Most schools will likely reopen by fall, state superintendent says

California State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced Wednesday that most schools will likely reopen by the fall semester.

But he says that one of the main issues that need to be resolved is masks for will be needed for 6 million students and teachers.

“All of our focus on reopening is first and foremost on safety for our students and for our educators and our families,” said Thurmond during public comments Wednesday.

The state superintendent of public instruction said that most of the state 1,000 school districts expect to start on time for the next school year in late August or September.

“There will not be a common opening rather school districts will make their own decisions about when they will reopen,” he said.

But in this letter to the state legislature this week, six school districts including the Oakland Unified School District and San Francisco Unified School District took issue with the fall reopening timeline citing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised budget that cuts $19 billion from schools because of revenue shortfalls linked to COVID-19. 

“Reopening our school campuses will require more – not fewer – resources to ensure and sustain proper implementation of public health guidance and the safety of all of those involved. Cuts will mean that the reopening of schools will be delayed even after State guidance and clearance from public health officials is given. The notion that schools can continue to operate safely in the fall with a decreased State budget is not realistic.”

There’s also the issue of personal protective equipment such as masks, hand sanitizer, and the ability for regular hand washing.

Thurmond saying those issues are top of mind with work underway now to resolve them before the fall opening of some campuses.

And when that does happen, things will look much different he says with smaller class sizes to maintain six feet of distance and some districts likely to offer a combination of in-person and distance learning.

Thurmond is set to host a webinar focus group Wednesday for school districts to discuss guidance for reopening.