By Todd R. Hansen
Kris Corey said she teared up when she saw the preschoolers return to the Mary Bird Early Childhood Center for the first time since March 2020.
“I was over there (Monday), and seriously, I started crying,” said Corey, the superintendent of the Fairfield-Suisun School District. “It was so amazing to see.”
The school welcomed back 95 children, ages 3 to 5, with 50 opting to remain in the afternoon distance learning program.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun campuses opening to students at all levels
The State Board of Education today voted to give California school districts the opportunity to use either state tests or other standards-aligned assessments to gauge student learning this spring.
The vote builds on last month’s Board action to apply for the maximum flexibility offered by the U.S. Department of Education in testing, accountability and reporting requirements and to seek further options that account for the impact of COVID-19 on educators, families, and schools.
The Board is seeking to allow districts to use the best assessment tool available for the local context this spring, as many of them are still providing distance learning and working to reopen schools. Options include the state’s Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments and California Alternate Assessments for English language arts and mathematics, the Smarter Balanced interim assessments, or other diagnostic, benchmark, or interim assessments that:
Source: Additional Spring Testing Flexibility for Schools – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)
BY Sydney Johnson
California school officials scratching their heads over how to roll out standardized tests this spring could soon have another option.
On Tuesday, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that would allow California school districts to use locally selected tests rather than the Smarter Balanced statewide assessments, which are required by state and federal education law.
“It has become clear that the persistent gaps that existed in our education system pre-pandemic have become chasms,” said Rachael Maves, deputy superintendent of public instruction for the Instruction and Measurement Branch of the California Department of Education. “In this context, it seems not only appropriate but necessary” to measure student learning.
Source: California could allow school districts to choose their own standardized tests this year – The Reporter
Allison McCabe, a Benicia High School student, was the overall winner of the recent 2021 Virtual Science and Engineering Fair.
McCabe also took first in the Physical Science category in the Senior Division, in which high school students competed. There were also Elementary (third through fifth grades and Junior (sixth through eighth grades) divisions. McCabe is a sophomore.
“Our goal is to inspire more students to consider a career in science, engineering or a related field. The fair is an excellent opportunity for our elementary, middle and high school students to apply science and engineering skills to investigate problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and develop conclusions. Events like the Science and Engineering Fair have the potential to spark a lifelong interest in a related field.” Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said in a statement announcing the winners.
Source: Benicia High student tops all others at science, engineering fair
Vallejo City Unified School District’s Regional Education Center is being recognized for a proposal to train and assist disadvantaged people to succeed in lifting themselves up through construction apprenticeship and union affiliation into highly sustainable careers. Included partnerships are with North Bay Trades Instruction Program, Construction Trades Workforce Initiative, Solano Workforce Development Board, and Napa Solano Building Trades. The proposal seeks to provide opportunities to English language learners who are pursuing career opportunities in the construction trades with English language support, math support, and TIP pre-apprenticeship programs.
Source: Local adult ed provider earns national recognition – The Sun-Gazette Newspaper
Students of all ages throughout Solano County put their scientific and engineering skills to the test, and many walked away with top prizes in Solano County Office of Education’s Science and Engineering Fair.
Held virtually this year, with an award ceremony that was held Tuesday, the competition had students put together engineering and science projects, which were judged by representatives from different universities.
Students are broken off into three divisions: elementary for third through fifth-graders, junior for sixth through eighth-graders and senior for ninth through 12th-graders. The top winners in the competition are eligible to enter the California State Science and Engineering Fair, which is slated for April 12 to 13 at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
Source: SCOE names winners in science, engineering competition – The Reporter
With more Californians relying on the internet during the coronavirus pandemic for distance learning and remote work, state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, today announced the introduction of his new legislation to streamline the installation of high-speed broadband service, ensuring better access, especially for low-income people.
“California can take immediate steps to close the digital divide by passing this proposal,” Sen. Dodd said. “For too long, telecommunication projects have been delayed by confusing regulations, entrenched in excessive bureaucracy. These processes have had a severe impact on bringing high-speed internet to many communities across California.”
