FILE - Kindergarten classroom

(The Center Square) – Several California residents are suing Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state of California over the governor's order closing the majority of the state's schools to in-person learning when the school year begins.

Last week, Newsom said public and private schools in the 32 counties on the state’s COVID-19 watch list will provide remote learning only to start the school year. The 32 of 58 counties on the watch list are home to more than 80 percent of the state’s population.

One of the plaintiffs, Matthew Brach of Rancho Palos Verdes, has a 16-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter.

"His son is entering his senior year and will suffer academically as a result of the denial of personal interaction with teachers and positive academic role models," the lawsuit says. "His son’s learning style requires him to be able to ask questions of and interact with his teachers and to learn collaboratively with peers. His daughter is already suffering emotionally from being isolated from her learning community."

Another plaintiff, Jess Petrilla of Mission Viejo, has a son entering the first grade.

"Last school year, when his son was in kindergarten and transitioned from in-classroom to distance learning, Petrilla noticed a significant decline in his discipline and engagement," the lawsuit says. "His son’s enthusiasm for learning declined, and his son became restless. Petrilla’s wife has been forced to take time off of work in order to oversee her son’s education."

The lawsuit says California is the only state mandating that schools not hold in-person learning and notes that Education Secretarty Betsy DeVos, the America Academy of Pediatrics and others are urging schools to offer in-person learning.

It seeks to have Newsom's order overturned so schools can reopen.

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at

Executive Editor

Dan McCaleb is a veteran editor and has worked in journalism for more than 25 years. Most recently, McCaleb served as editorial director of Shaw Media and the top editor of the award-winning Northwest Herald in suburban Chicago.