Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to announce new guidance for California’s schools in a news conference 12 p.m. Friday.
Several school districts have said students will begin the school year with online learning, including Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento and Oakland.
The Torrance Unified School District is having families choose between blended or distance learning options.
In Orange County, where the department of education recommended working to resume in-person instruction, the Santa Ana Unified School District and two Anaheim districts opted to continue with online learning when the school year begins, while the Irvine Unified School District gave parents four days to pick between three learning models, including hybrid options.
But as the fall semester looms, many of the state’s 1,037 school districts have yet to announce whether they will be opening their doors to students.
“Each district is unique and distinctive,” Newsom said in a Monday news conference. “Two things are non-negotiable: Our children’s health and the absolute, essential importance of educating our children. To me, it’s an ‘and’ not an ‘or.’”
Earlier this week, California’s education chief, Superintendent Tony Thurmond, applauded the state’s two largest school districts, L.A. and San Diego, for their decision not to reopen classrooms as the state sees a surge in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.
But Thurmond said in counties where the number of cases is low, schools could reopen for in-person classes as long as they follow the state’s guidance on physical distancing and wearing face coverings.
“We believe that those schools can open safely,” he said, but called for “an abundance of caution.”
The California Department of Education did released guidance for schools back in June, and the rules include required masks, physical distancing, regular hand washing and temperature checks.
“Since we’ve issued our guidance, conditions have changed dramatically,” Thurmond said. “In many communities throughout our state, we’re seeing high rates of infection in the community. This surge has spelled the need for caution.”
It’s unclear whether the governor intends to outline different rules for reopening schools based counties’ coronavirus numbers.
At least 31 of California’s 58 counties are being monitored by state officials for heightened coronavirus activity — those counties, including all in Southern California, have been receiving stricter more sweeping from Newsom.
On Monday the governor ordered the counties to close indoor activities at fitness centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services, such as hair salons and barbershops, and indoor malls.