By Richard Freedman
Depending on how long COVID-19 lasts, school staffs could soon start recognizing the vehicles of parents as much as faces of the students.
In the latest drive-up event, food boxes, backpacks loaded with school supplies, virus masks, and emergency kits were distributed to 100-plus motorist parents Wednesday morning at Grace Patterson Elementary School.
Natalie Kidder, founder of Another Chapter, coordinated the back-to-school outreach with Patterson Principal Megan De La Mater.
Source: Patterson staff, nonprofits gracefully deliver help in Vallejo – Times-Herald
As Congress and President Trump wrestle over how much to provide in the next round of relief from the coronavirus, California school districts, county offices of education and charter schools must decide what to do with the $6.8 billion that’s already coming their way.
They’ll have flexibility but not much time. In passing the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March, Congress set a Dec. 31 deadline to spend the money.
In early June, EdSource published estimates on how the state planned to distribute the funds in the first proposal. During the budget negotiations, the state added about $1 billion to the total.
Source: Figures released on state, federal CARES Act funding to districts to address COVID-19 – The Reporter
By Thomas Gase
Ten-year-old Victoria Ward is pretty shy and can be a young woman of a few words. That being said, she is very talented and just needed some help in unmasking that talent.
Or this case, she needed to help give others a mask.
Ward, about to begin fifth grade at Public Safety Academy in Fairfield, has discovered her own skills in sewing, specifically making COVID-19 masks for other kids close to her age. She’s made about 160 for orders on her website and has given away at least another 50 to Emmanuel Temple Apostolic Church in Vallejo. The donated masks were a recent hit with kids at a free resource fair at the church last week.
“It’s fun to do,” Ward said. “I got a sewing kit around Christmas and I started sewing masks a few months ago. It was hard at first. I had to learn to sew correctly and have the measurements right.”
Source: Fairfield girl making masks for other kids, church in Vallejo – Times-Herald
Sen Bill Dodd, D-Solano, announced Tuesday that his bill to protect school funding already impacted by the coronavirus pandemic from being further harmed by potential wildfire-related power shutoffs has cleared the Assembly Committee.
“Considering the financial challenges posed by Covid-19, it is especially important that we protect critical funding sources for our public schools,” he advised in a press statement. “They should not lose money because PG&E or another utility has responded to the threat of wildfire by shutting off their power lines. This bill would make schools whole if they are forced to endure another outage.”
California public school funding is based on average daily attendance, reported three times a year by school districts. Under current law, if schools are forced to close because of a public safety power shutoff, they could lose part of their expected allocation. Senate Bill 884 changes that by authorizing the state to backfill average daily attendance money.
Source: Coronavirus: Bill to protect school funding advances – The Reporter
By Maggie Fusek
If the Benicia Unified School District wants to hold classes in schools instead of online this fall, state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan on Tuesday outlined the state’s waiver process for K-6 schools.
Solano County is currently on California’s COVID-19 coronavirus “Watch List.”
Pan, the former health officer for Alameda County, said K-6 schools can apply for a waiver to begin in-person instruction if they are located in a county that meets several criteria in spite of being on the state’s Watch List.
Source: State Gives Benicia Guidance To Start School Classes | Benicia, CA Patch
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)
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
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
By Susan Hiland
The upcoming school year for children in Fairfield and Suisun City is going to look and feel very different from past years.
The Fairfield-Suisun School District governing board voted unanimously during a special meeting Monday via teleconference on a long-term plan for students returning to school for the upcoming academic year.
All classes at the start of the school year will be done 100% by virtual distance learning per the Gov. Gavin Newsom guidelines which came out Friday.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun board votes to open school year from a distance
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond issued the following statement today in response to the Governor’s updated guidance for schools:
“I want to commend the Governor for his leadership and for his focus on prioritizing public safety during what might be one of the most challenging experiences we will face in our lifetime. I appreciate the concern he expressed today as a father, his concern for the safety of California’s six million students, and his concern for the health and welfare of our schools’ educators and families.
“I also want to thank the Governor for the work he has led to ensure that our educators have necessary personal protective equipment—already on its way to our 10,000 schools—in the form of millions of units of face coverings, face shields, hand sanitizer, and thermometers.
Source: SPI Issues Statement on Governor’s School Guidance – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Thomas Gase
The Vallejo City Unified School District announced on Friday morning that when school returns in the fall all grade levels will resume with distance learning.
The board agreed Wednesday that the 2020-21 school year will begin with distance learning for all grade levels,” Mitch Romao, the Vallejo interim superintendent wrote in a news release. “We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 conditions that led to this inevitable conclusion, and continue to work with county and state education and public health agencies in an expressed hope to resume face to face instruction at the first opportunity.”
Source: Vallejo Unified School District announces all grade levels will return with distance learning – Times-Herald
By Maggie Fusek
As California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out back-to-school guidelines for K-12 students across the state Friday, saying that students in counties on the state’s coronavirus monitoring list must start the school year online, the Solano County Office of Education confirmed all K-12 students in Solano County will start the school year with distance learning.
“Previously, some Solano County school districts and charter schools made plans to reopen school campuses with varying models of social distancing, modified schedules, and distance learning options for students,” SCOE Spokeswoman Jennifer Leonard said Friday in a news release.
Source: Solano County Students To Start New School Year Online | Benicia, CA Patch
California has begun buying masks made for children as the state continues to adapt to life with the coronavirus.
