Schools Cannot Physically Reopen Safely with the Funding Level Proposed in the May Revision
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Educators, classified personnel, parents & administrators call for June solution to the budget shortfall to ensure schools safely open this Fall
SACRAMENTO—The Education Coalition, comprised of the nine statewide K-12 education associations that work closely to advocate for the six million students in California’s public schools and colleges, issued the following statement Wednesday, and sent this letter urging California’s lawmakers to adopt a funding solution to the COVID-19-related budget crisis in the June budget to be able to open schools safely and on time.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc throughout the globe tearing families and communities apart. It has caused an enormous upheaval in the lives of our students, staff, and parents, and in the entire K-14 public education system. We swiftly pivoted to distance learning and confronted the challenges this crisis presented all while keeping students our top priority and making sure they had nutritious meals. As our communities begin to reopen, the safety and well-being of our students continue to be our top priority and must be for California’s legislators as they work to adopt a balanced budget.
“Schools and colleges cannot physically reopen safely with the funding level proposed in the May revision. Preparing each classroom, library, gym, lunchroom, and school bus for the safe return of students, teachers, and staff will require significant resources and planning. This will not be feasible, even after public health officials provide guidance and clearance, given the additional staff needed and associated increased costs. Students, teachers, and staff will need the support of counselors and nurses at each site to care for those who fall ill during the school day and those overwhelmed with the emotional aftermath. We understand the severity of the drastic decrease in revenues, but that cannot interfere with prioritizing equity by providing resources for all students.
“We look to the administration and the legislature to identify and agree on alternate revenue sources, in addition to supporting the suspension of tax credits, to ensure K-12 schools can provide quality and safe educational environments for California’s six million students. Healing will require being prepared for the unprecedented challenges that will remain due to COVID-19 and a potential surge in the coming months. Taking on those challenges will require flexibility on instructional time to accommodate for blended and hybrid learning environments or a quick return to distance learning. This is an urgent matter and should be addressed in the June budget to provide enough time for schools to physically reopen safely.”