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)
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)
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
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
During its regular meeting on May 6, Vallejo’s school board tabled a resolution in support of a draft of an ethnic studies curriculum deemed “anti-Jewish” by the California Legislative Jewish Caucus.
The resolution, titled “Affirming Support of AB 2016 California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Draft,” was included on last week’s agenda after being introduced by the Vallejo City Unified School District’s superintendent, Adam Clark.
It was scuttled in a 5-0 vote.
AB 2016 is a 4-year-old piece of legislation, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, mandating an ethnic studies curriculum be drafted as a guide for California high schools.
Source: Vallejo school board tables vote on ‘anti-Jewish’ ethnic studies curriculum – J.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today issued the following statement in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s revised budget for the fiscal year 2020–21:
“The COVID-19 crisis has had a disastrous impact on the state’s economy, and the updated projections today offer sobering details of that reality. I want to thank Governor Newsom for working hard to prioritize and preserve public education as one of the vital, core services we must protect as we weather this economic downturn. Today’s updated budget proposal includes a variety of measures designed to avoid permanent cuts to education, which otherwise could have lasting impacts on a generation of students.
“While the measures outlined in today’s proposal are far from what our schools need, we also understand that our state is facing impossible choices under impossible circumstances. I will continue to advocate on behalf of our students and educators through each step of the Legislature’s budget adoption process in the coming weeks.
Source: SPI Issues Statement in Response to May Revise – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Ali Tadayon
Taking attendance has acquired new meaning for schools as distance learning becomes the new normal during the pandemic.
Schools are not required to take roll at this time in order to receive state funds based on average daily attendance, said California Department of Education spokesman Scott Roark. But districts are encouraged to monitor student participation and performance in distance learning to see how well it is working.
Moreover, many teachers simply want to stay in touch with their students. Partly that’s to see that they are keeping up with their coursework, but also to make sure they are getting the resources they need and are safe.
Source: Teachers grapple with how to keep track of students during distance learning – The Reporter
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and state leaders called representatives from major technology and internet service provider companies to appear at yesterday’s Closing the Digital Divide Task Force meeting to discuss the persistent technology gaps impacting the state’s most vulnerable students. Hundreds of thousands of students in schools throughout the state are still without the necessary devices and internet access needed to participate in distance learning along with their peers.
The full video archive of the meeting can be found on the CDE Facebook web page.
The task force, co-chaired by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), has asked that internet service providers offer free guest access to all California students. During Monday’s hearing, executives from AT&T, Comcast, Cox Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon were asked to provide more details on their efforts to bring connectivity into the homes of students from low-income and rural communities, including providing services for free or at low cost.
Source: Digital Divide Task Force Advocates for Students – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that his Closing the Digital Divide Task Force is asking the leaders of major internet service providers to provide free guest access to all of California’s students. Executives from these companies will be asked to speak to their commitment to the state’s most vulnerable students and families at the next task force meeting on Monday, May 4 at 4 p.m., which will be streamed live online.
Superintendent Thurmond created the task force, co-chaired by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino), to help close the technological gaps that put millions of students—including those living in remote, rural areas and students living in poverty—at a further academic disadvantage. Executives from all major service providers, including AT&T, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, have been invited to the meeting, which will be livestreamed on the CDE Facebook page.
Source: Task Force Calls for Free Internet for Students – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a new food assistance program for children throughout the state, including thousands in Solano County, who are living in households struggling with food insecurity, state schools chief Tony Thurmond has announced.
The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program provides electronic food benefits to families equal to the value of meals children eligible for free or reduced-priced meals would have received at school, he noted in a press release issued earlier this week.
“The COVID-19 crisis has placed additional economic strain on some of our families that were already struggling to put food on the table,” Thurmond said in the prepared statement. “This program provides critical food assistance so that our students who are in economically challenged households can get the nutritious meals at home they need to thrive.”
