Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) said Friday that his four children have returned to in-person learning at a private school in Sacramento County, while the California Teachers Association (CTA) has resisted public school openings.
Newsom’s children’s school is operating under a “phased-in” approach to in-classroom learning that uses a hybrid model of alternating virtual with in-person classes, a Politico report noted. Next month, the school is expected to return to full-time in-classroom education.
As Politico observed, many public schools across the state remain closed under pandemic policies, including mostly all those in Sacramento County, where the governor resides.
“They’re phasing back into school and we are phasing out of our very challenging distance learning that we’ve been doing, so many parents are doing up and down the state,” Newsom said when asked about his own children’s education.
Newsom has encouraged schools to open, leaving the decision up to local school districts. However, CTA, the state’s main teachers’ union, has refused to allow its members to return to their classrooms, citing safety concerns.
In September, CTA, an affiliate of the National Education Association, said school districts were “rushing” to return to in-classroom learning and demanded uniform Chinese coronavirus testing and tracing. The union called upon the governor to issue state mandates for all government schools.
“Your leadership and action are needed to ensure that robust testing, tracing and isolation support, along with other prevention measures, are in place before students, educators and support staff return to in-person learning,” CTA President E. Toby Boyd wrote in a letter to Newsom and other state leaders. “California must fund, coordinate, and operationalize a true public health response to support public education in our state.”
The governor cited $5.3 billion in state and federal funding to assist with schools’ reopening efforts, plus two months of personal protective equipment (PPE) available to districts from the state.
Newsom gave waivers to private schools that wanted to reopen, a move that drew criticism from CTA.
The governor said the reasons for returning to in-classroom learning are the need for social-emotional learning to continue and to help parents.
“We absolutely believe that the social-emotional learning that occurs in the classroom is the best place for our kids, certainly the best place for their parents as well,” Newsom said. “And, so, it is absolutely incumbent to do everything in our power to provide support to our districts so that they can safely reopen, emphasis on safely reopen.”