SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Most California schools will likely remain closed for the rest of the school year because of the new coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

Nearly all the state's schools have already shut down as the most populous state tries to stop the spread of the virus, and the rest will soon, he said.

"I would plan and assume it is unlikely that many of these schools, few if any, will open before the summer break," he said in a news conference streamed online.

"I don't want to mislead you, to six-plus million kids in our system and their families, they need to make some plans at a time when a lot of plans are already being curtailed," said Newsom, a father of four children. "But planning with kids is some of the most challenging planning."

The state has applied for a federal waiver that means children would not have to face academic tests once they eventually return to school, said Newsom, a Democrat.

"We think it is totally inappropriate for kids to worry about coming back and being tested," he said.

Newsom said he returned home Monday after a hectic day to find one of his two daughters, 6-year-old Brooklynn, in her room, her stuffed bunny and most of her bedding on the floor, as she cried about the schools being closed and that she could not see her friends.

"I told her, 'Honey, I don't think the schools are going to open again,' " Newsom said. "If I can tell my daughter that and not tell your daughter ... then I'm not being honest and true to the people of the state of California. Boy I hope I'm wrong, but I believe that to be the case."

Many of the shuttered schools may be used to provide meals to lower-income students, he said after meeting with hospital officials to discuss ramping up "surge capacity" to handle a likely flood of coronavirus patients.

"We believe we will repurpose not just our operating rooms to potential ICU rooms, which was our conversation today to meet this pandemic, but we'll repurpose a lot of our school sites not only for congregate meals and food to go but also to potentially address these child care needs," he said.

Providing child care at time when residents are supposed to remain well separated to avoid spreading the disease brings its own challenges, Newsom said.

Those caregivers "will want to have personally protective gear, make sure social distancing is practiced, make sure that we not just secure the sites but make sure that they're healthy," he said.

He said some of the money approved by state lawmakers on Monday could go to help with that effort.

Newsom signed into law Tuesday a bill that makes sure any public school that closes because of the virus will keep its state funding. That includes $100 million for schools to use to either purchase personal protective gear for staff or pay for cleaning.

He also signed legislation allowing him to spend up to $1 billion "for any item for any purpose" related to his March 4 declaration of emergency or the coronavirus outbreak. Initially, Newsom will have $500 million to spend. But he can increase that spending in $50 million increments, as long as he tells lawmakers about it at least three days in advance. The spending cuts off at $1 billion.

(11) comments

She Dee

I have to come to the conclusion that all this means is that we are all being forced to deal one another with no way out. Welcome to the new U.S. MIND PRISON!

Boris25

Just received a text from a doctor friend of mine, at this point we have almost the same number of COVID 19 cases as Italy did at a comparable time. Italy Feb 13: 157 cases, US , March 4 158 cases; Italy March 6, 4643 cases, US March 16 4663 cases. We are about 10-11 days behind Italy. Italy, March 16 , 27,380 cases. Let's see how many cases we have on March 26-27. If it follows this trend, we will have somewhere around 30,000 cases.

Boris25

Today: US cases 7327, 10 days ago Italy 7375 cases. The Us is almost identical to the daily increase in Italy. So, on March 19 in the US 9172 cases , March 20, 10149 cases, March 21, 12,462 , March 22, 15,113 and so on.

RubySue

California is approximately 403,882 sq km, while Italy is approximately 301,340 sq km. Meanwhile, the population of California is ~37.3 million people (24.9 million more people live in Italy).

Alastiona

We are fortunate when there was a budget surplus that Gov Brown put money in the rainy day fund instead of spending it because the forecast is for torrential downpours.

2carpoor

Time to plan for graduations. On line/Education TV channels are going to be hot items!

Comment deleted.
Moardeeb

We're lucky to have this idiot. He's brilliant!

ddhinds

I think it is a bit premature to statements like this. We do not know what may or may not happen in the coming months. Fall is a long way off some 6/7 months away and the problem may be solved or may worsen.

Moardeeb

You want 2 million infected before he closes the schools? Wake up people, it's time to get a grip!

Gene Pool Chlorinator

You need to get a grip- that's exactly what you get watching the news 24/7.

Relax and take a breath dweeb- maybe go out for a walk??

Patricia Edna

The Governor has quite a mess on his hands. No matter what he does he’s going to upset a lot of people!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.