How big will class sizes be in CA schools? State superintendent predicts 10 to 15 students

When students go back to school this fall, things will be very different and probably a bit lonelier.
When students go back to school this fall, things will be very different and probably a bit lonelier.

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond predicts class sizes will typically be capped at between 10 and 15 students in order to ensure proper physical distancing.

"Smaller size means better safety," Thurmond said.

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Earlier this week, the California Department of Education released 62 pages of guidelines for districts to implement physical distancing and heightened disinfecting procedures before reopening.

Classrooms need to be laid out in a way that ensures students can stay 6 feet apart at all times. Schools buses should also have limited capacity to allow students to space out.

All staff are being asked to wear face coverings or a clear face shield that allows students to see their expressions.

Students will be required to wear face coverings at a minimum: waiting to enter school, while on school grounds (except while eating), leaving schools and on school buses. Districts also have the option to mandate face coverings for students in the classroom.

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In cafeterias, self-service buffets and shared tables are going to suspended. Students may eat their lunches in the classroom, spaced out at their desks.
The Department of Education also provides districts with four scheduling options that will make it easier to space students out:


  • "Two day rotation blended learning model": For example, grades K-3 attend school Monday/Wednesday, while grades 4-6 attend on Tuesday/Thursday. All students do distance learning Friday.

  • "A/B week blended learning model": Half of students across all grades attend school Monday-Thursday one week, the other half the following week, and so forth. All students do distance learning on Friday.

  • "Looping structure": Younger students may stay with the same teacher for multiple grades and in a smaller cohort. For example, a small group of students will have the same teacher for 1st then 2nd grade.

  • "Early/late staggered schedules": Grade levels could have staggered start times, or an AM/PM rotation, to avoid congregating in common spaces.

Even as classrooms reopen, the state is asking districts to keep distance learning as an option for students who prefer it. Thurmond said in a survey of parents, many asked that it remain an option for their children.
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