Written by Urvi Sakurikar
On Thursday, California legislators unveiled a bill detailing plans for school reopenings, without the support of Governor Gavin Newsom. Senate Bill 86 would require vaccine availability for in-school staff, provide $2 billion in incentives to speed up the process of returning kids to school by April 15, and provide $4.6 billion for in-person schools to use for learning benefits.
The problem with the bill, critics say, is that it caters too much to schools and unions, rather than prioritizing children.
North County San Diego is fighting against the proposed legislation. Melanie Burkholder, PhD, had this to say, “The last thing students need right now is for legislators to side with the powerful California Teacher’s Union.”
In a time where the mental health of students is severely degraded, legislators should not place such a delicate matter into the hands of teachers’ unions, many of which seek to extend school closures for even longer periods of time instead of trusting the science.
From March to October in 2020, San Diego County had a reported 11 suicides for children aged 11 to 17. The fact that there was even one child suicide highlights a serious problem with school closures.
Additionally, the bill’s April 15 goal is far too relaxed. That would mean kids would remain in online classes for nearly 2 more months.
Governor Newsom’s absence of support for the bill shows the extent of his division with his own party and lack of common ground on issues such as reopening schools.
As more and more people join the effort to recall the governor and his party floats away from him, Governor Newsom’s political future is becoming more uncertain by the day. Reopening schools is only one of the many prevalent issues that are causing contention, but it is also one of the most important.
In order to salvage the mental health of children and put California on the right path, schools must safely reopen immediately.