Jul 17, 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom July 17 Press Conference Transcript
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Gavin Newsom: (02:54)
Well, good afternoon. Today’s discussion, today announcement, today’s briefing is very personal to me as a father of four young kids 10 years of age or younger. To the 6.15 million school kids that are part of our public education system here in the state of California and some 625,000 adults that support our public education system in the state of California. To dr. Galley who you’ll hear from in a moment, a father of four to so many members of our staff that are looking forward to our children getting back to school, getting quality education and allowing us as parents to get back to work where we are able to and to make sure that we’re attending as we participate this time every year to so many other responsibilities as parents and caregivers.
Gavin Newsom: (03:56)
So today I want to talk about what we’re putting out in terms of guidance and guidelines for education in the state of California in the context of COVID-19. We’ll go through a list of specific recommendations, specific guidance, as well as updating you as we do on all the latest information relating to positivity rates, hospitalization rates and ICUs here in the state.
Gavin Newsom: (04:22)
Let me begin first with foundational framework and that is our bottom line, that learning in the state of California, simply non-negotiable, that schools must and I underscore must provide meaningful instruction during this pandemic whether they are physically opened, the schools, or not. And that’s what I want to talk about specifically today. Our students, our teachers, staff, and certainly parents we all prefer in classroom instructions for all the obvious reasons social and emotional foundationally but only, only if it can be done safely.
Gavin Newsom: (05:02)
As a parent, I believe that as someone that has a responsibility to help support the education of six plus million kids in the state of California, have the backs of our staff, our teachers, our school nurses, our counselors, our guidance staff, principals, bus drivers, janitors, all the folks that are responsible for the caretaking, the safety and the health of our children. We have to have their backs as well including obviously the preciousness that is our children and the kids in our education system. But safety is foundational and safety will ultimately make the determination of how we go about educating our kids as we move into the fall and we work our way through this pandemic.
Gavin Newsom: (05:51)
Here is the five principles that we are laying out in terms of our expectations, here is our pandemic plan for schools in the state of California. Number one, safe in-person school based again if you’re going to be in person in the school based upon local health data and I’ll walk through that bullet point in more detail in a moment. We have new mask requirements that we are putting forth today, some clarification and some constructive guidance on physical distancing and other adaptations that we expect to see within the school setting. We’re putting out specific guidance as it relates to testing and contact tracing in our school system and what we mean by distance learning and the word rigorous is foundational. If we’re going to have distance learning and we will to make sure that it’s real, that we address equity, we address the divide and it’s quality, it’s a rigorous distance learning.
Gavin Newsom: (06:49)
Let’s talk about number one. Using data, using the foundational data that we have laid out county by county all throughout the state of California we are now putting forth guidelines that say, “Schools can physically open for in-person education when the county that they’re operating in has been off our monitoring list for 14 consecutive days.” If you’ve tuned into these daily briefings you’re very familiar with our monitoring list. I’ll be updating that list later in the presentation today but we are now putting forth guidelines that say, “Based on the data, based upon the background spread, the community spread of the virus, that if you are not on that monitoring list you can move forward as a county if you choose to physically open your campus, physically open your schools.” However, schools that don’t meet this requirement they must begin the school year this fall through distance learning.
Gavin Newsom: (07:56)
Number two, and I’m going to get to that in a moment. Number two, we’re putting forth a new mask requirement in the state. All school staff and students, all staff and students in third grade and above must wear masks. Students in the second grade or below we strongly encourage wearing masks and face shields. I have a very young son Dutch and caregivers when he first saw masks he naturally recoiled. A lot of caregivers now have face shields and he can see their expressions, their humanity, and that’s why we put specifically guidance out as it relates to not just masks but face shields as well.
Gavin Newsom: (08:40)
Our third frame of guidance that we’re putting forth today is around physical distancing and as I mentioned other adaptations. So, on the physical distancing side we believe that it’s incumbent upon staff to maintain at least a six distance between each other and a six foot distance between themselves and the students. We believe that a school day should start with symptom checks meaning temperature checks. We have robust expectations around hand washing stations, sanitation, deep sanitation, deep disinfection efforts, and that these schools have along the lines of the adaptations have quarantine protocols. And we’ll talk a little bit more in a moment about these continuity and attendance plans that each school site is now responsible for putting forth.
Gavin Newsom: (09:35)
As it relates to the issue of testing there’s a requirement that we test on a rotating basis a cohort of staff on a consistent basis. Dr. Galli will talk a little bit more about that. And in turn, we are bringing to the school system the benefit and support of the 10 plus thousand contact tracers that we have trained here in the state of California in partnership with UCSF and UCLA with a backbone and a database that now has organized a collective. We want to turn our contact tracing where we think it became very effective in the school environments. It could be very effective in mitigating the spread and trying to understand exactly where and how the spread had advanced and allow us obviously to isolate and quarantine cohorts of not only children but staff as it relates to mitigating that spread further.
Gavin Newsom: (10:39)
As it relates to distance learning as I said rigorous access to devices is one thing and connectivity it’s foundational. And in a moment I’ll talk about the money we have put up to allow for districts to purchase new devices to get the kind of connectivity that our students need and deserve to address this yawning gap as it relates to the digital divide. We want daily live interaction with teachers and other students, students connecting peer-to-peer with other students, teachers connecting daily on an interactive frame to advance our distance learning efforts. Remember we had a lot of experience that came through the spring this year.
