BY Shawna De La Rosa
An analysis by The New York Times found 153 Instagram accounts, several Twitter accounts and chats, and active Reddit message boards where thousands of users share meeting passwords to plan Zoom attacks. Sometimes, attacks are carried out by the students themselves, who have piles of homework with no other activity or outlet during self-isolation. Zoombombing can be a way for these students to rebel against the new system.
But school cybersecurity was a challenge long before the pandemic began. Schools and ed tech platforms have been increasingly vulnerable targets in recent years. Now that many schools are completely relying on educational technology to deliver lessons, educators should proceed with additional caution when vetting new software, ensuring that any user agreements fully protect student information and comply with FERPA laws. District administrators should also ensure parents know how to protect their students’ personal information.
Source: Amid online transition, schools experience another cyberthreat: ‘Zoombombing’ | Education Dive
By Anya Kamenetz
Ryan Pascal, a 17-year-old student at Palos Verdes High School near Los Angeles, says when her school holds active shooter drills, it’s “chaos.” The first time it happened, not long after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018, rumors started flying over Snapchat and text that the school was really under attack.
“We had some students trying to stack up desks to blockade the door. We had some students sort of joking around because they weren’t sure how to handle this. There are other students who are very, very afraid.”
On top of all the other stresses of high school, she says, some students are now on constant alert: “When the little bell before an announcement happens, or when the fire alarm goes off, you can see this fear in students’ faces as they wonder, is this going to be a lockdown? Is this a drill? What’s happening? There’s so much anxiety just by a little trigger like that.”
Source: 2 Big Teachers Unions Call For Rethinking Student Involvement In Lockdown Drills – KQED
By Thomas Gase
In the 1992 film, “Sneakers” Robert Redford’s Martin Bishop/Brice character is asked by a bank teller, “So, people hire you to break into their places… to make sure no one can break into their places?” Redford then replies, “It’s a living,” while the teller then retorts back, “Not a very good one.”
Nearly 30 years later it’s actually a very good living, and Benicia High teacher, Andreas Kaiser, as well as Career Tech Educator, Annette Fewins, want to make sure that more students get interested in the field. Especially women.
Benicia High School has launched a girls competitive cyber security team, Cyber Panther, and approximately 25 students have already joined. The Panthers class is taught by Kaiser and Fewins.
Source: Benicia High launches girls competitive cyber security team – Times-Herald
By Richard Freedman
When Dr. Adam Clark decided it was best to open Vallejo schools Monday despite a power outage, close them later in the day because of poor air quality, and keep schools closed all Tuesday because of the air, he didn’t consult a psychic, do rock-paper-scissors with a third grader or base his decision by arm-wrestling a middle school parent.
Or, as Clark said, “I’m not making this stuff up. I didn’t flip a coin.”
Shutting down a district with about 11,500 students “is one of the toughest decisions I have to make,” Clark said. “I don’t make it in isolation. I talk to my own ‘cabinet’ — folks at the sites. I ask the board if it has concerns. It really is a collaborative effort. There really is a thought process.”
Clark sat for an hour chat at his district office on Mare Island early Wednesday afternoon, explaining the decisions in reacting to air quality from area fires to the apparent new reality of PG&E power outages.
Source: Vallejo school superintend defends calls on outage, bad air days – Times-Herald
The city of Vallejo reactivated its Emergency Operations Center on Tuesday following PG&E’s second Public Safety Power Shutoff in the past week due to high winds that could cause the utility company’s equipment to spark a wildfire.
Significant areas of Vallejo were still without power leading to the second power shutdown. Additional areas may lose power and restoration may take longer, Vallejo officials said.
A city information center for status updates and information on available resources for the public, and commercial services and water billing will be open at City Hall between noon and 5:15 p.m. Tuesday. All other city facilities remain closed.
Source: City Reactivates Emergency Operations Center – SFGate
By Richard Freedman
Solano County Public Health issued a warning Monday with air quality dropping because of smoke from the Kincade Fire.
Residents should remain indoors and limit outdoor activity, especially those deemed “sensitive to smoke.”
After opening all public schools Monday, Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark dismissed all students approximately 11:15 a.m.
