May 26, 2020

California schools can’t reopen schools without federal dollars, say state’s education leaders

California schools will not be able to reopen safely in the fall with such modifications as required facemasks, smaller class sizes and frequent sanitation without additional funding, said state Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond in a web conference with local school leaders Thursday, May 21.

The plea came days after Gov. Gavin Newsom projected budget cuts for public schools by some $19 billion over two years. School districts, meanwhile, are facing mounting pandemic-related costs like technology purchases and food distribution.

“We agree with you that we cannot ask schools to do more with less,” said Thurmond at the launch of a conference call for teachers, principals and administrators to share best practices. “We understand that adding social distancing conditions are unavoidable expenses but must be provided for the safety of our students. Clearly we need the assistance of the federal government.”

Thurmond announced Wednesday that most schools across the state will open in August or September with such public health modifications as mask-wearing, smaller classes and staggered breaks and playtimes. Some school districts may offer a combination of in-person and distance learning.

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The Center for Disease control released guidelines Tuesday for schools to safely reopen and an online tool for how school leaders can make decisions to do so. They include suggestions for modified classroom layouts, like having students sit facing one direction instead of toward one another, staggered playtime and serving meals in classrooms instead of cafeterias.

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The coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close across California in mid-March, disrupting the education of 6 million students and leaving educators in a scramble to provide remote instruction. A persistent “digital divide” between students with and without access to technology emerged, especially in rural districts and those serving students from low income families.

Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom said schools could physically open as early as July. Thurmond said the state Education Department will not mandate when schools open, and local school districts will have discretion.

But whether there will be adequate COVID-19 testing and contact tracing available is an open question, said Thurmond. So is whether schools can provide enough protective equipment, cleaning supplies and training necessary to implement public health guidelines.

…read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News


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