Gavin Newsom: (11:22)
We reviewed a lot of the fits and starts related to quality, access issues, points of consideration and concern. We shared a lot of those best practices. No one is going to deny that based upon the early orders to start to close schools at the local level that some of it worked more effectively in certain parts of the state than others. Clearly we have work to do to make sure that we are doing rigorous distance learning but this is the predicate, the foundation. These are the expectations that we have, minimum expectations in terms of quality, engagement, connectivity, and access to the devices that are foundational in terms of providing for quality distance learning.
Gavin Newsom: (12:08)
We also want to create a challenging environment where assignments are equivalent and in terms of what you would otherwise get in an in person class setting. I’m not naive and again we stipulate that second slide I showed that staff, that teachers, that parents prefer the social emotional learning of in class education. That is a default, that’s our bias, but under the circumstances with the spread of this virus and I’ll get to that spread in a moment as an explanation again as to why at this point we’re putting out this recommendation that we want to do our best to create some sense of equivalency with the obvious constraints that is distance learning. We also want to make sure that we’re always mindful of our students that are homeless, our students that are foster care kids that are in the system, kids with English as a second language and those with learning disabilities, those that have special needs and the like.
Gavin Newsom: (13:17)
Look that right foundation is laid, it was laid rather with the legislature and the strong support we received from the legislature when we put forth the package on equity that was approved. That package includes $5.3 billion to deal with learning loss that was associated with some of the closers last year in a very, very focused and intentional effort to meet the needs of those again that fall into those categories of special needs in our system. So $5.3 billion was put in additional funding to prioritize the issue of equity. So it’s not just a throwaway line, it’s not just a catch phrase, it’s not just something we put out to promote a point of view but we’re substantively putting real resources and heft into advancing that point of view as well.
Gavin Newsom: (14:12)
So, the question a lot people are asked or rather begin to ask is, “All right, once our school is open what happens if the spread goes in to the classroom setting or in a district setting or if the spread continues in the county unabated?” And so, this slide puts forth some criteria that we are setting forth. Again, these are brackets and within these brackets we’ll work through with the county and all the local conditions and recognizing the nuances and the gray areas that are part of a system as large as ours. Over a thousand school districts here in the state of California in addition to all of these county superintendents and all of these local districts and cities and counties and all the jurisdictional criteria it makes this unlike any other state in terms of size and scope challenging.
Gavin Newsom: (15:05)
But nonetheless, here’s the minimum expectation in terms of expectation to consult with public health officers first if a classroom cohort has to go home because there’s a confirmed case. If a school goes home with multiple cohorts that have cases or we stipulate 5% of the school, local school, not district local school is positive then it would trigger criteria to consider closing or mandate rather the closure of that school’s site. However, one school does not make a district and depending on the size and scale of your district this could be multiple schools or just a few schools. If they have similar cohort caseload’s we then have a stipulation here, a mandate that if 25% of the schools that compose of a district have positive cases that reach that threshold that they need to be closed within a 14 day period.
Gavin Newsom: (16:08)
So, that’s the foundation that we’re laying out today on public education guidance. As many of you know we put out guidance, the Department of Public Health, California Department of Public Health some time ago. There’s a lot of local guidance, you have CDE, which is the California Department of Education that put out guidance as well. The purpose of today is to try to lean in from a health and data perspective in terms of our expectations, public and private schools in the state of California expectations, mandates with the flexibility that recognizes each part of this state is unique, each part of this state is distinctive. Some counties are on the monitoring list for a good reason others are not for an equally good reason because they’re not seeing the outbreak and as a consequence are able to do the in-person education. But even those that are currently on the monitoring list we hope and expect…
Gavin Newsom: (17:03)
But even those that are currently on the monitoring list, we hope and expect as we mitigate the spread of this disease, they’ll fall off that monitoring list. And we’ve created the parameters and guidelines over a 14 day stabilization period to then reopen those schools and allow that as an option to local education entities in partnership and counsel with public health officials to make that determination as to what is best for their children and those that support our children. Remember public education, education broadly is absolutely about our kids, but we cannot deny the fact that we have hundreds of thousands of adults that are responsible to taking care and educating our kids as well. And their health has to be considered as well. And I just offer that as a parent, but as someone who has reverence for our principals, for our teachers, for our janitors, for our bus drivers and others. And I am entrusted to be accountable and responsible to their health, as well as the health of my children and your children and our children, our future.
Gavin Newsom: (18:12)
So that’s the framework that we’re putting out today on education. Of course, I’ll happily answer any questions and we have the head of the California Board of Education, Linda Darlene Hammond, also available on the line for those of you wish to ask her any questions. And our not only head of Health and Human Services, Dr. Galley, but pediatrician himself is available for questions. I could talk a little bit more about his own personal experience with four young children he has as well and his expectations moving forward.
Gavin Newsom: (18:46)
But first I want to just quickly run through what I began with or end with what I began with. Again, that learning remains nonnegotiable, but neither is the safety of all of our cohorts of support staff, as well as our children. Here are today’s numbers. You become familiar with the seven day average, which to me is even more important than the episodic rise and fall of a single day number of case counts as it relates to total number of cases that are positive. Oh by the way we tested 129,000 people on July 16th. You’ll see the number 9,986 individuals tested positive for COVID-19. That seven day average at 8,838.
