By Susan Hiland
The upcoming school year for children in Fairfield and Suisun City is going to look and feel very different from past years.
The Fairfield-Suisun School District governing board voted unanimously during a special meeting Monday via teleconference on a long-term plan for students returning to school for the upcoming academic year.
All classes at the start of the school year will be done 100% by virtual distance learning per the Gov. Gavin Newsom guidelines which came out Friday.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun board votes to open school year from a distance
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond issued the following statement today in response to the Governor’s updated guidance for schools:
“I want to commend the Governor for his leadership and for his focus on prioritizing public safety during what might be one of the most challenging experiences we will face in our lifetime. I appreciate the concern he expressed today as a father, his concern for the safety of California’s six million students, and his concern for the health and welfare of our schools’ educators and families.
“I also want to thank the Governor for the work he has led to ensure that our educators have necessary personal protective equipment—already on its way to our 10,000 schools—in the form of millions of units of face coverings, face shields, hand sanitizer, and thermometers.
Source: SPI Issues Statement on Governor’s School Guidance – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Matt Sieger
Vanden High School has been chomping at the bit to honor its student-athletes who have signed letters of intent to play in college and have received athletic scholarships.
But, like so many other events, a signing ceremony had to be put on hold due to COVID-19. Finally, the school planned to hold the event for its ten student-athletes in the Vanden parking lot on Saturday. But that became unviable because of the number of guests that would have attended.
So the high school, wanting to wait no longer, prepared a video to send out to students, parents and staff on Saturday. You can watch the video at https://youtu.be/n_WHgafSryw.
Source: Vanden High School honors ten student-athletes – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
Honored for her equity efforts, Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson has been named Superintendent of the Year by a state Latino educators group.
Each year the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators, or CALSA, recognizes educators through the “Honoring Our Own” regional award program.
The professional organization looks to honor school administrators who have made “significant contributions to eliminating the Latina/o/x student achievement gap and acknowledge their distinguished leadership and excellence in education,” Jennifer Leonard, a spokeswoman for the Solano County Office of Education, noted in a press release issued Friday.
Source: County superintendent of schools honored for ‘equity’ efforts – The Reporter
By Thomas Gase
The Vallejo City Unified School District announced on Friday morning that when school returns in the fall all grade levels will resume with distance learning.
The board agreed Wednesday that the 2020-21 school year will begin with distance learning for all grade levels,” Mitch Romao, the Vallejo interim superintendent wrote in a news release. “We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 conditions that led to this inevitable conclusion, and continue to work with county and state education and public health agencies in an expressed hope to resume face to face instruction at the first opportunity.”
Source: Vallejo Unified School District announces all grade levels will return with distance learning – Times-Herald
By Maggie Fusek
As California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out back-to-school guidelines for K-12 students across the state Friday, saying that students in counties on the state’s coronavirus monitoring list must start the school year online, the Solano County Office of Education confirmed all K-12 students in Solano County will start the school year with distance learning.
“Previously, some Solano County school districts and charter schools made plans to reopen school campuses with varying models of social distancing, modified schedules, and distance learning options for students,” SCOE Spokeswoman Jennifer Leonard said Friday in a news release.
Source: Solano County Students To Start New School Year Online | Benicia, CA Patch
California has begun buying masks made for children as the state continues to adapt to life with the coronavirus.
The state has been sending masks to school districts since the start of the pandemic, and began purchasing child-sized masks last month based on feedback from the districts, said Governor’s Office spokesman Brian Ferguson.
“They fit better,” Ferguson said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom hasn’t issued any statewide guidance on whether schools should reopen their buildings, saying just one approach doesn’t work in a state with more than 1,000 districts serving more than 6 million children.
Source: California buys 18 million child-sized masks for schools as coronavirus continues
By Todd R. Hansen
All five incumbents up for re-election on the Solano County Board of Education have taken out their declaration of candidacy papers, while 12 incumbents on school district boards and three incumbents on the Solano Community College District board have, at the very least, taken out papers as well.
