The California Department of Education held a virtual discussion Thursday on reopening schools statewide. There is still no exact date of when students will return to class but educational leaders say more guidance from the California Health Department is expected soon.
Local educational agencies came together to discuss exactly how schools can begin to plan on reopening, and in today’s discussion they shared concerns on funding and spoke on the challenges of distance learning and sanitation.
“The impacts of Covid-19 mean that it’s just not safe right now for students to be on our campuses, and we are proud of you for what you have done in distance learning,” said State Superintendent Tony Thurmond with The California Department of Education.
In the virtual discussion, educators from across the state stressed the importance of getting students back to school.
“Even on its best day, distance learning doesn’t work for all students, it just doesn’t. it truly disadvantages our most vulnerable students,” explained Cindy Marten, Superintendent of San Diego Unified School District.
“The truth of the matter is that in order to continue to properly close the achievement gap our students need to be at school five days a week,” said Lorena Rubio, Principal of Jordan Elementary School in Orange County.
Educators explain that the current budget plan calls for more distance learning, hurting students in the long run.
The current budget plan is a recipe for more distance and less learning, that’s why we joined with Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Francisco Unified, Oakland Unified, Sacramento city and forty districts here in San Diego county alone to say that our students deserve more,” added Marten.
And for students to return, schools would need to be sanitized.
“I know how much supplies that I need to buy to keep our school clean but right now I have no idea how many supplies or how much I need in order to sanitize the school every single day. we really are going to need to look into staffing ratios to make sure that there are enough people to handle all of it,” said Ben Valdepena, President of the California Schools Employee Association.
The California Department of Public Health is working with health officers in each county and is close to having a document ready that will provide more guidelines with the possibility of reopening schools on a county by county basis.