Gavin Newsom: (19:39)
You’ll see the positivity rate has gone actually down modestly to 7.4%. The seven day positivity rate actually is lower than the 14 day positivity rate. Our current California positivity rate over a seven day period is 7.1%. The slide you see here represents a 14 day period at 7.4%. We’re averaging now 124,000 tests on a daily basis. We have blown past that goal of 80,000. We’ve reconstituted, earlier this week you heard from Dr. Galley reconstituted our testing task force. I want to make this crystal clear. Our goal is to increase testing in the State of California, but do so with a different intensity of focus, which Dr. Galley laid out on Tuesday. But I want to see those numbers, those average daily test numbers continue to climb. They are continuing to climb. This is the largest seven day average number of daily tests that we’ve ever put forth. And I’ll just remind you, it wasn’t that long ago, a hundred or so days ago, we’re averaging 2000 tests a day, now over 124,000 tests a day, and we’ll continue to fight to see those numbers increase.
Gavin Newsom: (20:55)
Despite all of the external challenges, we’ll just have to be more resourceful. And we, as a state are more than capable of figuring out how we can navigate some of those supply chain shortages and some of the other constraints that have been highlighted over the course of the last few weeks and understandably so. So positivity rate 7.4% over 14 day period that represents about a 7.3% increase over the 14 day period. As you can see from this slide it relates to hospitalizations. We continue to see hospitalization numbers increase in the State of California, about a 20% increase over… Excuse me, I’m looking now more like 22% increase over the 14 day period. 6,808 individuals now are currently COVID-19 positive patients in our current healthcare system represents about 9.2% of the total number of hospital beds now have an identified COVID-19 positive patient. That was about 9% when I shared this slide with you on Monday.
Gavin Newsom: (22:08)
So it’s increasing, but again at a rate that this current system in the aggregate and the aggregate can absorb. And in a moment, talk again a little bit more about what we’re seeing at the county level. But what we’re seeing in the aggregate at a state level related to hospitalizations, not surprisingly extends to the issue of ICU, is up about 15% over this two week period. Now 1,941 individuals that have been admitted into our ICUs about 16.6% of the total number of patients and our total population, or rather our total asset base of ICUs and NICU beds of 11,711. So that’s holding is about 16% when I presented these slides to you on Monday, still north of 10,000 ventilators available. But again, this is in the aggregate statewide, doesn’t represent what’s happening at the local level and what’s happening at the ground level. That’s the purpose of this slide to talk about the counties on our monitoring list, now 32 counties, likely 33, we’re monitoring one or two others.
Gavin Newsom: (23:24)
I expect and anticipate a county or two that’s sort of two days likely to be on a third day again, though people fall off, they come back on, but 32 counties currently on the monitoring list. 58 counties in the state of California, 32 counties represented on this monitoring list. That number’s held fairly steady, 29 or so last week, the end of the week, now 32. Has started the week around 32 people coming on, people coming off, but these are the counties of most concern. Now, if I broke this down in Stanislaus County and broke it down in Imperial County, what’s happening into Tulare County, you’ll see a higher utilization in those three counties, specifically of ventilators. You’ll see other parts of the state like Napa and others that don’t necessarily have a lot of remaining ICU capacity within their counties. That’s a cause of concern, but please consider that the concern is not unnoticed in terms of our pandemic planning, in terms of our strategy to engage at a regional basis, our healthcare delivery system, our hospital system, that absorbs patients from outside of counties into other counties.
Gavin Newsom: (24:34)
So while it’s understandable that some of these things generate screaming headlines, it also, I think, should be contextualized that there are smaller jurisdictions that don’t have a lot of capacity. Just a few patients in the ICU will fill up their ICU capacity, but that doesn’t mean we’re not attending to the needs of those patients. Quite the contrary, that’s part of a larger regional approach. So the counties matter, regions, multiple counties also are points of consideration. The Central Valley, we’re starting to see an increase in the spread. Southern California continues to remain stubborn in terms of the spread, but you’ll see counties on that list increasingly going further and further North of the Bay area. And you’ll see a number of those represented on this slide that came on over the course of the last week or two reinforcing that no part of our state is immune from the transmission of this virus.
Gavin Newsom: (25:37)
And that’s why it remains incumbent upon all of us to wear a mask, the most significant non-pharmaceutical intervention that you have at your disposal. And to the extent you don’t, please go to our covid19.ca.gov website, covid19.ca.gov website to avail yourselves of all the resources, not just knowledge on that site. But to have the opportunity to look at support, if you need the support to get masks or you’re in an industry where you feel that you need the support in terms of PPE, broadly defined, even beyond masks. I’d encourage you to take a look at that site. There’s a number of things in that site that lay a specific focus on some partnerships we formed and some strategies we have advanced to provide and procure PPE and the like. By the way, we have done that in our public school system, we have provided millions and millions of masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, over well 50,000+ temperature devices. Over two months of PPE has been provided to our public education system, we’ll provide more as needed. Yes, we considered the size of face masks recognizing that my four or five year old, six years old, [inaudible 00:27:08] year olds have different sized spaces, then dad and mom. And so we are also considering that in terms of the next traunch of not only procurement, though we’ve been in the process of procuring different size masks, but in terms of the distribution of the same. And so I just also want to make that point, that $5.3 billion you saw on the equity slide was focusing on equity broadly, but it’s money that is available for additional purchases of PPE. Money that is available for additional purchases of connected devices. Money that’s available to address the digital divide, again it’s why we call it learning loss. And within that lots of flexibility with an equity lens to provide real resources to the school districts to allow them to make the kind of bulk purchases that are necessary at this moment to close those divides.
