The head of the Los Angeles teachers union condemned California’s plan to reopen schools as “propagating structural racism,” after the deal was announced on Monday.
Governor Gavin Newsom reached the deal with state lawmakers to provide $2 billion in financial incentives for schools that reopen various grades for in-person learning by the end of March. Some California districts, including San Francisco’s public schools, have not opened classrooms since the coronavirus pandemic forced school closures in March 2020.
Under the terms of the plan, counties with new daily coronavirus case rates of seven or fewer per 100,000 must open elementary schools and at least one grade in middle or high school for in-person learning in order to receive a share of the $2 billion in funds. Counties with higher daily case rates of up to 25 cases per 100,000 would be required to open kindergarten through second grade in order to receive funding.
The plan does not mandate the reopening of any school district. Instead, schools would start to lose their share of the $2 billion in funds for each day that they remain closed. Teachers are not required to be vaccinated to return to the classroom under the plan, and final decisions on whether to reopen are left to individual districts.
The head of the teachers union of Los Angeles, whose school district serves 600,000 students and is the second-largest in the U.S., condemned the plan shortly after it was announced.
“If you condition funding on the reopening of schools, that money will only go to white and wealthier and healthier school communities that do not have the transmission rates that low-income Black and brown communities do,” United Teachers Los Angeles president Cecily Myart-Cruz said in a statement. “This is a recipe for propagating structural racism and it is deeply unfair to the students we serve.”