By John Woolfolk
With schools across the country straining to stay open amid a crush of COVID-19 cases, the White House announced Wednesday it will provide for an additional 10 million tests a month for the virus to help students, teachers and staff avoid spreading the highly contagious virus on campuses.
The additional testing capacity will more than double the volume of testing that took place in schools across the country in November 2021, the most recent data available, the administration said. The move comes amid frustration and criticism over widespread shortages of at-home and laboratory tests nationally as cases soar.
“Today the Biden-Harris Administration is doubling down on our commitment to keeping all schools safely open for full-time in-person learning by taking new action to increase access to COVID-19 testing in schools,” the White House said in a news statement.
Source: White House boosts COVID tests for schools amid case surge – The Vacaville Reporter
By Kayla Jimenez and Thomas Gase
In the midst of a tumultuous back-to-school week underscored by numerous COVID-19 cases that have led to half-empty classrooms, administrators filling in for absent teachers and long testing lines, at least one large school district and some private and charter schools are closing temporarily, and others around the Bay Area are scrambling to keep classrooms open.
West Contra Costa Unified School District announced that it is closing its 54 schools Friday and Monday after almost a fourth of the district’s students missed class this week. The district is also closing its three COVID testing sites on Monday. The district does not plan to offer online instruction during the temporary closure.
Caliber ChangeMakers Academy, a charter school system with two campuses located in Vallejo and Richmond, is closing those schools Friday, Monday and Tuesday. And officials at Bentley School, a private school in Oakland, announced they are closing indefinitely starting Thursday and making a full return to online learning.
Source: COVID: Bay Area schools close due to staff shortages, high case rates – Times-Herald
By Joe Hong, CalMatters
As they await the release of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2022-23 state budget, school district officials across California are worried about losing millions of dollars all at once, resulting in staffing cuts in a time when students need more attention than ever.
After two years of not being penalized for declining enrollment during the pandemic, school districts are bracing for a sudden drop in revenues next year as their funding gets recalibrated to match current enrollment, which plummeted since Covid-19 first closed California’s schools.
“I’ve never ever seen a drop in enrollment come all at once like this,” said Andy Johnsen, superintendent at the San Marcos School District in north San Diego County. “The pandemic changed everything.”
Source: State’s schools risk ‘colossal’ loss of dollars as enrollment drops
The California Department of Education (CDE) today released student performance data that provide baseline indicators of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted schools and students.
To prevent the spread of virus before development and widespread distribution of vaccines, most students learned from home for most of 2020–21 and returned to campuses in the spring either full-time or with hybrid (in-class and remote) instruction.
The 2020–21 data affirm both the challenges created by the pandemic and California’s commitment to helping students recover from COVID-19 via a bold slate of historic investments in student learning, health, and well-being. The $123.9 billion education package signed by Governor Newsom in July provides the highest level of K–12 funding in history, including the expansion of after-school and summer programs to accelerate learning and the creation of full-service community schools to address student mental health and wellness needs.
Source: CDE Releases Student Data for 2020-21 – Year 2022 (CA Dept of Education)
By Todd R. Hansen
The spike in omicron-driven coronavirus cases is putting pressure on schools as they work to keep their classrooms open.
“I don’t think we are at a point where we are closing schools,” said Jaden Baird, executive director of Community Engagement and Administrative Services for the Fairfield-Suisun School District.
Baird said as of Friday, 6% of the workforce was out. Hitting the district harder than missing teachers, however, are shortages in maintenance workers and bus drivers.
Source: Staffing shortages put pressure on Solano schools to stay open
By Matt O’Donnell
While some school districts have established deadlines for students to be vaccinated, the Vallejo City Unified School District continues to track state timelines, according to district spokesperson Stephen Nichols.
“We are aligning our timelines with the state’s timeline on student vaccine requirements that will be put into place once the FDA has given full (not emergency use) authorization for the vaccines,” Nichols wrote in an email.
Nichols said the district does not have data to share regarding the status of the student vaccination goal.
Source: No vaccination deadline yet for Vallejo City Unified School District – Times-Herald
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today held a press conference at George Washington Preparatory High School, a site that also hosts a health clinic providing COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and boosters. There he outlined a number of key proposals to provide resources and supports to allow students to heal, recover, and thrive.
Thurmond began by addressing programs helping California schools get through this extremely difficult period of the pandemic, and that will transform California schools, including universal meals, universal transitional kindergarten for every four-year old, and universal expanded learning programs offering tutoring, mentoring, and coaching—because learning happens before school, during school, and after school.
“We are focused on recovery and dealing with impacts, but we cannot lessen our efforts to close the learning gaps that we were trying to close even before the pandemic,” said Thurmond. “We want to think about what we are going to do for California schools for the next several years to help them, and help our students to thrive.”
Source: SPI Lays Out Needed Resources for CA Schools – Year 2022 (CA Dept of Education)
By Susan Hiland
The Vacaville Unified school board approved an updated Health and Safety OSHA Covid-19 Prevention and Preparedness Program, as well as the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III Plan at Thursday night’s meeting.
This plan will be amended as public health conditions, orders or guidance change, according to a staff report to the board.
The plan includes for training and instructions of staff, and an employee and student health screening process. The district also has a plan for communicating to staff and parents on issues related to Covid.
Source: Vacaville school board approves health and safety plans
By Richard Bammer
As parents and schools face another reckoning over COVID-19 with the rapid spread of the omicron variant, many may wonder whether in-person classes are worth the risk.
But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say schools can still be safe when simple protocols are followed. They include paying attention to social distancing, wearing masks, and getting vaccinated.