Gavin Newsom: (28:08)
I remind you always to physically distance, wash your hands, minimize mixing that includes large crowds, backyard events with neighbors or extended family members you haven’t spent time with or been in contact with in some time. These are just foundational points.
Gavin Newsom: (28:24)
And I’ll just close with this. None of us want to see education virtualized, at least I don’t. I know some folks perhaps may think that’s a better approach. I believe profoundly in the power of individuals and the cohort and the connectiveness of being engaged with others and learning to develop yourselves, not just intellectually, but emotionally and maturing in ways where I respectfully submit is difficult when you’re doing it online. That said the one thing we have the power to do,, to get our kids back into school is look at this list again, wear a mask, physically distance, wash your hands, minimize the mixing. The more we do on this list and we do it at scale, the quicker all those counties are going to come off that monitoring list. We’re going to mitigate the spread of this virus and those kids are back in school.
Gavin Newsom: (29:28)
So if that’s your top priority, it’s certainly mine. Then it’s incumbent upon us to practice, not just what some of us preach, but to practice what we preach as individuals that desire to see our kids go back, to model the behavior that we know can mitigate the spread, model the behavior that can actually extinguish this virus. I saw one study, I don’t really want to get into the details, but if every American wore a mask, in just a number of weeks, we’ll have dramatically bent the curve. I don’t know that’s too much to ask, though I recognize these are not the most comfortable things and often attractive things to wear. But what’s more unattractive, what’s more uncomfortable is not taking care of the needs of our small business and our most precious resource, our children.
Gavin Newsom: (30:20)
And that’s why this list and your individual acts can make a profound impact and move us in a much more expedited manner towards our ultimate goal in getting every one of our kids back in the classroom, getting every one of our small businesses up and running again and getting us back to a semblance of normalcy that all of us desperately look forward to, long for and we’ll once again enjoy, if again we attend to these basic and foundational and fundamental principles.
Gavin Newsom: (30:54)
So with that, I always encourage you to learn more and go to that covid19.ca.gov website. And I encourage you to go to that website to learn more about these continuity plans that are also required in our public education system. We call them local continuity attendance plans. In the vernacular that’s well known in the education system, we talk about [inaudible 00:31:19] plans. We are now adopting those in a COVID-19 environment to consider the spread and consider this disease and it’s spread in light of some of those local plans. Those have to go up on… Well made public and go up on site where you have as a parent, as someone who cares about this issue, you have access to that information. A lot of that information, again, always been aggregated our covid19.ca.gov website.
Gavin Newsom: (31:54)
So again, we have Dr. Galley, a dad, a pediatrician who is available for any questions. We have Linda Darlene Hammond. And if you don’t know her as in her formal role, she’s also one of our nation’s leading educational experts. The reason she was appointed to this position, we’re blessed to have her as she’s also available to answer [inaudible 00:32:19] questions. And then you have a governor with four kids, is also available to answer any questions.
Speaker 1: (32:26)
Ricardo Cano, CalMatters.
Speaker 2: (32:31)
Thank you, governor. There seems to be some skepticism from parents and students over the quality of distance learning that they’re going to receive, just given the way things played out in the spring. The budget you signed in [inaudible 00:32:45] standards, but doesn’t spell out requirements for live synchronous instruction that parents in academics feel is an important part of distance planning. My question is how much live instruction do you feel school should be offering students this fall? And what reports will parents and students have if they’re not receiving the quality instruction from their schools laid out under your budget?
Gavin Newsom: (33:07)
Well we stipulated $5.3 billion in terms of statutory language and expectation that certain conditions will be met as it relates to rigorous online and distance learning. So we laid those out in very specific terms here today, in terms of the slide that I put up. Let me put that slide now back up, because it will answer your question more specificity. You’ll see our fifth bullet point rigorous distance learning. This is about having a requirement to have access to devices and connectivity for all of our kids. You may be aware and I’m really proud, my wife has been working overtime to try to get philanthropy engaged and to get support, to get devices donated and to have wifi hotspots and connectivity beyond even wifi-
Gavin Newsom: (34:03)
… by hotspots and connectivity beyond even WiFi in our public schools. I thank Tony Thurman for his leadership in this space as well, and Darlene Hammond. They all worked collaboratively together. I made an announcement a number of months ago, how Google really led in this space. We found 100,000 hotspots that we did advance in partnership with them, Microsoft, Amazon, others. Verizon came in providing $10 a month per household plans. A lot of people still can’t afford that, but it’s a cohort of support. An example of where philanthropy even government is coming in, or business rather, is coming in. We have a lot more work to do there. We were able to get Chromebooks and laptops. We’ve already got tens of thousands, over 70,000. We announced a few months back, tens of thousands more coming in the CPUC.
