Most California Schools Won't Reopen For Months, Newsom Warns

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March 17, 2020 - 7:32 pm
chool buses are parked in a lot, idled by the closing of schools in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, on March 17, 2020 in Gardena, California.

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Most schools in California will probably not reopen for classes before the summer break, Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Tuesday. 

"I would plan and assume it is unlikely that many of these schools — few, if any — will open before the summer break," he said. 

Newsom's comments reflect the rapidly evolving response from public officials to the coronavirus outbreak.

Schools in many districts in the Bay Area and other parts of the state had only just started a three-week closure in an attempt to tamp down on new infections. 

Such a decision — to keep schools closed for months — would pose an immense challenge to working families who may suddenly need to find alternative child care options. 

About 6.1 million students have had their classes canceled recently. That accounts for about 98% of the students in the state, Newsom said during the online press conference. 

Newsom's prediction appeared to have surprised officials in the Oakland Unified School District. 

"We want nothing more than to have our students and staff back in school, but we recognize these are extraordinary times in our world," the OUSD said in a statement. "What Governor Newsom said today may not have been the biggest surprise knowing this pandemic is spreading across our country, but still the idea of our schools being closed for several months is daunting for all of us."

Also on Tuesday, more counties adopted shelter-in-place orders. Sonoma County joined with seven others in the Bay Area that had already issued such an order. Napa County, instead, announced a new ban on gatherings larger than 50 people. 

Doug Sovern contributed reporting.