By Daily Republic Staff
A series of Monday webchats to help teens and young adults to cope with the stresses of Covid-19 has been extended through June.
The Mental Health Mondays webchats will be facilitated by Student Wellness Specialists from Solano County Office of Education Student and Program Support Department.
“In the wake of the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic, our young people are facing unprecedented challenges and stresses that can have a lasting impact on their overall well-being,” Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said in a statement. “I am inspired by SCOE staff’s commitment, cooperation and collaboration to use technology to problem-solve and place priority on our students.”
Source: Webchats to help Solano teens with Covid-19 stresses
By Maggie Fusek
Solano County youth 14 to 21 years old are invited to participate in an upcoming series of free mental health webchats held through Zoom. Mental Health Mondays Webchats are facilitated by student wellness specialists from Solano County Office of Education’s Student and Program Support Department, giving youth a safe space to ask questions and exchange information with their peers about mental health.
Last month, SCOE’s Youth Development Department hosted the “Coping with COVID” webchat series for youth on a wide range of topics including: mental health, stress and anxiety management, mindfulness, and routine and schedules. The series, particularly Mental Health Mondays, was successful and received positive feedback, and is now extended through June.
Source: Solano Youth Invited To ‘Mental Health Mondays’ Zoom Webchats | Benicia, CA Patch
By Diana Lambert
California needs at least $500 million to address the immediate need for home computers and internet access for K-12 students, as most schools are expected to continue at least some distance learning next school year, said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond during a press conference Wednesday.
Thurmond called on companies, foundations and individual donors to help provide the 600,000 computers and tablets, and 300,000 to 400,000 internet connections or hot spots needed for distance learning after campuses closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The department has been working with companies like T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Amazon and others and has distributed 100,000 hot spots to students and 21,000 computers to districts.
Source: California needs $500 million to buy enough computers, internet connections for all students – Times-Herald
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and state leaders serving on the Closing the Digital Divide Task Force continued their work today on behalf of California’s most vulnerable students and families who continue to experience barriers to internet access despite calls for providers to expand their services.
During the task force’s latest hearing, Thurmond and members heard testimony from advocates for students living in urban and rural areas, who described continued inequities that stand to put California’s most at-risk learners further behind. During the hearing, representatives from internet service providers were asked to respond to concerns raised, including limited or no service in specific zip codes, “free” internet offers that require costly long-term contracts, mandatory deposits, and other constraints to access.
Source: SSPI Works Toward Internet Access for Students – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
Imagine Learning, a Weld North Education company and leading educational technology developer of supplemental adaptive curriculum for PreK through eighth-grade students, today announce the winners of the 2019-2020 Imagine Nation Awards. The awards are part of the esteemed Imagine Learning motivational program igniting engagement and amplifying confidence for all learners.
Today, we congratulate 231 schools and students from across the country for their exceptional use of Imagine Learning programs: Imagine Language & Literacy, Imagine Math 3+, Imagine Math PreK-2, Imagine Math Facts, and Imagine Español. Over 16,000 schools implementing the evidence-based programs were eligible for the Imagine National School of Excellence Award and/or the Imagine Nation Beacon School Award.
Source: Imagine Learning Recognizes Top Schools for Exemplary Usage of Digital Programs
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that his Closing the Digital Divide Task Force is asking the leaders of major internet service providers to provide free guest access to all of California’s students. Executives from these companies will be asked to speak to their commitment to the state’s most vulnerable students and families at the next task force meeting on Monday, May 4 at 4 p.m., which will be streamed live online.
Superintendent Thurmond created the task force, co-chaired by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino), to help close the technological gaps that put millions of students—including those living in remote, rural areas and students living in poverty—at a further academic disadvantage. Executives from all major service providers, including AT&T, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, have been invited to the meeting, which will be livestreamed on the CDE Facebook page.
Source: Task Force Calls for Free Internet for Students – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Emma GoularteEvery student has different home lives and it is unrealistic to believe that all students will have the same opportunities as others. Some people live in different places and some have limited access to what they need. It is inequitable to expect that everyone has the same circumstances.
“Learning online has decreased my actual understanding of many school topics,” said Benicia High School (BHS) senior Jett Walker. “In order to fully comprehend topics to their full extents, I need to really get involved in person. Online schooling does offer this to a certain extent, but it lacks the actual ability of becoming fully engaged in certain topics.”
Source: Benicia students, teachers work to bridge ‘digital divide’
By Daily Republic Staff
The Solano Resource Conservation District on May 6 will launch its “Watershed Wednesdays” online education program and will provide free material to teachers and caregivers for use in their online school lessons.
The material features district educators exploring “nature as they shelter at home, virtual classroom visits, worksheets and links to other meaningful activities,” the district announced in a statement.
“We’re very excited that we can continue supporting Solano County’s students and families during this difficult time. Fortunately, nature is around us no matter where we are, so we are highlighting that in our distance learning program and encouraging students to still be nature scientists at home,” Allison Martin, Solano Resource Conservation District Education Program manager, said in the statement. “We also hope that schools will use some of our printable resources to help those who may not have regular access to a computer.”
Source: Solano conservation district offers online education material
By Tim Goree
Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District and Solano Library Partnership Offers Digital Access for All Students
Fairfield, CA – April 21, 2020: The Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District and Solano County Library partnered to offer the Student Access Card in the fall of 2019, which acts as a student identification and a public library card in one. The Student Access Card streamlines student access to information and materials by integrating FSUSD Student ID numbers and public library accounts.
Source: Press Release: FSUSD and Solano Library Partnership Offers Digital Access for All Students
By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
The coronavirus rapidly shut down colleges’ and K-12 schools’ operations in the past month or so, leading the College Board and the ACT, the nonprofits that organize the two main admissions tests, to postpone exam dates this spring. An estimated one million high school juniors are losing out on taking the SAT in the spring.