Gavin Newsom: (34:56)
I had made an announcement on this a few months ago. It goes to your question. It’s worth repeating today. The CPUC has been doing much more targeted mapping of areas where connectivity is not robust and it’s not optimal. There’s been a renewed effort over the last few months to prepare for our fall academic season. We have, in addition to that, put up tens of millions of dollars, $25 million from the CPUC that is providing supports to what we call LEAs, these local education authorities, to cut the costs of connectivity in devices in half in addition to all the philanthropic efforts that are underway.
Gavin Newsom: (35:39)
But we put that $5.3 billion up and we put statutory language in the budget as it relates to the need to do lot more in the old traditional ways through bulk purchasing. And that’s why that money is available. And that’s why it’s incumbent upon districts in the next couple of weeks that’ll open up, some as early as August 17th, to purchase these devices to get that connectivity moving. Let me just give you an overall example of some of the connectivity. The City of Sacramento outfitted a lot of old school buses for connectivity and put out a playbook for other parts of the state to consider a possibility of mobile connectivity as well. It’s just an example of some of the work that’s being done. Some of the innovation that deserves some recognition. It’s not a solution at scale, but it gives you a sense of what’s been going on and what we intend to advance.
Gavin Newsom: (36:31)
Daily live interaction. You’re absolutely right. The spirit of your question. As a parent, I agree with the spirit of your question. I want to see that interaction with teachers. I want to see that interaction with students. And I also want to see it rigorous. I want to see it challenging. I don’t want to see it passive. I don’t want to see it disjointed. So we deal with equity, we deal with connectivity, we deal with quality, we deal with the importance of having lesson plans that are robust and are meaningful, and we move aggressively to extinguish this virus so we can get everybody back in to the classroom as soon as we can. This is how we start in those monitory counties. This is not how we intend to end. Quite the contrary. We hope in some cases, some of these counties fall right off that monitoring list and we’re back up and running in-person with all these new criteria and safety health expectations in place.
Speaker 4: (37:33)
John Myers, LA Times.
John Myers: (37:37)
Hi governor. I’m hoping you can give me a little bit of information about your thinking on this question. When you talk to the press on Monday, a couple of reporters asked you about additional statewide efforts or statewide clarity, and you seemed to suggest at the time that there was enough out there already. But clearly things have changed in your thinking. So I’m just curious, what’s changed between then and now, I should say. Did you see data from some of the local communities that gave you pause? Did you see maybe the suggestions of other school districts that have already moved to this? What changed? What was the moment that made you think you needed to do more work on the state?
Gavin Newsom: (38:11)
That was about 10 days ago, so forgive me for leaving you with that impression on Monday. It certainly was not my intention. Quite the contrary. We’ve been planning to make this announcement for some time. We’ve been working very collaboratively with all of our partners across the spectrum. John, you know well the spectrum of educational leaders, counsel, and advice that we’ve received from them, but also working with local health officials. So, I previewed that on Monday with the expectation that we’d be rolling out this plan with a little bit more nuance and detail. And so, we’re just moving in that direction as we intended and we’re very, very pleased and grateful for the incredible counsel advice that we’ve received from so many stakeholders.
Speaker 4: (38:57)
John [inaudible 00:38:56].
Speaker 3: (38:59)
Governor, thanks for taking our questions today. I think a lot of parents around the state are wondering what this means. You and others have talked about how kids getting back to school is going to be critical for really getting the economy restarted. So, do you have any plans to support parents who this news will mean kids staying at home indefinitely at this point?
Gavin Newsom: (39:22)
Yeah. I mean it’s across the spectrum, isn’t it? I mean, when you have an average daily rate of case increases now over 8,838, that’s our seven day average, those case numbers are of concern. And that’s why we move forward with modifications to our state at home order. I added more of these counties to the monitoring list. We’re concerned across the spectrum about the impact on local businesses, the economy in the state, and obviously our parents. And again, it’s not an intellectual exercise for me. It’s quite personal as it is for so many people watching. I don’t need to belabor that point except to say that I bring that personal experience to bear as it relates to the conversations we’re having.
Gavin Newsom: (40:03)
Dr. Ghaly certainly does as a pediatrician and as a parent of four. And of course, with our partners at CDE and our partnerships with the state board, we have been very sober in terms of how we’ve engaged in this conversation because, yes, our default, and I made that clear in that first slide, our default is in-person, but we have to do it in a safe way and we have to do it in a way that can guarantee the health of not just our kids, but also those that are entrusted with their care. And based upon the spread, based upon the increased spread of this virus just over the course of the last number of weeks and the fact that we haven’t been able to yet, and we will, bend that curve to a degree that we must, that has unfortunately put us in this position.
Gavin Newsom: (40:55)
And so, I look forward to finding all of those supports we possibly can across the spectrum to help support our small businesses, to help support our caregivers and to help support our parents that, trust me, I know intimately are dealing with an extraordinary moment in their lives and their children’s lives. The pressure we put on our parents is very, very intense indeed.
Speaker 4: (41:24)
Hannah Wiley, Sac Bee.
