By Evan Webeck
Following widespread and sustained reductions in COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday lifted the regional stay-at-home order that had placed the majority of Californians under some of the nation’s tightest restrictions for much of the past two months.
Hospitalizations have fallen substantially in nearly every region of California to the point where, this past weekend, there were fewer COVID-positive patients being treated in hospitals around the state than any point since the week prior to Christmas. Cases, too, are coming at their slowest rate since the second week of December. However, the hardest-hit regions are still averaging more infections and have more patients hospitalized and in intensive-care units than before the order was put in place, according to data compiled by this news organization.
Source: Coronavirus: Major improvements in cases, hospitalizations in California prompt lifting of stay-at-home order – The Reporter
By John Fensterwald, EdSource
Five statewide organizations representing school districts and county offices of education that had refrained from commenting on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to entice school districts to begin reopening are urging major revisions they say would make the plan feasible.
They issued a letter to Newsom outlining the revisions on Tuesday, two days before the state Senate will begin hearings that will determine if or when the governor can move forward with the plan.
Newsom is proposing $2 billion in incentives to districts that adopt a safety and health protection plan, comprehensive Covid testing procedures and a schedule to phase in the return of elementary students. Starting with transitional kindergarten through 3rd grade, they would commit to bring back students for in-person instruction starting Feb. 15, if infection rates in their counties have fallen by then — or to postpone until they do.
Source: More school organizations urge revising Gov. Newsom’s reopening plan – The Reporter
By Susan Hiland
A long-awaited decision by the Fairfield-Suisun School District governing board to either return to in-person learning or to continue distance learning is going to have to wait due recent changes from the state.
Schools are currently prohibited across the Bay Area from going to in-person learning due to the governor’s stay-at-home order.
The staff recommended that the governing board table consideration of reopening plans Thursday night until the Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Safe Schools for All” plan is approved by the Legislature. This would allow the school board to consider the state plan as an option for reopening.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun school board tables talks on resumption of in-person learning
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
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today issued the following statement in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed education budget for the fiscal year 2021–22:“
At a time when a global pandemic has created extraordinary challenges for our students, families, and educators, the weeks and months ahead represent the most important moment for public education in a lifetime. The investments we choose must help our schools urgently and immediately recover from this crisis and accelerate learning for the students and families hardest hit by a global pandemic that has deepened historic inequities. Our priorities should not only help our schools emerge safely from the impacts of COVID-19, but should immediately double down on our efforts to level the playing field for a generation of students.
“I want to thank Governor Gavin Newsom for proposing a budget that—until our educators, school employees and communities are vaccinated—addresses main areas of need as public schools consider how to safely resume in-person instruction. Today’s budget proposal also represents a strong start at tackling the growing access and learning gaps experienced most severely among our students of color, low-income households, children with disabilities, and students learning English.
Source: Thurmond’s Statement on Governor’s Proposed Budget – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)
By Thomas Gase
The entire world is like a song by the Kinks when it comes to the two new COVID-19 vaccines — who will be the next in line?
Earlier this week it was recommended that the answer to that question be first responders, grocery store and restaurant workers as well as teachers.
With Gov. Gavin Newson announcing on Wednesday a $2 billion package of financial incentives to encourage state school districts to resume in-person instruction as early as February, it’s a good chance teachers will be in the next tier.
Source: Are teachers next for vaccine after Newsom announces school plan? – Times-Herald
By Karen D’Souza, EdSource
California’s long-awaited roadmap to reshape early childhood care and education in the state took a critical first step on Tuesday with the release of a first-ever 10-year master plan, but some advocates say more specifics are needed to ensure progress.
Gov. Gavin Newsom made early childhood education a central focus of his administration prior to the pandemic and has maintained his support throughout the health crisis. The 107-page Master Plan for Early Learning and Care: California for All Kids, which its authors say would require anywhere from $2-$12 billion to implement, is intended to serve as an overarching framework over the next decade to overhaul the state’s childhood education and child care systems, which have long lagged behind those of other states.
Source: Inside California’s new master plan to reshape early education and child care – The Reporter
By John Fensterwald/EdSource
The first significant change to the state’s 7-year-old K-12 funding system, the Local Control Funding Formula, is a signature away from becoming law.
But if Gov. Gavin Newsom accepts the recommendation of his advisers at the California Department of Finance and ignores the Legislature’s near-unanimous vote favoring the significant reform, he’ll veto the legislation within the next few weeks. Hundreds of nonprofits and civil rights groups signed a letter last week urging him not to do that; signing it instead would ensure that funding for “our highest-need, most vulnerable students is actually directed to support them,” the letter said.
Assembly Bill 1835 would end what advocates for years have called a glaring loophole that undermines the funding law’s cardinal purpose, which is to provide additional funding for four groups of underserved students: English learners, low-income students, homeless and foster children.
Source: First big reform of California’s education funding law awaits governor’s signature – Times-Herald
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
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 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
By Ricardo Cano
California’s new budget provides enough funding for schools to pivot to hybrid learning when they reopen this fall. But school officials fear Sacramento’s decision to delay cuts could throw districts into the fiscal abyss later.
