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Lisa Reyes, Human Resources, Solano County Office of Education

How should schools prepare for increased SEL needs amid reopenings? | Education Dive

By Shawna De La Rosa

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.

Source: How should schools prepare for increased SEL needs amid reopenings? | Education Dive

Draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

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.”

Source: Draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Local artist brings students together with YouTube channel – Benicia Herald

By Editor

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.

Source: Local artist brings students together with YouTube channel

Student Murals Installed In Benicia As Public Art | Benicia, CA Patch

By Maggie Fusek

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.

Source: Student Murals Installed In Benicia As Public Art | Benicia, CA Patch

VUSD: Activity on baseball fields was due to maintenance – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

To make up for lost maintenance work at Vacaville Unified School District schools due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, crews performed work on the baseball fields at Hemlock Elementary School and Willis Jepson Middle School this past week.

The work began Tuesday and is scheduled to be completed Friday.

Images of the fields after a tractor had run through them had become widely circulated throughout social media beginning Tuesday with parents expressing outrage that their kids would not have a place to keep their minds at ease and stay active during the shutdown. One common explanation given was that the district was trying to keep kids off the fields while school and sports are not in session

Source: VUSD: Activity on baseball fields was due to maintenance – The Reporter

Parents, Coaches Upset After They Say Softball Fields Were Destroyed – CBS Sacramento

By Ryan Hill

Vacaville parents and coaches are furious after they say softball fields were destroyed by the Vacaville Unified School District.

“The fields are getting destroyed out here in Vacaville,” Luis Perez, a parent and coach, said.

“We’ve seen that on Tuesday at one of our sessions for workouts and training we had; there was a tractor out on the field coming out and blatantly stated that they were going to destroy the field,” Angelia Sandoval, a parent upset over fields, said.

Source: Vacaville Parents, Coaches Upset After They Say Softball Fields Were Destroyed – CBS Sacramento

SSPI Outlines Support for Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Wednesday outlined ways in which the California Department of Education (CDE) is helping schools implement and strengthen distance learning in the weeks leading up to the new school year, including guidance updates and virtual professional development, and ongoing efforts to connect school districts to resources that can close the digital divide.

“With school starting in a matter of weeks for many districts—and with as many as 97 percent of students expected to begin in distance learning—CDE is leaning into this moment to help make sure our educators are ready,” said Thurmond. “Whether we are helping schools close the digital divide, or providing guidance and webinars to understand new requirements, I am proud of the work our team is leading to help educators have the resources and responsiveness they need to make critical decisions in real time.”

Source: SSPI Outlines Support for Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

California’s higher education leaders see an opportunity in crisis – Times-Herald

By Ashley A. Smith

Colleges, students and faculty members may be unsure of what lies ahead as they brace for another mostly virtual academic term amid a pandemic, but the crisis could force California’s higher education systems to improve.

The state’s colleges and universities could use the current crisis to build better partnerships across the University of California, California State University, California Community Colleges and private institutions to increase access and improve graduation rates. That was the message from Lande Ajose, a senior policy advisor for higher education to Gov. Gavin Newsom, and ECMC Foundation President Peter Taylor during a webinar Wednesday hosted by California Competes, a nonprofit focused on improving graduation outcomes. The organization released a new data dashboard that found uneven educational opportunities across the state. For example, Bay Area residents are most likely to have a bachelor’s degree, at 52%, compared to 17% of residents in the San Joaquin Valley.

Source: California’s higher education leaders see an opportunity in crisis – Times-Herald

Dixon group hosting back-to-school scavenger hunt – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

Going back to school in Dixon will look very different this year, but one thing that will not change is the need to buy school supplies.

One local group has come up with a way to potentially get the necessary supplies for free in a manner that will also allow youngsters to have fun while doing so.

The Dixon Booze Fairies will be hosting a scavenger hunt in August, open to elementary and middle schoolers. The local group makes unprompted deliveries of snacks, sanitizer and — as the group’s name would imply — bottles of alcohol to residents’ doorsteps, and encourage the recipients to pay it forward.

Source: Dixon group hosting back-to-school scavenger hunt – The Reporter

VUSD: Bond refinance will be boon to taxpayers – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

Property owners in Vacaville Unified School District will see a reduced property tax rate on future bills, district officials announced in a new release.

This past month, VUSD refinanced $39.56 million in general obligation bonds, a move officials said would save district property owners more than $4.19 million in property taxes.

“With interest rates near historic lows, we wanted to take this opportunity to save our community money, particularly in light of the downturn in the economy,” Superintendent Jane Shamieh said in a statement.

Source: VUSD: Bond refinance will be boon to taxpayers – The Reporter

FSUSD to host pair of free Tdap immunization clinics next week – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Fairfield-Suisun Unified, teaming up with the Solano County Public Health Department, is hosting two free Tdap immunization clinics next week for incoming seventh-graders.

State law requires incoming seventh-graders to have two doses of varicella and a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) booster given after age 7 and prior to entering seventh grade.

In a press release, Tim Goree, director of administrative services and community engagement for the sprawling Solano County school district, said the free clinics are an opportunity for children to receive these immunizations at no cost, regardless of medical insurance coverage.

Source: FSUSD to host pair of free Tdap immunization clinics next week – The Reporter

Ed Dept official: Don’t expect testing waivers this year | Education Dive

By Shawna De La Rosa

Prior to Blew’s remarks, some states had already started seeking assessment waivers for the upcoming school year. On June 18, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced they would seek a standardized testing waiver, saying high-stakes testing would be “counterproductive.” South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan are among states that made similar pushes.

