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Public Schools Planning ‘Safer Opening’ By Using New Guidebook

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Sacramento, CA – California’s head educator has released a set of guidance materials for public school leaders to use while reopening schools during COVID-19.

State Schools Superintendent Tony Thurmond introduced the California Department of Education (CDE) has released “Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safer Opening of California’s Public Schools,” which provides considerations and examples of solutions for schools as they work to implement state and local public health recommendations. While it uses the most current information as new data becomes relevant it will likely be updated.

Among the areas it addresses are health and safety practices; instructional programs and models, including for special education and English learners; professional relationships and learning; mental health and well-being for staff and students; community engagement and parental support; early learning and care; and school services such as transportation and meals.

“The effects felt by COVID-19 have been widespread and created impacts, unlike anything that we’ve ever seen. As our students return, schools will have to look dramatically different for their own safety and for the opportunity to accelerate learning,” Thurmond states.

“We know that guidance is only as good as its implementation, so think of this as the beginning of the conversation—not the end. We know that for many of us, this is the toughest challenge that we will ever face, perhaps in our lifetime. But when it comes to ensuring that California students continue receiving a high-quality education—and doing so safely—we must rise to meet the challenge. Californians, I’m inspired by how you have come together to make it this far.”

The guidance recommends face coverings for students and staff at all times including while at school or on a bus. This includes at least six feet of physical distancing between classroom seats, in hallways, and on buses. Additionally, it advises that students and staff receive regular symptom screening.
State education officials point out in order to implement the guidance, school leaders will need steady revenue to rely upon for staffing and personal protective equipment and flexibility on instructional minutes. To that end, Thurmond is engaged in discussions with the Governor’s Office, the Department of Finance, the Legislature, and educational stakeholders regarding the resources necessary to reopen safely with physical distancing measures in place.

To access the new guidelines, click here.