SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — Most schools in California will not reopen for the start of the academic year.

Governor Gavin Newsom Friday pointed to the state health department’s community spread watch list, saying counties on that list cannot reopen their schools until they’re off of it.

With weeks away until the start of the school year, more than 30 counties sit on that list represent more than 80% of the state’s population.

“Learning in the state of California is simply non-negotiable, schools must, and I underscore must provide meaningful instruction amid this pandemic,” Gov. Newsom said.

The majority of California schools will need to start the school year distance learning, Governor Newsom announced Friday.

Newsom says counties that land on the state’s watch list must put in-person teaching on hold until they’re off the list and stay off of it for two weeks.

The governor confirmed this applies to K-12 schools public, private and charter.

For schools that can reopen — masks are required for staff and students in grades three and up and are strongly encouraged for students in second grade and younger. Teachers will need to be regularly tested for COVID-19.

The new mandate says if a student tests positive, the class and teacher must quarantine for two weeks.

If 5% of a school tests positive for the virus, the school must go back to distance learning. Also, an entire district would need to distance learn if 25% of its schools are closed.

“Education broadly is absolutely about our kids, but we cannot deny the fact that we have hundreds of thousands of adults that are responsible to taking care and educating our kids and their health has to be considered,” the governor said.

The Vice Chairman of the State Assembly’s Education Committee, Republican Kevin Kiley, released a statement condemning the move saying in part, “the impacts of school closures will be devastating for working parents, academic equity, and mental health.”

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