By Joel Rosenbaum
The Durham sisters, Kenley, 11 (left), and Delaney, 9 of Vacaville participate in their distance learning Friday from the parking lot of Vacaville High School during a peaceful demonstration organized by concerned parents to mark a full year of distance learning for the students in the Vacaville Unified School District due to COVID-19. Both girls attend Browns Valley Elementary School. Kenley is a sixth-grader and Delaney is in the fourth-grade.
Source: A Year From A Distance – The Reporter
By Katy St. Clair
Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted stay-at-home orders for Californians last week, but businesses and schools still seem to be operating on varying protocols as the state continues through the COVID-19 epidemic.
Bay Area public and private schools each have their own approaches to holding school during this time — some with in-person, others still fully virtual — and all districts say that they cannot predict exactly when things will change but that they are monitoring data and some guidance from state government.
Some districts have stressed that they do not want to follow the path of small businesses and restaurants and have to open and then close again, depending on rates of the virus. Therefore, reaching normalcy will be a very gradual process.
Source: Vallejo Unified School District remains in distance learning – Times-Herald
By John Woolfolk
California officials Thursday ordered schools statewide to begin reporting new coronavirus cases within 24 hours and their reopening status every two weeks as part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s broader effort to spur a return of kids to the classroom.
That effort marks a change from last summer when the state was encouraging schools to start the new school year in online-only “distance learning” and had no plans to comprehensively track school cases or reopening. Districts and teacher unions have cited a lack of information about school outbreaks and reopenings as a concern. The infection information is to be reported to the state effective immediately and the reopening status starting Jan. 25, but it was unclear how much would be publicly available and when.
“Getting our kids and staff back into the classroom safely will help us continue turning the corner on this pandemic,” Newsom said in a statement.
Source: Coronavirus: California details plan to track school cases, reopening – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
While COVID-19 has upended the world for nearly a year, it has forced us to put on our collective thinking caps to deal with it, especially when it comes to educating children and adults.
But as our public institutions shut down or scale back operations during the pandemic, with no sign of letting up amid another surge, two area school districts and the Solano County Library have locked virtual arms and reached out to increase reading and literacy and to promote digital learning.
Using wireless technology in an effort to support new generations of lifelong learners and readers, the library system and Fairfield-Suisun and Travis unified school districts have formed what educators and library leaders say is an innovative new partnership to increase access to more ebooks and e-audiobooks for students.
Source: Increasing literacy, online learning? There’s an app for that – The Reporter
By Matt Sieger
Vacaville’s Imagine That! in Alamo Plaza was created to offer a place where kids of all ages can come play, learn and explore all the possibilities. But what happens to a creative program when a pandemic strikes?
Well, the creative people in charge imagined a way to adapt to the crisis.
Imagine That! came up with a unique School Support and Enrichment program which fuses its existing program with support for students’ schooling.
“It started with a throwaway line,” recalls Director of Operations Alex Christensen. “We were talking about doing afterschool programs, and (someone said), ‘Hey, instead of after school what if we just did school for them?’ The director at the time, her ears perked up and she took it to the board. Lauren (Runow, Board president) jumped on it and started talking with the Vacaville Unified (School District).”
Source: Imagine That! is doing school – The Reporter
By Daily Republic Staff
The Travis School District will continue distance learning for the remainder of the current semester.
The decision was made during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.
It was based on various data points including current virus activity and the result of a recent survey conducted of families, students, and staff, according to a Travis School District press release.
The survey had a participation rate of 66% for students, 88% for families, 91% of teachers and 67% for other staff.
Source: Travis schools to continue distance learning; board will revisit topic in December
By Diana Lambert and Betty Márquez Rosales, EdSource
Many California school districts offered a wide variety of training over the summer to prepare teachers for distance learning in the fall, but some struggled to offer enough to meet the needs of all teachers, leaving many to find training on their own.
Many districts offered in-house trainers or hired teaching consultants. But in many places, training focused only on teleconferencing tools like Zoom and educational platforms like Google Classroom. In other districts teachers were largely on their own to convert lessons from in-person to virtual, according to a recent EdSource survey.
Source: California school districts struggled to prepare teachers for distance learning this fall – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
The Fairfield-Suisun Unified governing board on Thursday voted to continue distance learning until the end of the 2020 calendar year and will revisit the matter in mid-January.
In a Friday press release, Angie Avlonitis, director of student services for the district, the county’s largest with 22,000 students, noted that Solano County has sustained 14 consecutive days in the red tier on California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Being in the red tier allows school districts the choice to open schools for in-person instruction.
Still, on Thursday trustees decided to remain in the distance-learning mode until year’s end and take up the matter again at the Jan. 14 governing board meeting.
Source: FSUSD trustees vote to continue distance learning until year’s end – The Reporter
By Shawna De La Rosa
Communication should only be carried out on platforms with strict privacy rules, with only general information shared on social media. Educators must remember that social media use could result in Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) violations, as well as attract harassment from online trolls.
