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'There is no playbook' | State officials to issue school reopening guidelines soon

Schools may open faster in some counties than others depending on local coronavirus numbers

STOCKTON, Calif. — With two boys in sixth and tenth grade in Elk Grove, Christy Franks speaks for a lot of parents when it comes to school closures.

"It's challenging. I'm home. I'm lucky enough to be home with my kids all day, but distance learning is not ideal," said Franks.

With school grounds empty, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond held a conference call online with school leaders across California, updating them on what's happening to reopen schools.

"This is tough, and, there is no playbook that has been provided for how to do this," said Thurmond.

There are a lot of unresolved questions for schools: social distancing, the wearing of masks and sanitization of classrooms.

Educators across the spectrum spoke during the one-hour online update, which also included the results from a task force still floating ideas on what learning should look like.

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"There's been discussion around blended learning models such as students attending in-person instruction a few days a week, maybe certain grade levels," said Stephanie Gregson, director of Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Quality Commission for the California Department of Education.

A custodian and union representative from Yucaipa also discussed the difficulties of keeping schools clean.

"I would really not have any idea how many supplies or how much [supplies] I need in order to sanitize a school," said Ben Valdepena, who has 38 years of custodial work under his belt.

Schools are faced with a dilemma. According to Cindy Morten, superintendent of San Diego Unified School District, social distancing is critical, because the virus' effect on youth is largely unknown. But officials also say it's important for kids to be in school.

"In order to properly close the achievement gap, our students need to be at school five days a week," Lorena Rubio, Principal of Jordan Academy of Language and Computer Science in Orange County said.

There are still no guidelines for schools to reopen just yet, but they are expected to be released soon.

The biggest take away: it will be up to each individual county working with their local health department on when to open classroom doors.

Bottom line, depending on where you live and how the battle with the coronavirus is going, some schools could open sooner than others.

"Everything is up in the air at this point, yes," said Cathy Nichols-Washer, Lodi Unified School District superintendent. "We're currently scheduled to open Aug. 3. What that looks like? We don't know at this point."

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