Governor Gavin Newsom was expected to deliver guidance on the reopening of schools Friday, and that guidance has arrived. Newsom says that counties that have been on the state's monitoring list for 14 days due to rising COVID metrics must do distance learning only at the beginning of the school year next month.
In some counties, like Alameda County, plans to reopen schools with only distance learning were already taking shape in multiple school districts, including Oakland and Berkeley. So Newsom's order is not going to derail those plans even if the county remains on the watch list, which it landed on earlier this week. (The county has steadily been adding 100 or more new cases per day, and added seven new deaths to its total today, bringing the death toll to 161, second only to Santa Clara County in the Bay Area, which has had 176 deaths to date.)
Also, San Francisco Unified announced this week that it was planning to open with distance learning only, and that's just as San Francisco County landed on the watch list today due to escalating hospitalizations.
But in Orange County, this is likely going to be cause for a fight, just like everything has been during this pandemic when it comes to science vs. Republicans. Orange County is among the more than half of counties in California on the watch list.
Earlier this week, as The Hill reports, Orange County's Board of Education voted 4 to 1 to reopen schools with no mask mandate, because that's just par for the course for Orange County. As the LA Times reports, COVID cases are now escalating in Orange County faster than in neighboring LA County, so perhaps they needed to rethink the rush to reopening schools anyway.
"K-12 children represent the lowest-risk cohort for Covid-19. Because of that fact, social distancing of children and reduced census classrooms is not necessary and therefore not recommended," the county board’s recommendation reads. "Requiring children to wear masks during school is not only difficult —if not impossible to implement — but not based on science. It may even be harmful and is therefore not recommended."
Where are they getting "may even be harmful" if not from Fox News?
Also, if we're being at all rational here, this has less to do with the safety of children than it does their teachers and their families, since they can easily bring the virus home and infect a parent or grandparent.
Newsom further ordered that teachers and students in grades 3 and above to wear masks while in school in counties where schools can open, and students must stay six feet apart — which feels like a tall order.
San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said earlier this week that the district hoped to begin a hybrid plan in which some in-classroom learning takes place later in the fall semester.
"I know this pandemic has been incredibly challenging in so many ways," Matthews said in a statement. "There is a range of viewpoints regarding the best course of action. Hearing from our community is assisting us in creating the most effective plan possible."