On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced during a press conference that California school reopenings will remain the decision of local education and health authorities, and would not be changed by recent announcements by President Donald Trump to reopen all schools this fall.
Governor Newsom announces local reopening decisions for all public schools
Governor Newsom, concerned about how quickly COVID-19 could spread inside schools this fall even with social distancing, face mask use, and other health measures taking place, made the decision to allow local control of reopenings due to differing levels of COVID-19 in counties and schools districts across the state. The Governor also reiterated that all open schools taking places in physical buildings would receive health and sanitation supplies from the state to mitigate any spread of the virus.
‘All of these things need to be managed at the local level with the foundational framework of keeping our kids and our teachers healthy and safe,” said Newsom on Wednesday.
The Governor was also influenced by the latest COVID-19 reports which included a new one day record of new cases with 11,694 in the Golden State, shattering the previous one-day record by over 4,000 cases. A higher 7% rise in positive cases, a 44% rise in hospitalizations, and ICU cases seeing a 34% rise in the last two weeks also factored into the school reopening decision.
Newsom also fired back against suggestions by President Trump to reopen schools nationwide this fall, regardless of COVID-19 infection levels.
President Trump’s call for a nationwide reopening
Earlier this week, President Trump had sent several tweets pushing for the total reopening of public schools beginning next month.
SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
However, after many states including California showed hesitance at the total reopening notion in favor of suggesting continued distance learning or distance/in-school hybrid models, the President continued to push for reopenings. Early Wednesday, the President went against CDC recommendations over reopening guidelines and threatened to remove funding from public schools who refused to reopen. He also announced that he will meet with the CDC over their recommendations on school reopenings soon.
“I disagree with the CDC on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools,” said President Trump in a tweet. “While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!”
Governor Newsom remained nonplussed on Wednesday.
“I’m not worried about the latest tweets from the president,” added Newsom during the press conference on Wednesday. “What we need to address is safely reopening schools and we need to make that a foundational principle. That to me is not negotiable.”
Experts have generally sided with Governor Newsom over the public school reopening decision, noting that coronavirus case levels are not blanket across the country.
“Larger cities and more populated counties have way different levels than more rural counties,” explained Dr. Robert Metcalf, a medical expert who has helped treat patients with COVID-19, in an interview with the California Globe. “And any place where people are packed together, like schools or prisons, will see higher rates because of transmission rates multiplying by the number of people with six feet of each other.
“The president may be trying to give a morale boost by having every school reopen, but the wiser decision is to simply let local districts decide. If rates are too high, the risk of having kids be infected is very high. Look at schools during flu season. You can’t stop kids from touching everything, and even if you wipe everything down and clean everything repeatedly, that risk just starts over the next day.
“In a less populated district with low rates, then it makes sense for kids to come in with precautions, as the risk is lower and fewer students just lessens that risk.
“The California Governor gave the better call here from a health point of view. I do get that the president is trying to push normalcy like the schools being open, but the rates between different places differ too much to reopen everywhere at once. There’s going to be a rise in the number of cases.
“At the very least let’s hold off any any school fund cutting and reopening plans until we see where we’re at in August.”
School Districts across California are expected to give clearer fall schedules by early next month of whether classes will be completely remote, completely in-school, or be a hybrid model.
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