In response, dozens of colleges suspended their requirements that applicants submit SAT and ACT scores, a move that advocates for test-optional policies cheered. The exams have long been viewed as a cumbersome step in the college application process for disadvantaged students who cannot afford the same extensive tutoring as their wealthier peers.
Source: SAT, ACT could be delivered online if coronavirus persists | Education Dive
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today the creation of a new task force to close the digital divide for California students who lack access to resources such as internet connectivity and devices. The Closing the Digital Divide Task Force will be co-chaired by California State Senator Connie Leyva.
“This task force signals a new era, that California is now working with focus and urgency to close the digital divide in the most concrete way we have ever seen,” said Thurmond. “COVID-19 is a public health crisis in California and all around the world, but it’s also revealed other crises like the technology gap that has persisted for too long, leading to opportunity and achievement gaps for California’s students.”
“As the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, I strongly believe that ensuring equity for California students is critically important,” said Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino). “One vital step to ensuring equity is by closing the digital divide, which has become that much more evident and urgent as distance learning is now the new reality for millions of school children during the current COVID-19 crisis. I look forward to co-chairing this important task force as we all continue to work together to meet the needs of students in California.”
Source: Thurmond Announces Digital Divide Task Force – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
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 Shayna Rubin
California schools began to shutter its campuses en masse on March 17 and, by Tuesday, a majority of Bay Area school districts confirmed that the 2019-2020 academic year would not continue on campus.
School, though, is still in session — at home and online.
As parents suddenly assume the mantle of homeschool teachers, adjustments vary from panicked Amazon purchases and LEGO projects to tumultuous technology sharing and enterprising group projects. The new normal is still setting in.
Source: COVID-19: From tumultuous tech sharing to LEGO projects, Bay Area parents cope with home schooling
By Tim Goree
The Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District connected virtually Thursday evening with nearly 900 high school seniors and their families. The Virtual Senior Information Night presentation was conducted via livestream on YouTube. The important information was shared on the topics of graduation requirements, satisfying the University of California “a-g” requirements, Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate exams, college entrance requirements, credit recovery, graduation ceremonies, and senior events/activities.
“We could have just sent an email or a letter to our families, but we wanted to try a different approach to reach our students,” said Superintendent Kris Corey. “I’d say it was a huge success based on the number of viewers who logged in. We were especially pleased to have nearly 90 viewers for our presentation conducted in Spanish.”
Source: Press Release: Fairfield-Suisun Connects with High School Seniors and Their Families
By Thomas Gase
There is a popular spiritual saying that goes, “Remember, the teacher is always silent during the test.” It seems as if the Benicia and Vallejo school districts didn’t get that message.
Although the world is facing a test of high proportions with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, local educators have made more noise than an elephant in a library this week. Since the announcement last Friday that schools would be closed until at least mid-April, educators have rallied to create ways for distance learning with online classes, activities and instructions.
Instead of hearing Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” kids have instead been turning up Google Classroom, a free web service, developed by Google for schools that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments in a paperless way. Other programs being used include YouTube, Clever and Zoom.
Source: Despite COVID-19 crisis, Solano County teachers rally to continue lessons online – Times-Herald
By Kathleen Morris
How would you feel if someone said you need to change your whole approach to teaching immediately? Imagine if, instead of interacting face to face with students in your classroom, you had to create and deliver a virtual program.
Perhaps you’d feel nervous? Overwhelmed? Excited? Unqualified? Inspired? Or perhaps plain lost.
Online learning is fast becoming a reality for hundreds of millions of students worldwide. Teachers, students, families, administrators, departments, and whole communities are being forced to respond and adapt quickly.
Source: Resources For Teaching Online Due To School Closures – The Edublogger
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 Tribune Content Agency
A few years ago, Mitchell Robins wasn’t able to tell anyone precisely what he was thinking. He lost the ability to speak when he was 4 and relied primarily on a system of pictures and limited sign language to tell his parents and caregivers what he wanted to eat or when he felt sick or how he wanted to spend his time. Then his parents realized he could spell.
Now Mitchell, 17, communicates deliberately, pointing letter by letter to a board that displays the alphabet. Ask him a question and his expression will flit between deep concentration and a jovial grin as he slowly spells his answer. Mitchell, who has autism and is nonverbal, said using spelling-based communication has changed his life.
“It changed everything because I could get my wants and needs met,” he spelled during a recent interview at his home in Highland Park, Ill., curled up in a couch corner while one of his therapists held the board at his eye level. “I am very happy people are finally figuring out how to reach people like me because it is a human rights issue we need to solve.”
Source: 17-year-old boy with nonverbal autism blogs to reach others like him: ‘People need to stop underestimating us’
Congressman Thompson announces 2019 App Challenge winners; Winners selected by local tech experts
Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) announced that Kai Rush and Benji Ryujin have been selected as the 2019 App Challenge winners for the Fifth Congressional District for their app Space Trace. Kai and Benji are seniors at Benicia High School and competed against more than a dozen other app designers in this year’s challenge. They were selected by a group of local technology experts.
Source: Benicia High students win App Challenge for Fifth Congressional District
By Roger Riddell
Though the filing window closes in February, it’s never too early to start the planning and paperwork for E-rate funds from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The program’s impact has been critical to broadband connectivity for many schools, especially when it comes to ensuring infrastructure is up-to-date and there’s enough bandwidth for the ballooning amount of tech in classrooms. This only grows in importance as more states take their annual standardized exams digital, particularly for rural schools and low-income schools at large.
Source: What do administrators need to know ahead of the 2020 E-rate filing season? | Education Dive