Timeline for reopening schools across CA still up in air

Despite earlier anticipation, California Gov. Gavin Newsom did not lay out exact details on what statewide school reopening plans could look like as more than six million public school students continue to deal with the struggles of distance learning. 

While touring a mass vaccinate site at San Francisco's Moscone Center on Friday, Newsom took a moment to address the standstill with school reopenings. 

"I put out a framework for safely reopening schools in December and we put a marker down to get something down this month. We put up real money to advance those efforts and support those efforts. We're hoping to get a framework and a deal," the governor said. 

In new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health officials said there is strong evidence to support the safe reopening of schools at this time, so long as preventative measures are in places such as masks, social distancing, and contact tracing. 

Newsom said he's in agreeance with CDC's guidelines and they are "consistent" with what the state has been promoting. 

Bottomline he said, "We need to get our schools reopen in the state of California for our youngest cohorts. And we can do that safely."

Last week the CDC suggested that schools could reopen without teachers receiving vaccines. 

Bay Area health officials believe very little transmission has happened within schools and students should expect to be back in a classroom soon.

Some districts such as Mt. Diablo Unified School District in Contra Costa County are at odds with its school union as they are unable to agree on a reopening plan or date.

"Like so many parents in our district I'm baffled at why our district is dragging its feet by heeding the science that supports bringing students back to in-person learning," parent Lindsey Leaf said at a recent school board meeting. 

But teacher Kim Apana does not want to rush back. 

"How can we be asked to be in the classroom with our students in an area with a high rate of COVID and you all are still not even together?" she asked. 

A Bay Area News Group analysis revealed this week that schools in wealthy areas are returning to the classroom, while schools in less affluent areas are remaining at home. 

The news organization found that 100% of public schools in Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Marin counties with 2019 median household incomes of at least $200,000 offer students some in-person instruction.

Forty percent of districts with median household incomes of $150,000-$200,000, 40% have reopened. But only 16% of districts with median household incomes of $100,000-$150,000, and just 12% of districts with median incomes of $100,000 or less had children back in the classrooms, the analysis found. 

Newsom said he's working on a more than $6-billion package, which would call for the youngest students to be the first to return.

This story was reported in Oakland, Calif.