School districts and cities are setting up community wifi networks, which would provide people with free or low-cost internet connection in an effort to bridge the digital divide. (Photo by Paul Chinn/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris via EdSource)

Even before President Donald Trump announced Sunday that he would extend federal guidelines to “shelter in place” to April 30, most of California’s largest school districts had already announced that they would be closed for at least another month.

According to an EdSource review on March 29 of the state’s largest 30 districts say they will be closed for in-person instruction through May 1. Two more will be closed through April 30. Two have not set any date. One (Elk Grove Unified near Sacramento) will offer online instruction through the end of its school year.

Even while they extend closure dates, a smaller number of districts are setting exact dates for when they expect to roll out a more formal distance learning program. Elk Grove, for example, says it will formally begin its distance learning program on April 16, while San Diego Unified will fully launch its program on April 27.

When schools initially closed, mostly in mid-March, administrators had to make quick decisions — in some cases almost overnight — about what they would tell students, staff and parents. They set the dates for closure — and potential reopening — not based on solid health grounds, which weren’t available at the time, but to coincide with the end of their spring breaks. Districts said they would open during a range of dates during the first, second or even third week of April — dates which are now coming up rapidly.

As a result, last week the pace of districts announcing that they would be closed until the end of April — in some cases with the proviso that even those dates might have to be revised as well — accelerated.

Louis Freedberg