The $202 billion budget Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Monday largely keeps intact funding for California’s public schools, capping a turbulent couple months of budget negotiations.
Initially, schools were in line to receive a steady increase in funding when the governor introduced his January proposal, with money going to long-term efforts to expand early childhood programs and other targeted efforts, including grants to incentivize educators to teach in low-income schools.
Source: What state’s budget means for K-12 schools – Daily Democrat
BY Nick Sestanovich
The Governing Board of the Vacaville Unified School District will consider adopting with a projected $116 million in General Fund revenues for the 2020-21 academic year at its Thursday meeting.
The revenue assumptions used for the budget are based on projections from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May revisions to the state budget. The district’s budget is also linked to the approval process of the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), both of which require a public hearing and adoption. The budget approval process will have both at Thursday’s school board meeting, while an LCAP hearing will be held at a later date.
For the 2020-21 school year, VUSD is anticipating $5 million in local funding, $9 million in state funding, $4.6 million in federal funding and $97.9 million in funding from the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), a funding system which establishes grants in place of funding streams. Combined, the funding systems are projected to provide more than $116 million for the next school year.
Source: Vacaville school board to consider budgets for district, Kimme – The Reporter
By Maggie Angst and John Woolfolk
As California struggles to manage the impact of the growing coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced a state budget deal that avoids deep education cuts to close a cavernous deficit created by the crisis.
Newsom offered few details in the deal hashed out with legislative leaders late Sunday, but he stressed that the most feared cuts to public schools that he’d called for to help close a $54.3 billion shortfall will be averted.
“We have provisions against teacher layoffs,” Newsom said Monday. “That is good news, that was foundational, something we all cared deeply about. There was concern and anxiety about layoffs and pink slips and that was substantially addressed.”
Source: Gov. Newsom: California budget deal avoids teacher layoffs – The Reporter
Legislators will vote on a new state budget Monday, even though they have yet to strike a deal with Gov. Gavin Newsom on a plan to close California’s $54.3 billion deficit.
The move could be largely procedural. State Senate and Assembly leaders said Wednesday that lawmakers plan to vote and then continue “productive” talks with Newsom, to meet a June 15 deadline for passing a budget or have their pay cut off.
Their plan is to take up a budget that legislative leaders announced last week, which differed in several respects from the version Newsom put forward in May.
Source: California Legislature pressing forward on budget vote without deal with Newsom [San Francisco Chronicle]
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)
By Carolyn Jones
Geovanna Veloz, a senior at Mission High School in San Francisco, has always known she wants to be a nurse. What she didn’t know was how to get there.
Her parents couldn’t help much. Immigrants from Mexico, they speak limited English, work long hours and don’t have much experience with education. Neither went to high school at all, in fact.
Enter the school’s academic counseling staff. They ensured that Veloz took the right classes and helped her pick colleges, sign up for the SAT, submit applications and fill out financial aid forms. Veloz is now waiting to hear from three California State University campuses and two University of California schools.
Source: How some California school districts invest in counseling—and achieve results – The Reporter
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today praised Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2020–21.
“Over the last year, my team and I have been collaborating with educational partners, including teachers and administrators all over the state, through my 13 workgroups, to establish and validate the areas of focus and priority initiatives for the California Department of Education,” said Thurmond. “Today, we were pleased to hear that many of the budget announcements were aligned with the work we have been doing. Governor Newsom and his team have produced a budget that is comprehensive, aligns with our goals to ensure equitable education for all students, and allows us to focus on helping our most vulnerable students in underserved communities.”
The budget includes the largest K–12 education per pupil expenditure in history. It proposes increasing K–12 education by $3 billion, with an investment of approximately $900 million for teacher preparation and retention.
Source: Thurmond Praises Governor Newsom’s 2020 Budget – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
BY Evie Blad
Voters in three southern states head to the polls Tuesday for governors races that have cast a spotlight on contentious debates over education issues like choice, funding, and teacher pay.
Political prognosticators often watch the off-year elections —in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi—for signs of voters’ attitudes going into the presidential election the next year. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have campaigned for Republican candidates in all three states this year, and those candidates have run television ads that emphasize their ties to the national politicians.
Voters in those states—which all favored Trump in the 2016 election—must weigh that popularity along with priorities that hit close to home, like how to build an education system that supports their economies.
Source: Education Is on the Ballot in These Governors’ Races – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Thomas Gase
Students in California will have an extra chance to hit the snooze button in the future due to legislation signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday, a proposal designed to improve educational outcomes by giving students more sleep.
California will become the first state in the nation to mandate later start times at most middle schools and high schools under bill SP 328, which would require the school day for middle schools and high schools, including those operated as charter schools, to begin no earlier than 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., respectively, by July 1, 2022, or the date on which a school district’s or charter school’s respective collective bargaining agreement that is operative on January 1, 2020, expires, whichever is later, except for rural school districts.
Source: Local school officials react to Newsom bill mandating later school start times – Times-Herald