“Due to the smoke and poor air quality, we have decided to cancel school for the remainder of (Monday) and (Tuesday). All student absences for Monday will be excused,” Clark said in a release to all schools and parents.
Source: Schools open, then close because of poor air quality – Times-Herald
By Mandela Linder
Thousands of customers across California are experiencing planned power safety shutoffs as PG&E cuts power due to high fire danger, and thousands more have been evacuated in the North Bay as the Kincade Fire rages. Due to these events, many evacuation centers have opened and schools have closed.For list of evacuation centers click here.
Source: List: Bay Area School Closures Due to PG&E Power Shutoffs and Kincade Fire – NBC Bay Area
By Nick Sestanovich
In the 20 years since the shooting at Columbine High School, the number of school shootings has only increased. According to the FBI, between 2010 and 2017, there were about 20.5 school shootings per year, an increase of 8.6 a year between 2000 and 2009.
The glut of school shootings has prompted many to ask questions like “How can we keep our schools safe?” and “How can we recognize the signs of a school shooter before an incident happens?
”These questions were dove into at a school safety symposium held Wednesday morning at Sunrise Events Center. Hosted by several different agencies — including the Solano County Office of Education, Solano District Attorney’s Office, FBI, Vacaville Police Department and Solano County Sheriff’s Office — the symposium went over how to notice indicators of violence and how different agencies can work as a team to address it.
Source: Agencies collaborate to host school safety symposium – The Reporter
By Shawna De La Rosa
These grants reflect the shift to prevent violence in schools through proactive means like improved mental health services and school climate, rather than hardening schools. Last year, the federal School Safety Commission urged states to take action to physically protect schools, such as removing firearms from at-risk individuals, as well as make it easier for law enforcement and schools to better communicate about potential threats.
Armed school personnel and more metal detectors were among measures discussed at the time, but civil rights advocates countered such measures would only strengthen the school-to-prison pipeline — especially for students of color.
Source: Ed Dept allots $71.6M to boost proactive school safety measures | Education Dive
Schools across the Bay Area are bracing for a power outage, with many district officials warning classes will be canceled during the power outage announced by PG&E Tuesday.
U.C. Berkeley said that “most of the core campus will be without power starting at approximately 8 a.m.,” prompting the university to cancel classes Wednesday.
“The campus, however, will remain open, though services will be limited. Most student-serving offices will be open, however the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union and Eshelman Hall will be closed,” it said in a statement.
Source: Dozens of Bay Area schools — including U.C. Berkeley — cancel classes; Oakland scales back closures [San Francisco Chronicle]
By Natalie Gross
The hazards of vaping have gained national attention in recent months as a spike in related illnesses have led advocates, lawmakers and even the president to decry the industry. And now, administrators and school leaders are grappling with how to properly address it in their local schools.
Elizabeth D’Amico, a behavioral scientist with the RAND Corp., recently said that the rise in the popularity of vaping among teens is somewhat to blame on misinformation. Students seem to think vaping is not as harmful or addictive as traditional cigarettes. Yet, as previously reported, half of the teens who vape go on to use combustible cigarettes in one year. And according to the U.S. Surgeon General, the chemicals in e-cigarettes can harm adolescent brains, which are continuing to develop until the age of 25.
Source: School districts deploy vaping sensors in e-cig crackdown | Education Dive
By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
Some hackers demand ransom; others sweep up personal data for sale to identity thieves. But whatever hackers’ motives, school systems around the country have been the targets of their cyberattacks.
One attack forced the Houston County School District in Dothan, Ala., to delay the first day of school for 6,400 students. Others crippled computer systems at the Syracuse City School District in upstate New York and at three school districts in Louisiana.
Many public institutions, including hospitals, local governments and colleges, have been hit with ransomware attacks in recent years, but school districts have proved particularly enticing to hackers because they hold troves of private data and often lack the resources to fend off intruders.
Source: Hackers’ Latest Target: School Districts – New York Times
By Amelia Harper
The School Violence Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2019 would not only require schools to install silent alarms, but it would also authorize the spending of $2 billion over a 10-year-period to identify security risks at schools and address any shortfalls.
