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 State Superintendent Tony Thurmond says the same rules need not apply in counties that have low rates of infection and space to maintain 6 feet of social distancing.
“Right now, safety has to outweigh everything else,” Thurmond told CNN, calling President Donald Trump’s push to get schools to reopen and threats to cut off funding “reckless” and “dangerous.”
In a media briefing, Thurmond said 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.
“We believe that those schools can open safely,” he said, but called for “an abundance of caution”
The California Department of Education in June issued guidance for schools that reopen amid the pandemic, and the rules include everyone wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing and regular hand washing and temperature checks.
“Since we’ve issued our guidance, conditions have changed dramatically,” Thurmond said. “In many communities throughout our state, we’re seeing high rates of infection in the community. This surge has spelled the need for caution.”
He reaffirmed that the decisions on reopening schools are made on the local level, guided by county health officers with knowledge on coronavirus numbers.
Of California’s 58 counties, at least 32 counties are being monitored by state officials for heightened coronavirus activity.