Thurmond: California Department of Education will not mandate start dates for school districts

National Teacher Appreciation Day
Posted at 9:28 AM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 13:32:08-04

In a Facebook Live event, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond provided an update on how the state is dealing with the effects of COVID-19 and how education will move forward in the coming months.

After thanking the those that have helped California deal with the effects of COVID-19 on learning in the state, Thurmond said the state task force is working on developing guidelines that will help local school districts decide how to proceed with re-opening. These guidelines will be drawn up in consideration to those guidelines provide by Governor Gavin Newsom and the state of California. However, Thurmond did not give a specific timeframe as to when these guidelines will be available.

Thurmond emphasized that individual school districts will determine when and how they will open. The state will not mandate when they should re-open.

In some cases, districts are considering different shifts that will reduce class size and allow for social distancing. Some school districts may employ hybrid models with a mix of in-class and remote education. Districts will also decided if students and staffs will be required to wear masks. Some schools that operate on a year-round schedule may open in July, while other districts may open later than previously scheduled. Thurmond said he will be speaking with school districts over the next several days to begin to share guidance and to hear back from districts on how they want to proceed.

In addition, at this time there are no plans for traditional graduation ceremonies, but several school districts have begun using virtual graduations.

Likewise, how school districts proceed with summer school will be determined on the local level, but again the state will work with those districts to help mitigate and offset learning gaps.

Regardless, Thurmond said the department of education is making sure that the COVID-19 doesn't adversely effect students opportunities for secondary education.

Thurmond understands that the costs created by the COVID-19 will have a direct impact on how districts move forward. He is aware of the difficult times ahead and understands in some cases staffing may need to be increased to cover the changes in the way schools operate.

Moving forward, the California Department of Education understands that the pandemic has changed the way schools have needed to educate students in the short-term, but also sees an opportunity to use this as way of looking at how the state educates students in the long-term, using it as an opportunity for innovation.