Dodd’s legislation comes as employers and schools across our state have shifted to virtual participation, highlighting disparities of access faced by low-income families and people of color. Nearly 42% of California families said unreliable internet access was a challenge for them during distance learning, according to a recent poll by EdSource and FM3 Research.
Source: Dodd introduces broadband upgrade bill – Davis Enterprise
By Kris Corey
Ten students represented Fairfield High School’s (FHS) Patient Care pathway at the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Regional Competitive Event on February 24 and 26. Students competed in both the Sports Medicine event and the First Aid/CPR event. All six FHS students who competed in the Sports Medicine event earned highly competitive scores, which will enable them to represent the Fairfield High Falcons at the statewide HOSA competition on March 24.
This is the inaugural year of Fairfield High School’s HOSA chapter. The February competition marks the very first time that FHS Falcons have competed at a HOSA event. The Fairfield High HOSA team is now the third Career Technical Student Organization (CTSO) from the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District to earn high honors at a CTSO competition this year. This team joins the Rodriguez High School chapter of the Future Farmers of America and the Armijo High School Virtual Enterprise team which were recognized earlier this year.
Source: Press Release: Fairfield High Sports Medicine Students Move on to State Competition
Children and teens in the Travis School District will soon return to limited in-person instruction at the district’s campuses, ramping up their amount of time on campus as time passes.
School district trustees adopted a plan Tuesday to return all students choosing hybrid instruction to in-person learning in a 25% hybrid learning model March 26, for four days each week, and to move to 50% in-class instruction April 12.
All students will take part in distance learning each Wednesday.
Source: Travis school board gives go-ahead for students to return to campuses
BY Susan Hiland
Preschoolers and children with special needs in Fairfield and Suisun City will return to a modified version on in-person instruction Monday.
Thousands of children and teens in both cities have been forced to utilize online learning for the past year since schools shut down in March 2020 to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
Public schools started the current school year last fall with distance-learning protocols still in place and school sites shuttered to students.
Source: Some children in Fairfield, Suisun return to in-person learning Monday
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
Mayrene Bates is a “gem” in Solano County.
The winner of this year’s Ruby Award, Bates was nominated by Soroptimist Lynn Recknagel for the award that honors non-Soroptimist women who are making extraordinary efforts on behalf of other women.
It’s named after Ruby Lee Minar, who often preached at Sunday services in place of her father. She went on to earn a master’s degree in biblical studies and patristic Greek.
And, just like Bates, Minar was a teacher. She later became a real estate developer and, in 1922, was selected as first president of the Washington, D.C. Soroptimist Club. Six years later, Minar was chosen as Soroptimist International’s first national club president and helped form the International Federation of Soroptimist Clubs.
Source: Mayrene Bates: Ruby Award
By Matt Sieger
They used words and phrases like “unknowns,” “fluid and scary,” “unforeseeable challenges,” “uncharted territory” and “limbo.”
Sometimes the athletic directors of the local high schools were at a loss for words to describe their reaction and feelings to the suspension of spring sports on Friday, March 13, 2020, due to the threat of the coronavirus.
Will C. Wood Athletic Director Andrea Daniels noted, “It’s just the timing. It’s right when we are starting, so you’re in the flow, you’ve had your preseason and a lot of your practice sessions. But they (the student-athletes) all have a good attitude. It is what it is. We have to do what we have to do.”
Source: COVID shut down high school sports for a year
By Joel Rosenbaum
The Durham sisters, Kenley, 11 (left), and Delaney, 9 of Vacaville participate in their distance learning Friday from the parking lot of Vacaville High School during a peaceful demonstration organized by concerned parents to mark a full year of distance learning for the students in the Vacaville Unified School District due to COVID-19. Both girls attend Browns Valley Elementary School. Kenley is a sixth-grader and Delaney is in the fourth-grade.
Source: A Year From A Distance – The Reporter
BY Matt O’Donnell
They say that those who show up to a restaurant after others are “fashionably late.”
If that’s the case, the Vallejo and Jesse Bethel high school football teams may have missed some of the appetizers, but they’ll be around for part of the main course.
