Governor Gavin Newsom stunned many California residents Tues., Mar. 17, stating that schools should expect to remain closed through summer break.
“Don’t anticipate schools are going to open in a week. Don’t anticipate schools are going to open in a few weeks,” Newsom said during a Sacramento news conference. “I would plan and assume that it’s unlikely that many of these schools, few, if any, will open before the summer break.”
He said the issue came up with one of his daughters who was distraught about missing school. Newsom stated, “I told her, ‘Honey, I don’t think the schools are going to open again.’ And if I could tell my daughter that, and not tell your daughter that, or the people, then I’m not being honest or true to the people of the state of California. Boy, I hope I’m wrong.”
The same night, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said that Newsom’s statement offers one assessment, but as of now, “there is no declaration that school is over for the year.” He added that officials have not yet discussed extending the school year into summer, and that districts need to be fully prepared to shift their instruction methods.
“We’re not going to know exactly what we need to do until we have a sense of how this is all going to go,” Thurmond said.
Almost all school districts within the state – 99 percent – closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Newsom has resisted calls to mandate the closure of all schools in the state because it would force hospital workers with young kids to stay home from work, as well as leave children reliant on school meals hungry. For school districts that have decided to close, the state education department is currently assembling guidelines for schools to continue teaching the 6.1 million students out of the classroom in the coming weeks.
”We wanted to make sure that learning is still occurring. Distance learning. Online learning,” Newsom stated.
His administration is also seeking permission from the federal government to suspend standardized testing due to complications from COVID-19, stating that “it is totally inappropriate for kids to worry” about the tests, and that teachers and students “already have enough anxiety.”
Newsom said his administration is offering additional help in planning for students’ needs to schools without plans to provide meals and other necessary services to isolated students. This announcement came as the Los Angeles school district planned to increase “grab and go” food services to help feed more than 500 thousand children displaced by school closures. Starting Wednesday, parents can pick up food at 60 sites throughout the district.
“These are not ordinary days, and we know many of our students still need help,” said L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner. “So our goal is to help as many as we can.”
(Sources: Sacramento Bee, LA Times)