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Lisa Reyes, Human Resources, Solano County Office of Education

Nutrition CARES Act Guidance – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

On May 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued guidance regarding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act provides funding to Child Nutrition Programs to assist with the impact of COVID-19. The California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division (NSD) is providing clarification on how the CARES funding can be used.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has instructed us that these funds can only be used for paying reimbursement claims for actual meals served to eligible children in the National School Lunch Program, Summer Seamless Option, and School Breakfast Programs, Special Milk Program, Child and Adult Care Food, and Summer Food Service Programs, and therefore cannot be used to offset revenue loss. In addition, these funds can only be used for claims during the time period March through September 2020.

Source: Nutrition CARES Act Guidance – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)

California schools should encourage, not require face covering, draft guidance says – The Reporter

By Louis Freedberg

Students should be encouraged but not required to use face coverings when California schools reopen for classroom instruction, according to a draft of “interim guidance” from the state obtained by EdSource.

However, all staff should use face coverings, according to the document, which sources familiar with it say was drawn up by the California Dept. of Public Health in collaboration with the governor’s office.

That is only one of the numerous issues addressed in the document on what schools need to take into account when reopening. The guidelines, it says, are based on “the best available public health data at this time, international best practices and the practical realities of managing school operations.”

Source: California schools should encourage, not require face covering, draft guidance says – The Reporter

California needs $500 million to buy enough computers, internet connections for all students – Times-Herald

By Diana Lambert

California needs at least $500 million to address the immediate need for home computers and internet access for K-12 students, as most schools are expected to continue at least some distance learning next school year, said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond during a press conference Wednesday.

Thurmond called on companies, foundations and individual donors to help provide the 600,000 computers and tablets, and 300,000 to 400,000 internet connections or hot spots needed for distance learning after campuses closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The department has been working with companies like T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Amazon and others and has distributed 100,000 hot spots to students and 21,000 computers to districts.

Source: California needs $500 million to buy enough computers, internet connections for all students – Times-Herald

‘Last Dance?’ Not for retiring PE teacher – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

Lynne Lee planned this year on her last event being the annual prom after almost 30 years of teaching adaptive physical education in the Fairfield-Suisun School District.

Her plans came true Friday.

Prom began at least 25 years ago as the Spring Fling. It went to the next level five or six years ago, complete with “promposals” and a morning of dancing in the Armijo High School gym.

Source: ‘Last Dance?’ Not for retiring PE teacher

Dixon MPHS Class Of 2020 Graduation | Dixon, CA Patch

Our ceremony will be drive through style. Students and their families will line their cars up in front of Anderson Elementary School at 6:45 pm The first car in line will pull into the MPHS school parking lot through the exit. The graduate will exit the car and stand under the balloon arch to receive their diploma and other goodies.

Families may take pictures from a safe physical distance. The car exits and the next car pulls in.The ceremony will be professionally recorded by Timeline Productions, edited, and posted to YouTube. If weather permits, there will be drone pictures as well. Please feel free to decorate your cars and your caps!

Source: Dixon MPHS Class Of 2020 Graduation | Dixon, CA Patch

SSPI Works Toward Internet Access for Students – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and state leaders serving on the Closing the Digital Divide Task Force continued their work today on behalf of California’s most vulnerable students and families who continue to experience barriers to internet access despite calls for providers to expand their services.

During the task force’s latest hearing, Thurmond and members heard testimony from advocates for students living in urban and rural areas, who described continued inequities that stand to put California’s most at-risk learners further behind. During the hearing, representatives from internet service providers were asked to respond to concerns raised, including limited or no service in specific zip codes, “free” internet offers that require costly long-term contracts, mandatory deposits, and other constraints to access.

Source: SSPI Works Toward Internet Access for Students – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Vallejo board makes grade span changes at several elementary schools – Times-Herald

By John Glidden

With a declining student enrollment staring them in the face, the Vallejo School Board approved grade span changes at five of the school district’s elementary schools during its May 20 meeting.

Starting next school year, Federal Terrace, Highland, Patterson, Pennycook, and Wardlaw elementary schools will add the sixth grade, going from a transitional kindergarten (TK) to 5th grade model to a TK-6 school site.

Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Adam Clark said the changes were necessary as the district continues to consolidate school sites throughout the city.

Source: Vallejo board makes grade span changes at several elementary schools – Times-Herald

Solano College moving to primarily online classes for fall 2020 – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Solano Community College will move to a primarily online schedule this fall, the college announced Tuesday.

“After considering guidance from the governor and the SolanoCounty Department of Public Health, and after consulting with the Board of Trustees and faculty representing the union and the academic senate, Solano Community College will move to a primarily online schedule of classes for the fall 2020 term,” said a press release.

“This extends an earlier decision to hold all summer classes online.”

Source: Solano College moving to primarily online classes for fall 2020

Solano County’s Child Haven keeps working amid pandemic – Times-Herald

By Times Herald

The COVID-19 pandemic may have presented health, economic and safety issues but Solano County’s oldest children’s mental health agency is up for the challenge.

During times of high stress, coupled with financial instability and isolation, the incidence of domestic violence and abuse rises steeply, Child Haven officials said in a news release.

As services to at-risk families become even more critical, Child Haven has remained open, providing remote, web-based tele-health services to clients, with only key admin staff in the office.

Source: Solano County’s Child Haven keeps working amid pandemic – Times-Herald

Schools would get $1 billion to help homeless students under bipartisan federal proposal – The Reporter

By Carolyn Jones

Homeless youth and families, who’ve been largely left out of federal coronavirus aid, would get more than $1 billion under a bipartisan proposal put forth this week in the U.S. Senate.

The proposal includes money for shelters, motel bills, food, school supplies and other services intended to help homeless students, whose numbers are expected to grow as unemployment soars to Depression-era levels nationwide.

“It’s what we need right now during this crisis,” said Darla Barbine, executive director of the National Network for Youth, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. “We were already at record levels of youth homelessness before the pandemic, but the coronavirus has put a spotlight on these deep fissures in our society.”

Source: Schools would get $1 billion to help homeless students under bipartisan federal proposal – The Reporter

Vacaville school board to hear update on potential school openings by fall – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Trustees of the Vacaville School District will hear a presentation Thursday about the progress made from a committee looking into different scenarios that could lead area schools to reopen in August.

The committee has examined numerous factors that would need to be considered prior to reopening the schools, including safety, preparedness and risk assessment.

Committee members heard a range of comments from parent feedback engagement, ranging from supportive to expressions of mixed emotions.

Source: Vacaville school board to hear update on potential school openings by fall

Fairfield-Suisun USD honors top students in drive-thru celebration – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

A pandemic and campus closures were not going to be enough to stop more than 100 of Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District’s top graduating seniors from being honored for their four years of hard work.

The district hosted its annual Highest Honors recognition for students who had grade point averages of 4.0 or higher throughout their high school tenure. However, unlike in past years where the event was held in the form of a ceremony, this year’s installment was held in a manner more reflective of the times: a drive-thru celebration in the FSUSD office parking lot, where students could drive up, pick up their signs as well as their golden cords and tassels, and receive cheers from their principals and district staff.

Source: Coronavirus: Fairfield-Suisun USD honors top students in drive-thru celebration – The Reporter

Fairfield-Suisun high honors students get their moment at district office HQ – Daily Republic

By Peter Fournier

A normal high honors ceremony for Fairfield-Suisun School District honorees would likely take place at Willow Hall near the library with appropriate attire in a formal setting.

But, seeing as the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the world far from normal, the much-better option with the current situation was a raucous drive-thru ceremony that saw the students with greater than a 4.0 GPA honored Friday morning at the school district office parking lot.

District officials said 121 of the 136 high honors students trickled through the parking lot, sometimes arriving on their own and others arriving with their entries families, ready to pick up the gold chords, gold tassels, front-yard posts and hearing enthusiastic support from district staff and even Assemblyman Jim Frazier, who was in attendance.

Source: Fairfield-Suisun high honors students get their moment at district office HQ

Vallejo High seniors pose for graduation pictures – Times-Herald

By Thomas Gase

A decided lack of pomp and circumstance notwithstanding, most Vallejo High School seniors shared one note of optimism as they showed up on campus Thursday with their caps and gowns for the school’s foray into the COVID-19 era of graduations.

