Gov. Newsom announces in-person learning plan for early 2021

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Governor Gavin Newsom has announced new plans to help schools reopen for in-person learning early next year, with an emphasis on best safety practices and coronavirus testing.

Under California’s new phased-in approach for in-person learning, schools would have to submit a safety plan to the state that requires students and teachers wear surgical masks, have regular testing and be transparent with their transmission data. In return, the state is making $2 billion available to help reopen classrooms.

Gov. Newsom acknowledged that distance learning simply isn't working for many students, especially for younger age groups.

“In-person instruction, there’s just no substitute for it,” Newsom said. “It’s so much more difficult for a four-year-old to focus on a device than a 14-year-old.”

The plan is to reopen classrooms in February and March, which includes kindergarten through sixth grade, special education, and populations disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond is Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University and founding president of the Learning Policy Institute, and she told KCBS Radio that some districts—like in Marin County—have already returned to in-person instruction and have done so safely.

“Forty thousand students have been attending school there for the last several months this fall,” she said. “Five thousand teachers, almost no cases of transmission.”

Distance learning will still be an option for families, but the new guidelines call for all grades to return to the classroom by spring of next year.