Initial ELPAC Test Moves Online – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

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)

Students reaping benefits of P.E. distance learning – The Reporter

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

New Tool to Strengthen Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

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)

DUSD Important Notice On Computer Distribution Change To Schedule | Dixon, CA Patch

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

Distance learning in place as Vacaville students, teachers begin new year – The Reporter

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

Return to school across Solano looks different this year – Daily Republic

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

Travis schools to start new year Aug. 13 with online classes – Daily Republic

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

Vallejo teachers, students adjusting as classes set to begin again Monday – Times-Herald

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

How should schools prepare for increased SEL needs amid reopenings? | Education Dive

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

SSPI Outlines Support for Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

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)

Resources Identified to Support Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

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)

California school districts brace for an online back-to-school season – The Reporter

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

Parents must have a say in districts’ distance learning plans under new California law – The Reporter

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

Teachers grapple with how to keep track of students during distance learning – The Reporter

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