Let Them Play Effort Ramps Up

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Today marks yet another missed deadline in the nearly year-long struggle to get California kids back in school — leaving the state limited time to find a solution before reopening campuses this academic year becomes moot.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $2 billion proposal required districts to submit reopening plans to the state by today in order to access grant money that would allow them to welcome their youngest students back to campus on Feb. 16. But the governor’s plan fizzled amid strong criticism from the state Legislature, large school districts and teachers unions — and the road to consensus appears long, even though Newsom said Thursday all aspects of the proposal are negotiable.

The main sticking point appears to be vaccines. The California Teachers Association, which exercises considerable sway in Sacramento, wants staff to be vaccinated before students return to school — a process that could take months. In January, the state epidemiologist said it could take California until June just to finish vaccinating residents 65 and older.

  • Newsom on Thursday“If everybody has to be vaccinated, we might as well just tell people the truth: There will be no in-person instruction in the state of California.”

Adding to the tumult, Newsom’s reopening plan actually caused some school districts to scale back their plans for in-person instruction due to updated guidance requiring students’ desks to be spaced further apart, CalMatters’ Ricardo Cano reports.

Newsom is also under increasing pressure to allow high school sports to resume. On Thursday, two student athletes and a grassroots group called Let Them Play CA sued the governor and San Diego County, arguing, “There is no medical evidence that competing in team sports is safe for college and/or professional athletes but not high school athletes.” In Sacramento, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is sponsoring a “Let Them Play” resolution.

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics. 

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