Governor Gavin Newsom ordered all school campuses to remain closed when the new school year begins in counties on the state's monitoring list due to spiking coronavirus cases -- including Riverside, Orange, San Diego, and Los Angeles counties.
The order means districts in 32 counties will start the new school year with distance-learning programs.
All three school districts made the decision to start the school year digitally.
Coachella Valley Unified School District decided late Thursday night students would not return to the classroom.
Earlier this month, the Palm Springs Unified School District and Desert Sands Unified School District boards approved plans to start the school year on August 13 with distance learning. All three district's board's votes were unanimous
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Other counties around California already took a similar approach, while the Orange County Board of Education approved recommendations to open schools with the requirement of face covering and social distance.
Schools that are eventually allowed to reopen will have to meet a series of other requirements, including mandatory masks for staff and students in third-grade and above, physical distancing mandates and regular on-campus coronavirus testing. He also said distance-learning programs at closed campuses must be "rigorous," with daily student interaction.
Under the guidelines announced by Newsom, in schools that are allowed to open, students and staff in individual classrooms will be sent home when a single case in the class is confirmed. The entire school will be closed if cases are confirmed in multiple classrooms, or if more than 5% of the school tests positive for the virus.
An entire district will be closed if 25% of its schools are shut down in a 14-day period.
Open schools will be expected to have a series of infection-control measures in place, including morning symptom/temperature checks, hand-washing stations, "deep sanitation'' efforts and quarantine protocols.
Driving home his demand that distance-learning be effective learning, Newsom said he expects school districts to ensure that students are engaged in the educational process.
"We want daily, live interaction with teachers and other students -- students connecting peer-to-peer with other students, teachers connecting daily in an interactive frame to advance our distance-learning efforts,'' Newsom said.