Source: Coronavirus: CDE: In new program, low-income students eligible for extra food benefits – Times-Herald
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond commended yesterday’s executive order by Governor Gavin Newsom that allows schools to focus on the impacts of campus closures as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and their mitigation plans for when students return this fall. The executive order does this by extending the deadline for school districts and charter schools to submit upcoming Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP) which are long-range planning documents tied to budget projections.
“School districts statewide have been working hard to put distance learning platforms into place and keep their students fed. The LCAP process deadlines should not be placing additional burdens on schools, which as a result of our current climate of social distancing, cannot meaningfully engage with their community stakeholders,” Thurmond said. “The Governor’s action frees up staff time and resources for districts to focus solely on the immediate learning needs and health of our students.”
Source: SPI Commends Governor’s LCAP Executive Order – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that 25 schools and eight districts earned 2020 California Green Ribbon Schools awards. Among these state honorees are five “Green Achievers” nominated by the State Superintendent to receive U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition.
The U.S. Department of Education today confirmed all five Green Achievers as ED-GRS honorees, recognized for conserving resources while promoting health and environmental literacy. California’s honorees are among 39 schools, 11 districts, and five postsecondary institutions being honored nationally.
“Congratulations to this year’s honorees,” said Thurmond. “California Green Ribbon Schools expertly use local approaches to tackle global issues such as sustainability and environmental literacy. Students are not only learning and practicing environmental stewardship, but also sharing those sustainable practices with their families and in their communities.”
Source: 2020 CA Green Ribbon Schools Award Honorees – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today the release of 2019–2020 enrollment data for California’s kindergarten through grade twelve public schools. The data breaks down enrollment by ethnicity and grade, along with English Language Acquisition Status, and can be sorted by county, district, or school.
“In these unprecedented times, these data can provide a clear look at all California students,” Thurmond said. “It’s especially helpful in showing where students are struggling and additional resources are needed as we work to close the digital divide and provide assistance for schools having to utilize distance-learning models.”
Source: SSPI Thurmond Announces 2019-20 Enrollment Data – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today the creation of a new task force to close the digital divide for California students who lack access to resources such as internet connectivity and devices. The Closing the Digital Divide Task Force will be co-chaired by California State Senator Connie Leyva.
“This task force signals a new era, that California is now working with focus and urgency to close the digital divide in the most concrete way we have ever seen,” said Thurmond. “COVID-19 is a public health crisis in California and all around the world, but it’s also revealed other crises like the technology gap that has persisted for too long, leading to opportunity and achievement gaps for California’s students.”
“As the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, I strongly believe that ensuring equity for California students is critically important,” said Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino). “One vital step to ensuring equity is by closing the digital divide, which has become that much more evident and urgent as distance learning is now the new reality for millions of school children during the current COVID-19 crisis. I look forward to co-chairing this important task force as we all continue to work together to meet the needs of students in California.”
Source: Thurmond Announces Digital Divide Task Force – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
The U.S. Department of Education has granted preliminary approval to California’s request for flexibility in using federal funds to ease the immediate impacts of COVID-19 school closures.
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond submitted the request for waivers, authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, on Friday, April 10, 2020. The waivers were approved today.
The waivers loosen restrictions on how and when federal education funds can be spent. They remove a cap on technology purchases, ease limits on the amount of unspent federal funds that can be carried over from one federal fiscal year to the next, and relax rules about the use of money for teacher professional development.
Source: CA Receives Approval for Crisis Response Funds – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the state college and K–12 systems on Thursday issued a joint statement on college admissions and placement agreements, including distance learning, strategies for flexible grading and guides for “adjustments” of local graduation requirements.
In a press release, university, college and K-12 officials advised that the new accommodations marked a historic collaboration among California’s education leaders, including the California State Board of Education, California Department of Education, California State University, University of California, California community colleges, and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities.
