For Immediate release
July 13, 2020

J&Z Strategies


Josh Newman Reacts to OCBOE’s Plan for School Re-Opening Without Empirically-Proven Approaches

Orange County, Calif. — Today, Josh Newman sent the following statement to the Orange County Board of Education in response to their decision to call for a Fall return to classes with no masks or social distancing.

“To the Honorable Members of the Orange County Board of Education:

As a resident of Orange County and concerned citizen, I write to urge the OC Board of Education not to move to reopen schools without a comprehensive plan that takes fully into account all current, accepted scientific knowledge on the transmission and prevention of novel coronavirus infection, as well as all best-practice safety measures, such as the recommendations recently outlined by the California Department of Education in its “Stronger Together” guidelines.

Reopening Orange County’s schools during the current surge, and in the absence of empirically proven precautions such as social distancing, mandatory face coverings and other rigorous preventive measures, will place not only students, teachers, and staff in jeopardy, but will inevitably transport those risks home with students, posing a danger to their families and to those with whom their family members interact.

We in Orange County, like citizens all over the world, find ourselves in the midst of a worldwide public health crisis the likes of which has not been seen in any of our lifetimes, and for which virtually all of our systems—in government, public health, business, and education—were wholly unprepared. 

Here in California, as in other parts of the country, we are now seeing the alarming consequences borne by the rush to reopen our economy prior to having gotten the spread of this deadly virus fully under control.  We should not compound those mistakes by now rushing to reopen schools.  While there is still much to learn about the science needed to fully defeat the threat of COVID-19, we already have ample insight into ways to mitigate its spread.  That body of knowledge includes the use of face coverings, enhanced personal hygiene and environmental sanitation and, most critically in the current absence of an effective vaccine, social distancing and avoidance of exposure to non-family members in enclosed indoor spaces.

It is in this last area that schools are least prepared, particularly given the additional costs entailed by comprehensive adherence to recommended precautions.  The OCBE’s publicly released plan for reopening not only fails to take those realities into account, many of its recommendations, particularly the eschewing of mandatory masks, run directly counter to both the state’s most recent guidance but to accepted, empirically supported public health practices as well.

There is an adage that has recently gained currency: “Just because you think you’re done with the virus, that doesn’t mean the virus is done with you.”  We are all eager, often to the point of impatience, to be rid of the threat of COVID-19 and to be able to return to our lives as normal once again.  Unfortunately, as the recent surge in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths attest all too clearly, that decision is not wholly ours to make.

In taking your positions as members of the OCBE, each of you swore an oath, to support and defend the constitutions of our state and to our country.  Implicit in that oath, and infused in both those documents, is the obligation of those entrusted with authority to act as stewards of the greater good, especially the health and well-being of their constituents.  Nowhere could that be more true and clear than in your obligation to the children in your care, as well as to the committed professionals supporting their educations and development into healthy, aware, and engaged citizens.

That is your obligation and, in the current debate about when and how best to reopen Orange County’s schools, the stakes could not be higher and the terms any more clear.  Education is not the entertainment industry, where ‘the show must go on.’  It is not a conventional business, where the interests of shareholders must be served.  Education is a public good and yours is a public trust.  I urge you to make good on that trust and only reopen our county’s schools with the fullest support of science-based evidence and practices, and only at such time that the health and welfare of the students, teachers, and staff in your care will be fully safe and protected and once again afforded the chance to learn, teach, and support in a safe and secure environment.”


Josh Newman


About Josh Newman

Josh Newman is a United States Army veteran, community activist, father, husband, and former State Senator for the 29th Senate District of California. As an officer in the United States Army, Newman’s active duty military service included assignments with a nuclear weapons detachment in South Korea and with a conventional artillery battalion in the 25th Infantry Division. After a successful post-service professional career in the Internet and mobile technology sectors, Newman founded and served as Executive Director of ArmedForce2Workforce, an initiative founded in 2012 to assist young veterans in the Orange County/Greater Los Angeles area in the pursuit of rewarding, career-oriented post-service employment.

Continuing to give back to his community, in 2016 Newman ran a “bottom-up” campaign against the political establishment — and was elected to the California Senate. In the State Senate, Newman chaired the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. He also sat on the Business & Professions, Health, Insurance & Banking, and Human Services committees.

In Sacramento as well as while back home in the 29th Senate District, Newman was active and accessible, tirelessly serving the 16 cities of the 29th Senate District, continuously putting public service over politics, irrespective of the consequences. Throughout his tenure in the State Senate, Newman focused on finding common sense, pragmatic solutions that help improve the quality of life for California families. His legislation championed veteran services, mental health resources, public education, job creation, environmental protection, equal rights, transportation improvements, and fiscal responsibility.

He and his wife, Darcy Lewis, reside in Fullerton with their daughter and four rescue Chihuahuas.

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