Multiple California teachers’ unions are shocked about California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) idea of possibly reopening public schools in July.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Newsom introduced a proposal about schools — which have been closed since mid-March — suggesting they could reopen as early as late July to make up for the lost time.
“We recognize there’s been a learning loss because of this disruption. We’re concerned about that learning loss even into the summer,” Newsom said. “We are considering the prospect of an even earlier school year into the fall — as early as late July, early August. So we’re beginning to socialize that.”
While Newsom did admit the decision is not concrete, there are discussions being held.
“We’ve made no decisions definitively in that space but I just want folks to know the concern around learning loss and the concern about waiting till late later in the year, into the fall for the new school year,” he added.
Several unions have expressed concern about the governor’s statements and their concern about the lack of communication about the situation.
Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown voiced his concerns and shared teachers’ reactions to the comments, saying that it “caught so many teachers by surprise.”
“We are very concerned about the governor’s comments. It really caught so many teachers by surprise,” Brown told Politico. “The state has not issued any executive order around the opening of schools and that sort of thing must be negotiated between labor and school districts.”
The Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) President David Fisher also released a statement noting concerns about the “unknowns.”
“We have to let science guide our decisions about when it’s safe to reopen schools,” Fisher said. “But no matter what happens, it’s important for school districts to work constructively with teachers to produce the best outcomes for kids.”
Jon Bath — the political action chairman for the Fresno Teachers Association — described the idea as “insane,” noting the difficulty schools would face enforcing social distancing guidelines in a crowded classroom.
“It’s insane. It’s not safe to go back in July,” Bath said. “Can you imagine being with 40 kids in a room that’s 20 [feet] by 20 [feet]? As a teacher, you’re going to get it.”
As Newsom said, the idea is still in the discussion phase. The state is still working toward entering phase one of reopening. As of Thursday morning, there are over 48,800 positive coronavirus cases in the state of California.