Hannah Wiley: (41:28)
Hi governor. Thanks for taking questions. Had the state moved more slowly through the reopening phase back in the late spring and early summer, do you think more school districts would be in a position to offer in-person learning?
Gavin Newsom: (41:43)
I am not able to hypothesize about coulda woulda shoulda. Here’s the reality, the reality that’s in front of us, reality I’ve presented you today in terms of the spread in these parts of the state. It’s been, well, I think many people recognized that we are still going through the first wave with this pandemic. We’re not out of the first wave. We were able to substantially mitigate any increase in the spread of this virus. We extended that mitigation for a period of time where ICU and hospitalizations held steady. And as we started to open up sectors of our economy, region by region, we are where we are. And now we are trying to tackle that in a very judicious way. We made some modifications last week, earlier in this week and we’ll continue to be open argument, interested in evidence, looking at the data, looking at the conditions as they present themselves in diverse parts of the state and making subsequent recommendations.
Speaker 4: (42:43)
John Woolfolk from the Mercury News.
John Woolfolk: (42:47)
Hi governor. Can you just clarify this is an order or a recommendation, and can you clarify this is public as well as private schools or just public schools, and does it affect universities?
Gavin Newsom: (43:01)
Yeah. Public, private, university guidelines. We are working on basically [inaudible 00:43:05] socializing between us with the new incoming president of the UC system that’s now transferring over. I want to make sure I don’t put everything out as he’s about to come on board, but we’ve been working overtime for our CSUs and UCs community colleges very, very collaboratively. And so, that guideline will be coming out very shortly. As it relates to your question about public, private, it includes public and private. And yes, as it relates to the stipulations that we put forth in our budget for public education, the criteria and the statutory language, the hold-harmless agreements and other relevant information that was put forth, adopted by the legislature and signed by me, it puts this in the form of a mandate in our public education system.
Speaker 4: (43:59)
Dustin Gardiner, SF Chronicle.
Dustin Gardiner: (44:04)
Thank you, governor. With respect to the testing requirement, how is the state going to ensure there’s enough capacity for hundreds of thousands of educators to get tested every other month? How do you pay for that and how do you make sure there’s the capacity?
Gavin Newsom: (44:18)
Well, as you may know, earlier this week on Tuesday, Dr. Ghaly put forth a new testing plan, new testing strategy, announced new co-directors of our testing task force that specifically answered the question of how we’re prioritizing and what we’re prioritizing. And today we reinforced that priority. He referenced during that presentation on Tuesday the expectation that health plans will start picking up the costs as they’re required to do, but with different language we put forth. Then the federal guidelines to require those plans to reimburse and to provide for those tests. Employer responsibility. Employers include our responsibility as a state in our school system to pick up the costs of those tests. So that goes specifically into how we’re going to pay for them.
Gavin Newsom: (45:13)
The testing, we need to increase. I was very clear about that. Even though we had 129,000 people tested yesterday, we still have responsibility to test many, many more. The purpose of that presentation, the purpose of reinvigorating our testing taskforce was to do just that. Today we’ve set forth expectation that our adults in our education system will be tested on a cohort basis, on a rotating basis. And as we avail ourselves to more testing capacity, we’ll step up those efforts to a whole nother level.
Gavin Newsom: (45:49)
And more important perhaps than anything else is I think the announcement could be lost on connecting our contact tracers to our public education system as well. Because it’s one thing to test someone, and we, again, focus a lot on that, but what do you do after someone’s tested positive or someone’s been exposed to someone who has tested positive? And that question can be very anxiety inducing in a public school setting. And that’s why the partnership with the contact tracers at the county level now to really do the contact tracing isolation to understand where the spread happened, what the cohort looks like, becomes foundational in terms of meaningfully addressing, mitigating that spread and meaningfully opening up the opportunity to reintroduce students back into that school setting once we’ve addressed the spread of the virus.
Speaker 4: (46:44)
Kathleen Ronayne, AP.
Kathleen Ronayne: (46:48)
Hi governor. As you mentioned, some schools are starting in the middle of August, so four weeks from now. Do you think that you’re giving them enough time to implement these complicated rules in a meaningful way by the time school starts? And then secondly, the guidelines don’t mention extracurriculars. So if a school is open for in-person learning, what can they do in the extracurricular space? And then finally for Dr. Ghaly, is this slight decrease in the positivity rate a sign that the latest closures are having a positive effect.
Gavin Newsom: (47:20)
Yeah. Well, I’ll leave that to Dr. Ghaly. I’ll just defer to him since I’ve taken too much of everybody’s time. I have strong opinions about that positivity rate, but I’ll let Dr. Ghaly express his first. But look, as it relates to providing time, we’ve been at this for months now. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. We ended our school year last year with the expectation of providing distance learning. We work with a lot of the districts to share best practices to work through a lot of issues. So this is not sprung on people. This is not a shock just a few weeks before the school year.
Gavin Newsom: (47:55)
Now, the expectation that we’re doing in all the monitoring counties obviously renews a sense of focus as it relates to distance learning. But the frame around distance learning broadly has been socialized over the course of many, many months here in the state of California. Example, by the work we did at the end of the year last year to provide more devices, to provide more points of connectivity, and also exampled, and I think you can appreciate this, by the fact that some of our state’s largest school districts have already moved forward to distance learning. And the fact is, many others followed suit in the last few days.
