Starting the academic school year earlier to make up for learning lost amid the coronavirus crisis may be easier for some school districts than others, but the change proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday would still come with daunting changes for all.
Several schools already start school in July, so the governor's proposal to move the start of the fall semester earlier may not be the challenge it is for other San Diego County districts.
Chula Vista Elementary School District Superintendant Francisco Escobido said their district a slight advantage because of this.
But the changes that come with reopening schools in the midst of a pandemic still requires much planning and coordination, even for the districts that are used to an earlier start.
Escobido said his staff have been brainstorming ways to reopen safely.
"We've already agreed with our unions to start on the 20th [of July]," Escobido said. "If we need to do that, we will. If we need to work with our labor groups, that occurs as well."
San Diego Unified School Board Trustee Richard Barrera said the San Diego Unified School District, the 2nd largest in the state, could start as soon as July but it would be difficult.
The district was also looking into what changes would need to be made if they were to do so, including how to space students to follow social distancing guidelines.
While the plan to start the 2020-21 academic school year in the summer has not been solidified, Gov. Newsom has floated the following changes as possibilities that could allow for reopening:
- staggering school schedules to limit the number of students in a classroom at one time
- lunch in class instead of in a cafeteria
- a hybrid of classroom and online learning
- keeping children with the same teachers as last year
The proposal was detailed on Tuesday as part of a reopening plan for California that could allow some businesses and some outdoor spaces to reopen.
No decisions have been made about an early school start, Newsom said, noting that the “learning loss is very real."
The state also doesn't have the power to order districts to reopen; changes will need to be worked out between local districts and teachers unions.