California governor, lawmakers reach deal to pay schools to reopen

California governor, lawmakers reach deal to pay schools to reopen
© Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomBiden rolls dice by getting more aggressive on vaccines California Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Western governors ask Biden for aid on wildfires MORE (D) and top state lawmakers announced an agreement on Monday under which public schools could get $6.6 billion if they return to in-person learning by the end of March, according to The Associated Press.

Two government sources close to the matter told the AP that the deal would not require all students and staff to be vaccinated before returning to classrooms. It would also not require school districts to reach an agreement with teachers' unions before reopening, according to the sources.

The agreement was made between Newsom and Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D), according to Atkins's office. Details are expected to be announced later on Monday.


California counties are currently divided into four tiers based on the severity of the coronavirus pandemic within their borders. Purple counties are ranked as the most severe, and yellow counties are considered the least severe.

Citing the unidentified sources, the AP reports that purple tiers will be required to return to in-person learning up to the second grade in order to be eligible for state funding.

Districts in the red tier, one stage lower than purple, must return all elementary school students to in-person learning as well as at least one grade in middle schools and high schools.

The AP notes that California's state government cannot force schools to return to in-person learning, leading them to make the monetary offer instead.

In a press release from Newsom's office, further details on the deal were provided. From the "Expanded Learning Opportunities Grants," $2 billion would be used to pay for safety measures in schools and $4.6 billion would be spent on expanded learning opportunities such as summer school, tutoring and mental health services.

The deal would also set aside 10 percent of vaccines for K-12 education workers. The package would impose data reporting requirements onto schools including "reopening status and COVID-19 safety measures."

"Since the height of the winter surge, we have successfully shifted the conversation from whether to reopen schools to when,” Newsom said in the release. “Now, our collective charge is to build on that momentum and local leadership, and — just as critically — do whatever it takes to meet the mental health and academic needs of our students, including over the summer.”  

Updated at 3:24 p.m.