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Biden and Senate Democrats discussed 'targeting' Covid-19 relief package in variety of ways

Biden and Senate Democrats discussed 'targeting' Covid-19
relief package in variety of ways 1
Stools stacked on desks inside an empty classroom at Collins Elementary School in Pinole, California, on December 30, 2020. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images/FILE

Lawmakers have reached an agreement to return most California students to classrooms by the end March.

The agreement combines proposals from Gov. Gavin Newsom and from California’s legislature and will provide up to $6.6 billion to return schools to in-person learning.

Of that, $2 billion will be made available to those schools that bring students back by March 30.

Schools will be eligible for their part of the $2 billion incentive once they resume classes for at least those students in transitional kindergarten through second grade. 

The rest of the funding, $4.6 billion, is aimed at helping schools make up for lost learning time, or as Newsom calls it, “reimagining the school year” which could include longer school days and/or summer school. 

Ultimately, the reopening decisions lay with the superintendents of each district, not the state. The funding, which is mainly earmarked for personal protective equipment, improved ventilation, and other safety protocols, may well provide the incentive districts need.

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Some teachers unions, including United Teacher Los Angeles (UTLA), which represents educators in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), have balked at resuming classes until teachers have the chance to be vaccinated.

Starting today, the pool of those eligible to receive a vaccine in Los Angeles has expanded to include educators.

LAUSD, the nation’s second largest district, has secured 25,000 vaccine doses for teachers and staff, which will be initially focused on inoculating those already working at school sites, preschool, and elementary teachers, according to Superintendent Austin Beutner.

In the meantime, UTLA’s membership is voting today on whether they will agree to return before staff is provided with full access to vaccinations and safety conditions are in place.

The agreement specifies that districts can resume class regardless of whether the unions sign off.

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