Recent recommendations by the NWEA, a nonprofit assessment provider, include suggestions to use two years of assessment data to measure student growth rather than a single year and to rethink how assessments are used and implemented overall. The association also suggested the U.S. Department of Education should change tests to reflect the new role of distance and hybrid learning, and provide targeted flexibilities in accountability for states rather than blanket testing waivers.

Source: Ed Dept official: Don’t expect testing waivers this year | Education Dive

Schools want to hire more counselors amid budget woes – The Reporter

By Carolyn Jones

With students facing ever-growing levels of depression and anxiety as the pandemic wears on, nearly everyone agrees that school districts need to expand their mental health services.

But budget uncertainties have stymied school districts’ efforts to hire more counselors and psychologists, leaving mental health advocates worried that thousands of students in California won’t receive the help they need.

“Basically, nearly every student in California has been traumatized,” said Melanee Cottrill, executive director of the California Association of School Psychologists. “We expect to see a huge demand when school reopens, and we are very concerned about meeting the needs of students.”

Source: Schools want to hire more counselors amid budget woes – The Reporter

Resources Identified to Support Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and leaders serving on the Closing the Digital Divide Task Force identified new resources and partnerships today to support California schools preparing for distance learning this fall. The task force, co-chaired by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), has been working since April to help equip all California students with computing devices and connectivity as schools prepare for the new academic year.

Among the resources identified Thursday include more than $5 billion available in the state budget to school districts to acquire devices, strengthen distance learning and address learning gaps. Task Force members also learned more about the progress of a multi-million dollar initiative spearheaded by Intel Corp. to support online learning.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic forces more school districts to resume virtual learning in the fall, this work grows increasingly urgent. But it is not insurmountable: Together, I believe we have the opportunity to rapidly build on the progress we already have made to date to close the digital divide,” Thurmond said. “Hundreds of thousands of students still lack the basic tools to connect to their learning. This is unacceptable, and now is the time to accelerate our efforts so that no student is left behind.”

Source: Resources Identified to Support Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Fairfield High grad makes most of musical gifts with work on numerous films, shows – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

Musician Dennis Tenney, a 1975 Fairfield High School graduate, joined Facebook recently to read the chatter about Assembly Bill 5.

He ventured out from there to join some horror movie fan groups and got a job composing the music for “Reunion from Hell.”

The horror film is in the fundraising stages and will star Cathy Podewell, who starred in various roles on “Dallas” from 1988-91.

Tenney and Podewell met when she was featured in 1988’s “Night of the Demons,” produced by Tenney’s brother, Kevin Tenney. It also features music from Dennis Tenney.

Source: Fairfield High grad makes most of musical gifts with work on numerous films, shows

Green Valley brother, sister start nonprofit after coming face-to-face with poverty – Daily Republic

By Todd R. Hansen

The little boy held out the ice cream to Sophia Anderson and said, “para ti.”

It means “for you.”

But the ice cream was for the boy and many others like him who live in the worst kind of poverty. Sophia and her brother, Luke Anderson, along with their family had bought the ice cream for the children in the village that has come to be known as Calle de la Esperanza.

Source: Green Valley brother, sister start nonprofit after coming face-to-face with poverty

California school districts brace for an online back-to-school season – The Reporter

By Sydney Johnson

Most California schools are preparing for a new reality of entirely remote classes this fall, after Gov. Gavin Newsom last week announced that schools cannot offer in-person instruction if they are in counties the state is closely monitoring for coronavirus spread.

That means it is back to the drawing board for the many districts that were previously planning on offering a variety of options to students and parents, ranging from in-person classes and online instruction to hybrid approaches that involve a blend of both.

Distance learning “is a challenge in any experience,” Newsom said in his daily briefing on Wednesday.

Source: California school districts brace for an online back-to-school season – The Reporter

Information session planned for candidates seeking FSUSD board seats – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District has four by-area governing board seats up for grabs on Election Day, Nov. 3.

A few requirements must be met to qualify as a candidate. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, a resident of the trustee area, a registered voter and not employed by the school district, the county’s largest.

The open trustee areas are 1, 2, 3 and 6. For details about their boundaries, if interested in seeking election, visit www.fsusd.org. Also, Fairfield residents can go to www.solanocounty.com/depts/rov/ and input their address to determine their trustee area or call the county Registrar of Voters office at 784-6675.

Source: Information session planned for candidates seeking FSUSD board seats – The Reporter

Solano County’s Estrella-Henderson Named Superintendent Of Year | Benicia, CA Patch

By Maggie Fusek

The California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators recently named Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson its 2020 superintendent of the year for Region 1, which encompasses the nine counties of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Each year, the CALSA recognizes educators through its “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.

Source: Solano County’s Estrella-Henderson Named Superintendent Of Year | Benicia, CA Patch

First 5 Solano becomes emergency services agency for child care – Daily Republic

By Todd R. Hansen

First 5 Solano has become a kind of emergency services agency since the Covid-19 pandemic created a need for child care for essential workers.

As the pandemic forced the closure of schools, preschools and other child care programs, the need for “pop-up care sites” where essential workers could take their children while they were working became more and more pressing.

So the Solano County Office of Emergency Services turned to First 5 Solano, starting in March, to find child care options, particularly in Vallejo.

Source: First 5 Solano becomes emergency services agency for child care