. 

For background on these issues, check out the following: