Bay Area superintendents react to Gov. Newsom's new school guidelines

ByLauren Martinez KGO logo
Saturday, July 18, 2020
Bay Area superintendents react to Gov. Newsom's new school guidelines
Superintendents ABC7 News spoke to all agreed -they all want to work with students directly, but in the midst of this pandemic, they're just glad to finally have clear guidelines from the governor.

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Superintendents ABC7 News spoke to all agreed they all want to work with students directly, but in the midst of this pandemic, they're just glad to finally have clear guidelines.

Mary Jane Burke, Marin County Superintendent of Schools, said they've been provided a "gift" with Governor Newsom's announcement on reopening schools.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom announces which CA school districts can reopen in the fall amid pandemic

"Great, we have some clarity, we have some structure in that we know exactly what the conditions need to be to reopen school. I totally wish it came sooner but I know that people at all levels have been working so hard," Burke said.

Districts in counties on the COVID-19 watch list will only be able to do distance learning in the fall. In order to resume in-person class instruction, a county must have been off the state's watch list for 14 consecutive days.

"I think it will be incumbent on the communities to really get their heads down and follow-you know wash their hands, wear their masks, make sure their distanced," Burke said.

Superintendent for the Palo Alto Unified School District, Don Austin, second that emotion, especially since Santa Clara County has had a lot of cases.

"We're not real excited about being tied to the outreaches of the county that may have nothing to do with Palo Alto, but at least it's something that's measurable and we all know what that anchor point is now," he said.

RELATED: Major reopening rollback ordered in CA in attempt to control rampant coronavirus spread

But overall, Austin said he and his colleagues are grateful there's a metric to tie to now.

"For us I think a degree of certainty, for our staff, for our teachers, for our classified staff, and for our parents who've been on a roller coaster since March," Austin said.

He said these are tough unprecedented times for everyone, "Teachers or anyone that has anything to do with the school system didn't go into the profession to be on a Zoom meeting. Parents didn't have kids and get excited about school to watch them sitting in a living room by themselves. So letting go of what we know and love about education has been as hard as planning for the future, it's just- there's a grieving process," Austin said.

RELATED: What Gov. Newsom's announcement means for every Bay Area county

Dr. Kelly Bowers is the Superintendent for the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District which oversees roughly 14,000 students.

"There was some disappointment for our students and our staff that we won't actually be able to begin in person instruction," Bowers said.

But she's grateful to have clarity. "We are very appreciative that we finally have clarity, and that we have guidance and clear measures," Bowers said.

Her district as well as others are creating a plan for what comes after distance learning.

"The hybrid model will be subsequent and we have to obviously go full force with distanced learning, but we've made sure with our planning teams, that they'll be a seamless transition," Bowers said.

Dr. Hilaria Bauer, Superintendent for the Alum Rock Union School District, sent us this statement, "I'm happy we received better guidance this time. Although distance learning is still hard on kids, we need to make sure we keep safety first."

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