California Governor Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers have announced a school reopening deal to push school districts to open classrooms for younger students by the end of March.
Many school districts across both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties have been preparing to re-open classrooms, but there are still a few, like Santa Maria-Bonita, that are still trying to make that happen.
The deal offers financial incentives for those still on the fence.
"You know, as much as the funding is appreciated, for me, it's not been that big of an issue of the funding. It's the logistics, right, and how do you ensure the safety,” said Luke Ontiveros, Santa Maria-Bonita School District Superintendent.
Gov. Newsom says a total of $6.6 billion to help re-open schools safely will be available.
Two-billion of that will be available in grant form to help with PPE, ventilation, and spacing. The $4.6 billion that remains would be used for re-imagining the school year and academic interventions for students who have fallen behind and is not contingent on a return to classrooms.
With cases moving in a positive trend in Santa Barbara County, Ontiveros says the possibility of re-opening looks reachable.
"With the public health situation getting so much better, I am encouraged that we are going to be able to get children back for a sustainable period of time,” Ontiveros said.
For counties in the purple tier, the plan states that students in grades TK through 2nd grade should open by April 1 and schools in the red tier should open all elementary grades by the same date.
"It's been better news over the last month than probably any of the news that we got on the first 11 months of this, so I am optimistic,” Ontiveros said.
During a regular board meeting on March 10, the Santa Maria-Bonita School District plans to announce its plans for moving forward with reopening. The district says that's one of many items the board is expected to discuss during the meeting.
*This story has been updated to reflect the board meeting is taking place March 10, not March 11.