California's two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, will begin the new school year next month but students will not return to campuses due to the threat of the coronavirus.
The districts said in a joint statement Monday they will start the school year with online instruction only, but will plan for in-person learning as health conditions allow.
Los Angeles Unified, the nation's second-largest district with about 730,00 students, begins instruction on Aug. 18.
San Diego Unified, which serves approximately 135,000 students, is set to start on Aug. 31.
The districts cited research and information about school safety experiences from around the world as well as state and local health guidance.
In a joint statement from both school districts, officials said, "This announcement represents a significant disappointment for the many thousands of teachers, administrators and support staff, who were looking forward to welcoming students back in August. It is obviously an even greater disappointment to the many parents who are anxious for their students to resume their education. Most of all, this decision will impact our students in ways that researchers will take years to understand."
In the statement, the districts referenced a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics which said it was no longer confident that schools should reopen in the middle of this public health crisis.
The World Health Organization warns that the pandemic is worsening globally and things won't return to "the old normal" for some time.
Sunday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said public schools that don't reopen in the fall shouldn't get federal funds. DeVos told Fox News, "give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise. It's a promised to the American people, let's follow through on the promise."
The Trump administration has pushed hard to get schools to reopen by the fall, as part of the administration's efforts to open the country back up as states deal with coronavirus outbreaks.
President Trump tweeted last week, "Schools must be open in the Fall. If not open, why would the Federal Government give Funding? It won't!!!"
Earlier the president said he would be ordering the Treasury Department to re-examine the tax-exempt status of schools, though it's unclear on what grounds there would be to terminate that tax status from public schools which did not reopen.
Also of concern is the 2020 election, and as it approaches, the big price tag as America faces voting during a pandemic