SACRAMENTO (CBS13/AP) – California schools should plan on teaching from afar for the rest of the academic year because it’s unlikely the coronavirus will allow them to reopen before summer, California leaders say.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a press conference on Wednesday, announced that schools are being directed to prepare to stay closed for the rest of the year.

The governor stressed, however, that education will go on with a greater emphasis being put on distance learning.

“It seems self-evident that we should not prepare to bring our children back into the school setting,” Newsom said.

Gov. Newsom’s announcement echoes and reinforces the letter Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond sent to district leaders on Tuesday telling them to prepare for schools not reopening.

“This is in no way to suggest that school is over for the year, but rather we should put all efforts into strengthening our delivery of education through distance learning,” Thurmond wrote.

It’s not a mandate, but it will give school districts the cover to do what many already felt was necessary, said Troy Flint, spokesman for the California School Boards Association.

With the emphasis being put on distance learning, Newsom also announced that the tech company Google has stepped up to provide computers and internet service to thousands. Newsom said Google will be provided 100,000 Wi-Fi and broadband points of access for free for at least the next three months to help students study online. Thousands of Chromebooks are also being made available.

Education leaders also said they are considering pushing graduation ceremonies to fall.

 

Flint said Thurmond’s letter gives districts the “security they feel they need to make a decision and explain that to their communities.”

California Republican U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes interpreted Thurmond’s letter as tantamount to a statewide closure order. He said such a move is unnecessary.

“The schools were just canceled out here in California, which is way overkill,” Nunes said in an interview on Fox News. “It’s possible kids could have gone back to school in two weeks to four weeks, but they just canceled the rest of the schools.”

Virginia, Kansas and Arizona already closed schools for the rest of the year. California, the nation’s most populous state, has more than 6 million students across 10,000 schools.

Californians are under a statewide stay-at-home order that requires most people to stay inside except for essential activities such as grocery shopping or going for a walk.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.

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