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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
Newsom: Schools should return to full in-person instruction this fall
April 12, 2021
California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy and its tiered system for restricted activities during the coronavirus pandemic could be gone by mid-June if positive trends continue, Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a news conference April 6.
Citing anticipated increases to the COVID-19 vaccine supply and the current low level of hospitalizations, Newsom said California could be back to “business as usual” by June 15, as long as residents remain vigilant and continue to wear face coverings.
“With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California’s economy,” said Newsom, in a news release. “We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic. We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here — wearing masks and getting vaccinated — but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”
Newsom stated that schools should plan to conduct full-time, in-person instruction in the fall, in compliance with Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standards and public health guidelines.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said he shared Newsom’s optimism that California’s schools have a clear pathway to returning to in-person teaching in the fall.
“To support school districts as they continue to welcome more and more students back to campuses, the California Department of Education has spent recent weeks connecting school leaders to the best strategies and resources to implement the layered safety measures public health experts encourage — such as rapid COVID-19 testing and proper ventilation — that will facilitate a safe and sustainable return to in-person learning for students, school staff, teachers and their families,” Thurmond said, in a statement. “We must prepare for the possibility that there will be some families who cannot or may choose not to send their students back to school campuses this fall, and schools may need the flexibility to offer some form of remote learning.”
The state Legislature would need to decide whether distance learning would still be allowed in the 2021-22 school year, said Edgar Zazueta, ACSA’s senior director of governmental relations, during a April 7 episode of ACSA’s Legislative Lunch Break.
“I think it’s a safe assumption that distance learning will be an option for next year,” he said, adding that there may be other parameters that affect what it would look like. “I would not be surprised if there’s policy items put in place to dis-incentivize the use of hybrids in the next year.”
Thurmond reiterated that addressing opportunity gaps experienced by students during the pandemic would be an urgent focus when students return.
“I have convened state leaders, equity groups, superintendents, school employee groups, and other partners to better understand and identify ways we can support the immediate and long-term academic needs of our students, as well as strategies for prioritizing relationships, addressing trauma, and supporting social emotional wellness,” he said.
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