By Matt Sieger
The Vanden High School baseball team was two days away from its 19th Annual Hot Stove Dinner fundraiser for the junior varsity and varsity baseball teams. Ed Serpas and Fred Bass were to be inducted into the inaugural Vanden High Baseball Hall of Fame. The team was expecting to serve as many as 500 guests who would pay $40 a ticket at the Sunrise Event Center in Vacaville on March 14.
That day word came down from state government authorities that no gathering should be held of more than 250 people. Around 350 people had already purchased tickets. But the banquet had to be canceled.
Vanden head varsity baseball coach Ryan Adams, who put the event together, consulted with Vanden Athletic Director Matt Bidou. New plans — ticket holders could drive by the school to pick up their dinners or forego their meal and donate it to first responders at the fire stations of Vacaville and Fairfield and to front-line workers at NorthBay Medical Center and Kaiser Vacaville.
Source: Coronavirus: Vanden fundraiser turns into thank you to front-line workers – The Reporter
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
The future of Spam and Sparkles looked uncertain Friday.The same for Rusty the steer.
Spam and Sparkles are two pigs who were raised to be auctioned at the Dixon May Fair. The fair has been canceled for 2020 due to the novel coronavirus and related stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements.
Efforts to keep the livestock auction fell into place Saturday night. Chico-based Bidcal.com will bring the auction online.
Source: Dixon May Fair junior livestock auction finds home online for 2020
By Matt Sieger
Legendary Vacaville High School wrestling coach Larry Nelson passed away on Thursday.
He was such a private person that locals are not sure of his age, estimating that he was in his early 90s.He was also such a private person that those he coached from 1961 to 1994 knew next to nothing about his wrestling accomplishments.
Nelson was a Wisconsin state high school champion who was recruited by legendary coach Cliff Keen to wrestle at the University of Michigan. There he was the Midwest Olympic Trials champion and a Big 10 champ at 123 pounds.
Source: Legendary Vacaville High wrestling coach Larry Nelson passes away – The Reporter
By Nick Sestanovich
Campuses may be closed for the remainder of the academic year, but Vacaville Unified School District officials are still working to move the progress of Measure A projects along.
Last week, VUSD was able to price its Series D bonds, which will be the fourth and final series of bonds from the 2014 election where Measure A was approved, officials wrote in a news release.
The bonds were approved by the school board at its March 19 meeting.
Source: VUSD issues final series of Measure A bonds from initial authorization – The Reporter
By Paul Farmer
Joia Armstrong and Rayonni Mack are living examples that good things – in this case basketball players – come in all sizes.
Armstrong is a bruising 6-foot-1 post, who had seven double-doubles last season, while Mack is a pesky and proficient 5-3 guard who was named Monticello Empire League after leading the circuit and finishing fourth in the Sac-Joaquin Section at 5.8 steals per game.
Their high school basketball careers ended the same night with Vanden’s a 58-50 loss to Saint Mary’s of Albany in the Northern California Regional quarterfinals, March 5.
Source: Vanden’s Armstrong, Mack moving on to play basketball at next level
Recently, Travis Credit Union launched and implemented a $1 million philanthropic initiative, which will disbursed to local organizations working to provide COVID-19 related relief to non-profits primarily focused on services in the areas of education, youth/family, food banks, and small business support.
The Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) was named as a recipient of this initiative, along with nearly 100 other non-profits in the counties of Contra Costa, Napa, Solano, Merced, and Yolo.
In determining the donation amount allocated for each agency, Travis Credit Union considered the organization’s total size, scope of service, statement of immediate needs, as well as all facets of support being offered to local individuals and families impacted by COVID-19. Receiving $30,000 from the initiative, CCCOE has begun identifying how best to support their students and educators during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Source: County Office of Education Ready to Meet the Needs of Students with Received Funds from Travis Credit Union | East County Today
By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
The coronavirus rapidly shut down colleges’ and K-12 schools’ operations in the past month or so, leading the College Board and the ACT, the nonprofits that organize the two main admissions tests, to postpone exam dates this spring. An estimated one million high school juniors are losing out on taking the SAT in the spring.
In response, dozens of colleges suspended their requirements that applicants submit SAT and ACT scores, a move that advocates for test-optional policies cheered. The exams have long been viewed as a cumbersome step in the college application process for disadvantaged students who cannot afford the same extensive tutoring as their wealthier peers.
