California schools chief recommends that schools prepare for distance learning for rest of school year

California schools will be closed till August.  As expected they will not open this semester.  No graduation ceremonies, no SAT tests, probably only pass/fail grades.  Using the Internet for education could become more than a temporary situation.  Money will be very tight—and school districts will have to pay much more for CalSTRS, the teachers retirement system.  That means less money for education.

“Affirming a prediction that Gov. Gavin Newsom made exactly two weeks ago, California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond is recommending that the state’s public schools plan to provide distance learning to students through the end of their school year.

“Due to the current safety concerns and needs for ongoing social distancing, it appears that our students will not be able to return to school campuses before the end of the school year,” Thurmond wrote in a letter sent to the state’s 58 county superintendents of schools on Tuesday morning.

Many California districts start the first and second week of August—now the question is, will they start on time?  How will they make up for several months of lost education?    This is just one part of the mass restructuring of government agencies and programs.

California schools chief recommends that schools prepare for distance learning for rest of school year

Louis Freedberg And John Fensterwald, Edsource,  3/31/20   

Affirming a prediction that Gov. Gavin Newsom made exactly two weeks ago, California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond is recommending that the state’s public schools plan to provide distance learning to students through the end of their school year.

“Due to the current safety concerns and needs for ongoing social distancing, it appears that our students will not be able to return to school campuses before the end of the school year,” Thurmond wrote in a letter sent to the state’s 58 county superintendents of schools on Tuesday morning.

Thurmond stressed that health concerns are paramount in determining when schools should be reopen.  “The need for safety through social distancing warrants that we continue to keep our school campuses closed to students during this pandemic,” he said.

However, he emphasized that while school campuses may be closed, schools are not.

“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,” he said.  He said the California Dept. of Education was ready to assist school districts to do so.  In an interview, Thurmond said his department, for example, has surveyed districts throughout the state on how many students don’t have internet access or devices at home, and is trying to match up the needs of individual districts with offers from the philanthropic sector to meet those needs.

Thurmond stressed that his recommendation was not a directive, and that it was ultimately up to local school districts or health departments to decide whether school campuses should remain open or closed.

His letter was a response to pleas from several county superintendents of schools for the state to set a uniform closure date, to put an end to some of the confusion that has resulted from districts around the state that have announced a range of closure dates.  Over the past week, many more districts had extended their closure dates to at least May 1. “They want the ability to have stability and to be able to plan for the rest of the school year, and they are asking me for some signal about how to prepare for that,” he said.

Thurmond’s guidance makes it likely that more school districts will now extend the closure for a month or longer, depending on when their regularly scheduled instructional calendar was due to end, but district and county superintendents are still digesting the letter, and no announcements of additional closings have been made.

Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Karen Monroe, for example, says she has no plans to recommend extending the closure date of May 1 that her county along with five other Bay Area counties set just last week.  “We are still committed to the process we originally decided on,” she said. As for the prospect of moving the date for campus closures until the end of the school year, “that  is something we would want to weigh carefully.”

Thurmond emphasized that in his view schools are not actually closed, a message he has been putting out since the coronavirus epidemic forced the end of classroom instruction in many of California’s schools beginning on March 13.  Within a week, over 6 million children, and hundreds of thousands of teachers and school employees were off their campuses and “sheltering in place” in their homes.

California’s approach is very different from at least a half dozen states, from Arizona to Virginia, that have ended their school year already, without offering students any instruction at all.

At the same time, Thurmond did not exclude the possibility of school campuses reopening earlier.  “We would all be happy if we got a signal that it was safe to return to campus,” he said. “But everything I have heard indicates that we still have a lot of work to do around social distancing, and we don’t have any signal that that will change any time soon.  But if it did change at any time, that would be welcome news..”

Thurmond acknowledged the pain that all of this is causing.  “I am a parent too, and this is difficult for all of us,” he said. “This is just a statement that out of an abundance of caution that until we get a signal that it is safe for our kids to return to call, that rather than be in limbo about how they will be educated, this year is not over.  This letters says we still have the opportunity to make the most of this year, but we don’t have a lot of time do that.”

Referring to Thurmond’s letter, Alameda County’s Monroe said, “we are grateful for the push and acknowledgment that distance learning will take our entire focus to make it work well.”   But she would also point out to district superintendents in her county that “it does not say ‘thou shalt close schools.’”

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. Really??? says

    Let’s see, no students cutting class, eliminate assistant principals.

    No students not showing up for class, eliminate staff for accounting.

    No students for after school sport or PE classes. Shut down maintenance staff and fire the coaches.

    And the list goes on.

    When the socialization students get by attending school is gone watch the maladjusted crimes go up.

  2. The Captive says

    Is this an admission that their INDOCTRINATION into nazi-islam (shariah) is …..what? They are a failure because they are NOT ACCOUNTABLE ! So do teachers get paid according to their contracts? What is going on? This is certainly not a responsible way to back out of education is it?

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