Orange County, California plans to reopen schools without requiring masks or social distancing

  • The Orange County Board of Education voted to approve recommendations for reopening schools in the fall — without masks or social distancing measures, the Los Angeles Times reported.
  • The Board of Education ruled that individual school districts could decide their own reopening plans — but recommended widespread reopening. Its ruling also suggested daily disinfection of classrooms, temperature checks, and frequent handwashing.
  • The decision to reopen with so few guardrails was three-fold. First, the board found that K-12 students are lowest risk age group, eliminating the need for masks or social distancing. Second, the board wrote that it its "our responsibility to model courage and persistence in the face of uncertainty and fear." Third, it said previous attempts at remote learning have been an "utter failure," producing irregular attendance and more work for teachers and parents.
  • The board also said that parents can decide what type of education is best for their children, and even send students to a different district without penalty, if that district's reopening plan is more in line with the family's values.
  • The decision comes as California Gov. Gavin Newsom rolls back the state's economic reopening and the Los Angeles and San Diego school districts — the state's largest — ruled to remain remote in the fall. State data puts Orange County's enrollment at over 473,000 students for the 2019-20 school year.
  • An Axios-Ipsos poll published today found that 7 out of 10 parents consider sending their kids back to school this fall to be a large or moderate risk.
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