SACRAMENTO – Amid the national surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to provide staffing flexibility for schools to support continued safe, in-person instruction for students.
“Schools nationwide returning from winter break are experiencing short-term staffing shortages that are putting a strain on operations,” said Governor Newsom. “We’re working closely with local education officials to cut red tape to allow qualified substitute teachers to help maintain safe learning environments. We are grateful for the thousands of dedicated teachers, classified staff and administrators who have worked tirelessly to provide safe learning environments for all of California’s students.”
The Governor’s order supports schools to maintain safe and orderly operations by lowering state barriers that delay the hire of qualified short-term substitute teachers; permitting substitute teachers to have their assignments extended; and providing additional flexibility to support retired teachers who have returned to the classroom, as well as eliminating barriers that may prevent additional retired teachers from returning. The flexibilities provided under the order expire on March 31, 2022 and are only available to schools that make findings that the flexibilities will support in-person services for students despite staffing shortages caused by the surge in COVID cases. This order expands and improves previous orders (N-12-21 and N-25-20) that lowered barriers for retired teachers and classified staff to return to the classroom.
The Governor’s long-term strategy to address staffing shortages includes $2.9 billion in the 2021-22 state budget to recruit more teachers and classified staff, provide additional compensation especially for those serving in high-need schools, ensure teachers are well-prepared through programs such as residencies and grow-your-own programs, and provide professional development and training.
The state will continue to offer its stockpile of adult N-95s and KN-95s, as well as young adult KN-95s, to county offices of education to distribute to schools. CalOES has been coordinating with county offices and county superintendents, who have been doing incredible work to both manage their own schools and help all schools in their county navigate this surge. Each COE will also be able to order additional PPE items through the CalOES Salesforce system, and requests will be rapidly fulfilled.
A copy of the Governor’s executive order signed today can be found here.
California was the first state in the nation to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations required to attend school in-person when fully authorized for applicable grade spans and implement a standard that all school staff either show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week. Last month, education leaders reaffirmed their shared commitment to keeping schools open for safe, in-person learning, and the state significantly ramped up testing capacity. The state provides no-cost testing at 4,400 school sites and has distributed approximately 13 million take-home tests to schools for students since early December, when the Omicron variant was first detected, in order to supplement schools’ efforts to ensure safe, in-person education.