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With 1 in 3 students testing positive for the coronavirus in some Los Angeles neighborhoods, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s push to reopen campuses is clashing with the reality of a raging pandemic as many school districts opt for January shutdowns and superintendents call for clearer guidance on when it will be safe to unlock their campus doors.

The swift-moving developments come one week after Newsom announced financial help — totaling $2 billion — that would go to elementary schools that reopen as early as next month and later to schools serving older students. Newsom cited the widely acknowledged harms of learning loss and social isolation — especially for Black and Latino students from low-income families — after in-person instruction shut down nearly 10 months ago across the state.

Superintendents from seven of the state’s largest school districts on Wednesday called on Newsom to set a clear and mandated state standard for reopening campuses. They also faulted Newsom’s plan for seeming to rely on funds that would otherwise go toward important existing education programs.

“Our schools stand ready to resume in-person instruction as soon as health conditions are safe and appropriate. But we cannot do it alone,” superintendents from Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Fresno and Sacramento wrote in the letter. “Despite heroic efforts by students, teachers and families, it will take a coordinated effort by all in state and local government to reopen classrooms.”

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