While unveiling a four-phase plan to gradually reopen the state of California, Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated that the academic year could begin as early as late July or early August, pointing to the learning lost for nearly 6.1 million students across the state.
Gov. Newsom indicated that California is in the first phase, with low-risk businesses and access to public spaces a part of the second phase, which could include K-12 campuses.
“If we pull back too quickly and we walk away from our incredible commitment to not only bend this curve, but to stop the spread, and suppress the spread of this virus, it could start a second wave that could be even more damaging than the first, and undo all of the good work and progress that you’ve made,” Gov. Newsom said. “And that could happen like this. The virus has not gone away. Its virulence is still as acute. Its ability to be transmitted still is dominant, and so we by no stretch are out of the woods.”
While there are many details to be worked out, the mid-summer time frame could also represent the beginning of the new school year.
State superintendent Tony Thurmond released a statement that indicated there were a lot of questions to be answered before opening up schools across the state:
“We all heard for the first time today the idea of schools reopening as early as July or August. If possible, this could help us address equity issues facing our most vulnerable students while providing an opportunity to start recovering the learning loss we know students have experienced between the time we closed campuses and shifted to distance learning.
“We also recognize the importance of schools reopening to help parents and caregivers in their much-needed return to work.”
Mr. Thurmond also knows that reopening will likely be costly, due to the ongoing need for physical distancing.
“If this is going to work, there are some major questions we will have to answer. First and foremost: Can this be done in a way that protects the health and safety of our students, teachers, and school staff?” Mr. Thurmond said.
“We also must consider the fiscal implications. Social distancing in schools may require smaller class sizes, but schools are going to need additional resources to make it happen—including the possibility of hiring more teachers. Additionally, teachers and school staff will need personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies so that our schools are sanitized. We expect that some form of social distancing will be with us through the summer, so if we start school early, we need resources to make it a reality.
“Clearly, for now, we still have more questions than answers. But now is the time for us to problem-solve and plan for the future.”
In the third phase, “higher risk” businesses such as hair salons and entertainment venues would be up for consideration to be reopened. The latter would include athletic venues, but without fans. This phase would also allow for in-person religious services.
The fourth stage would allow for concerts to occur, spectators to watch athletic contests, as well as the opening of convention centers.
Santa Barbara County, by the numbers
For the third consecutive day, the number of new COVID-19 cases announced by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department could be counted on one hand, with four additional confirmed patients revealed Tuesday.
The county’s total moves to 477, with less than 100 still fighting the virus.
Three of the cases were in the North County, while one was in Santa Barbara.
There have been nine new cases announced over the past three days.
Santa Barbara Airport receives funding through CARES Act
Santa Barbara Airport is set to receive $9,555,321 in CARES Act Funding, part of the $10 billion dollars appropriated by Congress to save airport jobs, preserve credit ratings, and ensure improvement projects continue.
Nearly $5 million will be allocated to pay for the Airport’s bond debt obligations in 2020 and 2021, according to a report submitted by Airport Director Henry Thompson.
Approximately $3.5 million will go towards sustaining essential administration, operations and law enforcement functions, while approximately $1.1 million will be allocated to supporting maintenance of the airport’s facilities.
Without federal assistance, Santa Barbara Airport would face a multimillion dollar budget gap in ordinary airport operations, according to the report.
Airports accepting the funding must commit to the preservation of 90% of essential airport jobs through December 31, 2020.
On Tuesday, Santa Barbara City Council authorized Mr. Thompson to execute the grant agreement and begin the FAA’s process for receiving funds in order to expedite the process.
COVID-19, by the numbers
A look at the nationwide and worldwide numbers through Tuesday:
- In the United States, there are 1,035,765 confirmed cases with 59,266 deaths and 142,238 have recovered.
- Across the world, there are 3,116,992 confirmed cases with 217,183 deaths and 928,930 have recovered.
Christian Whittle contributed to this report