7 CA superintendents issue letter to Gov. Newsom, listing concerns over schools reopening

"There needs to be from the state actual state standards concerning what is safe, and when it is safe to return. And that hasn't happened at this point."
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Seven California superintendents have issued a letter to Governor Newsom listing concerns over schools reopening.

"There needs to be from the state actual state standards concerning what is safe, and when it is safe to return. And that hasn't happened at this point," said Superintendent Vincent Matthews with San Francisco Unified School District.

That concern prompted a letter from seven major urban school districts in California, including S.F. United and Oakland United. In the letter, they say a patchwork of standards across more than a thousand school districts would impact low-income schools.

Last week, Governor Newsom announced an optimistic plan to reopen schools as early as February.

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In the letter, the Superintendents also say:

The plan fails to address the needs of the urban school districts that serve nearly a quarter of California students, almost all of whom live below the poverty level.

"I think that a big part of opening those schools are state standards," said Supt. Matthews about the February opening target.

Superintendents listed eight issues to be addressed that include state standards, a plan to help special education students and a vaccination timetable, announced no later than February 1.

The superintendents say they also need clarification on the governor's promise of $2 billion dollars.

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"It shouldn't be taking funds out of the classroom to fund other initiatives. Those dollars should definitely not come out of Prop 98," said Matthews.

In a statement, Oakland Unified's Superintendent, Kyla Johnson-Trammell said:

"We simply need to continue to work together to refine the approach with the needs of urban school districts and equity in mind."

In his budget briefing, the governor talked about addressing equity, but no details on how it will be applied to schools reopening.

"We are investing our energy and our focus to deal with the disproportionate impacts of this pandemic on the issues impacting our low income communities," he said.

Supt. Matthews said they are hopeful they will open dialogue with the letter, but have not heard back yet from the Governor about a meeting.

"It's a sit down with the governor. And with those who are creating either a proposal or what's going to be implemented," he said.

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