SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Governor Gavin Newsom Tuesday provided more details on one of the six key indicators that would cause him to modify the state's current stay-at-home order pertaining to the reopening of schools and businesses.
The fifth indicator specifically says California will ease on its stay-at-home order restrictions when it displays “the ability for businesses, schools and child care facilities to support physical distancing.”
Newsom said Tuesday after speaking to educators and even students, the next academic school year could start as soon as late July or early August.
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He said learning continues remotely, but there is a "disruption," as a result of the pandemic.
Newsom clarified there has been no definitive decision, but is concerned about the “learning loss,” that has occurred as a result of the coronavirus crisis as students continue virtual learning.
For the Los Angeles Unified School District, thousands of students have failed to participate in online learning in the nation’s second-largest school district, Superintendent Austin Beutner announced late last month.
FOX 11's Phil Shuman spoke with school board member Nick Melvoin after the governor's comments, who said he thinks early reopening here is highly unlikely, due to the difficulties of testing, contact tracing, cleaning, and providing protective equipment. Although Melvoin said he was eager to get students back to school, he clearly did not want to rush the process. Sentiments echoed by teacher and union leader Gloria Martinez who said she wants to wait until all the six indicators the Governor outlined were satisfied.
Newsom also said there was a need to prepare for physical and environmental changes in order to advance the conversation on opening up the state’s schools earlier than anticipated for the 2020-21 year.
This comes on the same day President Donald Trump suggested schools nationwide reopen for a “short period of time,” before the end of the academic year.
When it comes to reopening the state’s businesses, Newsom and Dr. Sonia Angell, the Director of California Public Health, said there are four phases:
“We’re thinking about moving forward in a way that minimizes risk,” Dr. Angell said.
Those four stages are:
Safety and Preparedness
Stage One involves making an essential workplace environment possible as officials continue to build out testing, contact tracing, making sure PPE is more widely available, and being prepared for a potential hospital surge capacity.
• Physical workflow and adaption;
• Having an essential workforce safety net;
• Individual behavior changes, such as physical distancing that is crucial in staying hope and lowering one’s risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Lower Risk Workplaces
Stage Two involves gradually opening some lower-risk workplaces with adaptions.
• Retail businesses
• Manufacturing companies
• Allowing a broader workforce to return to work
• Opening offices when telework is not possible
• Opening more public spaces such as trails and parks
Here, Dr. Angell addresses learning gaps and that the possibility of opening up schools earlier for the next academic year is intended to make up for gaps that have occurred since the coronavirus outbreak led to school closures.
“Schools will look very different,” she said.
State officials say it’s important to ensure that students and staff are protected, as well as those who provide essential services to locations kids will be.
Highest Risk Workplaces
The third phase of reopening California’s businesses is opening higher risk environments with modifications on the size of gatherings.
This creates an opportunity for high-risk sectors to adapt and re-open.
Businesses such as nail salons, gyms and barbershops fall under this category where the proximity between individuals is closer.
It also includes the reopening of in-person religious services such as churches, weddings and memorial services.
Dr. Angell said it’s imperative that “people don’t put themselves at risk.”
End of Stay-at-Home Order
The fourth and final stage is the return to the expanded workforce in high-risk workplaces, such as concerts and sporting events.
Newsom hinted that the state is approaching its transition from Stage 1 to Stage 2.
Dr. Angell explained the actions needed to get to Stage 2 will require actions from the government, businesses and individuals.
Government actions include implementing policies that allow people to stay home when they are sick and providing guidance on how to reduce risk.
Actions for businesses include having wage replacement that allows for workers to stay home when sick, the ability to implement changes to lower-risk workplaces NOW, as well as the ability to allow employees to continue working from home when possible.
For individuals, Dr. Angell said California will continue to heed by safety precautions. This requires continued physical distancing and wearing face coverings. She also recommends individuals continue to avoid all non-essential travel as it helps decrease exposure to others.
In addition, she said individuals should continue to help those who are most vulnerable.
Counties will have the option to relax stricter local orders at their own pace.
On Monday, Newsom said California is “a few weeks away, not months away,” from making changes in the statewide order that was implemented on March 19.
On April 14, Newsom listed six key indicators that would cause his decision to reopen the state’s economy.
The five other indicators are:
• The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed;
• The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19;
• The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges;
• The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand;
• The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.
Dr. Angell asks that individuals be "part of the solution," and continue staying home and practicing physical distancing.
“We are enlisting all Californians to help inform the development of guidance for sectors across our economy,” she said.
FOX 11's Phil Shuman and Gigi Graciette contributed to this report.