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Newsom: Schools May Open In July

Wally Gobetz
Flickr / Creative Commons
César Chávez Elementary";

Governor Gavin Newsom made an ear-catching statement about schools at his noon press conference, yesterday. After saying he’s concerned about kids missing out on their education while schools are closed, he said, “We are considering the prospect of an even earlier school year, into the fall. As early as late July, early August ... As a parent, myself, and having talked to many parents and educators, even the kids, I think we might want to consider getting that school year moved up a little bit.”

That was the first we’d heard of the idea, and apparently it was the first State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond had heard of it, too. In a press release sent a few hours later, he said starting the next school year earlier could help solve equity and learning issues, but he also wants to address some questions first. He wrote:

“Can this be done in a way that protects the health and safety of our students, teachers, and school staff?”

Thurmond also noted that schools may need to open with smaller class sizes, which means hiring more teachers. Staffers will need personal protective equipment, and schools will need to be sanitized regularly. And it’s all going to take resources. So that’s a conversation that’s going to continue.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic won't prevent most teacher candidates from moving into California classrooms next school year, even if they have yet to complete all the normally required student teaching hours or certification tests. The state Commission on Teacher Credentialing voted last week to give university teacher-preparation programs wide latitude to decide when teacher candidates are prepared to move onto the classroom.

The commission expects 26,000 people including teachers, principals and counselors to graduate from training programs this school year. Most are studying to get their teaching credential.

Commissioners voted to temporarily waive the 600 hours of student teaching normally required to earn a teaching credential. Student teaching is generally regarded as an essential part of a teacher's training, but it was largely discontinued after teacher preparation programs ended in-person instruction across the state due to the coronavirus. Centers that administer a range of tests that teachers need to take to get their credential also have been closed as a result of the pandemic, preventing teacher candidates from completing required testing.

It’s not clear, yet, what rubrics will be used to determine whether teacher trainees will be classroom ready.

Some reporting on that story came from this article, provided with permission by EdSource.