Gov. Gavin Newsom Announces New Guidelines on California Schools Reopening

Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that most of the state's 10,500 public schools will not reopen when the school year begins next month amid a surge in coronavirus cases in California. School districts that have shifted to remote-learning during the pandemic will continue for now.

All public schools in the 32 counties currently on the state's COVID-19 monitoring list, which includes Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Riverside Counties, will remain closed, according to Newsom's announcement Friday afternoon.

Schools in counties that have been off the state's coronavirus monitoring list for at least 14 days, will be allowed to open - with restrictions. Newsome says the state will require all staff and students in grades 3-12 to wear masks. Younger students will also be encouraged to wear masks. School officials will be allowed to ask students who don't wear masks to switch to learning from home. Physical distancing mandates and regular on-campus testing must also be part of the reopenings.

"Learning in the state of California is simply non-negotiable,'' Newsom said, adding that, "Safety is foundational. Safety will ultimately make the determination of how we go about educating our kids.''

The new guidelines also require that in schools allowed to reopen, students and staff in individual classrooms will be sent home if a single case is confirmed. The entire school will be closed if there are multiple cases detected in multiple classrooms, or the number of students testing positive exceeds 5% of the student body. An entire district will be closed if 25% of its schools are closed in a 14-day period, Newsom said.

Several districts, including the Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified School Districts have already stated they will shift to full-time distance learning in the fall when the new school year begins as the number of coronavirus cases continues to spike.

Unified School District, said this week they will continue remote learning for students as the number of COVID-19 cases in the state continue to rise.

“While the new school year will begin in August, it will not start with students at school facilities,'' Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “The health and safety of all in the school community is not something we can compromise.''

On Monday, the Orange County Board of Education voted 4-1 to recommend opening campuses next month without masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus, but the decision is not binding on any of the county's districts. Several school districts in the region, including the Santa Ana Unified and Long Beach Unified have also said they will begin the new year with online instruction, delaying the possibility of in-person classes until at least October.

Photo: Getty Images

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