September 21, 2021

Quarantines and teacher shortages: a double whammy for CA districts

Superintendents argue new independent study law is flawed for a quarantine…

Quarantines and teacher shortages are threatening to overwhelm school districts already struggling to provide independent study for tens of thousands of students who have chosen it or could be forced into it because of Covid infections and exposure.

Many districts are confused over how to educate students in quarantine — what’s required, what’s allowed and what’s funded.

At this point, independent study, even for eight to 14 days due to a quarantine, is the only education option that the state is willing to fund other than in-person instruction. The Legislature let the one-year law setting the rules for distance learning expire at the end of June.

In retooling the law to accommodate families still fearful of returning to the classroom during Covid, the Legislature requires all families to sign contracts spelling out the terms of independent study. Lawmakers strengthened reporting requirements to verify that students were doing assignments and set minimal live instruction requirements for students in early grades.

But superintendents complain that the new rules are cumbersome and unclear and say they’re worried the system will break down if outbreaks of Covid force large numbers of individual students, classrooms and entire schools into independent study programs on short notice.

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