California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced the launch of several new online maps providing a snapshot of schools’ reopening status throughout the state.
The maps, which are available through the state’s Safe Schools for All website, show the status — in-person, hybrid or distance learning — of public school districts, charter schools and private schools. According to the announcement, all schools are required to report their status to the state every two weeks to keep the public informed and to help guide community planning. Supporting “data-driven decisions” and improving transparency were key motivations for developing the maps, officials said.
“As COVID-19 conditions continue to improve and vaccinations ramp up throughout the state, this map will provide local communities with accessible, up-to-date information on how districts in their communities and beyond are adapting to the pandemic, including safety planning and implementation,” Newsom said in a press release.
The new maps were launched as President Joe Biden pushes for a nationwide reopening in K-12 districts, but in California, labor unions are demanding teachers first receive COVID-19 vaccinations. The new maps reflect California’s variegated school landscape, with blocks of yellow and blue revealing the still-widespread use of hybrid and distance-only learning. Newsom said earlier this week he’s working on hammering out a deal to reopen, noting that “a plan not to open is not a plan.”
California’s new maps were developed with help from the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, a state advisory agency created to promote innovation in the state’s education system.
In addition to school status, additional information will be added to the maps, according to the announcement, including school enrollment data, though the state noted that such additions will be subject to legislative approval.
K-12 schools play a central role in the state’s pandemic efforts. California connected more than 800 schools to its Valencia Branch Laboratory, an initiative launched last fall in conjunction with the diagnostic testing firm PerkinElmer, to rapidly double COVID-19 testing capacity.
In January, the state published new online resources — such as general information about labs, antigen testing guidelines and fact sheets weighing the pros and cons of various testing modalities — to assist COVID-19 testing and school reopenings, also as part of its Safe Schools for All Plan.
In its Friday announcement, the state noted that it will continue to make resources available to schools, focusing first on its “youngest and most disproportionately impacted students.”