Gavin Newsom: (48:35)
And so, you have dozens and dozens and dozens of districts that already are moving down this path. And so, from that perspective, I think the opportunity for these districts to prepare, an opportunity to use the resources that we made available weeks and weeks ago in the budget avail themselves, I think, very favorably though, again, I’m not naive. You’ll invariably find a district that doesn’t want any mandate. And certainly not this mandate that obviously may express a different point of view. But we are working through 1000 plus districts in this state and we’re working through a scale no other state in the country is working through. But with that, I’m not sure another state in the country has its head of Health and Human Service that has four kids and is a pediatrician. So let him answer that question on that positivity rate.
Dr. Mark Ghaly: (49:40)
Thank you governor. Kathleen, thanks for the question on test positivity. Of course, it’s encouraging to see it begin to stabilize, but we will see. I think we’re doing a lot more testing. We know that we’re seeing more transmission as evidenced by the increased number of cases over a seven day average. But certainly one of the first signs is that we start to see more of our tests come back negative and that positivity rate come down. So as we do every day, we’re going to keep watching it very closely. Take it in context of some of the increased challenges of getting test results back because of the large number of tests being done across the nation.
Dr. Mark Ghaly: (50:23)
So yes, it’s encouraging, but we’re going to watch it closely and we’re prepared for whatever we see tomorrow and over the trends. We continue to push out testing, try to get it to the places where we know we’re seeing cases increased in those communities where it’s vital and important, and we’ll be keeping up on the updates. As soon as we feel confident in that trend and we see other numbers start to stabilize, we’ll credit some of the moves we’ve made over the last few weeks to those. This is that time that given it’s been about three, four weeks since we first started to make moves, the governor with his finger on the demo…
Dr. Mark Ghaly: (51:03)
Once we made, first started to make moves, the governor with his finger on the dimmer, moving it down a little bit. So we’re right in that time period where we may see some of the changes in the benefits of those. So, with all of you, we’ll watch it closely and see where we are over the weekend and early next week.
Gavin Newsom: (51:18)
And just to reinforce for folks, the positivity rate on the seven day when we announced that on Monday, was about 7.7%, 7.1 today. But, I’ve got to just say as a point of caution, those positivity numbers can fluctuate significantly in the seven day averages. And so, we may be in a completely different place on Monday. And so, again, some of these data points, even these short-term trends, I want to caution folks. But nonetheless, I want to thank everybody for their indulgence and their personal responsibility over the course last few weeks, and allowing us to move forward at this next level to mitigate the spread of this virus,
Speaker 5: (52:10)
Speaker 6: (52:13)
Governor, on the topic of parents that have students with special needs, I spoke to several parents over this course with students on the autism spectrum. They say their children have regressed considerably since [inaudible 00:52:24] learning last semester, it just didn’t work with less. Than two weeks for some of these districts, I understand there’s additional funding. But realistically, how quickly is that going to be divvied up? And what additional services will be offered in terms of interaction for students with special needs?
Gavin Newsom: (52:38)
Yeah. No one, and I mean no one, better positioned than the champion of special education reform, Linda Darling-Hammond, who’s on the line. Linda can answer that question more effectively than perhaps anyone. And so let me ask Linda to answer that question and I’ll fill in wherever she leaves off. Linda.
Linda D.: (53:01)
Thanks very much for that question. We’re very concerned about meeting the needs of the full range of students. All of the districts, you have been aware that they need to have capacities for distance learning and begin to adapt what they’re doing for students with special needs. We will have further standards and guidance coming out over the coming week. But in the meanwhile, a lot of the districts and county offices have been developing resources. Many of them targeted for students with special education needs. Curriculum and plans for how teachers will be able to do one-on-one, as well as small group instruction, whether it’s in person or online. There’s been a lot of training happening this summer, and many teachers are learning how to, both getting their time put in their schedule and learning how to use the breakout room in Zoom, so that a small group can meet with them, including students who need one-on-one attention. The paraprofessionals sometimes can be one-on-one in that Zoom breakout room and in other contexts to work directly with students in the ways that they need to receive services.
Linda D.: (54:24)
So I think we’re going to see a lot more capacity this school year than we were able to have in all districts last school year, to really respond to both classrooms as a whole and the needs of particular students. And of course, as the governor said, we want to get people back to school in person, and the guidelines not only say who can’t open school, but who can. That’s going to actually be encouraging. And how counties and districts and schools can get off the distance learning list if you will, and back in school in person. And so, as districts have been providing their plan A and plan B for classrooms of kids and individual kids, there’s been a lot of attention that they’ve been able to provide with new resources from the Collaborative for Educational Excellence, and from the CDE to help them do that.
Gavin Newsom: (55:24)
Linda, let me, if I may, interject and ask you a question as well. In relationship to the work that CDE has done, all of your cohorts and partners, the superintendent of public education, the webinars, et cetera, just on the distance learning question. I thought Kathleen’s question was a right question about the fact that some schools are opening as early as August 17th, and not all of them had announced that they were moving towards distance learning. Now they are compelled in these monitoring counties to talk a little bit about the last few months. Maybe you can fill in with a little bit more specificity, the work that has been done. That we haven’t just been sitting on our hands, as it relates to preparing for some expectation that we may see distance learning this fall. Can you fill in just perhaps, a little more nuance into that?
