• By The Financial District


California officials gave an update Friday on efforts to close distance learning gaps as the majority of students start the school year from home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Over 90% of California students are likely to start the school year with distance learning, according to KCRA 3 News.

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond said the state has given school districts billions for distance learning. Companies have also set aside hundreds of thousands of devices for California schools, and those devices can be purchased through state-negotiated contracts.

Thurmond noted that more help is needed for students in special education programs.

"This is a difficult environment to work in," Thurmond said.

Newsom’s office said that internet service providers have a responsibility to expand no-cost or low-cost plans so all Californians can access distance learning.

During the briefing, Newsom also announced an executive order that does the following:

  • Prioritize actions to bridge the divide throughout state government

  • Direct agencies to pursue a goal of 100 Mbps download speed

  • Outline actions to accelerate mapping, data collection, funding, deployment and adoption

  • Request that the Broadband Council create a new State Broadband Action

Regarding data trends, Newsom said that California is continuing to see a decline in hospitalization and ICU rates.

Newsom also reported that

  • 7,934 cases on Thursday (4,429 from backlog and 3,505 new cases)

  • Positivity rate: 6.2% over the last 14 days

  • Hospitalization rate has decreased 20% over the last 14 days

  • ICU rate declined 14.3% over last 14 days

Newsom said that Friday is the last day of California playing catch-up on the backlog after IT issues resulted in an under-reporting of cases.