On Friday, California Governor Gavin Newson said most schools in the state will not be reopening for in-person education when classes begin in the next few months.
Under Gov. Newsom’s new guidance, both private and public schools California counties’ coronavirus monitoring list must remain closed. More than 80% of the state’s population or thirty-three of California’s 58 counties are on the watch list.
Once a county has been off the list for 2 weeks or 14 consecutive days, schools may reopen. However, there is one exception. Local health officers can allow elementary schools to reopen for in-person instruction if the district superintendent requests a waiver.
Last Monday, Newsom asked these counties to close indoor activities such as fitness or gym centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services, hair salons, and barbershops, and indoor malls.
For schools, they need to meet strict criteria in order to reopen, including social distancing measures and the use of face masks, Newsom said. He also recommended regular coronavirus testing and “rigorous distance learning,” which includes daily live interaction with teachers and other students.
Under this new guidance, students and school staff from third grade and above will be required to wear face masks in classrooms. Kindergarten students through second grade will be encouraged to wear them but it won’t be mandatory.
Governor Newsom also warned that schools may be shut down again if more than 5% of the school is positive.
A district will need to close if 25% of their schools are closed within a 14-day period.He emphasized that “learning is non-negotiable” and that “schools must provide meaningful instruction during the pandemic whether they are physically open or not.
Newsom announced that California has invested $5.3 billion in additional funding with priority on equity. This will be used for additional purchases for PPE and is money available to address the digital divide.
His decision comes after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention delayed the release of reference documents on safely reopening schools, which was expected by the end of the week. President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for schools to reopen, even as the coronavirus pandemic surges across parts of the country, including California.