Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a media briefing at Ruby Bridges Elementary School in Alameda, Calif., on March 16, 2021. (Eli Walsh/Bay City News)

Gov. Gavin Newsom visited an Alameda elementary school on Tuesday, criticizing the effort to recall him while touting the state’s progress in reducing coronavirus cases and expanding vaccine access.

Newsom visited Ruby Bridges Elementary School as part of a series of school visits in recent weeks as students return to in-person classes for the first time in roughly a year.

Those reopenings were spurred earlier this month by Newsom’s signing of a $6.6 billion legislative package to support increased safety for students and educators as well as personal protection equipment, improvements to classroom ventilation and regular coronavirus testing.

The state is also expected to receive an additional $15.9 billion in federal education funding from the recently passed American Rescue Plan.

Newsom said the funding and plummeting COVID-19 case rates statewide have enabled roughly 9,000 of the state’s 11,000 primary and secondary schools to reopen or formally set a reopening date.

Some 80 percent of the students at Ruby Bridges Elementary have already voluntarily returned to class, according to Newsom.

“I imagine they’ll see that number even grow once people have some confidence,” he said. “Parents need to have confidence; not just the teachers, not just the custodial staff, not just the bus drivers and not just the folks that make schools like this work within the cafeterias.”

More than 400,000 educators and child care workers have already received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose, driven in part by the state’s allocation of 10 percent of its weekly vaccine shipments toward educators.

Newsom’s visit came on the eve of the deadline to collect signatures for the effort to recall him. Organizers say they have collected some 2 million signatures, more than is required to trigger a recall election.

Newsom noted that he expects the recall effort to force an election, but argued that the recall campaign’s nationalization — the Republican National Committee has donated $250,000 to the campaign — and a judge’s extension of the signature collection deadline as reasons the effort to trigger an election would be successful.

“This is the sixth effort to recall. I’ve been here 45 months,” Newsom said, characterizing the effort as a “circus” and a “sideshow.”

Newsom and state Democratic officials have also made it a point to portray the recall organizers as radicals with ties to conspiracy theories from QAnon and far-right militia groups like the Three Percenters.

That messaging has been boosted by the California Democratic Party and other liberal allies, including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“The reality is, (it) looks like it’s going on the ballot,” Newsom said. “So we’re ready to go. We will fight it, we will defeat it. At the same time, it’s not going to keep me from focusing on my job 24/7.”