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Lisa Reyes, Human Resources, Solano County Office of Education

2021 CA Teachers of the Year Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today named five exceptional educators as the 2021 California Teachers of the Year. These educators are ambassadors for the profession and serve as representatives of the state for the calendar year. Thurmond, who began his career as a social worker, said he is thrilled to honor five outstanding and talented teachers who go above and beyond to educate, inspire, and empower students, families, and communities.

“In a year that might be the most challenging in all of our lives, these five inspiring teachers have made profound differences in the lives of their students and communities,” he said. “I’m proud that these educators are receiving this prestigious honor for their continued effort to rise above the challenges and connect with students even during unimaginable circumstances.”

Presented by California Casualty and supported by the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers and encourage and inspire new teachers to enter the profession.

Source: 2021 CA Teachers of the Year Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Fairfield-Suisun Unified parent newsletter offers district resource centers – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Amid the ongoing pandemic, parents and families with K-12 students need all the information they can get to achieve success as distance learning continues.

To that end, Fairfield-Suisun Unified has posted the district’s most recent parent and family newsletter, dubbed Engage!, on the district website, at www.fsusd.org, directing viewers to resource centers.

The Engage! newsletter, published biweekly (every other week), contains articles and important information designed to keep families updated and connected.

Source: Fairfield-Suisun Unified parent newsletter offers district resource centers – The Reporter

Better than mom’s? New food program in Vacaville is a hit with students – KCRA 3

By Leticia Ordaz

The Vacaville Unified School District is not back for in-person learning yet, but schools are still serving up thousands of meals, twice a day. And a new food program is proving to be a big hit with students.

School officials at Willis Jepson Middle School on Wednesday are handing out meals with recipes that some kids said is tastier than mom’s cooking. The secret is everything is made from scratch for both breakfast and lunch.

School officials said the new menu change is important because nearly half of the student population is considered low income and qualifies for free or reduced meals.

Source: Better than mom’s? New food program in Vacaville is a hit with students

Benicia High club creates video to help peers deal with Covid-19 stress – Daily Republic

The Benicia High School Youth Advocacy Club made a video presentation at the recent statewide Virtual Youth Summit as a resource to help peers cope with the stresses of Covid-19 and distance learning.

“The result is a video and presentation on Brain Dance, a full body-brain exercise that reduces stress, increases levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin, and helps develop new neural connections,” according to a statement released by the Solano County Office of Education.

“We created brain dance to give young developing minds a way to grow,” sophomore club member Lillian Theis said in the statement. “We thought making a video would be a fun and beneficial way to reach younger audiences.”

Source: Benicia High club creates video to help peers deal with Covid-19 stress

How Election Day Could Alter COVID-19 Aid Talks for Education –  Education Week

By Andrew Ujifusa

It’ll be no surprise if Election Day is the turning point in coronavirus relief negotiations. But what exactly might happen after all the votes are counted and there are definitive winners and losers?

Without those results, it’s impossible to say definitively, of course. But based on conversations with a few veteran Washington education lobbyists, it’s possible to sketch out scenarios that hinge on control of the presidency and the Senate, with the House all but certain to remain under Democratic control. Those scenarios range from the passage of a relatively small relief package not long after the election, to a big aid deal that includes money for longstanding federal education grants—but doesn’t get completed until well into 2021.

Source: How Election Day Could Alter COVID-19 Aid Talks for Education – Politics K-12 – Education Week

COVID-19 Guidance in the Child Nutrition Programs – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued nationwide federal waivers and approved state specific requests intended to provide temporary flexibilities to certain regulatory requirements of the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP). The CNPs referenced are the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Seamless Summer Option (SSO), School Food Service Program (SFSP), and the Child and Adult Food Program (CACFP). The California Department of Education (CDE) is assisting Program Operators of the CNP by posting policy guidance and waivers, providing information on how to operate the programs during the pandemic, directions on how to claim for reimbursement and COVID-19 funding, providing bi-monthly Townhall webinars for questions and answers and best practices, connecting program operators with resources, answering Frequently Answered Questions (FAQ), and providing contact information for additional assistance. The CDE is striving to continue to support and protect access to nutritious meals for children and adults in California.

Source: COVID-19 Guidance in the Child Nutrition Programs – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

FSUSD Students Compete in Spirit Week Competition Between Schools – Daily Republic

The students in Fairfield-Suisun are approaching their third month in distance learning, but that has not prevented the students and staff from coordinating fun activities to keep the students engaged in learning.

