Governor Gavin Newsom released new guidelines for education in the state of California earlier today.
“Learning in the state of California is simply non-negotiable,” said Governor Newsom. He stressed the importance of schools providing meaningful instruction, whether that instruction is in-person or by way of distance learning.
His 5-part Pandemic Plan for schools goes as follows:
- Safe in-person schooling based on local health data
- Mask requirements
- Physical distancing and other adaptations
- Regular testing and dedicated contact tracing
- Rigorous distance learning
Newsom also mentioned that a California school will get the green light to physically open only when its district’s County has been off the monitoring list for 14 consecutive days. Schools that don’t meet this requirement must begin the year with distance learning and stay that way until conditions change.
Santa Clara County has been on the monitoring list since July 12. After enacting an order to reopen certain places—like gyms, and hair and nail salons—for July 13, the County had to swiftly order all businesses to shut down again by July 15.
In the meantime, statewide, staff and students in 3rd grade and above are required to wear masks all day. And students in second grade and under are encouraged to wear masks or face shields.
Staff must maintain at least 6 feet of distance between each other, as well as from students. Symptom checks must occur at the start of each school day, and quarantine protocols, hand washing stations, and consistent sanitizing/disinfecting are a must.
And if COVID-19 spreads throughout a school or an entire district, there are also state guidelines to determine when to close things down. For example:
—A classroom cohort goes home when there is a confirmed case.
—A whole school goes home when multiple cohorts have the virus or more than 5% of the school tests positive.
—A whole district goes home when 25% of its schools are closed within a 14-day period.
This past week, Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) began a series of Zoom Q&As to share more about the reopening plan for schools. This week, they held two elementary school sessions, wherein they announced that the first 6 weeks of school would consist of distance learning for all students. (They had been previously planning for 4 weeks of distance learning, until case numbers started rising in Santa Clara County.) This Saturday, July 18, MUSD will be hosting another Q&A for Special Education students across elementary, middle, and high schools. Future Q&As are also planned for middle school (on July 21 and July 23) and high school (on July 28 and July 30).
After a period of 6 weeks of distance learning, families will be able to choose between a hybrid plan—wherein children come to school for two days a week and learn virtually for the rest of the week—or a plan that involves 100% distance learning for a period of 6 months.