Fiscal Report
Public Education's Point of Reference for Making Educated Decisions

Deal Reached on Reopening Grants

On March 1, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a deal with the Legislature had been reached to provide $2.0 billion for In-Person Instruction Grants and $4.6 billion for Expanded Learning Opportunities Grants, bringing an end to months of negotiations between the Governor, the Legislature, and key education stakeholders who have prioritized safely reopening schools for millions of students across California. Assembly Bill (AB) 86 was amended on March 1 to reflect the deal lawmakers came to over the weekend.

In-Person Instruction Grants

In order to receive the In-Person Instruction Grants, local educational agencies (LEAs) must offer in-person instruction to students by April 1. An LEA that is unable to meet these requirements for in-person instruction by April 1 remains eligible for incrementally decreased grant amounts as long as the required in-person instruction is offered by May 15. The grant is reduced by 1% for each day of instruction between April 1 and May 15 that the LEA does not provide in-person instruction in accordance with grant requirements. An LEA forfeits the In-Person Instruction Grant if it does not offer in-person instruction by May 15 or if does not provide continuous in-person instruction through the remainder of the school year. 

The table below identifies the requirements to offer in-person instruction as a condition of receiving the grant, based on the color tiers in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

  Purple Red Orange Yellow

Transitional Kindergarten (TK) – Grade 12 specialized cohorts*

TK – Grade 2 for adjusted daily case rate < 25 per 100,000

TK – Grade 12 specialized cohorts*

TK – Grade 5 or 6 (depending on local elementary school model)

At least one middle or high school grade level 

Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing Must conduct in accordance with the testing cadence in Table 3 of the K–12 School Guidance (p. 43) Must describe testing cadence in LEA COVID-19 Safety Plan (CSP)

*Specialized cohorts mean cohorts serving foster youth, homeless students, students at risk of neglect or abuse, English learners, disengaged students, students with disabilities, and students without access to technology to participate in distance learning

In a big shift compared to the prior proposals for the In-Person Instruction Grants (see “SB 86 Provides Legislative Proposal for In-Person Instruction” in the February 2021 Fiscal Report), the compromise includes no reference to a requirement for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) as a condition of receiving the funds. However, LEAs should note that even in the absence of any explicit requirement for a CBA in order to be eligible for the grant, existing requirements to collaborate and negotiate with labor partners under the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA) remain. 

AB 86 contains two distinct grandfathering provisions. LEAs that are providing in-person instruction by April 1, or have a board adopted plan for in-person instruction by that date and have posted their COVID-19 Safety Plan (CSP), are not required to adopt the required testing cadence in the purple tier. A second provision specifies that neither the funding conditions nor the issuance of any nonmandatory guidance issued by the Department of Public Health requires LEAs that have publicly posted CSPs on or before March 31 to revise their plans.

The $2.0 billion for the In-Person Instruction Grants will be distributed to LEAs in proportion to their Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) entitlement. Funds will be distributed in May using 2020–21 First Principal (P-1) Apportionment and preliminary Fall 1 California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) data, and remaining funds will be distributed in August using 2020–21 Second Principal (P-2) Apportionment and final Fall 1 CALPADS data. In-Person Instruction Grants may be used until August 31, 2022. Grant recipients must report to the California Department of Education (CDE) by June 1 on when they reopened for in-person instruction, and this certification will impact funds received in August. A look-up table is available below to view an estimate for the maximum amount of In-Person Instruction Grant your LEA may receive if you comply with the grant requirements by April 1.

Expanded Learning Opportunity Grants

Much of the compromise for the Expanded Learning Opportunity Grant program aligns with previous proposals to provide $4.6 billion for learning recovery (see “Expanded Learning Time Grant Proposal Details Released” in the January 2021 Fiscal Report). LEAs will receive $1,000 for each homeless student enrolled, and after provided funds for the state special funds, the remaining $4.6 billion will be distributed in proportion to an LEA’s LCFF entitlement. Like the formula for In-Person Instruction Grants, funding for the May and August allocations will be based on 2020–21 P-1 and P-2 Apportionments and Fall 1 preliminary and final CALPADS data.

The grants may be used for various strategies to accelerate learning and address student needs, such as extended learning time, professional development, programs to address social-emotional learning, and access to school meals. At least 85% of the funds must be used for activities provided in-person, and up to 15% of funds may be used for activities provided remotely. Similar to a requirement in Senate Bill (SB) 86, at least 10% of grant proceeds must be used to employ paraprofessionals, but full-time status is prioritized rather than required. If an LEA foregoes receiving the In-Person Instruction Grant, then up to ten percent of the Expanded Learning Opportunity Grant may be used for costs associated with reopening for in-person instruction.

Funds are available for use until August 31, 2022; however, LEAs will be required to adopt a plan by June 1, 2021, detailing the use of the Expanded Learning Opportunity Grant. Allocations are available on the CDE website and can be accessed here.

Additional Details

In addition to the details regarding the two grants, the legislation codifies the state’s prioritization of school staff for COVID-19 vaccines. The language also puts in statute the 10% set aside of vaccines for school staff that the Governor announced recently. Notably, the bill also states explicitly that vaccines for school staff are not a condition of reopening for in-person instruction, which is consistent with Governor Newsom’s statements throughout negotiations.

The announcement of a compromise between the Governor, the Senate, and the Assembly brings to a close months of negotiations that started at the end of December 2020, when the Governor first announced a plan to incentivize in-person instruction. The Legislature is expected to vote on the compromise this week. Once signed into law, the grants will provide LEAs with resources to support bringing more of California’s students back to the classroom.