With California schools closed for academic year, greater emphasis on distance learning

Gov. Gavin Newsom confirmed on Wednesday that schools across the state will stay closed for the academic school due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but classes are still in session just online. 

The governor said the decision was "the right thing to do for children, for parents, for households, and for communities. 

Newsom assured the public that while students are learning at home they will continue to receive meals.

Related: UC easing admissions requirements amid coronavirus crisis

He said the state obtained a waiver from the federal government that will increase access to food distribution. 

Most campuses across the state were ordered closed mid-March through April, but later extended through May 1. 

Though Newsom hinted early on about the possibility of schools staying closed for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. 

The formal decision was made based on current COVID-19 models and the state's hard push on social distancing. 

In a statement on Wednesday, Alameda County's Superintendent of Schools, L. Karen Monroe said, "Following the Governor's press conference earlier today, it is now clear that California's schools will be engaged in distance learning for the remainder of the school year."

Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Kyla Johnson Trammell said,  "We are working to determine the full impact" of the school closure decision.

School leaders will be exploring alternatives for graduation, promotions to higher grades, whether summer school will be held, and other impacts.

 Santa Clara County schools will also focus on distance learning for the remainder of the school year.

Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan said in a statement, "We will work through this pandemic locally with the guidance of Dr. Sara Cody and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department so that we can ensure the health and safety of our students and their families as well as for our staff." 

California Superintendent of Public Education Tony Thurmond said he is working with the state's 58 county superintendents to maximize distance learning for students. 

To do that, the plan is to make wifi and electronic devices available for students who don't have access, provide educators with the tools to effectively teach in an online setting. 

Tech-giant Google has stepped up to provide 100,000 points of access to wifi- and broadband services for a minimum of three months at no cost to parents.

Thurmond underlined the importance of teaching parents and students how to engage online to ensure educational needs are being met. 

Bay City News contributed to this story