California schools chief details plan for reopening

California’s Department of Education has released a detailed how-to guide to safely reopen schools in the age of face masks and physical distancing.

Posted: Jun 8, 2020 12:48 PM
Updated: Jun 8, 2020 9:01 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California’s Department of Education released a detailed guide Monday for the safe reopening of schools in the age of face masks and physical distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

It makes clear that schools will look dramatically different for California’s 6.2 million students and staff, who can expect temperature checks upon entering schools and buses, face masks for teachers and students and extensive hand washing throughout the day. It also offers suggestions for how to offer classroom instruction with smaller class sizes such as rotating students into campuses two days a week, while the remainder of days they stay home for distance learning.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on everything we know about providing education,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “It forces us to enter into a new conversation about the way we provide instruction.”

The manual titled, “Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California’s Public Schools,” will serve as a road map for school districts as they prepare for the return of classes in the fall, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said in a statement.

Ultimately, school districts will decide how to reopen campuses. There is no one-size-fits-all model for the state’s 1,000 school districts so the guidance aims to offer multiple scenarios that can help schools find the best approach to safely reopening, Thurmond said.

Thurmond said many parents have expressed an interest in continuing distance learning for safety reasons and he is encouraging districts to maintain at-home instruction to the extent they can to ensure smaller class sizes.

“Parents are asking for it, let’s use that as a strategy, let’s plan for it,” Thurmond said about continued online learning in the fall, which will be needed as schools accommodate a smaller number of students at a time.

For weeks, educators and state officials have made clear that the safe reopening of schools will require a top-to-bottom redesign of the traditional school day, where social interaction has always been a key part of learning.

The state Department of Public Health on Friday released its own 14-page guidance designed to help districts prepare for students to return. It includes recommendations such as keeping students 6 feet (2 meters) apart at all times — in class, in the hallways and at recess. It recommends face coverings for teachers and students and suggests that meals be served in classrooms or outdoors instead of cafeterias or group dining areas.

The state cannot order schools to adopt its rules, but its guidance serves as recommendations for districts to follow on reopening. School districts opted to close when Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order in mid-March and developed distance-learning plans on the fly.

The state said Friday it plans to supply every school and child care center with no-touch thermometers, hand sanitizer, face shields for every teacher, cloth face coverings for staff and students, and tight-fitting N-95 masks for health care professionals in schools.

The new safety measures pose massive logistical and financial challenges, educators say, particularly at a time of shrinking budgets. Districts are facing the prospect of billions of dollars in budget cuts as the state scrambles to plug a deficit brought on by the virus.

The California Education Coalition, which includes the nine statewide K-12 public education associations, has urged Newsom and state legislators to reject the cuts. Teachers, superintendents, principals and others say they support the need to implement physical distancing at schools, which would require decreased class sizes and dramatically increased cleaning in classrooms and across campuses. But all of that will cost more money.

View the full guidance below:

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3559311

Reported Deaths: 51794
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles118923221241
Riverside2894503767
San Bernardino2860772783
Orange2607213982
San Diego2589823260
Santa Clara1102371777
Kern102627811
Fresno950151422
Sacramento929611464
Alameda802791241
Ventura77395834
San Joaquin665691082
Contra Costa62164674
Stanislaus55887946
Tulare47784746
Monterey42138327
San Mateo38872515
San Francisco34138398
Santa Barbara31763407
Solano30024164
Merced28915395
Sonoma28004298
Imperial26855589
Kings21951218
Placer19763232
San Luis Obispo19612227
Madera15414209
Santa Cruz14588183
Marin13136197
Yolo12787185
Shasta10969174
Butte10922160
El Dorado9095100
Napa899869
Sutter884597
San Benito575259
Yuba573336
Lassen560119
Tehama508152
Tuolumne394659
Nevada394074
Mendocino379643
Amador344841
Humboldt318033
Lake314140
Glenn221923
Colusa212813
Calaveras190547
Siskiyou174014
Inyo128736
Mono12114
Del Norte9875
Plumas6536
Modoc4524
Mariposa3957
Trinity3675
Sierra990
Alpine810
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 32°
Oroville
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 38°
Chico
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 32°
Red Bluff
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 38°
Red Bluff
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 38°
Chico
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 32°
It was a bright and breezy Friday for northern California, however the wind has been much stronger over Modoc County where a High Wind Warning is in effect through this evening. Stronger wind and cooler air will define our weather Saturday.
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