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CA Schools Could Reopen Late July; Businesses Still in Phase 1 of Reopening

CA Schools Could Reopen Late July; Businesses Still in Phase 1 of Reopening

Public schools may reopen as early as July, and some businesses within weeks, according to a coronavirus reopening plan unveiled Tuesday.

CA State officials on Tuesday shared a plan to gradually restart business in California amid the coronavirus crisis. Public schools reopening the new academic year as soon as late July and businesses reopening in stages, depending on risk levels.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and Dr. Sonia Angell, the state’s public health officer shared a four-stage process for easing the state’s stay-home order was at a news conference. Newsom did not provide a timeline for when restrictions would be eased but said the state was “weeks, not months, away from making meaningful modifications” to the order, assuming social distancing continues.

According to the state’s reopening framework, California is currently in Stage 1, defined by creating a safe environment for essential workers and laying out plans for easing restrictions in the future.

Stage 2 may include reopening schools in late July or August, Newsom said, citing the need to make up for lost learning as the state’s students have faced a rough transition to distance education.

Lower-risk businesses would also be allowed to reopen during this stage, including manufacturing, retail that allows for curbside pickup, and offices that are able to implement social distancing, Angell said.

“Our kids have lost a lot with this disruption,” Newsom said, calling distance learning “inadequate” to meet the needs of the state’s 6 million students.

The state will enter this phase through a statewide modification to its stay-home order, Angell said. For that to happen, the state must reach sufficient testing and contact tracing capacity, hospitalization and ICU trends must stabilize, and there must be enough personal protective equipment to meet demand.

Next, Stage 3 would allow the reopening of “higher risk” workplaces that require person-to-person contact. That includes personal care businesses such as gyms and hair salons; churches, weddings and other religious services; and entertainment venues such as theaters and sports without audiences.

A fourth and final stage — in which the state lifts its stay-home order and allows high-risk places such as concert venues, live sports and convention centers to reopen — will not come until the state has access to therapeutic drugs to treat COVID-19, Angell said. Experts have warned that that development may take months, if not years.

Newsom said Tuesday that the state is now testing an average of 20,000 people per day. The state had hoped to reach 25,000 daily tests by the end of April, with an eventual goal of 80,000.

As for contact tracing — a crucial way for officials to understand how the virus is spreading — California hopes to train a team of 10,000 tracers, drawing from an existing pool of state workers. Newsom has not said when they will be ready to deploy.

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