During the week of September 28th, students and staff from Dover, Tolenas, Sheldon, Anna Kyle and David Weir competed against each other in a highly engaging spirit week.

David Weir K-8 Preparatory Academy and Dover Academy for International Studies had the highest percentage of students dressing up each day. As a result, their principals got to “pie” the principals at Tolenas, Sheldon and Anna Kyle.

Source: GOOD NEWS: FSUSD Students Compete in Spirit Week Competition Between Schools

Vacaville, Solano College at center of new biomanufacturing hub – Daily Republic

By Todd R. Hansen

About 60 students graduate from the Solano Community College Biotechnology program each year.

One course of study added this semester is the Cell and Gene Therapy certificate program – the first of its kind in the country for a community college.

Vacaville and the college took a step Thursday by signing an agreement that officials hope will result in a rapid growth in the college’s programs and provide thousands of job opportunities in the coming decades.

Source: Vacaville, Solano College at center of new biomanufacturing hub

What the Research Says About School Reopening and COVID-19 Transmission – MindShift

By Anya Kamenetz

Despite widespread concerns, two new international studies show no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus. And a third study from the United States shows no elevated risk to childcare workers who stayed on the job.

Combined with anecdotal reports from a number of U.S. states where schools are open, as well as a crowdsourced dashboard of around 2,000 U.S. schools, some medical experts are saying it’s time to shift the discussion from the risks of opening K-12 schools to the risks of keeping them closed.

“As a pediatrician, I am really seeing the negative impacts of these school closures on children,” Dr. Danielle Dooley, a medical director at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., told NPR. She ticked off mental health problems, hunger, obesity due to inactivity, missing routine medical care and the risk of child abuse — on top of the loss of education. “Going to school is really vital for children. They get their meals in school, their physical activity, their health care, their education, of course.”

Source: What the Research Says About School Reopening and COVID-19 Transmission – MindShift

California schools see big jump in number of homeless students – The Reporter

By Carolyn Jones, EdSource

California’s escalating cost of living has led to a 48% surge in the state’s homeless student population over the past decade, according to new research released today by researchers at UCLA.

Almost 270,000 students in K-12 schools lacked stable housing in 2018-19, numbers that almost certainly have grown since the pandemic and economic downturn began last spring, researchers said.

“We knew the numbers would be up, but we were surprised at the scope and severity of the crisis,” said Joseph Bishop, director of UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools, which compiled the report. “Looking at these numbers was really a ‘wow’ moment.”

Source: California schools see big jump in number of homeless students – The Reporter

Classified Foxboro employees cheer on students – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

The past seven months have not been easy for Foxboro Elementary School students. Like all pupils in the era of COVID-19, they have spent nearly all of their time at home with some only visiting campus to pick up lunches.

But those who do pick up lunches get very spirited greetings from the school’s classified employees. One employee has even taken it upon herself to write letters to every single Foxboro student.

“The kids miss being at school, (and) we miss them,” Trisha Carr, the school’s library media technician, said.

Source: Coronavirus: Classified Foxboro employees cheer on students – The Reporter

CDE Emergency Response Fund – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Thursday that the California Department of Education (CDE) has launched a statewide fundraising effort to bolster aid for schools in regions ravaged by wildfires and other disasters.

Thousands of students, families, and educators across California have endured weeks of back-to-back challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, power outages, and poor air quality. The new CDE Emergency Response Fund, launched Thursday in partnership with the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation (CDEF), will support the rapid generation of resources to schools facing unprecedented loss and uncertainty.

“Too many of our school communities are hurting and have endured more challenges than many of us will experience in a lifetime,” Thurmond said. “Californians are resilient, generous, and always have each other’s backs in times of crisis. Let’s continue to come together for our communities in need so they can get back on their feet.”

Source: CDE Emergency Response Fund – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Travis schools to continue distance learning; board will revisit topic in December – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

The Travis School District will continue distance learning for the remainder of the current semester.

The decision was made during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

It was based on various data points including current virus activity and the result of a recent survey conducted of families, students, and staff, according to a Travis School District press release.

The survey had a participation rate of 66% for students, 88% for families, 91% of teachers and 67% for other staff.