However, there are also 11 school board vacancies in five districts, including all four seats up for election with the Vacaville School District, as well as the lone Solano County seat up for election on the Los Rios Community College District board.
Source: Education incumbents across Solano quick to declare re-election bids
By Bill Hicks
It may all come to nothing, but for now, the Fairfield-Suisun School District Board of Trustees is poised to decide Monday how to proceed with school reopenings in the fall.
District staff shared a number of informational presentations Thursday and numerous teachers and parents spoke to offer their opinions of the options available to the district.
The district had previously weighed one of several different options, ranging from 100% distance learning, or online classes taken at home on the internet, to 100% return to classrooms, with other plans offering a hybrid of in-class and online learning.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun trustees set to vote on 1 of 2 school reopening plans
By Nick Sestanovich
After two years of serving on the Vacaville school board — and a longer career as an educator — Michael Silva has his eyes set on the next rung on the public service ladder.
Silva is running for the Vacaville City Council in the newly implemented District 3, which consists of the most central area of Vacaville, including the downtown. Areas include portions of Main Street, Mason Street, East Monte Vista Avenue, Brown Street, Rocky Hill Road, Allison Drive, Nut Tree Parkway and Elmira Road. It is one of two districts not currently represented by a sitting council member.
Silva said he wants to continue the goals he sought when he ran for the school board, just on a bigger level.
Source: Professor, school board Trustee Michael Silva running for Vacaville City Council – The Reporter
Dixon Unified School District is close to finalizing its plans for the upcoming school year, with the first day of classes expected to start on Aug. 10.
Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District plans to open the new school year on Aug. 19. The district is still finalizing its plans. Updates can be found here.
Travis Unified School District has approved a plan for reopening schools on Aug. 13 using a full distance learning model. View the district’s full reopening plan here.
Source: Return to School: Here Are Bay Area Districts’ Plans for Students to Resume Classes – NBC Bay Area
By Kimberly K. Fu
About a dozen people gathered outside Vacaville Unified School District headquarters Thursday to rally for a full reopening of the schools instead of the 50/50 plan approved for fall.
Kids need to return to school full time, they said, not a hybrid mix of two rotating days of 2 1/2 hours of instruction each and two days of distance learning.
The kids need the structure, the socialization and their teachers, supporters said, not being stuck at home trying to learn digitally.
“It’s for their mental health,” emphasized Lauren Walus, mom of two little girls at Hemlock Elementary and the event’s organizer, adding: “Today we’re hoping for change in the district’s decision for their reopening.”
Source: Coronavirus: Some Vacaville parents want schools to reopen full time – The Reporter
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Wednesday commended school districts across California for making student, teacher, and staff health and safety the foremost priority as they formalize plans for resuming learning this fall.
During his latest virtual news media briefing Wednesday, the State Superintendent encouraged schools to continue designing plans for in-person instruction this fall but urged educators to prepare for the possibility of resuming distance learning based on current health and safety conditions. COVID-19 infections continue to rise, and some of the state’s largest school districts have announced plans to resume learning virtually this fall.
“Everyone shares the desire to reopen schools and agrees that the best place for children to learn and thrive is in the classroom connected with caring teachers and staff. We also understand that schools are more than a place of learning: They provide critical necessities like meals, relationships with caring adults, and support for working parents,” said Thurmond. “But we can only open schools if it is safe to do so. As the largest educational agency in the country, our stance has been consistent during this pandemic: Science, data, and safety must guide any decision about reopening a school. The health and safety of our students and staff is too important to risk.”
Source: Health & Safety Priority for Reopening Schools – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Todd R. Hansen
Students in the Travis School District will start the new school year being “home-schooled” due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“Throughout this unprecedented crisis,” Superintendent Pam Conklin said in a statement, “our guiding principle has been to deliver the most effective instruction possible while protecting the health of our students, staff and their families. I believe the board’s decision to initially open our 2020-21 school year with distance learning accomplishes this goal.”
