Vallejo, Benicia School Officials Eye Rising COVID Numbers – News Motion

By Tony Campbell

As the surging Omicron variant raises the number of COVID-19 cases in Solano County, local parents are increasingly concerned about keeping their kids in the classroom.

The rapid growth has been on the mind of Vallejo and Benicia school districts as they wrestle with the question of halting in-person instruction.

“As has been the experience of school districts throughout the region and across the state of California, the Vallejo City Unified School District has seen a steady uptick of positive COVID-19 cases among its staff and students,” district spokesperson Stephen Nichols said in an email to the Times-Herald on Thursday afternoon. “In alliance with the state and county public health agencies, the district continues to provide multiple and robust safeguards within its schools, offices, and classrooms to prevent the spread of the virus. At this time, absentee rates in the district average 20-25 percent overall, but it should be noted this includes all categories — not just COVID case absences, which is a fraction of the total absences.”

More postponements for Vallejo-area sports this week – Times-Herald

By Matt O’Donnell

High school and college sports continue to be on hold for many programs in the area.

With the omicron variant wave on the rise in January, most teams in the Tri-County Athletic League have postponed events for the week. Vallejo, Jesse Bethel and St. Patrick-St. Vincent high schools are all part of the league.

Many schools in the TCAL are from the West Contra Costa Unified School District, which closed its schools for two days due to a surge in staff absences and student COVID-19 cases. Those campuses re-opened Tuesday with new masking requirements in place, according to Bay Area News Group.

Source: COVID: More postponements for Vallejo-area sports this week – Times-Herald

Bay Area schools close due to staff shortages, high case rates – Times-Herald

By Kayla Jimenez and Thomas Gase

In the midst of a tumultuous back-to-school week underscored by numerous COVID-19 cases that have led to half-empty classrooms, administrators filling in for absent teachers and long testing lines, at least one large school district and some private and charter schools are closing temporarily, and others around the Bay Area are scrambling to keep classrooms open.

West Contra Costa Unified School District announced that it is closing its 54 schools Friday and Monday after almost a fourth of the district’s students missed class this week. The district is also closing its three COVID testing sites on Monday. The district does not plan to offer online instruction during the temporary closure.

Caliber ChangeMakers Academy, a charter school system with two campuses located in Vallejo and Richmond, is closing those schools Friday, Monday and Tuesday. And officials at Bentley School, a private school in Oakland, announced they are closing indefinitely starting Thursday and making a full return to online learning.

Source: COVID: Bay Area schools close due to staff shortages, high case rates – Times-Herald

No vaccination deadline yet for Vallejo City Unified School District – Times-Herald

By Matt O’Donnell

While some school districts have established deadlines for students to be vaccinated, the Vallejo City Unified School District continues to track state timelines, according to district spokesperson Stephen Nichols.

“We are aligning our timelines with the state’s timeline on student vaccine requirements that will be put into place once the FDA has given full (not emergency use) authorization for the vaccines,” Nichols wrote in an email.

Nichols said the district does not have data to share regarding the status of the student vaccination goal.

Source: No vaccination deadline yet for Vallejo City Unified School District – Times-Herald

Some local schools on pause this week for winter sports – Times-Herald

By Matt O’Donnell

California has gone through some cold temperatures lately but a number of athletic programs are in the deep freeze this week.

The rise in COVID-19 cases across California and in Solano County continues to have an impact — as some high school and college sporting events were recently postponed.

Jesse Bethel, Vallejo and St. Patrick-St. Vincent high schools, all part of the Tri-County Athletic League, are on pause.

Source: Some local schools on pause this week for winter sports – Times-Herald

Participatory Budgeting votes are in for Vallejo – Times-Herald

By Richard Freedman

The votes have been counted and eight of 11 applicants will get a chunk of the Participatory Budgeting’s Cycle 7 $547,000 set aside by the city.

Basic Need Resources and Services for Homeless, with partner Fighting Back Partnership, received the most votes — 545 — and is set to receive $75,000. No Child Goes Hungry, with Fighting Back again involved, this time with Faith Food Fridays and the Vallejo City Unified School District, totaled 535 votes and is earmarked for $74,800.

The third vote-getter with 480 was Animals Matter Project by the Humane Society of The North Bay, another $75,000 recipient. Also at $75,000 is the fourth place vote-getter with 474, Foster Youth Support Services and First Place for Youth.

Source: Participatory Budgeting votes are in for Vallejo – Times-Herald

VCUSD plans to follow vaccine mandate for students, staff – Times-Herald

By Matt O’Donnell

The Vallejo City Unified School District, in an email sent to students and their families across the district Wednesday, says it will comply with a state mandate that students and staff must be vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend school in person.

