CALIFORNIA, USA — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday suggested that schools across the state could open early for the fall, possibly in late July or early August, to make up for missed class time due to the coronavirus campus closures.
But Newsom said the idea is only under consideration, and officials said more study needs to be done to ensure students will be protected with campuses reopen their doors.
Newsom, speaking during his daily coronavirus update, said that while school districts statewide are engaging in distance-learning efforts, he knows there has been "learning loss" among students that needs to be recouped.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said reopening schools is contingent on ensuring the safety of students, faculty and staff, and there are fiscal implications.
"Social distancing in schools may require smaller class sizes, but schools are going to need additional resources to make it happen -- including the possibility of hiring more teachers," Thurmond said. "Additionally, teachers and school staff will need personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies so that our schools are sanitized. We expect that some form of social distancing will be with us through the summer, so if we start school early, we need resources to make it a reality."
San Diego Office of Education told News 8, "While there hasn't been any official guidance from the governor or California Department of Education, we have been advising local school districts and charter schools to plan for every scenario, which now includes considering the possibility of starting the 2020-21 school year as early as July or August. For some San Diego County school districts, that is already planned; a number are set to begin the 2021-20 school year on July 20. Gov. Newsom said in his press conference that the state's recovery plan be driven by data, not dates. The same is true for schools. As we get additional guidance from the state and local public health, we will make determinations around reopening. It's important to note that school calendars are negotiated items that take a great deal of planning and coordination; moving a school start date is a complicated prospect."
Poway Unified School District said, "At this point, we don’t see starting the 2020-2021 school year in July as a likely option for us. The Poway Unified School District is already scheduled to return August 19. That has not changed. This was the first time Poway Unified or any California school district had heard about this possibility. School calendars take a great deal of planning and coordination; any changes also could have fiscal implications. We will continue to work with the San Diego County Office of Education and San Diego County Public Health Department in determining how and when to return students and staff safely to school."
United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, said the idea of an early opening to schools for the fall would be subject to labor negotiations, "and there has been no discussion about doing so."
"We urge our leaders to stay the course, and caution against prematurely lifting social-distancing protections by opening schools in a way that would put students, teachers and families at risk," according to the union.