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California schools can reopen in August, September depending on districts

California

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Parents statewide have been eagerly awaiting an update on when California schools could reopen. The state is hoping it will be right on time in August or September, with some modifications.

On Wednesday, State Superintendent Tony Thurmond gave a teaser of what reopening schools in California might look like. Thurmond said the department of education plans to release reopening guidelines in early June.

“I often refer to it as a guidebook, it is our attempt to do a kind of ‘how to,’ and to help school districts answer questions that they have about how to reopen,” he said.

One of those questions is when school districts can reopen. Thurmond said he’s hoping for late August or early September, but that there won’t be a common opening — it will be up to individual districts.

“We’ve got 10,000 schools. There is no one size fits all for our schools, and so local school districts and school boards make decisions about when schools open,” Thurmond said. “What we do at the department of education is we try to guide our schools.”

That guidance will include safety measures like face coverings, physical distancing in classrooms and on school buses, and temperature checks for students and staff. Thurmond said it also likely involves a so-called ‘blended’ instruction model…a mix of in-class sessions, and distance learning.

“We want to make sure our educators have access to standards and guidelines for how to make distance learning happen in the most appropriate way, that we give some training and some resources to our educators, and of course we have to continue to address the digital divide,” Thurmond said.

According to Thurmond, some 600,000 students in underserved communities still don’t have access to home learning tools like computers or the internet. The superintendent called on California companies, individuals, and the federal government to provide financial support to equip students for virtual learning. 

“We’re drawing a line in the sand, and we’re saying we’ve gotta close that digital divide,” Thurmond said. “And we’re saying we need help from everyone to make that happen.”

Thurmond estimates the state needs at least $500 million to accomplish that goal.

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