SACRAMENTO — California’s schools will likely stay closed for the rest of the academic year over coronavirus concerns, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday in a jaw-dropping prediction for families barely settling into new weekday routines with children at home.
“This is a very sobering thing to say,” Newsom said, as he warned that schools are unlikely to reopen in the coming weeks and will more than likely remain closed until the summer break. “I don’t want to mislead you.”
If it holds true, more than 6 million California public school students would remain home for an unprecedented length of time unless the state finds alternatives.
Nearly 99 percent of the state’s schools have closed, though Newsom has not issued a state mandate requiring them to do so, citing concerns about the impact on low-income families.
Newsom also announced Tuesday that he has requested a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to pause standardized testing.
The governor said he told his daughter Monday night, “‘Honey, I don’t think the schools are going to open again.'”
“Boy, I hope I’m wrong, but I believe that to be the case,” he added.
Newsom said he wanted to be candid with families in California, and that he felt he should explain to everyone what he’s telling his own children based on the information he has.
Earlier Tuesday, Kansas became the first U.S. state to officially close schools for the remainder of the academic year.
The governor signed an executive order last week assuring school districts that they will receive their funding if they close due to the coronavirus and instructing them to use the money for distance learning and other resources for students and families. Days into widespread closures, schools and teachers are blazing their own path on remote instruction, a situation almost no program fully prepared for because K-12 classes are almost universally held in person.
The order requires that closed schools provide meals to students in “non-congregate” settings, continue to pay employees and “to the extent practicable,” arrange for supervision of students during school hours.
Newsom said Tuesday that further guidance will be issued to schools on how to conduct distance learning for the time being.