March 1, 2021
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Issues Statement in Response to Legislative Deal on School Reopening
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today issued the following statement in response to a legislative deal announced by Governor Gavin Newsom and lawmakers that is designed to help more schools open classrooms for in-person learning:
“There is no question that students learn best when they are together with their peers and educators in a physically and emotionally safe school environment. Our schools need every resource possible to implement the layered safety measures that will facilitate a safe return to in-person learning for students, school staff, teachers, and their families.
“I want to thank Governor Gavin Newsom and our leaders in the Legislature for crafting a proposal that will provide our school districts and educators additional resources to help resume safe in-person learning and invest in expanded learning and academic interventions to help students accelerate learning and recover from the impacts of this pandemic.
“Vaccines offer more schools their best chance at accelerating a return to in-person learning, so I am especially encouraged to see this proposal cements the Governor’s announcement that a portion of doses will be set aside for the education workforce. Until more people are vaccinated, I urge our school districts to continue to pursue and invest in rapid, robust coronavirus testing of asymptomatic school staff and students as a key safety measure to reducing potential spread.
“As larger numbers of students return to school campuses, the California Department of Education (CDE) will continue collaborating with equity leaders, practitioners, and educational stakeholders to design and expand strategies for supporting our state’s highest-need students, accelerating academic growth, and addressing learning gaps experienced during this public health crisis. My team looks forward to continuing to build out programs and professional development to support educators, expanding effective family engagement practices across the state, and developing tutoring, expanded learning, and other academic intervention strategies for students. In the coming days the CDE will be announcing the school district recipients of our latest round of mini-grants to target equity gaps in education, and we also will be opening up the submission process in our $1 million California Digital Divide Innovation Challenge to turn bold ideas into action that can ensure all California students have access to high speed internet once and for all.“In the last few weeks we have seen more and more school districts across California announce plans and timelines to reopen their campuses as COVID-19 case rates fall and more people are vaccinated. While we are making encouraging progress, we have to heed the advice of public health leaders who say we cannot get complacent: as communities, we must continue to practice common sense safety measures such as wearing face coverings and physical distancing so that we can keep infections low enough to return as many students as possible to the classroom.”
# # # #
Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100