In a Friday news conference, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the 32 counties on the state's COVID-19 "watch list" could not reopen schools this fall and must start the school year remotely.
Counties must remain off the watch list for 14 days before their private and public schools can resume in-person classes, according to Newsom's guidance.
The directive was completely contrary to the guidance that Orange County's Board of Education approved on Monday, to reopen schools in the fall without requiring masks or social distancing measures.
The Orange County board said it had a "responsibility to model courage and persistence in the face of uncertainty and fear" and that previous attempts at remote learning had been an "utter failure," although the non-binding decision left reopening decisions up to individual school districts.
The vote was met with protests by mask-wearing parents as the vote divided parents in the wealthy enclave.
Also on Monday, the state's two largest school districts, in Los Angeles and San Diego, announced they would open remotely for the fall.
This week, the Los Angeles Unified School District released a study showing that its nine-week period of remote learning in the spring was disastrous, with more than half of students either absent or not participating.
Around the same time as Newsom's press conference, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said at another briefing that San Francisco City and County had been added to the state's "watch list."
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