California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom suggested this week that teachers who do not feel safe returning to the classroom can stay home.
State lawmakers are proposing a $6.6 billion aid package to help schools reopen for in-person learning, including $2 billion to public schools for personal protective equipment, ventilation upgrades and COVID testing. But a portion of the aid package also includes contingencies to allow teachers and school staff to remain home, Fox News reported.
"No one is compelling anybody," the governor admitted on Monday. "We’re creating conditions where we expect in-person instruction. We’re going to provide supports, supplementary supports for people with compromised immune systems, people that are not comfortable going back in."
Newsom told a reporter that some of the funding will be used to cover teachers who refuse to go back to the classroom.
"That flexibility is not just ventilation, it’s not just PPE, it’s not just sanitation," said Newsom. "It’s also personnel to help address those concerns as well."
Teachers' unions, a powerful voice within the Democratic Party, have resisted plans to resume in-person learning, citing ostensible safety concerns. But, like Newsom himself, union officials spearheading the opposition to school reopenings have been caught sending their own children to private school and vacationing in the Caribbean.
In related news, no one is compelling Californians to sign the recall petition against the governor, but, so far, the effort to recall Newsom has gathered more than 1.8 million signatures. Only around 1.5 million signatures are needed to put the recall question before voters, but organizers are looking to widen their margin as much as possible in anticipation of stringent signature verification enforcement.