BREAKING: California schools possibly closed through summer, governor says

Kira Sterling and Kaahini Jain

Students across the state of California may not return to school until after their summer break, Gov. Gavin Newsom said today in a press conference.

“I can’t say this with certainty, but don’t anticipate schools are going to open up in a week,” Newsom said at the conference. “I would plan and assume that it’s unlikely that many of these schools, few if any, will open before the summer break.”

According to Newsom, 98.8% of California schools have already been shut down in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, with over 6 million students currently out of school.

Newsom went on to say that if or when schools reopen this year, students can expect to forego standardized testing thanks to a state-requested federal waiver of student testing.

“We think it is totally inappropriate for kids to worry about coming back and being tested,” Newsom said. “You shouldn’t worry about coming back, and the SAT, ACT, AP exams and all these other exams, when we already have enough anxiety related to this moment.”

This comes amid announcements from other states, including Texas and Washington, that standardized testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year will be waived, and the state of Kansas closing all K-12 schools for the rest of the academic year. The United States Department of Education has yet to issue a nationwide waiver that would exempt all students from testing.

Meanwhile, the College Board has already canceled the May administration of the SAT, and is discussing flexible testing options for Advanced Placement Exams previously scheduled for May.

According to an email sent out by Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson to Palo Alto High School students who have signed up for AP exams this year, additional information regarding AP exams is expected on March 20. 

The state is working on creating guidance for schools to address distance learning, school meal deliveries, and child supervision, among other areas, the first set of which was released today. Newsom said that the guidelines will be updated every Friday as the situation progresses. 

The governor suggested students utilize Public Broadcasting Services as well as any resources that school districts are providing to keep up with school.

“We wanted to make sure that learning is still occurring,” Newsom said, “We are diving deep into curating curricula, curating the capacity to deliver on what we are promoting, which is homeschooling your children.”