School security has been high on the list of concerns for district leaders and state and federal officials. Most have agreed schools should take a more proactive approach to safety, but many of these measures cannot get off the ground without enough support and funding.
Source: Silent alarms at schools may soon be required by federal law – Education Dive
By Nick Sestanovich
By the time kids are in middle school, they likely will have become heavy users of the internet. However, even with all the informative sites, they have to be cautious.
The Vacaville Police Department’s Vice Unit, in conjunction with the Vacaville Unified School District and Foster Kinship Care Education Program, will be hosting a pair of workshops bringing awareness of human trafficking.
Detectives Jeff Datzman, Nichole King and Mike Miller will be going over the warning signs of human trafficking, how to prevent it and how online predators use the internet target the youth, namely through social media and phone applications.
Source: Vacaville police holding two internet safety workshops in April – The Reporter
By Alyson Klein
The U.S. Department of Education Tuesday sought to clear up confusion about how school privacy laws should be interpreted in the context of school safety with the release of a new frequently-asked-questions document that puts previous guidance and technical help on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act all in one place.
The new, comprehensive document, School Resource Officers, School Law Enforcement Units, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), builds on conclusions from the Federal School Safety Commission, which found that school districts seeking to bolster their safety efforts were confused about when and how they could share student information without violating FERPA. President Donald Trump established the school safety commission in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., last February.
Source: School Safety and Student Privacy: Betsy DeVos Seeks to Clarify Law – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Todd R. Hansen
Lisette Estrella-Henderson begins her first four-year term as Solano County superintendent of schools next week with an agenda not that different from her first two years as the appointed official.
The veteran educator, who started her career about 32 years ago, said in a phone interview Friday that her office is working to keep students safe – and that goes beyond safe campuses – as well as prepare them for the changing work world.
She also has the task of signing off on all school district budgets, which includes keeping a close eye on the Vallejo City School District, which faces making $22 million in cuts.
Source: Schools chief works to keep students safe, teach work skills
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following statement today on the report of the federal School Safety Commission. The commission was put together as a response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Florida on February 14, 2018, which took the lives of 14 students and three teachers, while injuring dozens of others.
“I am extremely disappointed that the School Safety Commission report contains a misguided recommendation to eliminate a policy that has nothing to do with the continuing tragedy of school shootings—the quest for disciplining students in a proportionate, fair manner. At the same time it ignores one of the key contributors to school shootings—easy access to military-style assault weapons.
I strongly oppose this recommendation and the Department of Education’s reported plans to rescind the Obama administration’s guidance encouraging schools to work to reduce the disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates for students of color and students with disabilities that are found throughout our nation.
Source: Torlakson Criticizes Safety Commission Report – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By Linda Jacobson
The Federal Commission on School Safety, which President Donald Trump formed in response to the February mass shooting at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, is expected to make final recommendations before the end of the year.
But most states and districts have moved ahead with their own safety measures, such as adding more school resource officers, upgrading equipment such as security cameras, and creating data-sharing agreements among state agencies.
“Local municipalities and local governments — they don’t wait,” Frank Clark, president of the Chicago Board of Education, said in an interview.
Source: School safety experts weigh in on federal commission’s potential impact | Education Dive
Two cannabis tax measures, three school bond measures and a sales tax measure are on ballots around Solano County for the Nov. 6 election.
Voters in Suisun City and Benicia will consider a cannabis industry general tax that requires majority approval.
The tax rate under Measure C in Suisun City would be no more than 15 percent of gross receipts and $25 per square foot of space used for commercial cannabis activities.
The estimated $2 million in annual tax revenue will pay for public safety, street maintenance and other city services until voters repeal it.
Source: Cannabis, Street Repair Sales Taxes, School Bond Measures On November Ballot – SFGate
By Susan Hiland
Children’s safety is one of the biggest concerns for Kristina Bell, one of the candidates for the Vacaville School Board.
She noted that during the region’s wildfires last year, school bus drivers were wearing masks but students were not.
“Why didn’t the school let parents know that they needed them?” Bell said. “The schools should have better communication with the parents.”
Source: Vacaville School Board: Bell looks at school safety as biggest concern for students