Due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today, that California schools will start the new school year with distance learning.
“We all prefer in-classroom instruction for all the obvious reasons,” Newsom said, “but only if it can be done safely.”
The announcement comes at the end of a week in which school districts across the state either abandoned plans for in-person instruction or were still in talks with parents, staff and teachers about the best plan of action for the upcoming school year.
Both Banning and Beaumont school districts were still deciding on what to do amid a sweeping rollback of plans to reopen businesses. Banning’s school district scheduled a meeting for Saturday, July 18 to announce their plans; and Beaumont was slated to announce their course of action on Friday, July 24.
Students who live in the more than 30 counties where the virus is again spreading rapidly are all affected by Friday’s order.
Counties include Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, all of which have set new records for positive cases, daily deaths or both in recent weeks.
The directive applies to public and private schools, Newsom said.
Certain public health thresholds will need to be met before in-person instruction can resume, Newsom said.
Schools could reopen normally during the new school year, if the counties in which they’re located get the virus’s spread under control, which means infection rates would have to be down for 14 days in a row and the county would also need to meet California Department of Public Health criteria.
Even then, the decision to reopen would be up to local officials.
Schools that are allowed to reopen requires teachers and staff to maintain six feet of physical distance and mandate masks for students in third grade and up. Younger children would be encouraged but not required to wear face coverings.
The guidelines also recommend that school employees be tested regularly for the coronavirus.
“Learning is non-negotiable,” Newsom said at the press conference. “Schools must — and I underscore ‘must’ — provide meaningful instruction whether they are open or not.”