Newsom announces fast track school reopening, Fresno-area agreement could delay the process

Local News

FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Gov. Gavin Newsom announced 10% of the state’s vaccines will be set aside for educators starting March 1st.

The announcement was made as Newsom visited Oakland on Friday and he said it is an effort to prioritize schools re-opening with modifications in the state’s 58 counties.

“We are also setting aside 10% of all first doses beginning with the baseline of 75,000 doses every single week,” said Newsom during the press conference. “Not only for our teachers but for our educators broadly defined. Our classified employees, our food service workers, custodians, our bus drivers.”

“This is fantastic news to get all of our folks vaccinated,” said Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino.

Yovino said even without the state, the county health department planned to set aside vaccine doses for educators starting at the beginning of next month.

“This is one more step,” said Yovino. “One more layer, to ensuring confidence as they come back.”

Approximately 50,000 students and around 15,000 educators are already back in the classrooms with modifications after getting waivers from the state.

However, two of the largest school districts, Central Unified and Fresno Unified, have made agreements with their teacher’s unions concerning the reopening plan.

The unions are adamant that teachers will not return to in-person instruction until Fresno County meets the state’s Orange Tier COVID-19 metric.

“Obviously a very complex issue in regards to this pandemic and simultaneously truths that there is a desire to go back to normalcy and make sure that it is done safely,” said Manuel Bonilla, president of the Fresno Teachers Association.

This means despite the vaccine efforts, the county would need less than 40 new COVID cases a day. On Friday there were close to 180 new cases, and the two-week average was around 250 cases per day.

There are just under 50,000 thousand K-12 educators in Fresno County. Bonilla said the teachers will continue the conversation with the district in the near future and notify parents if plans change.

We’re currently in the process of submitting our stratification plan to the Fresno County Department of Public Health, which is due next Friday. We anticipate first priority will be given to those who have direct contact with students, including food service workers who have been on the front lines providing meals since last March.  If inventory into Fresno County continues at the current rate, we’re hopeful all of our district staff will have the opportunity for inoculation very soon.

Fresno Unified School District

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