The Board of Trustees made the decision Tuesday during a Zoom meeting.
Source: Travis schools to start new year Aug. 13 with online classes
By John Fensterwald
Dissatisfied with the uneven quality of distance learning among school districts after they closed in March, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature established minimum requirements for the next school year in legislation accompanying the 2020-21 budget.
For many districts, the school year will begin next month. With Covid-19 infection rates and deaths rising, some districts, including the state’s largest, announced this week they’ll open solely with remote learning or hybrid instruction, with some in-person and some remote teaching.
The minimum requirements include ensuring every student is equipped with a computer and internet access, taking daily attendance and interacting with students in some form every day. Proponents of the standards say they’re pleased the Legislature acted but haven’t given up lobbying for additional requirements, particularly more extensive online teaching.
Source: Parents must have a say in districts’ distance learning plans under new California law – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
Citing “the alarming increased virus activity in Solano County and statewide,” Travis Unified leaders on Tuesday OK’d a plan to use the distance-learning model when classes resume Aug. 13 for the district’s 5,400 students.
The decision, a choice among five proposed learning models being considered, came during a special governing board meeting Tuesday in the Travis Education Center on De Ronde Drive in Fairfield and mirror recent decisions by two of the largest school districts in California: Los Angeles and San Diego.
The return to distance, or all-online, learning, in effect from mid-March to the end of the 2019-20 academic year, was made based on guidance from Gov. Gavin Newsom, state and county public health advice and the widely publicized reports of a surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in California, Annie Arthur, an administrative assistant to Superintendent Pamela Conklin, said in a press release Wednesday.
Source: TUSD leaders OK return to distance learning when school year begins – The Reporter
As fall approaches in the U.S. and school districts debate whether to resume in-person classes, the issue is complicated by a dearth of knowledge about how Covid-19 is transmitted to and from children.
Other nations have sent children back to school – or never shuttered schools to begin with – but none has done so with the virus surging as it is in the U.S. On Monday, cases in the U.S. rose by 64,605 from a day earlier to 3.34 million.
It is now broadly recognized that the virus that causes Covid-19 can be airborne in crowded, indoor spaces like schools. And children are commonly known to be spreaders of other respiratory viruses, like the seasonal flu. But while there’s significant data showing children aren’t likely to become very ill from Covid-19, there’s less information on how likely they are to transmit it to others.
Source: In debate over reopening schools, science offers few clear answers
By Ashley A. Smith
California’s foster students, for the first time ever, have surpassed high school peers in applying for federal student aid.
The milestone is considered significant because just completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, can put a foster student on a path for college, informing the student of how much aid to expect but also alerting prospective colleges of the student’s needs.
This past academic year, 64.5% of 2,582 high school seniors in foster care submitted a FAFSA, compared to 56.6% of all high school seniors in the state, according to John Burton Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit organization that advocates and supports homeless and foster youth.
Source: Financial aid application rates soar among California foster youth – The Reporter
By Wes Goldberg and Maggie Angst
As the coronavirus rages through California, the state is significantly rolling back its reopening plans.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that all counties across the state are required to immediately close indoor dining, bars, movie theatres, zoos and museums. Additionally, counties on the governor’s “watch list” for troubling coronavirus trends — which now totals 30 counties where 80% of Californians live — must also shutter gyms, hair salons, places of worship, malls and non-essential offices.
In the Bay Area, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma are all on the watch list as of Monday. But Newsom said that he expects to add Alameda County within the next day — and that all Californians should be prepared for their counties to jump on or off the list.
Source: Gov. Newsom orders renewed statewide closures of indoor activities – Times-Herald
Travis School District trustees will discuss opening the schools in August when they meet at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Part of the discussion is “to determine in which stage schools will reopen, staff will use information about local Covid-19 activity rates and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (and Prevention) and other public health officials,” the agenda states.
The item follows a closed session during which the board will be updated on labor negotiations.
Source: Reopening schools in August topic of Travis school board meeting