MURRIETA, CA — Riverside County K-12 students will not return to the classroom for the start of the 2020-21 school year but instead will be learning online due to coronavirus concerns, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday.
Riverside is among 32 counties on a state watch list due to its high COVID-19 community spread and hospitalizations. The counties cannot resume in-person classroom instruction until they fall off the state monitoring list for 14 consecutive days, the governor said.
Newsom acknowledged that the overwhelming number of California families want to see kids back in class, but "only when it's safe," he said.
Read more about the governor's announcement here.
In K-12 schools, the shutdown at the end of the 2019-20 school year was abrupt, and many Riverside County parents grumbled about a lack of quality instruction for their kids. During Newsom's Friday news briefing, he promised that K-12 districts offering online-only instruction are mandated to deliver "rigorous" lesson plans.
According to the governor, all students will have: access to devices and connectivity; daily live interaction with teachers and other students; and challenging assignments. Special needs students and English language learners will have specially adapted lessons, he said.
The Lake Elsinore Unified School District announced it was going all virtual ahead of Newsom's Friday news briefing. The district said students' five-day per week lesson plans will be "mandatory, graded, and aligned to grade-level standards. Support for English language learners, students with disabilities, foster students, and homeless youth shall be provided."
When Riverside County students do return to campus, districts must adhere to safety guidelines set forth by the state. During a Murrieta Valley Unified School District special meeting held virtually Friday, staff offered a preview of its learning models — virtual, in-person classroom, and hybrid.
Now the district is forced to deploy the distance-learning model, but what will campuses look like when students, teachers and administrators return — and what safety protocols will be implemented? And what happens if a COVID-19 infection is detected?
According to Newsom, a classroom will be sent home if a confirmed COVID-19 case is detected, and an entire school will be closed if multiple students/teachers/staff/administrators test positive for the illness — or if more than 5 percent of the school population becomes infected. A district will be closed if 25 percent of its schools are closed due to infections within a 14-day period.
To detect cases, school staff will be tested regularly, symptom checks will be required, and state contact tracers will make schools a priority, Newsom said.
Here's a peek at the MVUSD's plans for returning to campus, which align with the current state guidelines. Families in other school districts can expect similar safety protocols once kids move back into the classroom:
Physical distancing, plexiglass between teacher desk and students, masks in classrooms.
Installed in front of teacher desks and offices.
Personal Protective Equipment
Per the governor, everyone will wear masks or face shields at school campuses. Students younger than 3rd grade are not mandated to wear masks or shields, but are encouraged to do so. The following shows what the MVUSD is prepared to provide.