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

ByLiz Kreutz and Alix Martichoux KGO logo
Monday, May 25, 2020
'No one size fits all': How some CA schools are planning to reopen
EMBED <>More Videos

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond discussed how and when schools may be able to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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.

RELATED: These 11 California counties are still not allowed to reopen restaurants, malls and schools

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.

RELATED: What will it take to reopen schools in CA? Officials consider slashing class sizes, outdoor learning

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.

LIFE AFTER COVID-19: Here's what restaurants, gyms, schools, sports will look like when they reopen

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:

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.

Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here