Both programs are expected to start conditioning on Monday after given clearance from the Vallejo City Unified School District. Most other schools in Solano County were conditioning in the fall and winter, but VCUSD did not given the green light until now. Actual practice with pads could begin about a week later.
Source: Vallejo City Unified School District allowing Vallejo, Bethel football teams to start conditioning – Times-Herald
BY Olivia DeGennaro
Friday marks one year since students in the Vacaville Unified School District have been distance learning.
To mark the occasion, they sat at folding tables to do their distance learning in the parking lot of Vacaville High School.
“At first, they just said we would be gone for two weeks,” Micah Navarro, a Vacaville High School freshman, told FOX40. “And they kept extending one month, two months … Honestly, I never would have imagined it to be like this.”
Source: Vacaville students, parents demand return to in-person learning
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that the California Department of Education (CDE) has selected 12 recipients of mini grants, totaling more than $240,000, that will fund local efforts across the state to address equity and opportunity gaps through supporting educator and student needs in distance learning, in-person instruction, and hybrid models.
Since the applications were announced in December 2020 as part of CDE’s ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic’s continued impact on students, more than 400 schools and districts across California applied for the grants, which are funded by contributions from philanthropic partners. The funds must be used to advance equity and close opportunity and access gaps. The grantees are given discretion to decide how they will address the topic of equity. The list of grantees is at the end of this press release.
Source: $240,000 in Grants to Address Education Inequities – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)
By Matt Sieger
When the California Department of Public Health declared on February 19 that high school football could resume in counties with 14 or fewer COVID cases per 100,000 people, one could almost hear a collective whoop getting ready to emanate from the mouths of local high school football players.
When the Solano County COVID-19 rate, which had been at 18.4 cases per 100,000 that day, dipped to 12.4 by the following Tuesday, the football players in the Monticello Empire League let that whoop out full throttle in celebration and put on their cleats to get ready for official practice and for their first games on Friday, March 19.
Source: Vacaville, Vanden, Wood football ready to kick off – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
After a year of COVID-19, of staying in or working from our homes, of relying on Zoom gatherings for so much of life, and so much more, help is on the way for Solano County and Vacaville area residents.
President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Thursday and it means that individuals who meet certain income requirements and filed IRS tax returns in 2019 or 2020 will be getting a $1,400 stimulus check in the mail or electronically deposited to a bank account.
It also means there will be critical funding to re-open schools, more vaccinations, more employment as school districts, cities, counties and area transportation agencies will be getting millions in financial relief.
Source: Coronavirus: Solano welcomes feds’ help – The Reporter
By Kris Corey
Every summer, the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District’s (FSUSD) Maintenance Department oversees several large maintenance projects, and this practice will continue for summer 2021. The necessary repairs are above the threshold that the Maintenance Department is allowed to self-perform according to California Public Contract Code. As a result, bids are released for contractors to perform the required work. Projects for summer 2021, include HVAC replacement at one site, roof replacement at four sites, asphalt work at nine sites, exterior painting at three sites, and gym bleacher service at all high schools and middle schools. The estimate for all the projects is $2.2M. Any remaining funds will go toward tree removal, flooring repair, and cafeteria table replacements.
Source: Press Release: FSUSD Prepares for Summer Maintenance Projects
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hosted a statewide webinar today with health experts and educators that addressed the use of rapid COVID-19 testing as a tool to safely resume in-person learning on school campuses.
“I strongly believe that while we wait for a full vaccine roll-out, we also need to be moving toward a strategy for the deployment of rapid COVID testing that is cost-effective for schools,” Thurmond said. “This is one tool in our tool box—but an important one. Rapid COVID testing is a game-changer. With mounting data that students are suffering from mental health issues and learning disruptions, rapid testing is a real help for districts looking for ways to get students safely back into classrooms.”
During the presentation, Thurmond shared how the use of BinaxNOW COVID-19 Cards, which provide test results in 15 minutes at a cost of $5 per test, will be used at the California Department of Education’s (CDE) three State Special Schools to safely return students to in-person instruction.
Source: Rapid COVID Testing to Facilitate School Reopening – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)