State superintendent releases guidance for reopening California public schools

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond released guidance on Monday outlining how California schools can safely reopen, including a recommendation that staff and students wear masks.

In the 55-page guidebook titled "Stronger Together," the California Department of Education suggests students wear face coverings or face shields at all times at school and on the bus. It also recommends that students maintain six feet of social distancing in classroom and in the hallways. Symptom checks should be performed on students and staff with daily temperature screenings. There are also guidelines for what to do if someone begins to show symptoms of COVID-19.

The guidance also include four instructional models for schools to consider in their planning:

-       the two-day rotation blended learning model, where grade levels rotate the days they attend school in person

-       the a/b week blended learning model, where younger grade levels attend school one week while older grades continue distance learning, then alternate weeks

-       the looping structure, where students stay with the same teacher in cohorts for multiple grade levels

-       early/late staggered schedules, where class start and dismissal times are staggered in the morning and afternoon

In mid-March, schools across the state were shut to prevent the spread of COVID-19, forcing a sudden shift to distance learning. In preparation for the upcoming academic year, state officials laid out recommendations for how schools can reopen in the face of COVID-19.

State officials maintained that there is no "one size fits all" scenario, as each school district is unique. District superintendents are not mandated to implement a certain model, the state is only making suggestions for how to move forward.  

"Instruction is going to look different. But the California Department of Education, led by Dr. Gregson and others, is having conversations with educators about how we promote more consistency across each of our classrooms, across each of our districts," Thurmond said. "So that at the end of the day, even if it looks a little different, students are getting a quality education. That educators are  getting professional development." 

Thurmond said Governor Gavin Newsom announced Friday that all schools will receive PPE for the next school year. Thurmond also said the state legislature has come back with their own version of the state budget that restores the nearly $7 billion in proposed cuts to education, but he said federal funding is still needed.