Source: Travis schools to continue distance learning; board will revisit topic in December

Kairos returns for in-person learning – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

After seven whole months of students learning from home, the Kairos Public Schools Vacaville Academy was once again bustling with students, albeit with social distancing protocols in place.

Kairos resumed in-person classes Tuesday for students who wished to return, which amounted to about 78 percent of them. Despite the fact that it was 10 weeks into the school year on a brisk October morning, there was definitely the feeling of a back-to-school day, complete with Kairos’ middle school ambassadors welcoming back the younger students with signs.

There were also indicators that this year on campus would begin differently than previous years, such as barriers at the desks, shorter recesses and a socially distanced physical education class where students did their stretches while spaced 6 feet apart.

Source: Coronavirus: Kairos returns for in-person learning – The Reporter

California school districts struggled to prepare teachers for distance learning this fall – The Reporter

By Diana Lambert and Betty Márquez Rosales, EdSource

Many California school districts offered a wide variety of training over the summer to prepare teachers for distance learning in the fall, but some struggled to offer enough to meet the needs of all teachers, leaving many to find training on their own.

Many districts offered in-house trainers or hired teaching consultants. But in many places, training focused only on teleconferencing tools like Zoom and educational platforms like Google Classroom. In other districts teachers were largely on their own to convert lessons from in-person to virtual, according to a recent EdSource survey.

Source: California school districts struggled to prepare teachers for distance learning this fall – The Reporter

School reopening discussion, trustee stipend increase on Travis school board agenda – Daily Republic

Members of the Travis School District governing board will consider how to reopen schools to in-class instruction now that all schools in the county have the green light to do so with proper safety protocols in place.

Trustees are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

One of the issues on the agenda is a discussion on increasing the board members’ meeting stipend from $240. However, a staff report to the board states that is not legally possible.

Source: School reopening discussion, trustee stipend increase on Travis school board agenda

FSUSD trustees vote to continue distance learning until year’s end – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The Fairfield-Suisun Unified governing board on Thursday voted to continue distance learning until the end of the 2020 calendar year and will revisit the matter in mid-January.

In a Friday press release, Angie Avlonitis, director of student services for the district, the county’s largest with 22,000 students, noted that Solano County has sustained 14 consecutive days in the red tier on California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Being in the red tier allows school districts the choice to open schools for in-person instruction.

Still, on Thursday trustees decided to remain in the distance-learning mode until year’s end and take up the matter again at the Jan. 14 governing board meeting.

Source: FSUSD trustees vote to continue distance learning until year’s end – The Reporter

Social media use in distance learning raises privacy concerns | Education Dive

By Shawna De La Rosa

Communication should only be carried out on platforms with strict privacy rules, with only general information shared on social media. Educators must remember that social media use could result in Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) violations, as well as attract harassment from online trolls.

Cybersecurity concerns existed long before school closures, but the uptick in ed tech use during the pandemic has made the situation more precarious. The rapid shift to online learning has opened doors for cyber-criminals, which The Consortium of School Networking cited as a top concern during the era of school closures. Cyberattackers tend to target schools because they are a rich source of personal data, but often lack the funds for strong security systems.

Source: Social media use in distance learning raises privacy concerns | Education Dive

School reopenings, hybrid learning look different across California – Times-Herald

By CALMATTERS

The night before the first day of in-person instruction for elementary students in San Diego County’s Poway Unified School District, principals sent families detailed instructions on how to drop off their children.

The following Thursday morning, “welcome back” balloons adorned campuses’ front gates and school employees took students’ temperatures as they waited inside their parents’ cars. Principals from other schools in the district watched the process unfold, looking for processes they could implement at their own soon-to-reopen schools.

So began for Poway the hybrid learning experiment playing out across the country.

Source: School reopenings, hybrid learning look different across California – Times-Herald

States ed chiefs rethinking accountability during COVID-19 | Education Dive

By Naaz Modan

The skip-year growth approach, Domaleski said, is “a promising model” being explored in a number of states. (Domaleski and other panelists didn’t discuss other models during the webinar.) However, even with new models, states need time to research and evaluate data collected in 2020-21 before the information is used for high-stakes purposes.

In the near term, states can collect and evaluate legacy and new data to understand the pandemic’s impact and identify areas where states and districts can partner to address challenges.

Source: States ed chiefs rethinking accountability during COVID-19 | Education Dive