However, with the variant’s reported ease of transmission worrying many, Solano County Office of Education officials on Wednesday made an effort to allay some fears by distributing iHealth COVID-19 home testing kits to school district representatives, educators and parents who dropped by the SCOE’s main office at 5100 Business Center Drive in Fairfield.
Source: SCOE officials hand out COVID test kits and will do so again in the new year – The Vacaville Reporter
By Louis Hansen
The California Department of Public Health has updated quarantine and isolation guidelines for COVID-19 — and this time, things are getting a bit less restrictive.
With the constantly mutating virus and evolving pandemic research, public health officials say the new shorter guidelines for staying at home announced late Thursday reflect a better balance between community health and a healthy, somewhat normal life.
The CDPH regulations mostly align California with federal rules updated Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new guidelines reduce recommended times to quarantine — staying at home and wearing a mask — for healthy people exposed to those infected from 10 to 5 days.
Source: New California COVID-19 guidelines: What to know – Times-Herald
The school board will vote Thursday on an updated Health and Safety OSHA Covid-19 Prevention and Preparedness Program, as well as the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III Plan.
This plan is a living document that will be amended as public health conditions, orders, and/or guidance change, according to a staff report.
Health and safety updates are regularly shared with students, staff and community members via the district website, weekly superintendent letters and blackboard communications.
Source: School board in Vacaville to review Covid safety plan
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that California community-based organizations will be able to apply for grants to address the social isolation experienced by students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of its ongoing efforts to address the pandemic’s continued impact on students, the California Department of Education (CDE) will award grants of up to $250,000* each to community-based organizations that can demonstrate their ability to partner with schools and districts to provide programs and supports to offset the social isolation experienced by students during the pandemic and help them build healthy social connections.
The application process and criteria are available on the CDE website today, December 8, 2021, and the deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, January 7, 2022. The grants are funded through a $2 million appropriation in the 2021–22 California State Budget (AB 130, Chapter 44, Sec. 164).
Source: SPI Announces $2 Million in Grants Available – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)
By Todd R. Hansen
There may still be debates about Covid-19 and the medical response to the pandemic.
But the nearly three dozen people who attended the second “Above the Noise” forum in Vacaville on Wednesday seemed far more concerned about what decision they may have to make about their children’s education choices if California follows through with the mandates to vaccine all students 5 or older.
The mandate would not likely be implemented until July at the earliest, and even later for the lower grades.
Source: Is state going to break ‘education contract’ with American families?
A second forum to discuss Covid-19 vaccine mandates in schools is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Journey Downtown.
“Continue the conversation to navigate the recently announced vaccine mandate for school-aged children,” an announcement for the event states.
The first, held Oct. 20, drew about 120 people, plus the online listeners, not long after the Governor’s Office announced the mandates, which will likely not be implemented until at least July.
Source: Second ‘Above the Noise’ Covid forum set in Vacaville
By Todd R. Hansen
It will be a few more days before Solano County health officials will know if Halloween festivities have caused a bump in coronavirus cases.
In the meantime, the Public Health Division on Monday reported 102 additional coronavirus cases since Friday’s update – 99 actually during that three-day period – for a pandemic total of 45,824. The 10-day daily case average Monday was 28.4, the county reported. That compares to a 41-case average Friday.
Dr. Bela Matyas, the county public health officer, said he expects those weekend numbers to be adjusted as late reports come in during the week – a pattern experienced for a couple of months.
Source: Solano could begin vaccines for children 5 to 11 next week
The Vacaville Unified School District now offers a free and quick COVID-19 test in a centralized location for students and staff. According to the district, the testing site made possible by VUSD’s registration with the California Public Health Service’s Antigen Testing Program will reduce the burden on administrators while keeping children learning in the classroom. At the beginning of the school year, COVID-19 testing and contact tracing took place on individual campuses. The school district’s new test site allows healthcare professionals to handle these tasks and helps managers do their best. Or stay away from the leadership leadership you provide to teachers in the classroom, “said Sasha Begall, assistant supervisor of education options and support at the Vacaville Unified School District. A quick test allows students to stay in class with minimal interruptions in class. Even if they come into contact with COVID-19-positive classmates, they will learn. “Under the modified quarantine, we can keep them in the classroom as long as they remain asymptomatic, participate in the tests and wear their masks,” Vegal said. Explained.
Source: California district’s rapid COVID testing allows for ‘modified quarantine’ – California News Times
By Matt Miller
The Solano County Office of Education’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan.
The nearly $1.07 million in pandemic relief comes from funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. The funds address students’ academic, social, emotional and mental health needs as well as alleviating gaps that existed before and may be worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Source: Solano Board of Education approves $1.07M in pandemic relief spending
The Solano County Office of Education will conduct its regular meeting of the Board of Education at 6 p.m. Wednesday to consider how best to spend nearly $1.07 million in pandemic relief funds.
The meeting will be take place virtually.
Members of the public may attend via the Zoom webinar format, or by telephone. The links are available on the Solano County Office of Education website, www.solanocoe.net/agendasminutes.
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan for pandemic funds from the American Rescue Plan Act is among the unfinished business to be discussed, and how the money will be utilized.
Source: Solano Board of Education to consider plan to spend $1.07M in pandemic relief
By Susan Hiland
The school board got an earful Thursday from a packed house of parents concerned with the possible Covid-19 mandate coming from the governor’s office that would require parents to give children the Covid vaccination in order to attend classes on campus.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans earlier this week to add the Covid-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations required to attend school in-person once the vaccine receives full approval from the Food and Drug Administration for middle and high school grades.
Source: School board hears from parents concerned by governor’s vaccine plan