by WorldTribune Staff, July 22, 2020
Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus lockdown order will prevent 80 percent of California’s 5.9 million schoolchildren from receiving in-person classroom instruction this Fall.
On Tuesday, a group of California parents sued to reopen the schools for in-person instruction, saying Newsom’s order is discriminatory and ignores the science which has confirmed children are at significantly low risk of contracting or spreading the virus.
“The governor’s decision to shut down educational facilities in more than 30 counties denies children in these counties their right to a basic education,” said San Francisco lawyer Harmeet K. Dhillon, CEO of the Center for American Liberty, which filed the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also argued that Newsom’s plan discriminates against disadvantaged and minority students with less access to the reliable technology required for successful online learning.
“Wealthy parents can still hire tutors and educate their children at home, while most will be forced to choose between their jobs and their children,” said Dhillon. “Special needs children are left out in the cold altogether, despite federal and state mandates.”
Newsom announced Friday that public, charter and private schools must provide “distance learning” until their counties meet targets for COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court seeks an order blocking the state restrictions, and a ruling that the plaintiffs’ children “should be allowed in-person instruction without delay.”
“With the school year commencing in mere weeks from the date of this filing, time is of the essence, and the Court should not hesitate to ensure that Plaintiffs’ fundamental interests in securing a meaningful education for their children are preserved and protected from Defendants’ arbitrary actions,” said the motion.
Washington Times reporter Valerie Richardson noted that 34 of the state’s 58 counties, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco, are currently on the COVID-19 watchlist and would be ineligible for in-person instruction until they stabilize their cases and hospitalizations.
“Learning is non-negotiable,” said Newsom. “The virus will be with us for a year or more, and school districts must provide meaningful instruction in the midst of this pandemic. In California, health data will determine when a school can be physically open – and when it must close – but learning should never stop.”
The Centers for Disease Control reported that children are hospitalized at a rate of 5.3 per 100,000 compared to an overall rate of 113.6 per 100,000, while studies out of Europe, Asia and Australia show that children are not primary drivers of the virus.
The lawsuit cited a study released July 13 of 2,045 schoolchildren from the Dresden Technical University in Germany found that schools did not become hotspots after reopening, and that children may even serve as a “brake on infection.”
Dhillon said that the Newsom’s “inexplicable restrictions on school reopening [are] not based in scientific facts, and [are] completely arbitrary especially in light of the fact that California allows all of the functional components of schools allowed in camps and childcare.”
A few days before Mr. Newsom’s announcement, the state’s two largest school districts, Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified, announced that they would open in the fall for only online learning.