It’s been nearly two months since the school closures in San Benito County took place, forcing hundreds of students to learn off campus.
But Gov. Gavin Newsom on April 28 said in a press conference that there is a possibility of reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year as early as July.
The governor stressed that an early start to the year means students can make up any missed class time from the current school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s been a learning loss, and you can either just roll over and just accept that, or you can do something about it,” Newsom said. “So that’s our thinking. If we can maybe start up the school year a little earlier, that would help…close that gap a little bit.”
San Benito High School Superintendent Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum said in a newsletter that a start date for the new school year is not set.
However, they plan to open in August based upon the previously adopted school calendar.
“At this time, I want to clarify that we have not received this directive from our county leaders, San Benito County Health Department and local educational leaders, led by County Superintendent of Schools Krystal Lomanto,” he said.
On April 29, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond released a statement in response to Newsom’s remarks.
Thuromnd said they look forward to working closely with Newsom and their partners in education to determine their next steps in this new, uncharted future.
“We share the governor’s aspirations for re-opening our schools as soon as possible. If we are going to do this, it can only be done when we are sure we can protect the health and safety of everyone in our school communities,” Thurmond said.
Thurmond mentioned that state school chiefs from throughout the country should examine considerations and best practices for reopening schools.
Hollister School District Superintendent Diego Ochoa said they’ve already announced the implementation of the Migrant Education Summer School and Special Education Extended School Year programs in June and July.
“Both programs are essential to ensure that our most needy students receive instruction to help them maintain tier academic progress,” he said. “Starting school in July would interfere with these important programs.”
Hollister SD oversees 10 schools that includes six elementary, two middle and two academies.
San Benito High SD is developing plans for multiple school reopening scenarios that account for the specific learning needs of students following this period of school closures.
Tennenbaum said the health and safety of students and staff remain their highest priority.
“It is a community effort to ensure our students have the support they need during this unprecedented time,” he said. “We will continue to monitor dynamics at all levels of government and remain committed to keeping our staff and community updated about any changes or modifications to the upcoming school year.”