Source: SAT, ACT could be delivered online if coronavirus persists | Education Dive
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today the creation of a new task force to close the digital divide for California students who lack access to resources such as internet connectivity and devices. The Closing the Digital Divide Task Force will be co-chaired by California State Senator Connie Leyva.
“This task force signals a new era, that California is now working with focus and urgency to close the digital divide in the most concrete way we have ever seen,” said Thurmond. “COVID-19 is a public health crisis in California and all around the world, but it’s also revealed other crises like the technology gap that has persisted for too long, leading to opportunity and achievement gaps for California’s students.”
“As the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, I strongly believe that ensuring equity for California students is critically important,” said Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino). “One vital step to ensuring equity is by closing the digital divide, which has become that much more evident and urgent as distance learning is now the new reality for millions of school children during the current COVID-19 crisis. I look forward to co-chairing this important task force as we all continue to work together to meet the needs of students in California.”
Source: Thurmond Announces Digital Divide Task Force – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
The U.S. Department of Education has granted preliminary approval to California’s request for flexibility in using federal funds to ease the immediate impacts of COVID-19 school closures.
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond submitted the request for waivers, authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, on Friday, April 10, 2020. The waivers were approved today.
The waivers loosen restrictions on how and when federal education funds can be spent. They remove a cap on technology purchases, ease limits on the amount of unspent federal funds that can be carried over from one federal fiscal year to the next, and relax rules about the use of money for teacher professional development.
Source: CA Receives Approval for Crisis Response Funds – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Matt Sieger
April 3, 2020, was not a happy day for California high school athletic directors, coaches, players and fans.
That’s when Ron Nocetti, executive director of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), announced the cancellation of spring section, regional and state championship events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some local athletic directors still held on to a glimmer of hope that sports might resume at the league level, since the CIF announcement only covered postseason play.
Source: It’s official: No sports for Monticello Empire League schools this spring – The Reporter
By Daily Republic Staff
Solano County Library invites everyone to participate in the “Spring into Summer Reading Challenge” while students are at home and parents and caregivers are looking for ways to keep their children occupied.
The reading program is designed to be fun for the whole family. Participating is simple: Beginning May 1, register for the challenge at solanolibrary.com and track reading progress online.
Even little ones who aren’t reading yet can participate by enjoying a book with an adult, playing with puppets and enjoying nursery rhymes.
Source: Time to ‘Spring into Summer Reading Challenge’
By Nick Sestanovich
With concerns over the global coronavirus pandemic closing Dixon school campuses for the remainder of the academic year, the school board will consider an update to the board policy that would temporarily change the grading system to pass/no pass at its Thursday meeting.
Since mid-March, Dixon Unified School District campuses have been closed and the district has shifted to a distance learning model allowing students to still do coursework from home. This sudden change has presented “some unique challenges to our charge to help students and parents/guardians understand performance, accurately evaluate student performance in a timely manner, and base grades on consistent observation of the quality of student’s work and his/her master of course content and district standards,” per a staff report by Nick Girimonte, assistant superintendent of educational services.
Source: Coronavirus: Dixon school board to consider temporary pass/no pass grading system – The Reporter
For California’s most vulnerable students, including 1.2 million English Learners (EL) and over 700,000 students with special educational needs, remote learning in the wake of COVID-19 presents particular challenges. As districts across the state roll out distance learning plans to minimize disruption to K–12 students, educators must find alternate ways to meet all student needs.
English Learners and special education students typically require more in-person support, such as occupational and speech therapy, in their daily learning than students in general. Educators are struggling to devise and implement plans to address these requirements remotely. Access to internet and devices is one area of concern, but so is providing intensive learning experiences that can stand in for in-person services.
Most EL and special education students live in large urban areas with access to broadband, and school districts in these counties, such as in the Bay Area and coastal counties in Southern California, may be able to partner with philanthropy and technology providers to supplement households currently without broadband access. Rural areas, however, may not have the same supports.
