Newsom Order Would Keep Most California Schools Online

Some educators are fearful and angry about the prospect of returning to schools with unanswered questions. The 310,000-member California Teachers Association urged state leaders this month to require districts to start the year “under robust distance learning protocols” and described even a hybrid model as “high-risk.”

On Friday, the president of the California Federation of Teachers, which represents 120,000 school employees, said the state’s new guidelines did not go far enough to protect them. He objected to the state’s willingness to allow waivers for some schools in counties on the watchlist, as well as the lack of mandatory social distancing and testing for all students.

“This updated guidance still allows for an ‘acceptable amount of harm’ to come to our students, their families and our education professionals,” the president, Jeff Freitas, said in a statement, demanding that schools across California continue to provide remote learning until “the governor can ensure adequate safety measures throughout the state.”

Erin Springer, who teaches fifth grade at a charter school in Inglewood, said that starting the new year with remote learning has felt inevitable since the beginning of summer. She said she wished the call had been made sooner, so that she and her colleagues could have prepared.

“Almost every teacher I know felt like we were just wasting time,” Ms. Springer said.

Mr. Newsom emphasized that education officials across the state would be working hard to ensure that all students would have access to “rigorous distance learning,” including access to devices and connectivity and live interactions every day with teachers and other students.

He added that leaders would pay specific attention to students who are homeless, in the foster care system, or who are English language learners. The state, he said, has put $5.3 billion in additional money toward those efforts.

“We want to create some sense of equivalency,” Mr. Newsom said.

In Marin County, a Bay Area suburb that is on the state’s watchlist, Brooke Palizi, a mother of two elementary school students, said the district recently announced that parents would be able to choose between letting their children attend socially distant in-person classes, remote learning, and a virtual academy akin to home schooling.

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