Schools may return to 100% distance learning

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To the millions of exhausted and frustrated parents out there, I apologize for the news I’m about to share: Some school districts may return to 100% distance learning this fall as California’s coronavirus surge pushes them to rethink their reopening plans.

Los Angeles Unified district superintendents were instructed Tuesday to prepare plans for 100% distance learning. San Francisco Unified will likely offer in-person learning only to the neediest students at first. One San Jose district also plans to start the year with most students in distance learning.

The California Teachers’ Association on Wednesday put its foot down on the issue in a sharply worded letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and top lawmakers.

  • The letter reads: “It is clear that communities and school districts have not come close to meeting the threshold for a safe return to in-person learning, even under a hybrid model.”

The news comes as President Donald Trump threatened Wednesday to cut federal funding from schools that don’t physically reopen, adding another potential hurdle as they scramble to procure face masks and hand sanitizer while also developing costly sanitation and hybrid teaching plans. 

Newsom dismissed Trump’s “latest tweets,” adding that the state wants schools to provide as much in-person instruction as possible but “keeping our kids and teachers healthy” is “nonnegotiable.”

California’s coronavirus positivity rate rose to 7.1% over the past two weeks, while hospitalizations increased 44% and intensive-care admissions 34%. A record 26 counties are now on the state’s watch list, with Napa, San Benito and Yolo added Wednesday.

The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Wednesday night, California had 289,468 confirmed coronavirus cases and 6,562 deaths from the virus, according to a CalMatters tracker.

Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

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