'There's no one size fits all': How some CA school districts are planning to reopen, according to State Superintendent Tony Thurmond

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's the question on pretty much every parent's mind right now: When will schools reopen for California students?

"There's no one size fits all," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on ABC7 News' 3 p.m. broadcast.

There are a few things we can expect pretty much across the board. For starters, students and staff will be required to maintain physical distance and probably wear face masks. There may also be some required temperature taking of students and teachers, Thurmond said. He said it's not yet decided whether students or staff will need to be tested for the virus before returning to school campuses.

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We also know that students will probably only be allowed back into the classroom in smaller numbers, but there are a few ways school districts may choose to accomplish that. Some districts are planning to bring students back on campus every day of the week, while also having online learning available simultaneously for any students or parents who request it. Other schools are planning to split students into morning and afternoon sessions. A third option is splitting students into cohorts; one group would attend in-person classes Mondays and Wednesdays, while the other would attend Tuesdays and Thursdays. Everyone would do distance learning on Fridays.

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For high school students who have six or more periods a day with different teachers, may follow a different learning model. They may be broken into smaller, stable groups who stay in the same classroom all day while teachers cycles in and out.

As for when schools will reopen their classrooms, Thurmond said that's up to the districts. The state is working to provide guidelines, but local district leaders can decide how to implement them. That being said, Thurmond says he's hearing most districts plan to reopen for in-person instruction at their usual time in late August or early September.

Thurmond acknowledges the hasty roll-out of online learning has been far from perfect.

"There are students who never really checked in since we moved to distance learning in March," he said. He said the state is working with counseling groups to reach students and their families who may be hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

Of course, any reopening plan involves smaller classroom sizes, more sanitizing and more support for students - all things that demand more resources, not fewer, for schools. But Gov. Gavin Newsom's revised May budget includes cuts to education unless the state receives federal support.

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If those cuts are triggered, there isn't much of a contingency plan yet, according to Thurmond.

"Our schools cannot withstand any cuts," he said. "It's very critical that we get that federal support."

The state legislature is also working on ways to raise revenue for schools, he added.

Watch Monday's full newscast below:


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