Contact Us

© 2020 Association of California School Administrators
ACSA EdCal logo.
Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
Legislature issues plan to reopen schools
March 1, 2021
California school superintendents are expressing concerns over yet another state-level attempt to reopen schools, this time from a proposed joint Legislative bill: Senate Bill and Assembly Bill 86.
Nearly 500 superintendents from throughout California joined an emergency ACSA Superintendent’s Council call on Friday, Feb. 19, to discuss reaction to the legislation. ACSA Executive Director Wes Smith released a statement later that day, saying that while the effort is appreciated, the proposed legislation would impede districts’ ability to bring students back to the classroom.
“For many districts, the legislation would maintain unworkable COVID-19 testing cadences that neither take into account their capabilities of meeting the requirements nor the efficacy of frequently testing young students,” Smith said. “Many schools throughout the state have already successfully opened, some for many months, for in-person instruction without these onerous requirements. These bills, if passed, would expand collective bargaining and interfere with existing and agreed-upon plans to bring students back to the classroom.”
Key highlights of the legislation:
Opt-in or opt-out: The optional incentive grant would provide $2 billion to schools that choose to abide by the conditions, including a requirement for schools to provide in-person instruction for the most high-needs students by April 15.
Learning loss: Schools would have $4.6 billion in supports to address learning loss, such as summer school, tutoring and mental health programs.
Reopening plan: All LEAs, regardless of if they are pursuing grant money, would be required to submit a reopening plan by April 1.
Testing cadence: Schools in red tier counties (less than 14 cases per 100,000) would need to provide coronavirus testing to all students and staff every two weeks. Schools in purple tier counties (more than 14 cases per 100,000) would need to test all students and staff weekly.
Grandfathering for LEAs that have reopened: School districts that have already been open by March 15, 2021 would be able to continue abiding by their current safety plan, as long as there is evidence of collective bargaining or MOU.
Vaccines: The bill language requires the California Department of Public Health to prioritize vaccines for educators; however, it does not contain explicit language stating vaccine access is not a condition for returning to work and providing in-person instruction.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, who released his own school reopening incentive plan at the end of December, has signaled that he does not support this legislation. On the ACSA call, superintendents expressed concerns that the conditions for receiving funding may in fact make it more difficult to transition to in-person instruction. LEAs already operating in-person with Coronavirus Safety Plans may be forced to close if they need to return to the bargaining table. Others said the asymptomatic testing requirement, which is not consistent with CDC guidance, may not be practical in every school district. They also asked for more flexibility in using the reopening grants.
On Feb. 22, ACSA and more than 50 county offices of education and school districts co-signed a letter to state legislative leaders, requesting that certain parts of the bill be amended.
“It appears the fastest route to reopening more schools to in-person instruction for students is to allow schools to reopen under the state’s framework without additional complications of more changing standards and rules,” the letter states.