In the coming months, California Governor Gavin Newsom hopes to see younger students back to learning on campus after nearly a year of distance learning in California.
Last week Newsom unveiled the state's “Safe Schools for All” plan, which lays out the framework for supporting schools as they to operate with in-person learning in a safe manner. Students and families wishing to remain in distance learning this year would still have that option available under the new plan.
"As a father of four, I know firsthand what parents, educators and pediatricians continue to say: In-person is the best setting to meet not only the learning needs, but the mental health and social-emotional needs of our kids,” said Newsom in a press release sent out along with his Dec. 28 press conference.
“In the midst of this pandemic, my administration is focused on getting students back into the classroom in a way that leads with student and teacher health. By focusing on a phased approach with virus mitigation and prevention at the center, we can begin to return our kids to school to support learning needs and restore the benefits of in-person instruction."
An evidence summary released by the governor's office cites that multiple studies showcase scientific data to support what has been in speculation by the public for months: Kids not only are less likely to contract the COVID-19 virus but are also more likely to experience less severe symptoms.
The summary states that evidence suggests that children are less susceptible to COVID-19 and the more severe symptoms because their bodies produce less ACE-2 receptors. ACE-2 receptors are described in the report as the "doorway into human cells for SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19."
It also states that children are more likely to and have more often contracted the virus from home. Furthermore, the summary says that transmission among students is uncommon and that there is a low risk of transmission in elementary schools.
California's Safe Schools For All plan follows four pillars in its framework:
• Funding, which includes a $2 billion budget to go toward safe reopening for schools in the state as early as February — with priority for returning given to TK through 2nd grade students and students.
• Safety and Mitigation to ensure health and safety within classrooms. This includes increased testing, contact tracing, personal protective equipment. Surgical masks will be recommended for faculty and staff.
• Oversight and Assistance, which will be spearheaded by Dr. Naomi Bardach, UCSF pediatrician and expert on COVID-19 transmission in schools.
• Transparency and Accountability in reporting data on school reopening statuses, level of available funding and data on in-school transmissions via a state dashboard.
How San Joaquin County's schools come into play with this plan is dependent on its COVID-19 case rates.
According to a statement sent out from the county office on Tuesday, "Schools that have not opened in-person yet are encouraged to bring back younger students by spring, but they cannot reopen in counties with case rates above 28 per-100,000. San Joaquin County's COVID-19 case rate is currently at 64.7 per 100,000."
• Contact the Tracy Press at email@example.com or 835-3030.