There’s no buzz that usually surrounds a school year kick-off. No balloons or donuts for the staff or “Welcome Back” signs.
Oh, it’s still readin’, writin’ and arithmetic. But it’s also COVID-19, and the pandemic has forced the Vallejo City Unified School District to start Aug. 17 with distance learning — much like the rest of the state, if not the country.
As if it isn’t difficult enough for a first-year principal.
Yet, Leah Dubinsky gratefully tackles the rookie assignment at Lincoln Elementary School after bidding Walnut Creek Intermediate good-bye after six years as assistant principal.
Judi Honeychurch did not face a challenger in her last election and will have no need to campaign this fall, either.
Judi Honeychurch“I look forward to the challenges of the future and working with the superintendent and the teachers and staff,” said Honeychurch, who will enter her third term on the Fairfield-Suisun School District board of trustees.
She is the only incumbent who does not have a challenger.
Clifford Gordon, owner of Gordon’s Music & Sound in downtown Fairfield, pulled and filed candidacy papers Thursday for the Trustee Area 1 seat held by Bethany Smith. Trustee Area 2 incumbent Joan Gaut will run against Leslie Unverferth, and Area 6 incumbent John Silva faces Ana Petero.
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.
The California Department of Public Health is closely following the rate of immunization during the pandemic and immunization requirements for admission to school in California for the 2020-2021 school year. The Law requiring students to have a Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (Tdap) booster prior to entering 7th grade remains in place during Distance Learning.
Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District is holding a Tdap immunization clinic on Wednesday, August 19th from 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM at Grange Middle School, 1975 Blossom Ave., Fairfield to provide students this required immunization free of charge.
Students that need the Tdap booster and are unable to attend the above clinic should contact their doctor or health clinic as soon as possible. All students must have proof of immunization on file before advancing to 7th grade.
Paul Rogers has been a teacher for 42 years, four of them in Vallejo. But even he admitted he’s never had a start of a school year quite like this one in 2020.
On Thursday he began setting up his classroom on Vallejo High’s campus for six of his math classes. Three of those classes will each feature 36 students, one class will feature another 34 and two more will feature at least 24 more.
None of those students will be anywhere near Rogers.
Depending on how long COVID-19 lasts, school staffs could soon start recognizing the vehicles of parents as much as faces of the students.
In the latest drive-up event, food boxes, backpacks loaded with school supplies, virus masks, and emergency kits were distributed to 100-plus motorist parents Wednesday morning at Grace Patterson Elementary School.
Natalie Kidder, founder of Another Chapter, coordinated the back-to-school outreach with Patterson Principal Megan De La Mater.
Local school districts are above average in a new WalletHub study on the state’s most, and least, equitable school districts.
More than 900 school districts were looked at for the study.
To find out where school funding is distributed most equitably, WalletHub scored districts in California based on average household income and expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools per child.
The Fairfield-Suisun School District was ranked No. 79, averaging $10,661 in expenditures per student.
California’s method of funding special education will become streamlined and a little more equitable, thanks to a provision in the recently passed state budget.
The 2020-21 budget fixes a decades-old quirk in the funding formula that had left vast differences between school districts in how much money schools received to educate special education students.
The old formula, created in the late 1970s and last updated in the early 2000s, based funding on how many students a district had overall, not just its number of students in special education. The result was that some districts received up to $800 extra per student per year to educate students in special education, while others received as little as $500.
The shows will go on at Solano Community College.Instructors at the college shared information Tuesday during a teleconference call on the fall class offerings as well a sneak peek for one of the two plays for fall – “Almost, Maine” and “Fuddy Meers.”
Both will be virtual plays.
Carla Spindt will direct the former, which features eight short scenes.
As Congress and President Trump wrestle over how much to provide in the next round of relief from the coronavirus, California school districts, county offices of education and charter schools must decide what to do with the $6.8 billion that’s already coming their way.
They’ll have flexibility but not much time. In passing the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March, Congress set a Dec. 31 deadline to spend the money.
In early June, EdSource published estimates on how the state planned to distribute the funds in the first proposal. During the budget negotiations, the state added about $1 billion to the total.
Zoom accounts. Masks. Decent WiFi. It’s not the typical back-to-school shopping list, but then again 2020 has been anything but normal due to COVID-19.
With the start of the school year right around the corner (Aug. 17 in Solano County) teachers, administrators and school board members are currently working quicker than The Flash to make things run smoothly when students return back to class.
When the students do return it won’t be on campuses as the Solano County Office of Education announced three weeks ago that local schools will start the new school year with distance learning. This is because Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in July that that schools in counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list begin the school year via distance learning. Solano County is on that list.
Ten-year-old Victoria Ward is pretty shy and can be a young woman of a few words. That being said, she is very talented and just needed some help in unmasking that talent.
Or this case, she needed to help give others a mask.
