Public schools expected to remain closed for the rest of the academic year, Newsom says

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LOS ANGELES — California’s public K-12 school campuses are expected to remain closed for the remainder of the academic year in response to the escalating coronavirus pandemic as educators take on the massive challenge of distance learning for about 6.1 million students, state officials announced Wednesday.

Families and educators should operate “with the expectation now that schools will not reopen, but classes are in” for the rest of the school year, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

“To all of the moms, all the teachers, all the caregivers, I know how stressful this is, trust me,” Newsom said. “I know what we’re asking of you over the course of the next few months.”

The announcement makes good on comments he made during a March 17 briefing, when he said it was unlikely that campuses would reopen during the current school year. Also, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond echoed the same message in a letter Tuesday to school district officials statewide.

“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 Tuesday.

California is home to 12% of the nation’s school-age children. Seven states have already shut down campuses for the remainder of the school year, according to tracking by Education Week. Others appear headed in that direction. New York City’s public school system, that largest in the nation with about 1 million students, remains closed indefinitely along with the rest of the state, according to Education Week.

In his letter, Thurmond said the sobering reality should compel school systems to redouble their efforts to keep students learning.

“This is in no way to suggest that school is over for the year, but rather we should put all efforts into strengthening our delivery of education through distance learning,” Thurmond wrote.


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