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California schools chief says some districts can open safely

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Posted at 1:54 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 17:00:01-04

SAN FRANCISCO (KGTV/AP) — California’s education chief has applauded the state’s two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, for this week’s decision not to reopen classrooms this fall amid rising coronavirus cases.

But Tony Thurmond says the same rules need not apply in counties with low rates of infection. In a media briefing, Thurmond says that in counties where the number of cases is low, schools could reopen for in-person classes as long as they follow the state's guidance on physical distancing and wearing face coverings.

“Everyone shares the desire to reopen schools and agrees that the best place for children to learn and thrive is in the classroom connected with caring teachers and staff. We also understand that schools are more than a place of learning: They provide critical necessities like meals, relationships with caring adults, and support for working parents,” said Thurmond. “But we can only open schools if it is safe to do so. As the largest educational agency in the country, our stance has been consistent during this pandemic: Science, data, and safety must guide any decision about reopening a school. The health and safety of our students and staff is too important to risk.”

RELATED: San Diego Unified School District to start new year online

This week, San Diego Unified School District said schools will start the fall school year at home, before looking into a physical return to class.

"Unfortunately, much of the research is incomplete and many of the guidelines are vague and contradictory. One fact is clear: those countries that have managed to safely reopen schools have done so with declining infection rates and on-demand testing available. California has neither. The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control," the district said.

SDUSD's 2020-2021 school year will start as scheduled on Aug. 31, officials said.