State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond issued the following statement in response to plans announced by Governor Gavin Newsom to fully reopen California’s economy by June 15 if vaccine supply remains sufficient and hospitalization rates stay low.
Under these conditions, the Governor stated schools should plan to conduct full-time, in-person instruction in the fall, in compliance with Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standards and public health guidelines.
“I share Governor Newsom’s optimism that as conditions continue to improve— and as all Californians continue common sense measures such as continuing to wear a mask and getting vaccinated—there is a clear pathway to a safe and full return to in-person teaching and learning this fall. To support school districts as they continue to welcome more and more students back to campuses, the California Department of Education (CDE) has spent recent weeks connecting school leaders to the best strategies and resources to implement the layered safety measures public health experts encourage—such as rapid COVID-19 testing and proper ventilation—that will facilitate a safe and sustainable return to in-person learning for students, school staff, teachers, and their families. We must prepare for the possibility that there will be some families who cannot or may choose not to send their students back to school campuses this fall, and schools may need the flexibility to offer some form of remote learning. I look forward to engaging with the Governor’s Office and lawmakers on next steps that are designed to ensure we are meeting the health, safety, and learning needs of every California student. While we are encouraged by the improving conditions, we must also continue to proceed with caution and with a continued focus on science and safety. There are still many unknowns about the COVID-19 variants that public health officials are monitoring and have observed spreading among some youth. Additionally, I am heartened by the early research on vaccine effectiveness in adolescents and am hopeful more of our youth will be able to get vaccinated in the months ahead. Returning to in-person instruction must include an urgent focus on addressing opportunity gaps experienced most among students who were already at a disadvantage before the pandemic disrupted learning. I have convened state leaders, equity groups, superintendents, school employee groups, and other partners to better understand and identify ways we can support the immediate and long-term academic needs of our students, as well as strategies for prioritizing relationships, addressing trauma, and supporting social emotional wellness. At my direction, this working group will be making recommendations to school districts as they finalize plans for this critical next phase of public education.”
– State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond