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California governor outlines strict guidelines for schools

California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out strict criteria for school reopenings that make it unlikely the vast majority of districts will have classroom instruction in the fall as the coronavirus pandemic surges.

Posted: Jul 17, 2020 12:26 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2020 4:17 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP)California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out strict criteria Friday for school reopenings that makes it unlikely the vast majority of districts will have classroom instruction in the fall as the coronavirus pandemic surges.

The rules include a mandate that students above 2nd grade and all staff wear masks in school.

Newsom’s new guidance mandates that public schools in California counties that are on a monitoring list for rising coronavirus infections cannot hold in-person classes and will have to meet strict criteria for reopening.

The guidance says all school staff and all students in grades 3 to 12 will be required to wear face coverings. Younger students will be encouraged but not required to wear masks. 

The governor’s strict new regulations marked a dramatic shift from his earlier position that it was up to local school districts and boards to decide when and how to reopen. His announcement comes just weeks before many of the state’s 1,000 school districts return to classes in mid-August, with many still finalizing their reopening plans.

With school districts struggling over the decision, teachers unions, parents and school officials have urged state leaders for more direction on whether it is safe to go back to school. The state this week reported its second-highest one day totals in infection rates and deaths since the start of the pandemic. Nearly 7,400 have died in California — more than 1,100 of them in the last two weeks.

Several school districts have already said their schools will begin the new term virtually, including Los Angeles and San Diego, the state’s two largest with a combined population of 720,000 K-12 students. San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Long Beach, Santa Ana and San Bernardino are among the other districts opting not to immediately return to classrooms.

Los Angeles is the second-largest school district in the country after New York City, where mayor Bill de Blasio has said schools are expected to reopen with a hybrid model of in-person instruction and at-home learning, subject to state approval.

California officials have placed at least 31 of the state’s 58 counties on a watch list because of concerning coronavirus transmission and hospitalization rates. Being on the list puts restrictions on the ability to reopen various segments of the economy.

If those counties are still on the watch list when the new term begins, the guidance means that most California schools would not be reopening classrooms but holding school via distance learning.

The guidance lays out in detail when classrooms and schools would have to close if there is an outbreak. If a student or educator test positive for the virus, a classroom would have to close and the students and teacher would quarantine for 14 days. An entire school should revert to distance learning if it reports multiple cases, or 5 percent of students and staff test positive within a 14-day period.

Newsom’s administration and the state Department of Education had released guidelines in early June for districts to follow when reopening, which include implementing temperature checks for students, remaking activities such as lunch and recess, and recommending cloth face coverings for students and teachers. But at that time, California had managed to keep its coronavirus case count under control.

“Since we’ve issued our guidance, conditions have changed dramatically,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said during a media briefing Wednesday, adding that he expects more districts will decide to begin the term virtually. “In any place where there is uncertainty, we should

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3055568

Reported Deaths: 34441
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles103280614122
San Bernardino2561091560
Riverside2504362645
San Diego2168352109
Orange2148082477
Santa Clara943661109
Kern86718565
Fresno82485968
Sacramento806781111
Alameda67952765
Ventura62101436
San Joaquin58290786
Contra Costa52965450
Stanislaus42882758
Tulare41867506
Monterey36126255
San Mateo32596309
San Francisco29321262
Solano25806106
Imperial25317465
Santa Barbara25083236
Merced24452308
Sonoma24068240
Kings19435145
Placer17380180
San Luis Obispo15929136
Madera13443151
Santa Cruz12298113
Marin11693157
Yolo10620131
Shasta9776122
Butte9474123
El Dorado782644
Sutter775478
Napa760140
Lassen519516
San Benito496343
Yuba495127
Tehama397142
Tuolumne338240
Nevada320673
Mendocino311432
Amador301631
Lake261230
Humboldt239324
Glenn193519
Colusa17339
Calaveras161723
Siskiyou144613
Mono11214
Inyo97429
Del Norte8662
Plumas5895
Modoc3853
Mariposa3464
Trinity3024
Sierra820
Alpine730
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
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Hi: 67° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 50°
Oroville
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 46°
Chico
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 50°
Red Bluff
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 17°
Feels Like: 45°
Red Bluff
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 45°
Chico
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 50°
As expected, we had much quieter weather around northern California on Wednesday with plenty of sunshine, much weaker wind, and a wide range of temperatures. Thursday will be similar, but much more active weather is coming.
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