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California schools chief details plan for reopening

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Posted at 12:51 PM, Jun 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-08 19:45:53-04

SAN FRANCISCO — California’s Department of Education has released a detailed how-to guide to safely reopen schools in the age of face masks and physical distancing.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond says it will serve as a road map for school districts as they prepare for the return of classes. The 55-page manual released Monday titled “Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California’s Public Schools.”

“The effects felt by COVID-19 have been widespread and created impacts unlike anything that we’ve ever seen. As our students return, schools will have to look dramatically different for their own safety and for the opportunity to accelerate learning,” Thurmond said. “We know that guidance is only as good as its implementation, so think of this as the beginning of the conversation—not the end. We know that for many of us, this is the toughest challenge that we’ll ever face, perhaps in our lifetime. But when it comes to ensuring that California students continue receiving a high-quality education—and doing so safely—we must rise to meet the challenge. Californians, I’m inspired by how you have come together to make it this far.”

The guidelines recommend face coverings for students and staff at all times, physical distancing, and regular symptom screening for students and staff. Thurmond says many parents have also expressed an interest in continuing online learning, which will be incorporated.

However, it will be up to individual school districts to determine when and how their school systems will open in the fall.

"We know our local educational agencies (LEAs) are all working collaboratively with their local county health officials and community partners to plan on how to safely reopen schools. The intent of this document is to be a guide for local discussion on reopening schools. It is not a “one-size-fits-all” document; rather, it is a document that honors the varied local contexts of each of our LEAs," explained the guidelines.

Schools across California have been closed since mid-March when Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order due to the pandemic.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.