Today, Governor Gavin Newsom announced his pledge to work with the Legislature to develop a California’s Safe Schools for All Plan. The plan is intended to provide support and accountability and establish a plan to enable the return to in-person instruction, which consists of the following four pillars:

  1. Funding. The Budget proposed for immediate action in January, includes $2 billion in one-time funding for the safe reopening of schools beginning in February, with a priority to return the youngest children (TK-2nd grade) and those who are most disproportionately impacted first, then returning other grade levels to in-person instruction through the spring. These funds will provide approximately $450 per student to school districts offering in-person instruction and will be weighted for districts serving students from low-income families, English learners, and foster youth.


  1. Safety & Mitigation. To further ensure health and safety in the classroom, the Administration will focus on implementation of key measures, including testing, PPE, contact tracing, and vaccinations.


  1. Testing. The Administration will support frequent COVID-19 testing for all school staff and students, including weekly testing at schools in communities with high rates of transmission. For example, any interested public school will be on-boarded to the state-owned Valencia Branch Lab for PCR tests at one-third the market rate and the State will establish a hotline to help schools implement testing.


  1. PPE. All staff and students in schools are required to wear masks. Furthermore, surgical masks will be recommended for school staff, and the Administration will distribute millions of surgical masks to schools at no cost. The Administration has also enabled schools to leverage state-negotiated master contracts for PPE to reduce costs and streamline supply chains.


  1. Contact Tracing. Schools will continue to be on-boarded onto the School Portal for Outbreak Tracking (SPOT) to improve collaboration between school and health officials, and members of the state contact tracing workforce will be deployed to improve communication with schools.


  1. Vaccinations. School staff will be prioritized in the distribution of vaccines through the spring of 2021.


  1. Oversight & Assistance. Dr. Naomi Bardach, a UCSF pediatrician and expert on COVID-19 transmission in schools, will lead the Safe Schools for All Team, a cross-agency team composed of dedicated staff from CDPH, Cal/OSHA, and educational agencies. The Team will provide hands-on support to help schools develop and implement their COVID-19 Safety Plans. These supports include school visits and walk-throughs as warranted, webinars and training materials, and ongoing technical assistance.


  1. Transparency & Accountability. A state dashboard will enable all Californians to see their school’s reopening status, level of available funding, and data on in-school transmissions. Additionally, a web-based “hotline” will empower school staff and parents to report concerns to the Safe Schools for All Team, which will lead to escalating levels of intervention, starting with technical assistance and ending with legal enforcement.

The proposed plan requires legislation to appropriate the $2 billion and implement its structure, as outlined below:

  • New Reopening Plan Process. Creates a new process for elementary schools to open for in-person instruction in the Widespread (Purple) Tier, in lieu of the current waiver process, by requiring a school district to develop and consult their COVID-19 Safety Plan with parents, labor unions, and community stakeholders before submitting the plan to both county office of education and local health department, and post on their website. A local health department can disapprove a submitted plan within 5 days.

Once an elementary school opens, local and state officials will monitor and provide support and enforcement guidance. In order to open for in-person instruction, a county must have 7-day average case rate of less than 28 cases/100,000 people per day to implement plan.

The state will require that plans include their level of available COVID-19 funding and in-school transmissions.

  • Cross-Agency State Technical Assistance. Establishes a technical assistance and enforcement structure with various state agencies to assist schools with returning to in-person instruction by providing training, consultation, and a virtual/recorded videos on how to respond to the latest guidance. The state plans to develop a web-based “hotline” for school staff and parents to report concerns and impose penalties if safety precautions are not adhered to.
  • Testing Frequency. Proposes to support implementation of testing of all school staff and students.









>14/100k case rate

Staff & TK-12 Symptomatic and response testing Symptomatic and response testing Symptomatic and response testing + every 2 weeks asymptomatic testing Symptomatic and response testing. Every 2 weeks asymptomatic testing Symptomatic and response testing. Weekly  asymptomatic testing


On the Legislative Front

On December 7, 2020, the Legislature was sworn in and began introducing legislative proposals for the 2021 legislative session. When the Legislature returns on Monday, January 11, 2021, they will need to deliberate on the Governor’s proposed school reopening plan, his January budget proposal, and the following legislative proposal introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting (AD 19-San Francisco), chair of the Assembly Budget Committee.

AB 10 (Ting): Pupil instruction: in-person instruction: distance learning. This urgency bill would specify that the requirement to provide in-person instruction applies when that instruction is allowed under state and county public health orders.

This bill would specify that distance learning may be offered under either of the following circumstances:

  • From July 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021, inclusive, on a local educational agency or schoolwide level as a result of an order or guidance from a state public health officer or a local public health offer.
  • From March 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021, on a local educational agency or schoolwide level as a result of an order from a state public health officer or a local public health officer requiring campus closure.
  • For pupils and certificated employees who are medically fragile or would be put at risk by in-person instruction or who are self-quarantining within the scope of this provision.

This bill would require local educational agencies (LEAs) to publicly adopt plans to offer in-person instruction within 2 weeks of public health orders allowing school campuses to be open. On or before March 1, 2021, each LEA will be required to implement the written procedures for the tiered reengagement strategies for all pupils who are absent from distance learning for more than 3 schooldays or 60% of the instructional days in a school week, transitioning the pupil to a minimum of 50 percent of instructional minutes each week for in-person instruction no later than 30 days after pupil identification. For unduplicated pupils who are performing below grade level, the same requires apply for LEAs to develop and implement written procedures for tiered reengagement strategies.

The bill requires a two-thirds vote from both the Assembly and Senate before it can head to Governor Newsom’s desk.