Coronavirus in California: State superintendent explains changes coming to schools this fall

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Superintendent Tony Thurmond addressed many issues and questions on Monday surrounding the future of public schools in California amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He answered questions from ABC7 News Anchor Kristen Sze and from viewers who asked questions in realtime on ABC7's daily 3 p.m. special "Getting Answers."

RELATED: California superintendent suggests staggered reopening of schools

Thurmond said when it comes to schools opening in July, "there isn't going to be a common opening for every district in our state. All of our school districts make their own decisions. What we're doing at the California Department of Education is looking at how schools can open and how to do that safely. That's our bottom line. We're putting safety first."

He said they are discussing plans right now with teachers and unions.

As far as what school will look like, Thurmond said many districts are looking at hybrid of in-class and distance learning in the fall. Thurmond also said to expect smaller class sizes and that would be accomplished by a staggered schedule. He also said schools are looking at taking the temperature of students and staff but emphasized this is all just in discussion phases.

GETTING ANSWERS: ABC7 special coverage of COVID-19 pandemic in Bay Area

Thurmond also answered a question asked directly from a student about judging students on college applications if they receive pass/fail grades this year. Thurmond said, "We've been working very closely with our partners in higher education. Our higher education institutions understand the impacts of COVID-19 could go well into the fall and well into next year. They've already given assurances that no student will be disadvantaged or punished for a situation completely out of our control."

Thurmond also addressed the digital divide, "We have a million students who don't have access to the internet. I think that's unacceptable." Thurmond says their goal is to let students keep computers they are given for school use.

Thurmond said if you are able to donate technology to school districts, please contact donatetech@cde.ca.gov,

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