SGV Tribune

Newsom: California’s next school year may start in July as lower-risk businesses ‘gradually’ reopen

State officials say eased restrictions could come in the coming weeks if hospitalizations and ICU numbers remain stable.

The next school year may start as early as July or August to make up for learning lost this spring, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

Although no firm decisions have been made, state officials are considering an earlier start to the 2020 school year — which would come with possible physical changes to school environments or staggered attendance.

“We recognize there’s been a learning loss because of this disruption,” Newsom said. “We might want to consider getting that school year moved up a little bit … That learning loss is very real.”

Any changes to the school year would be part of a larger scheme to expand childcare and the gradual reopening of lower-risk businesses, Newsom said.

Over the last few weeks, hospitalizations and intensive-care admissions have stabilized, said Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the state’s Department of Public Health. And while California topped 45,000 cases total this week, the pace of new infections has slowed since the state’s all-time high of new daily cases on April 20, when it recorded 2,135 new cases.

If that trend continues, Angell said, businesses like manufacturing facilities, retail businesses and some offices could re-open with physical changes. She did not provide details on what exactly those protections could include beyond the use of personal protective equipment.

“When the data tells us that the moment is right, those environments can start to open,” Angell said.

Reopening of higher-risk businesses like barber shops and nail salons still remains months away, Newsom said, with highest-risk venues like concerts and convention centers even further down the road.

And any plans to roll back the shelter-in-place order won’t interfere with local jurisdictions’ stricter regulations, Newsom said. In a joint announcement Monday, Bay Area public health departments said that they would extend the shelter-in-place through May.

“I am not going to make an announcement preempting their right to be more stringent at the local level,” Newsom said of the Bay Area.