By the office of Gov. Gavin Newsom

On Tuesday, Sept. 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a new PSA partnership on back-to-school safety with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind “Sesame Street,” and facilitated by the Skoll Foundation and Participant, with the first PSA featuring Elmo that was released Tuesday in media markets in California, nationally through the Ad Council and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stations, as well as globally. The new PSAs build on California’s “Your Actions Saves Lives” COVID-19 public awareness and education campaign.
The PSAs will be widely distributed through paid media as part of the statewide Your Actions Save Lives campaign, as well as through donated media from multiple partners including the Ad Council, PBS, Univision, LA Dodgers, Anaheim Ducks/Honda Center, San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, Auto Club, Speedway/General Outdoor, LA Kings, LA Galaxy, AEG, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, LA Forum, LA Rams/SoFi Stadium, FoxSports, iHeart Media, Golden State Warriors, LA Sparks, Sacramento Kings, Anaheim Angels and LAFC.
As part of Sesame Workshop’s #CaringForEachOther initiative to support families during the COVID-19 pandemic, the three new English- and Spanish-language PSAs feature the lovable Sesame Street Muppets promoting best practices for children and families during the pandemic, including how to properly wear a mask, physically distance, wash hands, and navigate the hybrid learning environment many California children are experiencing this fall.
“As parents, we tell our kids all the time about the importance of washing hands, staying 6 feet apart and wearing masks, but it just might register differently if those messages come from Elmo,” said Newsom. “With parents and kids preparing for back to school — many through distance learning — it’s critical that we use messengers kids feel comfortable with to share important health tips about COVID, while also providing them assurances during this unique time that they aren’t alone.”
“The messenger is equally as important as the message,” said Lindsey Spindle, president of The Jeff Skoll Group. “In these new PSAs, the iconic Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, Grover and Elmo’s dad Louie help children understand how to stay safe in and out of school during the pandemic by practicing social distancing, hand-washing, and mask-wearing. On behalf of Jeff Skoll and our dedicated teams at the Skoll Foundation and Participant, we are proud to partner with the state of California, Governor Newsom and Sesame Workshop to creatively emphasize that we all have roles to play in curbing the spread of this virus, and that it can be done when we work together.”
”With so many children and families adjusting to new routines, whether returning to school or day care or transitioning to online learning, we’re proud to partner with the California Governor’s Office, the Skoll Foundation and Participant to help families navigate their back-to-school transitions,” said Sherrie Westin, president of social impact and philanthropy, Sesame Workshop. “With a little help from our friends Elmo, Oscar and Grover, we can deliver critical health messages and help children understand how to stay safe and healthy.”
As California continues to endure and adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as schools statewide continue safe reopenings, these PSAs are a recognition that government alone cannot slow the spread of COVID-19 and that by leveraging partners like Sesame Workshop, the Skoll Foundation and Participant, we can expand the message of practicing safe and healthy behaviors, particularly for young Californians.
The state has launched a number of public awareness campaigns during the pandemic to promote critical public health messaging in California’s diverse communities. Featured PSAs highlight the dangers of social gatherings during the pandemic; promote the “Wear A Mask” campaign and California Connected, the state’s contact tracing program; encourage Californians to “Stay home. Save lives;” and highlight actions we can all take to help slow the spread of the virus. Celebrities also stepped up by filming short social media PSAs to help the state promote the Stay-at-Home order.
The new Sesame Workshop back-to-school PSA featuring Elmo and his dad Louie can be found in English ( and in Spanish ( The additional two PSAs featuring the Oscar and Grover characters will also be released in English and in Spanish over the course of the next week.