Cybersecurity concerns existed long before school closures, but the uptick in ed tech use during the pandemic has made the situation more precarious. The rapid shift to online learning has opened doors for cyber-criminals, which The Consortium of School Networking cited as a top concern during the era of school closures. Cyberattackers tend to target schools because they are a rich source of personal data, but often lack the funds for strong security systems.
Source: Social media use in distance learning raises privacy concerns | Education Dive
By Kimberly K. Fu
The Solano County Office of Education said officials are in the “watch and wait” mode as the county shifts into a less stringent level on the state’s COVID-19 framework.
The downgrade from purple to red tier was announced Tuesday by the state Department of Public Health.
Should the county maintain red status for 14 consecutive days, Solano schools could return to in-person instruction.Currently, local schools must operate via distance learning.
Source: Coronavirus: Solano County Office of Education “watching and waiting” – The Reporter
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced this week that the assessment used to determine a student’s English proficiency has successfully transitioned online, giving educators a powerful tool to reach and support English learners while school campuses are closed.
The Initial English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) has moved from a paper-pencil test to an online computer-based test and, as a result, produced real-time results. The online test became available to school districts and charter schools on August 20.
The Initial ELPAC serves as the state’s English language proficiency assessment to identify students as English learners. The test is administered to all students whose primary or home language is not English.
Source: Initial ELPAC Test Moves Online – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Matt Sieger
Physical activity seems to help the brain work more efficiently and effectively. So the brains of students in the Vacaville and Travis Unified School Districts must be in high gear, courtesy of a rigorous yet fun dose of physical education students are receiving via distance learning.
With no in-school classes, students are getting all their instruction online, including physical education, which research has shown can boost other forms of learning.
Jensen West of Vanden High School, Nick Voight of Will C. Wood and Jacob Wright of Vaca Peña Middle School are all passionate teachers of physical education. Their methods of P.E. instruction may vary, but the benefits reaped by the students are the same.
Source: Students reaping benefits of P.E. distance learning – The Reporter
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) has released a new tool—Guidance on Best Practices for Distance Learning Instructional Planning—to support educators that are implementing distance learning instruction.
“Distance learning will be with us in some form moving forward, even as schools may be allowed to begin reopening in various capacities. We are committed to offering real-time, actionable support to our educators as we all lean into this new reality,” Thurmond said. “Through continued investments in educator training—and increased, proactive family engagement—I am confident that our schools will reach and engage more students as we move through this challenging period together.”
The new guidance document offers suggestions in four key areas: clear definitions of instructional models and language, an overview of required daily minutes for the 2020-21 school year and considerations for instruction both with live interaction and without live interaction, research-based principles for school districts to consider as they prepare to re-open, and ideas for how educators may structure learning.
Source: New Tool to Strengthen Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
Computer distribution days and times have been changed from what was announced on Friday. Please use the information below:
Wednesday, August 19th, 11:30 A.M. to 7:30 P.M.
Thursday, August 20th, 7:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.
Distribution will still happen at Dixon High School. Due to the high temperatures, devices will be handed out in the Gym to provide our staff with a safe place to work. Park on the front of campus to get closest to the entrance.
Source: Dixon Unified School District Important Notice On Computer Distribution Change To Schedule | Dixon, CA Patch
By Nick Sestanovich
For the fifth year in a row, Orchard Elementary School teacher Jaxie Murray greeted her new class of kindergarteners, sang songs with them and had them do activities.
The difference this year is that she had to do all of that through her computer screen.
Vacaville Unified School District students returned Monday for the 2020-21 school year, a traditional rite of passage that serves as a new start for students each year. This year took that concept to another level. Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Vacaville campuses remain closed for the time being, but students continue to attend classes through distance learning. By order of Gov. Gavin Newsom, schools in counties on the state’s watchlist for COVID-19 cases must start the year with distance learning and remain in the model until the county has been off the watchlist for 14 consecutive days.
Source: Coronavirus: Distance learning in place as Vacaville students, teachers begin new year – The Reporter
By Susan Hiland
Parents and teachers are feeling the stress of the upcoming year with students no longer in classrooms but at home taking part in classes through distance-learning.
“It is going to be interesting,” said Tim Goree, executive director of Administrative Services and Community Engagement for the Fairfield-Suisun School District.
Students will be given supplies earlier than the school start date in a series of drive-thru, drop-off events.
Some changes are in order for students who get free or reduced lunches from the school district.
Source: Return to school across Solano looks different this year
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 Thomas Gase
Paul Rogers has been a teacher for 42 years, four of them in Vallejo. But even he admitted he’s never had a start of a school year quite like this one in 2020.
On Thursday he began setting up his classroom on Vallejo High’s campus for six of his math classes. Three of those classes will each feature 36 students, one class will feature another 34 and two more will feature at least 24 more.
None of those students will be anywhere near Rogers.
Source: Vallejo teachers, students adjusting as classes set to begin again Monday – Times-Herald
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
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)