State provides school guidance, up to local districts to implement

Posted at 12:04 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 20:51:16-04

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SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - What will school look like in the fall? That's a question on many parents’ minds.

As the 2019-20 school year wraps up, parents are looking ahead and wondering what's next.

"I really don't know what I'm preparing for," said Leona Smith.

Being a parent was tough before the pandemic. Add in teaching and daycare duties, and things can get overwhelming.

"It's been interesting, complicated, a juggling act, all of the above," Smith said.

Smith's son recently promoted to 4th-grade and has been distance learning since school physically shut its doors in March.

"I want him to get back to more structure, seeing his friends," she said.

On Monday, the California Department of Education answered some of the where, when, and how questions from parents when it released guidance for reopening schools.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and other CDE leaders unveiled a guidance document that will serve as a road map of recommendations for schools as they work with local public health officials on steps to reopen.

The document addresses topics such as face coverings, physical distancing, symptom screenings, and distance learning.

"What the state-level guidance says is this is an overall framework, this is what we recommend," said Music Watson, chief of staff at the San Diego County Office of Education. "There's a lot of do this where practical or where feasible, but it's really up to local public health and each individual school district and charter school to actually implement the guidance."

At the state's second-largest school district, San Diego Unified leaders are taking that guidance and figuring out how to make it work within their schools.

"We take these big broad brush guidelines and say how do we make that work in our schools, because at the end of the day we need to be ready to physically reopen our schools when the county public health officials say it's safe to do so," said San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten.

Marten said the state guidance was step one in reopening. Lawmakers passing a budget is step two. The Legislature has until June 15 to pass the budget.

Knowing how much money everyone's getting is key to understanding what they can afford to do.

In a May revision to the governor's budget, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) took a significant hit. The proposal states, "Absent additional federal funds, the COVID-19 Recession requires a 10 percent ($6.5 billion) reduction to LCFF. This reduction includes the elimination of a 2.31% cost-of-living adjustment. This reduction will be triggered off if the federal government provides sufficient funding to backfill this cut."

However, an updated budget proposal from legislators rejected the 10% LCFF reduction from May Revise.

"We've advocated at the state and federal levels for appropriate funding to not just kind of reopen schools, but powerfully reopen schools with the model that's going to work for the social-emotional needs, health needs, cleanliness needs as well as the medical needs," Marten said.

Marten said no matter what's in the budget, schools will have options for families because not everyone will be ready to send their kids back into a physical classroom.

So while some kids will be on campus, others will be learning from home.

Safety measures such as facemasks and staying six feet apart, were suggestions in the state guidelines that may be a reality.

"Those are the guidelines today," Marten said. "Next week, they could change. Two weeks from now, they could change. By August 31, they could change. So we're going to plan based on the guidelines that we see right now, but they might be different by the time we open."