The threat of the new coronavirus will likely keep California public school students from returning to in-class instruction before the end of the 2019-2020 school year, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said Tuesday.
“Due to the current safety concerns and needs for ongoing social distancing, it currently appears that our students will not be able to return to school campuses before the end of the school year," Thurmond said.
Rather than preparing for students' return to campus, schools should be lesson planning under the current distance learning model and making sure there is curriculum to last students until the summer.
"This is in no way to suggest that school is over for the year, but rather we should put all efforts into strengthening our delivery of education through distance learning," Thurmond said.
"We are urging a safety first approach out of an abundance of caution,'' Thurmond added.
Right now, campuses in every school district in San Diego County, and some private schools, are closed while students and educators practice distance learning. Most districts had dates in March and April targeted for the return of students, but that reality becomes less and less likely as the true threat of the coronavirus pandemic is realized over time.
The concerns of high school seniors and juniors regarding graduation requirements will be addressed later this week, Thurmond said.
The California Department of Education will provide webinars and other
training to assist educators with remote instruction, Thurmond wrote.
The department is "forging public-private partnerships with leaders
in technology and the philanthropic sector to help expand home devices and
internet access where possible and where available resources and donations
allow,'' Thurmond wrote.
Thurmond will be discussing further guidance from the state Department of Education in a virtual news conference Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
On Tuesday the White House projected between 100,000 to 240,000 in the U.S. will die from the coronavirus if social distancing measures, like campus closures, continue to be followed. If none were put in place, 1.5 million to 2.2 million people could have died, the White House said.