Most California schools 'shouldn't reopen' if COVID-19 trends continue, state superintendent says

SAN FRANCISCO -- With many California school districts just three or four weeks away from fall instruction, many are opting for full-time online distance learning. That's the smart move for much of the state, said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond in a virtual press conference Wednesday.

"I think that if school opened tomorrow, most of our districts would open in distance learning," said Thurmond. "And that is a decision that I think is a good decision if conditions don't change right now."

RELATED: Central Unified will start new school year with distance learning

Last month, the California Department of Education released 62 pages of guidelines for districts on how to safely reopen.

"Since we've issued our guidance, conditions have changed dramatically," said Thurmond. "We know that in many communities throughout our state we're seeing high rates of infection in the community."

Two of the state's largest districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, have already announced they'll be doing distance learning exclusively in the fall. Several Bay Area school districts are doing the same.

RELATED: Fresno Unified 'discussing' starting school year completely online, Superintendent says

Thurmond acknowledged the safest way forward for much of the state is to keep classrooms closed for now, and pivot to some in-person instruction if and when coronavirus conditions improve.

"As we've always said, safety is paramount," said Thurmond. "If it's not safe to do so, schools shouldn't reopen in a way that would put students or staff in harm's way."

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