Colusa County teachers catapulted to the top of the coronavirus vaccination list, which could get schools a step closer to returning to normal.
“It’s not going to solve everything, but it is going to calm some fears,” said Colusa County Superintendent of Schools Mike West. “At least it’s there. If they choose not to participate, that is their choice.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom moved teachers up on the state’s vaccination eligibility list, ahead of most essential workers, after announcing an aggressive plan in late January to reopen schools to in-person learning.
About 40 percent of Colusa County teachers who were offered the COVID-19 vaccine have declined, even though the California Teachers Union has renewed concerns about returning to in-person instruction because of a “new and potentially more lethal” variant of the virus that has been found in the state.
The Centers for Disease Control, however, said recent studies suggest that people vaccinated against coronavirus will be protected against the new variants, which appears to spread more easily.
Maxwell Unified could be the first school to resume all day instruction. District officials have set a return date of March 15, now that they have met the teachers union’s demands.
In addition to vaccinations, teachers will get an “extra duty” stipend in their paychecks, officials said, and the open custodian position has been filled to help meet the union’s demand for a more sanitary environment.
Williams Unified will have a tentative agreement with the teachers union before the School Board tonight for a hybrid program for junior high and high school students.
Williams 7-12th graders are the only high schoolers in Colusa County who have remained in district learning since schools closed nearly a year ago.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced, as part of his California’s Safe Schools For All Plan, an interactive map showing the status of schools across the state.
“As Covid-19 conditions continue to improve and vaccinations ramp up throughout the state, this map will provide local communities with accessible, up-to-date information on how districts in their communities and beyond are adapting to the pandemic, including safety planning and implementation,” Newsom said, in a press release.“This map is one of many resources we have made available that will help school staff and families make informed decisions as we safely reopen our schools.”
The map shows data from public, charter and private schools indicating whether campuses are reopened, as well as details about their Covid-19 safety planning.
The interactive map also shows how much COVID-19 funding school districts have received to address the pandemic.
Maxwell Unified has received approximately $504,000 in coronavirus funding; Colusa Unified, $2.4 million; Pierce Unified, $2.6 million; Williams Unified, $2.5 million.
Parents can also go on the site to review their district’s COVID Safety Plan.
West said school districts will still face hurdles in reopening, as all reopening guidelines must be “bargained” for with the unions.
“And we know that the bargaining process is not an easy process,” West said. “It takes time, energy, and effort to move in that direction.”
West said the problem is that different groups, including parent groups, hold to a different “set of facts” when it comes to COVID-19, and schools returning to normal will depend on what “set of facts” guide reopening.
“It’s day to day,” West said.
For more information, visit the Safe Schools For All hub at https://maps.schools.covid19.ca.gov/public.html. ♣