Linda D.: (56:21)
Sure. The CDE, the California Department of Education, has been offering both a wide variety of resources, including curriculum resources, instructional resources, and webinars to educators, both around general instruction and distance learning and best practices, but also specific for English learners, for students with disabilities. Our Center for Collaboration, Excellence, and Education, the CCEE, has also been working very closely with county superintendents who then work with their district superintendents. A number of them have created entire curricula that are now available for districts that didn’t have a pathway to a continuity plan for instruction earlier, and have been holding up best practices, including for students with disabilities, in ways that have been traveling across the state at a very rapid clip.
Linda D.: (57:26)
We do have an infrastructure where the county offices has worked directly with the districts in their counties and they’re getting a lot of support from both of those agencies at the state level. And they also then are in touch at the county level, with county public health providers and health departments so that there’s toggling that we’re going to need to do between the safe environment for learning, and the method by which the learning will be enabled, can be done in a much more coherent way than we were able to do in the spring. Remember in the spring, when we first closed schools, a lot of people thought it would be two weeks. So they were just providing some supplementary resources. Some districts only had instructional packets. Many of them did not have the devices and connectivity for all of the students that they needed to have to really be in touch with kids one-on-one, that synchronous instruction is now required. So we’re a much better position going into the school year in every county and district, to support the needs of children then we were back in the spring.
Gavin Newsom: (58:40)
I appreciate that. Thank you, Linda. Thank you. Next question.
Speaker 5: (58:43)
Speaker 7: (58:46)
Musadiq Bidar, CBS News.
Musadiq Bidar: (58:47)
Hey Governor, thank you for taking the question. The Trump administration has made clear in recent weeks that reopening America goes hand in hand with reopening schools. President Trump has said he will pressure governors to open all schools. What kind of pushback and comments do you anticipate from the president on this? And have you been in contact with anyone in the administration or the Coronavirus Task Force about your plan?
Gavin Newsom: (59:12)
Yeah. We’ve been constantly in contact with members of the Task Force, the vice president directly, not just individual members of the Task Force. I think this afternoon, I have a number of conversations with specific members as well on a myriad of issues, including where we are as it relates to education. Look, I want to just put up a slide, because I think it deserves to be reinforced. And this was a slide about what is our bottom line, because I think it goes to the heart of your question and to the heart of the moment we’re in. You can just remove political context, remove one individual or elected official. I think broadly, this statement. And forgive me, I say broadly, because I recognize not everyone would submit to it. But broadly the statement I believe is accurate, that students, teachers, staff, and parents prefer in-classroom instruction. That we stipulate to, but only if we can do it safely.
Gavin Newsom: (01:00:09)
And I think it’s that, “But only, if we could do it safely.” That’s the responsibility of governors. It’s a responsibility of superintendents of public education. It’s responsibility of county health officers. Responsibility of caretakers and teachers and other incredibly important classified staff. It’s incumbent upon parents as well. And so, this is the question that we are responsible for answering. How can we do it safely, when you’re seeing a background spread of a virus in certain areas that invariably will impact what’s happening within the school environment? And I deeply recognize. I follow the science. I pay attention to the data as it relates, again, as a parent first. But as a governor, to the data about the spread of this virus based upon age. None of us are naive about a lot of the studies that are out there. And by age I mean, not just young people, but by ages underneath them meaning, 10 and younger. And our elementary school kids and the like.
Gavin Newsom: (01:01:19)
But we’re not just talking about our children. We are also talking about those we entrust our children with when we drop them off at school as well, and their health and their safety. So it’s an ecosystem, our public education system, our education system broadly, and we are responsible to address the needs of that ecosystem. And part of that ecosystem, in closing, does extend. And I recognize the president’s insistence from an economic paradigm. I get that. It also impacts the larger economic question, because we all recognize as parents, the need, not only to get our kids back to school where they’re healthy and safe, but also for us to get back to work as well. So all of these things are being weighed. They weigh heavily on all of us as parents, as members of a community that have roles of responsibility.
Gavin Newsom: (01:02:11)
And so I appreciate this dialectic, I guess it’s a way of saying this. I’m not looking to score cheap political points with people that have different points of view. I respect and appreciate this dialectic, this conversation, that we’re having. And we’ll continue to have it with, I think, clarity of purpose and conviction to keep our kids and keep our economy moving. Keep everybody safe and healthy in the right balance.
Gavin Newsom: (01:02:39)
And so again, I thank all of you for the opportunity to balance perhaps some of your day with this update and your time. I want to thank for the questions that we received. I want to thank Linda Darling-Hammond for her just extraordinary work over the course of many, many months, not just weeks, as we organized around the announcement we’re making today. Dr. Ghaly for all his work, working overtime, to help advance this cause. To all our education advisors and to the superintendent of public education, Tony Thurman, for his willingness to never sacrifice for expediency, but to really focus on the medium-long-term safety of our children and our staff.
Gavin Newsom: (01:03:24)
With that, hope everybody has a safe weekend where you are wearing your masks, practicing the physical distancing, and doing so in turn in the spirit of getting our kids back in classroom instruction. Take care everybody.