Schools across California could reopen this summer — as soon July — to get students back on track, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Newsom said the state is considering the possibility of starting school earlier this year to make up for the learning loss students faced when their schools closed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“We recognize there’s been a learning loss because of this disruption,” Newsom said. “We’re concerned about that learning loss even into the summer.”
Newsom said that the state is considering starting the school year anywhere between late July or early August. Many schools in the state already begin classes around mid-August.
Newsom said the state has not made any definitive decision.
“I just want folks to know the concern around learning loss and the concern about waiting until later in the year, into the fall, for the new school year,” he said. “As a parent myself, and having talked to many other parents and educators and even kids, I think we might want to consider getting that school year moved up a little bit.”
San Juan Unified School District officials said this is the first time they have heard of the idea at a state level, and district officials are already working with their teachers’ association in exploring new possibilities for the 2020-2021 school year.
Stephanie Goore of Citrus Heights has two children; one of them is headed to first grade in the fall at a San Juan district campus.
“I would prefer starting them back at the normal time in August so they can get back to the normal routine and a normal school year,” she said. “The kids deserve a normal summer break, and so do the parents, especially after (distance learning).”
Tamara Geary, a parent in Sacramento, also said she didn’t want to see a change in the fall start date. She planned a trip to San Diego for late July, just before her baby is due.
“”If the kids are allowed to be together again then the summer camps that I have my daughter signed up for should happen instead of school starting early,” Geary said.
But some parents welcomed the possibility of an earlier start date. Cassandra Meredith said working two jobs during the pandemic, with children at home, has been difficult.
“I’m happy to comply with any recommendations founded in science to keep our community safe,” she said.
Several parents took to social media to ask how school districts that operate year-round, like Elk Grove Unified, would be able to change their start date.
Newsom said state officials need to further discuss the prospective changes, but added that he thinks the change is warranted considering the consequences of neglecting the next generation.
He also said schools will open up with adaptation and modification.
Earlier in the month, Newsom said state school officials will work to make modifications to continue social distancing on campuses, even after stay-at-home orders are lifted.
Newsom gave possible scenarios: students can be staggered on different class schedules; schools will need to revisit if and how they will hold assemblies, recess and physical education; and schools and playgrounds will be deeply sanitized.
Newsom also said he believes the state is “weeks, not months away” from making meaningful modifications to California’s stay-at-home orders.
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