CALIFORNIA—On Wednesday, May 20, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced that individual school districts would be allowed to choose when to reopen their schools in the fall.

“There will not be a common opening; rather, school districts will make their own decisions about when they will open,” he explained. “Most districts are planning to open at their normal dates, in late August and September, but the California Department of Education is working with school districts to chart and track when they open, and to provide guidance to help school districts identify the ways to safely reopen.”

Thurmond emphasized that districts were free to choose any form of instruction that they felt would best suit their students’ needs, with some “thinking that reopening might mean a blend of styles of education, with some in-class instruction and in some cases still some distance learning.”

Masks, regular sanitization, and physical distancing will be commonplace if schools reopen. 

“It’s widely believed that in order for us to reopen schools in a social distancing kind of fashion, that students and staff will have to wear masks,” Thurmond claimed. “It is believed that we’ll have to sanitize schools down everyday, sometimes multiple times a day. It is believed that it’s likely that we’ll have to have smaller class sizes to accommodate students being able to maintain six feet of distance [between each other] during school.”

Thurmond expressed worries about the mid-year budget revision that Governor Newsom recently proposed, which features a cut in funding for the education sector worth $18 to $19 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impact. He mentioned that although it is “very creative and flexible,” it will cause cuts in numerous educational programs if the federal government does not provide more funding. 

“It’s very important for us to receive more federal funding in order to offset those cuts, because we believe that our school districts cannot reopen safely if they have to implement these kinds of cuts,” Thurmond clarified. “We’re going to have unavoidable expenses that schools will need to be able to account for in order to ensure that our schools open safely for our students and for our staff.”

“We want to continue to do great work together. We know that these are huge challenges that we face, but as it relates to the challenge of providing a great education for California students, California is meeting the challenge. We can do more together, we are stronger together, and together we’ll serve our six million students.”