5 things to know for California's back-to-school plan

Heading back-to-school will look different this year due to COVID-19. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new rules in July ahead of the fall semester.
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- Heading back-to-school will look different this year due to COVID-19. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced mid-July that school districts on the COVID-19 watch list cannot physically reopen classrooms this fall semester.

"Learning in the state of California is simply non-negotiable that schools must, and I underscore must, provide a meaningful instruction during this pandemic whether they are physically opened or not," Newsom said.

The governor laid out five requirements for reopening classrooms. First, a county must be off the state monitoring list for 14 straight days.

Second, masks are required for teachers and students third grade and above and second grade and below are strongly encouraged to wear masks or face shields.

"Our teachers, staff and certainly parents we all prefer in-classroom instruction for all the obvious reasons, emotionally, foundationally, but only if it can be done safely," Newsom said.

Third, staff must maintain at least six feet between each other and students, symptom checks will take place at the start of the day, and hand washing stations, sanitation, disinfection and quarantine protocols will be required.

Fourth, there will be regular testing of staff and state contact tracing for those who test positive.

Lastly, distance learning must be available to all students equally.

The governor also gave guidelines for closing schools. He said if five percent of a school tests positive that it must close and when 25 percent of schools in one district close within a two-week period, the whole district must shut down. If there is a confirmed case, a whole classroom will go home.

And as of July 17, 33 of California's 58 counties are on the COVID-19 watch list including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Those counties represent more than 80 percent of the state's population.

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