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May 25, 2022

Gilroy schools ineligible to reopen under Newsom’s proposal

Covid-19 case rate too high to qualify under governor’s plan

Gilroy schools would remain closed under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to reopen classrooms to in-person instruction in February.

The Safe Schools for All plan proposed Dec. 30 is bolstered by a $2 billion package of incentives to help schools pay for testing, ventilation systems and personal protective equipment. 

The plan would need approval by the state legislature to move forward, and Newsom has said he will seek “early action” on the proposal.

Under the proposal, some elementary schools could offer hybrid schedules, starting with transitional kindergarten through second grade, followed by grades 3 through 6. 

Qualifying school districts could apply to receive $450 per student in grant funding.

However, to qualify, school districts must reside in a county with a seven-day average Covid-19 case rate of 28 or lower per 100,000 residents. Santa Clara County, meanwhile, has a rate of 58.8 cases, according to state data.

Gilroy continues to be a hotspot for the virus, with 489 new cases reported between Jan. 11-18, according to county data. Since March, the city has reported 6,133 cases, totaling more than 10 percent of the population.

Gilroy Unified spokesperson Melanie Corona said the plan is only a proposal at this point. If GUSD was able to qualify should the plan be approved, the district would receive roughly $4.7 million in one-time funding based on its average daily attendance, according to Corona.

GUSD Superintendent Deborah Flores will present to the board of education Jan. 28 on the reopening proposal and what steps the district is taking to prepare for the eventual return to the classroom.

During the Jan. 14 board meeting, Flores said district staff have tested positive for Covid-19 or someone in their home has contracted the virus on a daily basis for the past five weeks.

“We are really concerned about the number of staff that are reporting to us that they either tested positive for Covid or someone in their house tested positive and they are in quarantine,” she said. “It’s no surprise to us when we look at our Covid-19 numbers which are the highest in the county.”

Gilroy schools have been closed since April 1 following guidance from the California Department of Education.

Teachers and students are split on returning to the classroom.

A survey about distance learning and reopening schools that circulated to students, parents and district staff in September received more than 15,000 responses, according to Flores. 

Of the 3,650 students in grades 5-12 surveyed, about 31 percent indicated a low comfort level of 1 or 2, while 52 percent chose a scale of 4 or 5, the highest comfort levels.

Almost 60 percent of teachers indicated a low comfort level, while about 45 percent of parents and guardians indicated a high comfort level with students returning to school, the survey showed.

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