California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Tuesday warned about the growing likelihood that students would not return to school before summer break. According to The Los Angeles Times, 98 percent of all school districts throughout the Golden State are closed due to the Wuhan coronavirus, leaving more than 6.1 million students to continue their education online.
“Don’t anticipate schools are going to open up in a week. Please don’t anticipate in a few weeks,” Newsom said during a press conference about the Wuhan coronavirus. “I would plan, and assume, that it’s unlikely that many of these schools — few, if any — will open before the summer break.”
“I don’t want to mislead you, to six-plus million kids in our system and their families, they need to make some plans at a time when a lot of plans are already being curtailed,” he said. “But planning with kids is some of the most challenging planning.”
Newsom said he came to the realization when talking to his 6-year-old daughter, Brooklynn, who missed her friends.
“And I told her, ‘Honey, I don’t think the schools are going to open again.’ And if I could tell my daughter that, and not tell your daughter that, or the people, then I’m not being honest or true to the people of the state of California. Boy, I hope I’m wrong," he explained.
“We haven’t had this kind of shutdown of civil society or schools since the Spanish Influenza in 1918. It’s been a century since we saw anything like this. And in that case as well, whole cities had to close down. So the magnitude is enormous,” California State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond said. “School is one thing, but they’re going to be people losing their jobs. People who need to be able to pay rent, people that need to be able to eat, and we have to be able to take care of that as well.”
To help keep students on pace with their online learning, the state will release new curriculum guidelines, provided by PBS, every Friday, KTLA-TV reported.
“We want to make sure that learning is still occurring online, but we are diving deep into curating the capacity to deliver what we’re promoting, which is home-schooling your children,” the governor said.
Although it's unlikely for schools to open again this semester, the state is preparing to use empty schools as additional hospitals and triage spaces. Schools throughout the state will also continue providing meals to students in need.
“We believe we will repurpose not just our operating rooms to potential ICU rooms, which was our conversation today to meet this pandemic, but we’ll repurpose a lot of our school sites not only for congregate meals and food to go but also to potentially address these child care needs,” he said.