– All Imperial County Schools to Start 2020-2021 School Year in Distance Learning Only Model
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered all California counties that are in the State’s monitoring list to begin school distance learning this fall.
“Education in California is non-negotiable and schools must provide meaningful instruction during the pandemic whether they are physically open or closed,” Newsom said during his opening remarks.
Imperial County and San Diego are in the monitoring list.
“We all prefer in-class instruction,” said Newsom, “but only if it can be done safely. Safety is foundational.”
Schools can reopen for in-person education when its county has been off the Monitoring List for 14 consecutive days. Schools that don’t meet this requirement must begin the school year with distance learning.
The youngest students in kindergarten through 2d grade, who are being taught in classrooms, would be encouraged, but not required, to wear masks.
“We want daily, live interaction with teachers and other students,” Newsom said. “Clearly, we have work to do to make sure that we are doing rigorous distance learning.”
The governor said all students must have access to technology and engage effectively in distance learning. Most recently, the state allocated $5.3 billion last year to address the issue of equity in learning and those funds will help distance learning, he said.
Newsom added in his press conference that If 5 percent of students and teachers in a classroom-tested positive for the virus, the classroom would be closed, followed by 14 days of quarantine. If a school experienced a 5 percent positive testing rate of both student teachers, the entire school would have to close, with everyone subject to 14 days of quarantine. And if 1 in 4 schools in a district had a 5% positive rate, the district would shut down.
If schools want to reopen, their county health officials must prove two weeks of declining coronavirus cases, as well as meet other criteria from the California Department of Public Health. The guidance would leave the decisions over closing and reopening schools largely in the hands of local school district officials in consultation with county departments of health.
State officials have placed 32 of California’s 58 counties on a watch list because of concerning coronavirus transmission and hospitalization rates. Being on the list puts restrictions on the ability to reopen various segments of the economy.
Based on the current and anticipated public health conditions, Imperial County is on this list and is subject to this order. All schools will remain in this distance learning model until Imperial County has been removed from the Monitoring List for a period of 14 consecutive days. At that time, schools will be permitted to provide in-person instruction subject to comprehensive guidance and health and safety requirements.
As local health conditions improve and guidance evolves, Imperial County schools will safely transition to in-person instruction and support services to the greatest extent possible. Recognizing that some parents may wish to continue in a distance learning model and not return physically to school for some time, Imperial County schools will offer a Distance Learning option for parents throughout the 2020-21 school year.
In the coming weeks, all schools will be developing comprehensive plans to address the following critical areas of Imperial County school programs: Mental Health and Social and Emotional Well-Being, Pupil Engagement and Outreach, School Nutrition, Pupil Learning Loss, Distance Learning Program, and In-Person Instructional Offerings. These plans depend heavily on local stakeholders, such as students, parents, teachers, staff, and others, to ensure schools are meeting the diverse needs of Imperial Valley individual communities, with special attention on the most vulnerable and at-risk learners.