(KION and AP)
UPDATE 7/17/2020 12:20 p.m. Gov. Gavin Newsom released new guidance for schools as they make plans for the upcoming school year, and he said counties will need to be off the state's monitoring list for 14 days before schools can physically reopen.
Many parents were hopeful that the state would allow in-person class. "Parents will be teaching their kids from home, especially Kindergarten. You try to figure out the curriculum, but I know it's going to be a challenge for a lot of parents," said Salinas parent, Rynell Williams.
The plan for schools looked at five areas: safe in-person school based on local health data, mask requirements, physical distancing and other adaptations, regular testing and contact tracing and rigorous distance learning.
Newsom said that schools can physically reopen when the county is off the state's monitoring list for 14 consecutive days, and schools that do not meet that requirement need to begin the school year with distance learning. Monterey and San Benito Counties are on the monitoring list, but Santa Cruz County is not.
All school staff and students 3rd grade and above will be required to wear masks, but students in 2nd grade and below are encouraged to wear masks or face shields.
When schools physically reopen, they must also practice social distancing. Newsom said staff must maintain 6 feet of distance between each other and with students, but he also said there should be symptom checks, hand washing stations, quarantine protocols and sanitation and disinfection.
The state will also require access to devices and connectivity for all students, daily live interaction with teachers and other students, challenging assignments and adapted lessons for English language learners and special education students.
To help, Newsom said the state has invested $5.3 billion in additional funding. The priority of the funding is on equity.
The digital divide is present on the Central Coast. Monterey County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Deneen Guss, $50 million in state and federal funding went to local districts, but it still wasn't enough to provide for every student. 8% of students don't have the devices they need. 13% of students don't have internet access.
"Big sur is one example. There are areas in south county where internet is very spotty and unreliable. Those solutions are going to need more than we can do here at the local level. We're probably going to need satellite solutions," said Guss.
Newsom also gave guidelines for when schools with in-person learning should close. He said they should first consult with a public health officer, but a classroom cohort should go home if there is a confirmed case. A school will need to go home if multiple cohorts have cases or if more than 5% of the school is positive, and a district should go home if 25% of schools are closed within a 14 day period.
PREVIOUS Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to announce new guidance for reopening California schools in a news conference Friday.
Many of the state’s 1,000 districts are just weeks away from returning to school and still have not decided whether to allow students back in classrooms.
Several school districts have already said their schools will begin the new term virtually, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento and Long Beach.
On the Central Coast, the Pajaro Valley Unified, Greenfield Union, Alisal Union and Monterey Peninsula Unified School districts have decided to start the school year with full-time distance learning.
Newsom said earlier this week that he approved several new rules related to coronavirus but did not immediately make them public. Newsom's office said he will “announce COVID-19 guidance for schools” on Friday.