The state has been sending masks to school districts since the start of the pandemic, and began purchasing child-sized masks last month based on feedback from the districts, said Governor’s Office spokesman Brian Ferguson.
“They fit better,” Ferguson said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom hasn’t issued any statewide guidance on whether schools should reopen their buildings, saying just one approach doesn’t work in a state with more than 1,000 districts serving more than 6 million children.
Source: California buys 18 million child-sized masks for schools as coronavirus continues
By Bill Hicks
It may all come to nothing, but for now, the Fairfield-Suisun School District Board of Trustees is poised to decide Monday how to proceed with school reopenings in the fall.
District staff shared a number of informational presentations Thursday and numerous teachers and parents spoke to offer their opinions of the options available to the district.
The district had previously weighed one of several different options, ranging from 100% distance learning, or online classes taken at home on the internet, to 100% return to classrooms, with other plans offering a hybrid of in-class and online learning.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun trustees set to vote on 1 of 2 school reopening plans
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Wednesday commended school districts across California for making student, teacher, and staff health and safety the foremost priority as they formalize plans for resuming learning this fall.
During his latest virtual news media briefing Wednesday, the State Superintendent encouraged schools to continue designing plans for in-person instruction this fall but urged educators to prepare for the possibility of resuming distance learning based on current health and safety conditions. COVID-19 infections continue to rise, and some of the state’s largest school districts have announced plans to resume learning virtually this fall.
“Everyone shares the desire to reopen schools and agrees that the best place for children to learn and thrive is in the classroom connected with caring teachers and staff. We also understand that schools are more than a place of learning: They provide critical necessities like meals, relationships with caring adults, and support for working parents,” said Thurmond. “But we can only open schools if it is safe to do so. As the largest educational agency in the country, our stance has been consistent during this pandemic: Science, data, and safety must guide any decision about reopening a school. The health and safety of our students and staff is too important to risk.”
Source: Health & Safety Priority for Reopening Schools – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Todd R. Hansen
Students in the Travis School District will start the new school year being “home-schooled” due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“Throughout this unprecedented crisis,” Superintendent Pam Conklin said in a statement, “our guiding principle has been to deliver the most effective instruction possible while protecting the health of our students, staff and their families. I believe the board’s decision to initially open our 2020-21 school year with distance learning accomplishes this goal.”
The Board of Trustees made the decision Tuesday during a Zoom meeting.
Source: Travis schools to start new year Aug. 13 with online classes
By John Fensterwald
Dissatisfied with the uneven quality of distance learning among school districts after they closed in March, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature established minimum requirements for the next school year in legislation accompanying the 2020-21 budget.
For many districts, the school year will begin next month. With Covid-19 infection rates and deaths rising, some districts, including the state’s largest, announced this week they’ll open solely with remote learning or hybrid instruction, with some in-person and some remote teaching.
The minimum requirements include ensuring every student is equipped with a computer and internet access, taking daily attendance and interacting with students in some form every day. Proponents of the standards say they’re pleased the Legislature acted but haven’t given up lobbying for additional requirements, particularly more extensive online teaching.
Source: Parents must have a say in districts’ distance learning plans under new California law – The Reporter
As fall approaches in the U.S. and school districts debate whether to resume in-person classes, the issue is complicated by a dearth of knowledge about how Covid-19 is transmitted to and from children.
Other nations have sent children back to school – or never shuttered schools to begin with – but none has done so with the virus surging as it is in the U.S. On Monday, cases in the U.S. rose by 64,605 from a day earlier to 3.34 million.
It is now broadly recognized that the virus that causes Covid-19 can be airborne in crowded, indoor spaces like schools. And children are commonly known to be spreaders of other respiratory viruses, like the seasonal flu. But while there’s significant data showing children aren’t likely to become very ill from Covid-19, there’s less information on how likely they are to transmit it to others.
Source: In debate over reopening schools, science offers few clear answers
By Wes Goldberg and Maggie Angst
As the coronavirus rages through California, the state is significantly rolling back its reopening plans.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that all counties across the state are required to immediately close indoor dining, bars, movie theatres, zoos and museums. Additionally, counties on the governor’s “watch list” for troubling coronavirus trends — which now totals 30 counties where 80% of Californians live — must also shutter gyms, hair salons, places of worship, malls and non-essential offices.
In the Bay Area, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma are all on the watch list as of Monday. But Newsom said that he expects to add Alameda County within the next day — and that all Californians should be prepared for their counties to jump on or off the list.
Source: Gov. Newsom orders renewed statewide closures of indoor activities – Times-Herald
By Richard Bammer
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to surge across the state and nation, some Solano school districts have laid out plans to reopen, which may change with updates of pandemic data and county public health directives.
The key question for school district leaders and teachers is balancing the need to bring students back into classrooms while also enforcing strict safety protocols to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, which has infected more than 2,000 and killed nearly 30 Solano County residents.
At the same time, parents, teachers and trustees have mixed reactions to plans from districts — such as Vacaville Unified — that want to begin classroom instruction in mid-August using the so-called “hybrid model.” This calls for two different groups of students to receive in-person instruction on rotating days, Mondays and Wednesdays and Tuesdays and Thursdays, for example, with one or more days devoted to distance learning.
Source: Some Solano school districts lay out plans to reopen, others are pending – The Reporter