SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California lawmakers will debate whether to allow distance learning next year as state law does not allow for virtual learning.
The waiver that has allowed distance learning for this topsy-turvy school year expires on June 30.
State Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) tweeted that lawmakers will debate whether to allow distance learning in this year's budget meetings.
Ting has been a big proponent of getting classrooms reopened.
In December, he introduced AB10, which would require public schools to reopen under most circumstances during the pandemic when infection rates drop.
"As a father, I worry about all the learning loss occurring and the millions of kids who are falling behind, as a result of our sole reliance on remote teaching – not to mention the impacts of social isolation," Ting said at the time. "Schools in other states and countries have prioritized in-person learning during COVID-19 and have done so without major outbreaks. California ought to follow that path."
Teachers' unions have expressed concerns about returning to school because they are worried there aren't enough safety measures in place. Some families are also worried about sending their children back to school because they live in households with older adults and they don't trust that the schools will keep their children free from the virus.
However, as more people get vaccinated, many of these worries should be fading.
Around the state, there has been a patchwork of schools that have opened or are poised to open. Many private schools have already been operating in person. And school districts in other parts of the country, such as New York and Chicago, have also re-opened, at least partially.
And in terms of public schools, all Pleasanton students went back to class this week in a hybrid fashion, and Berkeley elementary school students will be heading back five days a week, full-time, in the next few weeks.
Progress is even happening in San Francisco and Los Angeles, two districts where the teachers' unions had been hesitant about reopening. The San Francisco Unified school board on Thursday unanimously voted to approve bringing the district's youngest students back to class on April 12. The teachers union will continue voting on that agreement until Saturday.
Oakland Unified still does not have an exact date in mind to return to school.
Parents were hosting yet another "Zoom-in" protest on Friday in front of Oakland Technical High School, where 36,000 children have been "locked out of their classrooms for 365 days," according to a statement from the grassroots group, OUSD Parents for Transparency and Safe.
"Oakland is one of the last remaining large cities without an agreement to return to in-person learning this year," the group said.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf weighed in on the topic, both as the leader of the city and a parent of two public school children.
Schaaf said the "holdup is an agreement with the teachers' union."
She emphasized that the school board has been very clear about wanting to reopen as soon as they can. But there are some details between the district and the teachers that haven't been worked out yet.
"What a shame, these kids will never get this year back," Schaaf told KTVU on Friday. " We've got to get them back to school."
This story was reported in Oakland, Calif. KTVU's Gasia Mikaelian contributed to this report.