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State Superintendent Tony Thurmond issues statement in response to governor’s updated school guidance

Tony Thurmond, California Department of Education
Posted at 4:00 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 20:02:42-04

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Governor Gavin Newsom announced Friday learning in California is "non-negotiable," and schools in counties that have not been on the state monitoring list for 14 days can physically open.

Newsom said while most people prefer in-class teaching and the benefits it brings to education, safety and health must come first.

The governor stated that schools in counties that do not meet the 14-day requirement must begin the school year with distance learning.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond issued the following statement in response to the Governor’s updated guidance for schools:

I want to commend the Governor for his leadership and for his focus on prioritizing public safety during what might be one of the most challenging experiences we will face in our lifetime. I appreciate the concern he expressed today as a father, his concern for the safety of California’s six million students, and his concern for the health and welfare of our schools’ educators and families.

I also want to thank the Governor for the work he has led to ensure that our educators have necessary personal protective equipment—already on its way to our 10,000 schools—in the form of millions of units of face coverings, face shields, hand sanitizer, and thermometers.

Today’s guidance from the California Department of Public Health lays out clear metrics for our schools so that they can best understand the conditions that determine when they must close. On Monday, the California Department of Education will host a meeting for our 1,000 school districts to unpack today’s guidance. We are grateful that our partners in the California Department of Public Health will present the guidance in this format and take questions from educators across the state.

As so many of our schools will begin their academic year virtually, we remain committed to continuing to work with the Governor, the Legislature, the State Board of Education, the California Department of Public Health, and educators across the state to address ways we can improve distance learning. We must accelerate this effort to ensure there is consistency and continuity moving ahead and that we are doing everything in our power to offset learning gaps that have been exacerbated by this pandemic.
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond

Newsom also announced the state investing $5.3 billion in additional funding for schools.

He also stated schools should close in-person learning if there is a confirmed case or if students go home with more than 5% of the school positive.

A district should go home if 25% of their schools are closed with a 14-day period.

The governor's Five Principle Pandemic Plan for Schools included the following:

  1. Safe in-person school based on local health data
    1. schools can physically reopen when the county has been off the monitoring list for 14 days
    2. schools that do not meet this requirement will not be able to reopen to in-person learning. Must begin the year with distance learning.
  2. Mask requirement
    1. all school staff and students in 3rd grade and above must wear masks
    2. 2nd and below must wear face shields
  3. Physical distancing + other adaptions
    1. staff must maintain 6ft distance between each other and students
    2. symptom checks
    3. handwashing stations
    4. sanitation
    5. protocols for quarantine
  4. Regular testing + dedicated contact tracing
    1. test staff regularly
    2. state contact tracing workforce will prioritize schools
  5. Rigorous distance learning
    1. access to devices and connectivity
    2. daily live interaction with teachers and students
    3. challenging assignments equivalent to in-person classes
    4. adopt lessons for English language learners and special education students