California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a coronavirus school reopening plan Friday that uses localized data to determine whether or not a district could resume holding in-person classes and outlines what precautions they would have to take to do so.
“In California, health data will determine when a school can be physically open – and when it must close – but learning should never stop,” he said.
The California Department of Public Health updated its guidance for schools Friday, setting benchmark criteria that counties must clear for two weeks in order to reopen their schools. Districts in areas that fail to meet those marks would have to reopen with online classes.
The only exception is that elementary schools can apply for waivers.
“Students, staff, and parents all prefer in-classroom instruction, but only if it can be done safely,” Newsom said.
Earlier this week, California’s two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, had already announced that they would go back to school this fall with only online classes due to local spikes in coronavirus cases.
Once schools do reopen, all students in third grade and above will have to wear masks – and younger students are “strongly encouraged” to do so.
Physical distancing will be required for adults in schools and for students “as practicable.” Anyone with a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed inside schools, and screenings will be conducted upon entry. If anyone in a student or staff member’s household is sick, then the student or staff member should stay home, according to the governor’s office.
The health department is also recommending staff members be tested for the coronavirus periodically. And the state will help schools with contact tracing.
Lastly, Newsom announced $5.3 billion in state funding to support remote learning when in-person classes aren’t available.
The California PTA praised the governor’s plan Friday.
“Science should guide us as a state, and our children and families need to prepare for the school year ahead with clear guidance,” the advocacy group tweeted.