By Allen Payton
During an announcement, today Governor Gavin Newsom said schools in counties not on the state’s monitoring list can reopen for in-person. But schools in counties on the monitor list must be off the list for 14 consecutive days before being able to reopen. According to a slide he shared, a total of 32 of the state’s 58 counties have been on the state’s monitoring list for 3+ days. Contra Costa continues to be on the state’s monitoring list of counties. The order includes both public and private schools.
“It’s very personal to me as a father of four, 10 years of age or younger, to the 6.15 million kids who are part of the public school education system and the 625,000 adults…who are looking forward to getting back to school…and us parents getting back to work…and to so many other responsibilities as parents and caregivers,” Newsom started off.
Governor Gavin Newsom announces #COVID19 guidance for schools and provide an update on the state’s response to the pandemic.
Posted by California Governor on Friday, July 17, 2020
He spoke of and provided slides explaining the specific recommendations and guidance.
“Schools must provide meaningful instruction during this pandemic whether they are open…or not,” Newsom said.
He spoke of the health of school staff. “We have to have their backs, as well,” he stated. “Safety is foundational.”
Newsom then shared his Five Principles:
- Safe in-person school based on local data
- Mask requirements
- Physical distancing + other adaptations
- Regular testing + dedicated contact tracing
- Rigorous distance learning
“Schools can physically open when the county they are operating in are off the state’s monitoring list for 14 consecutive days,” Newsom announced. ‘However, schools that don’t meet this requirement, they must begin the school year, this fall with distance learning.”
He then spoke of the other four principles.
“All school staff and students third grade and above must wear masks,” he stated. “Students second grade and below we encourage to wear masks or face shields.”
“On the physical distancing side, it’s incumbent upon staff to physically distance at least six feet,” Newsom said.
“The school day should start with symptom checks, temperature checks,” he continued.
Newsom spoke of requirements to test staff regularly, with the state contact tracing workforce of 10,000 people who will prioritize schools, according to one of the slides.
“Distance learning…access to devices. We have put up money for districts to purchase devices…to address this yawning gap in technology and connectivity,” he shared.
“We want to create a challenging environment where assignments are equivalent to what they would get in a classroom environment,” Newsom added.
He spoke of challenges with a breakout of the virus. If the school has cases of more than 5% positive, then we mandate that school close. If 25% of the schools in a district have 5% positive cases, the district must close all schools for 14 days, he explained.
“Learning remains non-negotiable. But neither is safety of all of our cohorts of support staff as well as our children,” Newsom said before sharing the latest statewide COVID-19 statistics.
“None of us want to see education virtualized, at least I don’t,” he said. “The one thing we have the power to do to get our kids back into school is, look at this list, again. Wear a mask, physically distance, wash your hands, minimize the mixing.”
“The more we do on this list and we do it on scale the quicker all those counties will get off the monitoring list…and those kids are back in school,” Newsom stated. “It’s incumbent upon us to practice…what we preach as individuals…to model the behavior that can actually extinguish this virus,”
“I saw one study…if every American wore a mask in just a number of weeks, we’ll have dramatically bent the curve,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s too much to ask.”
“Go to that covid19.ca.gov website…to learn more about these continuity plans, Local Continuity Attendance Plans (LCAP),” Newsom concluded before opening up for a question and answer session.