It wasn’t much, but at least it was something.

As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the season’s traditional events and ceremonies across the nation, the school’s planned ceremony for the 2020 class on June 10 is a no-go. The ceremony is still scheduled for June 10, but the 6:30 p.m. event is a virtual graduation ceremony.

Redhawk seniors were given the opportunity to have their pictures taken while standing on a stage holding their diplomas while dressed up. The pictures will then be added to a slideshow that will be part of the virtual ceremony next month.

Source: Coronavirus: Vallejo High seniors pose for graduation pictures – Times-Herald

Vallejo school board honors Maria Guevara – Times-Herald

By John Glidden

“Thank you, Maria, for all you did for us.”

The end of Wednesday’s Vallejo school board meeting turned somber as President John Fox took time to acknowledge the passing of community advocate Maria Guevara.

Guevara, 45, was struck and killed May 7 by a train in Suisun City.

“She was such an inspirational person to know,” Fox told the other trustees. “She basically dedicated her life for finding a way to help homeless people here in Vallejo.”

Source: Vallejo school board honors Maria Guevara – Times-Herald

Mayrene Bates Part 2: From librarian to legacy – Daily Republic

By Tony Wade

The nomadic military life that Jim and Mayrene Bates lived since they wed in 1955 eventually led them to plant roots in Fairfield in 1970. Their initial experiences with trying to purchase a home were discouraging. One Realtor automatically pointed them to predominately African-American neighborhood The Crest in Vallejo, but they wanted to live in Fairfield where they would both work.

Driving around town they saw a Realtor putting a “for sale” sign on a house on Begonia Street. While he did sell them the house, he told them that had they come five years earlier he could not have as it was in a white area.

Source: Back in the Day: Mayrene Bates Part 2: From librarian to legacy

Empty classrooms show where time stood still – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

Shamrock fabric still covers the teacher’s desk, snowflake decorations are hanging around the room and books about Easter and spring fill the shelves.

Those were some of the items frozen in time in Audrey Jacque’s first-grade classroom at K.I. Jones Elementary School.

One student looked to the future and writing 3/16/20 on one of the boards.

Classroom teaching ceased after March 13 in the Fairfield-Suisun School District. Instructors are now returning to their classrooms for end-of-the-school-year packing.

Source: Empty classrooms show where time stood still

Local educators: Few specifics from CDE about reopening schools – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Reacting to the state Department of Education’s livestreamed discussion about safely reopening schools in the fall, Solano educators said the Thursday morning event — which included comments from state schools chief Tony Thurmond — offered few specific guidelines on how to do it.

They collectively agreed that, ultimately, the decision will be left to each of California’s 1,000 school districts.

Jared Austin, executive director and co-founder of Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy, called the discussion a “missed opportunity.” He said Thurmond and Dr. Gil Chavez, of California Department of Public Health, did not offer specific guidelines for the safe reopening of schools for the state’s 6.2 million students.

Source: Coronavirus: Local educators: Few specifics from CDE about reopening schools – The Reporter

Betsy DeVos Reroutes Coronavirus Aid Money To Private School Students : NPR

By Cory Turner

On Wednesday, congressional Democrats accused U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of trying to reroute hundreds-of-millions of dollars in coronavirus aid money to K-12 private school students. The coronavirus rescue package, known as the CARES Act, included more than $13 billion to help public schools cover pandemic-related costs.

In a letter co-signed by Rep. Bobby Scott, chairman of the House education committee, Sen. Patty Murray, ranking member of the Senate education committee, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the lawmakers say DeVos’ efforts run “in contravention of both the plain reading of the statute and the intent of Congress.”

Source: Betsy DeVos Reroutes Coronavirus Aid Money To Private School Students : Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR

Benicia parent makes video; takes photos to commemorate grads – Benicia Herald

By Glen Kusic

Benicians continue to step up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Teresa Van Woy, president of the Benicia Middle School band boosters was sad when the year was cut short and wanted to give back to the community and express herself creatively.

She has created a YouTube video for the band students and has taken over 80 individual portraits of graduating seniors and eight graders all around town to showcase Benicia’s beauty. All for free of course.

Source: Benicia parent makes video; takes photos to commemorate grads