Gov. Newsom announces which California school districts can reopen in the fall amid coronavirus crisis

ByLyanne Melendez and Alix Martichoux KGO logo
Saturday, July 18, 2020
Newsom announces which CA school districts can reopen in the fall
Gov. Gavin Newsom school districts that are on the California COVID-19 watch list will not be allowed to reopen in the fall. Masks will be required for third grade and older students, and only recommended for kindergarten through second grade.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new guidelines Friday to determine which school districts are allowed to reopen classrooms in the fall.

In order to resume in-person class instruction, a county must have been off the state's COVID-19 watch list for 14 consecutive days.

WATCH LIST: Counties where COVID-19 is getting worse

Districts in counties on the watch list will only be able to do distance learning. As of Friday, 33 of California's 58 counties are on the COVID-19 watch list. That represents more than 80% of the state's population. San Francisco was added to the list on Friday, Mayor London Breed announced.

Until now, decisions on how and when to reopen have largely been left up to individual school districts.

The state's former guidelines for reopening schools recommended mask wearing for students, but now face coverings will be required for students in third grade and older. Face coverings are recommended but not required for kindergarten, first graders and second graders.

RELATED: Everything to know about California's confusing coronavirus reopening plan, summer shutdown and what comes next

Masks will be required for all teachers and staff. Staff will also be required to get tested for the virus regularly.

The governor also announced new rules on when schools will be forced to close back down:

  • A classroom cohort has to go home when there is a confirmed COVID-19 cases.
  • The school also has to close when multiple cohorts have cases or if 5% of all teachers and students test positive.
  • An entire school district must close when 25% of its schools close within a 14-day period.

"Schools must provide meaningful instruction during this pandemic whether they're physically open or not," Newsom said. "We all prefer in-classroom instruction for all the obvious reasons, but only if it can be done safely."

Even for schools that only do online, distance learning, Newsom said the state will be making sure there are "rigorous" standards.

"If we're going to have distance learning, we will make sure that it's real, that we address the divide and it is quality," the governor said. "Learning is non-negotiable."

VIDEO: What to know about face masks for kids

Experts recommend parents have conversations with their children about wearing masks to help make sure kids keep them on in public.

Newsom said the new guidelines apply to K-12 education in the state. He added he is working with California's universities to agree on health and safety guidelines that should be released in the coming weeks.

California reported 9,986 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours. As of Friday, COVID-19 patients occupy about 16% of the state's ICU capacity.

California is in the middle of a summer surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The problem has gotten so bad, Gov. Newsom recently announced mandatory rollbacks of the state's reopening plan.

Bars, both indoor and outdoor, have been ordered to close down statewide. Restaurants are being told to cease indoor operations. Outdoor dining and takeout are still allowed.

VIDEO: Most CA schools 'shouldn't reopen' right now, state supt. says

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond provided an update on how California schools plan to reopen in the fall.

All counties also have to close indoor operations at wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and cardrooms.

In counties on the state's watch list, even more businesses are being required to close their doors. That includes gyms, hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, other personal care services, indoor malls, offices in non-critical sectors, and places of worship.

Find out what that means for the Bay Area here.

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