SOLANO COUNTY, CA — As California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out back-to-school guidelines for K-12 students across the state Friday, saying that students in counties on the state’s coronavirus monitoring list must start the school year online, the Solano County Office of Education confirmed all K-12 students in Solano County will start the school year with distance learning.
“Previously, some Solano County school districts and charter schools made plans to reopen school campuses with varying models of social distancing, modified schedules, and distance learning options for students,” SCOE Spokeswoman Jennifer Leonard said Friday in a news release.
“However, the newly issued orders require that schools located in counties on the state’s County Monitoring List must begin the school year with distance learning from home,” Leonard said. “Solano County is currently on the state’s County Monitoring List due to recent increased in COVID-19 cases.”
As to when students in Solano and other counties required to start the 2020-2021 school year online can return to on-campus learning, the governor said Friday the county must be taken off the state’s watchlist and remain off the list for two weeks before schools can reopen.
“Educators across Solano County are working tirelessly to design and implement solutions to meet a broad range of unique needs for thousands of students,” Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said Friday about the new state plan.
“Bottom line is equity for every student is critical,” Estrella-Henderson said. “Our districts and charters schools will continue to be flexible, resourceful, and innovative no matter where instruction occurs on the first day of school.”
According to Newsom’s other back-to-school edicts for the new school year, staff at all California schools and all California students in third grade and above are required to wear face masks during in-person classes. Students in second grade and below will be strongly advised to use face masks or shields during in-person classes but will not be mandated to do so, Newsom said.
Schools must also abide by state health guidelines by maintaining six feet of distance between students and teachers, administering daily symptom checks and ensuring students and staff have ample opportunities to wash their hands.
“Learning remains not negotiable,” Newsom said. “But neither is the safety of all of our cohorts of support staff as well as our children.”
Nearly all the greater Bay Area’s 11 counties are either on the state’s watchlist or expect to be added soon, with Santa Cruz County being the only county in the region to avoid a rise in coronavirus cases that concerns state public health officials.
Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties were already on the list entering Friday. San Francisco County was added Friday morning while San Mateo County officials expect to be added to the list early next week.
Newsom said the pace at which counties on and off the monitoring list resume in-person classes this fall is incumbent upon people following state health mandates and guidelines like wearing masks and face coverings, practicing physical distancing, hand washing and minimizing contact with people outside one’s household.
“The more we do … and we do it at scale, the quicker all those counties are going to come off that monitoring list, we’re going to mitigate the spread of this virus and those kids are back in school,” he said.
Newsom also outlined the state’s requirements for distance learning. Schools must ensure that all students have access to the requisite technology and internet service for at-home classes and that students and teachers interact with each other daily. Schools must also lay out plans to modify their lessons for English language learners and special education students, according to Newsom.
“Safety is foundational and safety will ultimately make the determination of how we go about educating our kids as we move into this fall and we work our way through this pandemic,” Newsom said.
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on the Benicia Patch