Fresno Unified superintendent, six other CA superintendents oppose Newsom's school plan

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A return-to-school plan laid out by Governor Gavin Newsom last week is getting some pushback from California school district superintendents, including Fresno Unified's Bob Nelson, who believes the plan does not do enough to help urban schools.

"Our collective feeling is that the plan is a little difficult for those of us who lead major urban school districts," Nelson said on Wednesday, the same day he and six other California superintendents sent a letter to the governor's office listing their objections.

The Safe Schools for All plan, which was introduced on December 30, 2020, would give additional funding to participating districts to allow kids to come back to school. The problem for Nelson is that only schools in areas with fewer than 28 positive coronavirus cases per 100,000 can participate - well below where Fresno currently stands

RELATED: Reopening CA Schools: Some praise Newsom's plan, others say it's too difficult for some districts

"As of yesterday, we're at 61. So we're not even remotely close to the cut point of 28," he said.

Nelson says that because COVID cases are higher in urban areas, rural schools will benefit because their cases will be lower, and urban schools will be left out. That plan also leaves it open for more than 1,000 California school districts to essentially decide what a "safe" return to school would be.

"There's not a set of state guidelines that all of us would adhere to, so that's what we're asking for, can we decide at the state level what our guidelines are and then local jurisdictions can implement those guidelines based on what the recommendations would be," Nelson said.

Nelson is also hoping that school staff can eventually get bumped up on the COVID vaccination priority list to ensure that this return-to-school plan is one he can get behind.

"So it's hard out of one side of your mouth to say hey we're all going back February 15, and on the other side to say you're essential but you aren't that essential. So that's a really hard message to send to a community and a public," Nelson said.

Newsom's plan would theoretically go into effect in mid-February, but it has to go through the state legislature first. The full letter from Nelson and other California superintendents can be viewed below.

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