Not all students will return to class when California schools reopen, officials say

The new requirements will mean a whole new operational plan for school districts, including how to keep students separated in hallways, cafeterias, common areas, and during bus rides to and from school.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As some businesses begin to slowly reopen, the state superintendent of schools is also working to figure out how to get students back to class - with a new set of safety standards in place.

Campuses and playgrounds will look very different when students return for their next school year.

The state superintendent Wednesday said the plan is to bring some students back to class in August, but each district will make the call based on several factors, including school size, local COVID-19 cases, and other resources needed.

"It is believed that it is likely we will have to have smaller class sizes to accommodate students being able to maintain six-feet of distance during school," said California State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond.

The geographical location and district population will play a significant role in which schools can reopen and how soon. For many districts, distance learning is expected to continue for many students in the fall. A gradual transition will happen based on health leaders analyzing each county's coronavirus statistics.

The new requirements will mean a whole new operational plan for school districts, including how to keep students separated in hallways, cafeterias, common areas, and during bus rides to and from school.

Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino is working with each district superintendent to develop a plan. There's a lot to consider about which students should return to class first.

"Right now we're at the beginning stages of conversations of who might come back, but we know our students who are at greatest risk, our students who may not have access, those who need that one-on-one connection with their teacher - our special education students - that's a particular (group) that needs that human touch and how are we going to do that," said Yovino.

Yovino also said students who don't have internet access at home will also be high on the list to return sooner.

At each campus across the state, California's top education leader says the classroom setting will be entirely different.

"Students and staff will have to wear masks. It is believed that we will have to sanitize schools down everyday, sometimes multiple times a day."

Local and statewide focus groups will be navigating ways to improve distance learning and eliminate as many risks as possible on each school campus.

The state superintendent said a big challenge is the state's budget deficit - which means less funding - as schools need to spend to add more safety measures.

Right now, the priority is figuring out the best way to safely educate students in the fall. Resuming sports programs is important, but secondary and part of phase two.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to ABC30.com/coronavirus
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