Ward, about to begin fifth grade at Public Safety Academy in Fairfield, has discovered her own skills in sewing, specifically making COVID-19 masks for other kids close to her age. She’s made about 160 for orders on her website and has given away at least another 50 to Emmanuel Temple Apostolic Church in Vallejo. The donated masks were a recent hit with kids at a free resource fair at the church last week.
“It’s fun to do,” Ward said. “I got a sewing kit around Christmas and I started sewing masks a few months ago. It was hard at first. I had to learn to sew correctly and have the measurements right.”
Sen Bill Dodd, D-Solano, announced Tuesday that his bill to protect school funding already impacted by the coronavirus pandemic from being further harmed by potential wildfire-related power shutoffs has cleared the Assembly Committee.
“Considering the financial challenges posed by Covid-19, it is especially important that we protect critical funding sources for our public schools,” he advised in a press statement. “They should not lose money because PG&E or another utility has responded to the threat of wildfire by shutting off their power lines. This bill would make schools whole if they are forced to endure another outage.”
California public school funding is based on average daily attendance, reported three times a year by school districts. Under current law, if schools are forced to close because of a public safety power shutoff, they could lose part of their expected allocation. Senate Bill 884 changes that by authorizing the state to backfill average daily attendance money.
Schools in Dixon will be starting two weeks later than initially scheduled, as the school board voted to extend the start date for the 2020-21 school year by two weeks at a special meeting Monday.
Dixon Unified School District schools were originally going to commence for the year Aug. 10, as had been scheduled for the school calendars that were adopted in February. However, with campuses closing the following month due to the global coronavirus pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders by the state, the start date will now be Aug. 24 to give teachers more time to prepare.
DUSD Superintendent Brian Dolan said this was not an agenda item the district ever wanted to consider, but the coronavirus created a unique situation.
If the Benicia Unified School District wants to hold classes in schools instead of online this fall, state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan on Tuesday outlined the state’s waiver process for K-6 schools.
Solano County is currently on California’s COVID-19 coronavirus “Watch List.”
Pan, the former health officer for Alameda County, said K-6 schools can apply for a waiver to begin in-person instruction if they are located in a county that meets several criteria in spite of being on the state’s Watch List.
The four incumbents and two challengers for seats on the Fairfield-Suisun School District board of trustees have filed candidacy papers, the county Elections Office reported Monday evening.
This is the last week to file for anyone interested in running for a position on 10 school or two college district boards.
Fairfield-Suisun school incumbents Joan Gaut, in Trustee Area 2, and John Silva, in Trustee Area 6, each faces a challenger. Leslie Unverferth, a real estate agent, looks to unseat Gaut, while Ana Petero, a teacher, wants to replace Silva.
Incumbents Bethany Smith, in Trustee Area 1, and Judi Honeychurch, in Trustee Area 3, are thus far unchallenged.
Extended school closures have exacerbated mental health problems in students due to a host of reasons, including social isolation, changing economic security, academic struggles, loss of loved ones and the fear of coronavirus, the authors write. However, planning for social-emotional support will be tricky, as most districts are still uncertain about what the upcoming school year will entail.
Whether students start school in person or online, they will need extra social-emotional support after facing an extended school break and returning with more social-emotional concerns than usual. Schools will become students’ main connection to services and resources.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) has posted online its latest recommendations to the draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. The recommendations are scheduled to be reviewed by the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) at its quarterly meeting on August 13, the next in ongoing opportunities for public input before final adoption.
The CDE recommends that the model curriculum remain rooted in four foundational disciplines of ethnic studies—African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano Latino Studies, and Native American and Indigenous Studies. The CDE also recommends the draft include educator resources for engaging in expanded, critical conversations that can be customized to reflect a school community’s diversity and engage in broader social justice issues.
“Our schools have not always been a place where students can gain a full understanding of the contributions of people of color and the many ways throughout history—and present day—that our country has exploited, marginalized, and oppressed them. At a time when people across the nation are calling for a fairer, more just society, we must empower and equip students and educators to have these courageous conversations in the classroom,” said Thurmond. “I am proud to submit these recommendations for a draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum that will not only serve as a roadmap for educators but, hopefully, inspire action across the nation.”
In the face of shelter in place restrictions, local artist and instructor Diane Williams had to learn newways to teach. In addition to quickly learning a variety oftechnology platforms, this week Williams launched her ownYouTube Channel, I AN I Studio channel connection.
In addition to painting full time, Williams and her husband, artist Chuck Potter, have taught local workshops in their studio in Benicia’s Arsenal. That is, until Covid stopped their classes entirely. Oddly, the pandemic pointed their teaching in a new direction – to online workshops and YouTube videos.
The latest student-created public art installation is now on display, marking the third year of a successful public art collaboration between the Benicia Unified School District and the City of Benicia Arts and Culture Commission’s Public Art Committee.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity to be able to bring a smile to someone’s face through my art in these uncertain times,” said student artist Emery Lee, whose mural panel is featured in the public art installation.