California public schools are unlikely to reopen for the remainder of the academic school year, according to state Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
In a letter to school district officials, Thurmond cited the obvious concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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 wrote.
The letter marks a turnaround by Thurmond, who had resisted the idea that the school year had ended. Earlier, Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated he felt that school was done for the year, remarks he repeated on Tuesday. Newsom said a confirmation that school is done could come “in the next day or two.”
If California closes for the rest of the year, it would join seven other states that have already tossed in the towel. The state’s largest system, Los Angeles Unified School District, has been closed since March 16, with schools Superintendent Austin Beutner previously targeting a May 1 reopening.
Monday that the district has been unable to connect with about 15,000 high school students, more than 12%. In addition, about one-third of high schoolers are not interacting with their teachers on a typical school day. Some of these students, however, may be completing assignments that don’t require a daily check-in.
L.A. school board member Jackie Goldberg said district employees have made a Herculean effort to connect with and serve students in a district where 80% are members of low-income households.
“We are trying to hook up every single child to the internet, not only during this period of distance learning but so they will still be connected when they get back in school,” Goldberg said. “Nobody has ever tried to do that in a district this size before. People are working seven days a week, 24 hours a day.”
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