Governor Gavin Newsom announced his plan for learning and safe schools ahead of the 2020–2021 school year, as the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued new guidelines for when and how schools should reopen for either distance learning or in-person instruction. The key change requires schools in counties that are on the coronavirus monitoring list to begin the school year via distance learning only, prohibiting them from in-person learning until their county is removed from the monitoring list.
The California School Employees Association released the following statement from Association President Ben Valdepeña on Governor Newsom's new CDPH guidelines, which include school safety and reopening requirements:
"These are challenging times for all of us, but even more so for school leaders who are facing tough decisions about how and when to reopen their campuses for the coming school year while keeping their students and staff safe. Governor Newsom's new guidelines provide needed clarity for this decision-making process.”
"CSEA supports the governor's decision that schools in monitoring-list counties should not reopen for in-person learning until it is safe to do so, and we appreciate the state's comprehensive approach, utilizing multiple data points, to determine which counties are on that list.
"We thank Governor Newsom for prioritizing the health and safety of both our students and the staff members who play an essential role in their education, and for recognizing that masks will be a key safety measure for safe reopening. Whether safely in person or virtually, we look forward to seeing our students again soon."
Guidelines put safety first
Overall, the new guidelines align with discussions CSEA has had with the Governor’s office. Highlights include:
Schools may physically open for in-person instruction when the county has been off the coronavirus monitoring list for 14 consecutive days and can remain open even if the county goes back on the monitoring list.
Schools must engage in rigorous distance learning.
Mask requirements for students third grade and up.
Regular testing and dedicated contract tracing.
Local health officers may grant a waiver to allow elementary schools to reopen in-person instruction if the waiver is requested by the district superintendent, in consultation with labor, parents and community-based organizations. When considering a waiver request, the local health officer must consider local data and consult with the California Department of Public Health.
Complete guidelines from the California Department of Public Health are available at: https://files.covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-schools.pdf