Earlier Fall Opening for Schools? Idea Under Review, But Questions Loom

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Gov. Gavin Newsom today suggested that schools across the state could open early for the fall, possibly in late July or early August, to make up for missed class time due to the coronavirus campus closures.

But Newsom said the idea is only under consideration, and officials said more study needs to be done to ensure students will be protected with campuses reopen their doors.

Newsom, speaking during his daily coronavirus update, said that while school districts statewide are engaging in distance-learning efforts, he knows there has been “learning loss” among students that needs to be recouped.

Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo said she has convened a task force of superintendents from across the county to consider plans for reopening campuses in the summer or fall.

She said Newsom “has given us a roadmap as we look to reopen schools and address learning gaps and social justice inequities in Los Angeles County.”

“Today, the governor explained his parameters for potentially starting the new school year in July or August,” Duardo said. “A summer start would be conditional and require precautions being in place at our schools, including social distancing and safety protocols for our students and staff.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said reopening schools is contingent on ensuring the safety of students, faculty and staff, and there are fiscal implications.

“Social distancing in schools may require smaller class sizes, but schools are going to need additional resources to make it happen -- including the possibility of hiring more teachers,” Thurmond said. “Additionally, teachers and school staff will need personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies so that our schools are sanitized. We expect that some form of social distancing will be with us through the summer, so if we start school early, we need resources to make it a reality.”

United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, said the idea of an early opening to schools for the fall would be subject to labor negotiations, “and there has been no discussion about doing so.”

“We urge our leaders to stay the course, and caution against prematurely lifting social-distancing protections by opening schools in a way that would put students, teachers and families at risk,” according to the union.

Photo: Getty Images

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