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Newsom lays out four-phase reopening, hints at earlier school start date

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that the state is considering moving the start date for K-12 schools to late July or early August to make up for any potential learning loss that has occurred during the coronavirus pandemic.

With students currently learning from their own homes as schools have scrambled to put together distance learning programs, Newsom fears that students have not been able to learn enough material over this time, which will require extra time tacked on before the usual starting date in the fall.

“We recognize there’s been a learning loss because of this disruption,” Newsom said. “We’re concerned about that learning loss even into the summer. So we are considering the prospect of an even earlier school year into the fall as early as late July, early August. So we are beginning to socialize that.

“We have made no decisions definitively in that space, but I just want folks to know the concern around learning loss and the concern about waiting until later in the year to the fall for the new school year.”

The state has provided over 70,000 tablets and Chromebooks, but the distance learning has been ultimately inadequate to cover the over six million students in the state, Newsom said.

So there’s been a learning loss, and you can either just roll over and just accept that, or you can do something about that. So that’s our thinking. If we can maybe start up the school year a little earlier, that would help close that gap a little bit. It’s a deep conversation. The reason I’m having it with you, I was having it privately over the last few days. I want to socialize those private conversations as quickly as I can with you.

“There’s been a learning loss, and you can either just roll over and just accept that, or you can do something about that,” Newsom said. “So that’s our thinking. If we can maybe start up the school year a little earlier, that would help close that gap a little bit. It’s a deep conversation. The reason I’m having it with you – I was having it privately over the last few days – I want to socialize those private conversations as quickly as I can with you.”

The governor expects to have more information over the next few weeks about starting the school year earlier, including the added financial costs that it would incur.

Newsom also detailed the state’s four-phase plan to reopen and lift the shelter-in-place order.

Currently, California is in Phase One, Newsom said. The first phase involves staying home to flatten the infection curve, increasing testing, ensuring the safety of essential workplaces and preparing guidelines for a gradual reopening.

Phase Two is weeks away, Newsom said. It deals with reopening lower-risk workplaces, such as retail stores that are currently closed and offices.

Phases Three and Four are months away, Newsom said. The third phase involves higher-risk workplaces, such as hair salons, gyms and movie theaters.

It also includes in-person religious services and sports without live audiences.

Phase Four will mark the end of the shelter-in-place order and allow for mass gatherings to resume.

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.