“California’s K–12 and higher education communities are committed to helping high school and community college students overcome university admissions and placement challenges due to the suspension of in-person classroom teaching” caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, a CDE spokeswoman, Janet Weeks, said in the prepared statement.
Source: Coronavirus: Amid COVID-19 outbreak, CA college, K–12 systems issue joint statement on college admissions, placement agreements – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
For California school district leaders worried about the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, help is on the way.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Thursday announced that $100 million will be sent to the more than 1,000 school districts.
The money, included in SB 117, one of two COVID-19 emergency bills passed by the Legislature on March 17, comes as California’s districts — classified as elementary, high school or unified — have suspended classes until early May and may face the possibility of closure until the fall.
Source: Coronavirus: State schools chief: $100M in COVID-19 funding available to districts – The Reporter
This apportionment, in the amount of $100,000,000, is made from the General Fund as provided by Section 9 of Senate Bill 117 (Chapter 3, Statutes of 2020) to local educational agencies (LEAs) in support of the SB 117 COVID-19 LEA Response Funds (SB 117 Funds). This apportionment reflects 100 percent of available funds.
Funding is allocated to each county office of education, school district, and charter school (both local and direct funded) on the basis of average daily attendance (ADA), excluding charter school nonclassroom based (NCB) ADA, funded as of the 2019–20 First Principal Apportionment. Each state special school is funded on an ADA equivalent factor equal to 97 percent of each state special school’s total enrollment count certified in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) as of the 2019–20 Fall 1 Submission. Each LEA, excluding charter schools that generate 100 percent NCB ADA, received a minimum funding allocation of $250 and had to be operational as of March 4, 2020.
Source: Ltr1-19: SB 117 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
California public schools chief Tony Thurmond on Friday said the state Department of Education received a preliminary federal OK to waive assessment and accountability requirements for the 2019–2020 school year.
His department and the State Board of Education formally requested approval for the waivers from the U.S. Department of Education in a letter sent Thursday. Formal approval is expected in the coming weeks, Thurmond noted in a press release.
Source: Coronavirus: CDE gets prelim fed OK to waive testing, school accountability – The Reporter
The United States is currently experiencing a pandemic emergency due to the threat of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). On March 13, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-26-20 ensuring State funding for Local Educational Agencies (LEA) in the event of physical closure due to the threat of COVID-19. The Executive Order requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to issue guidance on several topics, including ensuring students with disabilities (SWD) receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) consistent with their individualized education program (IEP) and meeting other procedural requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and California law.
At this time, the federal government has not waived the federal requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). To review guidance from the USDOE titled “Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak,” visit the USDOE website at https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/qa-covid-19-03-12-2020.pdf. The CDE and the California State Board of Education (SBE) are working with the United States Department of Education (USDOE) to determine what flexibilities or waivers may be issued in light of the extraordinary circumstances. Until and unless USDOE ultimately provides flexibilities under federal law, LEAs should do their best in adhering to IDEA requirements, including federally mandated timelines, to the maximum extent possible. LEAs are encouraged to consider ways to use distance technology to meet these obligations. However, the CDE acknowledges the complex, unprecedented challenges LEAs are experiencing from the threat of COVID-19. As such, the CDE is committed to a reasonable approach to compliance monitoring that accounts for the exceptional circumstances facing the state.
Source: Special Education Guidance for COVID-19 – Health Services & School Nursing (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education’s (CDE) “CA Meals for Kids” mobile app has been updated to help students and families find meals during COVID-19-related emergency school closures.
“Food insecurity is a daily struggle for some of our students and their families and that struggle is even more difficult and complicated during the current COVID-19 emergency we’re all facing,” said Thurmond. “I’d like to thank the Nutrition Services Division, the Technology Services Division, and all CDE staff who worked on updating the app—and the hard-working school nutrition staff around the state who have heroically continued working, and who are continuing to serve our students during this unprecedented emergency situation.”
Source: CA Meals for Kids App Update – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)