Source: Remote Learning for English Learners and Special Needs Students during COVID-19 – Public Policy Institute of California
By Tim Goree
Superintendent Kris Corey announced last night during the meeting of the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District’s Governing Board, that FSUSD will continue distance learning for students through the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
“I had hoped we would be able to allow students to come back to their schools in person during the last week or two of the school calendar, since our school year ends on June 12th, a bit later than most districts. This would have been a wonderful opportunity for students to reconnect and celebrate some of their school’s end-of-year activities. Unfortunately, it seems this won’t be possible,” Superintendent Corey stated.
Source: Press Release: FSUSD Announces School Building Closures for 2019-2020 School Year
BY Shawna De La Rosa
An analysis by The New York Times found 153 Instagram accounts, several Twitter accounts and chats, and active Reddit message boards where thousands of users share meeting passwords to plan Zoom attacks. Sometimes, attacks are carried out by the students themselves, who have piles of homework with no other activity or outlet during self-isolation. Zoombombing can be a way for these students to rebel against the new system.
But school cybersecurity was a challenge long before the pandemic began. Schools and ed tech platforms have been increasingly vulnerable targets in recent years. Now that many schools are completely relying on educational technology to deliver lessons, educators should proceed with additional caution when vetting new software, ensuring that any user agreements fully protect student information and comply with FERPA laws. District administrators should also ensure parents know how to protect their students’ personal information.
Source: Amid online transition, schools experience another cyberthreat: ‘Zoombombing’ | Education Dive
By Richard Bammer
When Vacaville Unified leaders meet Thursday night, Superintendent Jane Shamieh will present her COVID-19 update, and trustees will consider several salary-related matters for district employees, including employment contracts for two senior managers.
Because the district adheres to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 12 executive order, the 6:30 p.m. open session will be livestreamed on Zoom, the virtual meeting platform that has come under increased scrutiny for its data security, encryption policies, and a phenomenon known as “Zoom-bombing,” when individuals and pranksters “crash” and hijack meetings.
Responding to the development, the San Jose-based company, headed by CEO Eric S. Yuan, recently indicated that all Zoom meetings now require a password to join.
Source: Coronavirus: VUSD trustees’ meeting to be online, also available by call-in – The Reporter
By Shayna Rubin
California schools began to shutter its campuses en masse on March 17 and, by Tuesday, a majority of Bay Area school districts confirmed that the 2019-2020 academic year would not continue on campus.
School, though, is still in session — at home and online.
As parents suddenly assume the mantle of homeschool teachers, adjustments vary from panicked Amazon purchases and LEGO projects to tumultuous technology sharing and enterprising group projects. The new normal is still setting in.
Source: COVID-19: From tumultuous tech sharing to LEGO projects, Bay Area parents cope with home schooling
Last week Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that schools will be physically closed until the end of the school year.
“While schools might be physically closed, class is still in session,” he said. “This agreement is good news for students and parents, and the announcement means that more Calif. kids will have tools to learn at home during this crisis.”
Distance learning was made possible for Benicia schools after the high school and middle school received chromebooks at the beginning of the year to ensure the 1:1 learning ratio. These devices make learning outside the classroom possible with multiple outlets that are being used to continue educating students.
Source: Benicia teachers and students work together during COVID-19 pandemic to succeed at distance education
By Nick Sestanovich
As the global coronavirus pandemic has closed Dixon’s campuses for the remainder of the school year, parents have been exploring options to honor their graduating seniors, especially with the uncertain status of a graduation ceremony at the moment.
One suggestion: a video slideshow featuring a variety of pictures of the Class of 2020 that parents can post to their social media pages. Dixon photographer Stephanie Riedel is currently accepting pictures for this project.
“Their high school experience is so important to them,” she said. “If we don’t have a traditional graduation, like so many others in the past, I think that a lot of the seniors are gonna feel shortchanged with their experience…Anything that people can do to help the seniors feel supported and loved at this time is really great.”
Source: Coronavirus: Dixon photographer putting video slideshow together for graduating seniors – The Reporter
By Matt Sieger
Vacaville native and 2010 Vanden High grad Renae Jackson has come a long way in the water since working at a city of Vacaville pool as a lifeguard at age 17.
Jackson, now 27, was selected last year to represent Team USA in surf kayaking at the World Championships and the Pan American Championships. Both were qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Team USA had to finish in the top six at the World Championships in Hungary last August or No. 1 in the Pan American Championships (which include all Olympic events) this spring in Brazil.
Source: Vanden High grad Renae Jackson looks to 2021 Olympics – The Reporter