How Newsom’s plan to reopen schools has affected students and teachers


William Chastain

Lincoln Elementary School, like other elementary schools, will soon reopen in-person instruction under Newsom’s reopening plan.

William Chastain, Staff Reporter

Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to allow elementary schools to reopen once their counties reach the purple tier. Reopening will begin with kindergarten through second grade, and proceed to older grades soon after. In order to incentivize schools to reopen, Gov. Newsom has created a $2 billion incentive program, paying school districts up to $750 per elementary school student if they return to school by Feb. 1.

Under the plan, masks, testing and other safety measures will be provided to school districts that begin conducting in-person learning. Gov. Newsom will also give teachers and school staff priority for COVID-19 vaccinations, and will launch a public database tracking transmissions of COVID-19 in schools.

Gov. Newsom’s plan will go into effect once he, the California legislature, and teachers unions can reach an agreement on a plan. Some teachers are a bit nervous about Gov. Newsom’s plan to return, including Becky Glover.

“When I see numbers rise (and now this new virus strain) I am nervous about returning to school,” Glover, a fourth and fifth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School said in an email.

Distance learning has taken a toll on education quality and students’ attitudes about learning. But according to Glover, her fourth and fifth graders have been dealing with distance learning better than some would expect.

“I have been handing out and collecting materials every two weeks or so. I correct math assessments, and read written work. I feel like I have a handle on how my kids are progressing. That safe distanced contact every two weeks is gold to me!” Glover said. 

Despite teachers being forced to teach in a new style, they have managed to provide as good an education as possible to their students, in part by teaching with a  hands-on style.

Newsom’s plan to return to school generates mixed feelings, because teachers want to get back to in-person learning, but distanced learning is much safer.

Brandon Lai is a sophomore whose younger sister attends Franklin Elementary School. Seeing the plans for elementary school students to return to school has brought new concerns.

“[The school] were announcing that they were [sending my sister back], and we’re still hesitant to even send her back at all,” Lai said.

California’s recent spike in COVID-19 cases, going from 3,635 new cases on Nov. 1 to 35,345 new cases on Dec. 22 has contributed to the fear surrounding sending students back to in-person school.

“Once we get the vaccine out, and it’s commonly spread…then I think it would be time to return to in-person school,” Lai said.