The district will host two upcoming vaccination clinics for students and staff: Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Vallejo High School and Thursday, Oct. 14 at the same time at Hogan Middle School.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that students and staff would need to be vaccinated to attend school in person.

Source: Vallejo City Unified School District plans to follow vaccine mandate for students, staff – Times-Herald

Jesse Bethel High School football team expected to begin season this week – Times-Herald

By Matt O’Donnell

The fall football season for Jesse Bethel High hasn’t yet been determined by wins, losses or even ties.

The Jaguars’ biggest obstacle hasn’t been a lack of depth or beefy defensive linemen on the other side of the ball. It’s been uncertainty.

Bethel’s season opener against Fairfield last Friday was cancelled due to positive COVID-19 tests. The players were tested again on Monday and the team was cleared to practice Wednesday afternoon.

Source: Jesse Bethel High School football team expected to begin season this week – Times-Herald

Jesse Bethel High football program on pause due to positive COVID tests – Times-Herald

By Matt O’Donnell

The Jesse Bethel High School football team, which played just one game in the spring, has had at least one game canceled in the fall.

Principal Kirsten Wollenwever announced on Tuesday that all football players — varsity and junior varsity — must not come to campus for instruction or practice for the remainder of the week due to positive COVID-19 tests.

Source: Jesse Bethel High football program on pause due to positive COVID tests – Times-Herald

VCUSD partners with Touro for vaccine workshop – Times-Herald

The Vallejo City Unified School District has once again partnered with Touro University to offer a vaccine workshop.

The workshop is intended to assist families in processing through vaccine hesitancy, a news release by VCUSD stated on Wednesday afternoon. The workshop will be facilitated by three Spanish/English bilingual doctors.

“Even though your students may not be of age for the vaccine, many members of their families likely are – and every vaccinated person helps us with our goal,” VCUSD Assistant Superintendent, Mitchell Romao said.

Source: Vallejo City Unified School District partners with Touro for vaccine workshop – Times-Herald

CC Sabathia gives out thousands of free backpacks – Times-Herald

By Thomas Gase

Although he’s been retired from playing baseball for a few years, CC Sabathia is still making a few good pitches toward his hometown of Vallejo. About 3,000 of them.

All Vallejo students in first through third grade will receive a nice surprise on Thursday with their free backpack from Sabathia’s PitCCh In Foundation. The backpacks, going out to approximately 15 schools in the city, will come with numerous supplies including pens, pencils, markers, binders, crayons, folders, masks, hand sanitizer, tissues, etc. The backpacks come in four colors — blue, black, yellow and red.

Source: CC Sabathia gives out thousands of free backpacks – Times-Herald

Vallejo students go back to school – Times-Herald

By Thomas Gase

Although they hadn’t been away from campus for as long as the Adam Sandler character “Billy Madison,” there were still many kids in Vallejo on Monday that had their lunch packed up, their boots tied tight while hoping to not get in a fight.

It was the first day of school for students in the Vallejo City Unified School District, which meant for some a return to their schools for the first time in nearly two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. VCUSD let students come back last spring but many finished the 2020-21 school year in distance learning.

The district, which is currently using both the in-person and from home instruction, requires staff to get vaccinated per a mandate made by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this month. Teachers and other personnel will be required to be vaccinated or test negative for the coronavirus on a weekly basis, although vaccination is only encouraged for students. Everyone on campus must wear a mask.

Source: Vallejo students go back to school – Times-Herald

VCUSD will follow Newsom’s mandate on teachers, staff – The Vacaville Reporter

By Matt O’Donnell

When the Vallejo City Unified School District opens for school on Monday, it won’t be business as usual.

After a mandate from Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, teachers and other personnel will be required to be vaccinated or test negative for the coronavirus on a weekly basis.

California will be the first state in the country to require this mandate for public schools. Many of the state’s 6.1 million students are returning to classrooms for the fall term amid a sharp rise in infections, partially due to the Delta variant.

Source: Vallejo City Unified School District will follow Newsom’s mandate on teachers, staff – The Vacaville Reporter

Local high school football teams get back to work – Times-Herald

By Matt O’Donnell

For the first time in the history of the school, Jesse Bethel High football players were welcomed to official practice on Monday by a different voice.

It was no longer from the stern and wise-cracking Jeff Turner. Instead, the instructions and expectations came from cerebral new head coach Daniel Martinez.

Martinez was officially hired in June to replace Turner, the Jaguars’ first and only head coach since the school opened its doors in 1998. Turner stepped down after his team beat Vallejo 14-7 in the Mayor’s Cup on April 17.

Source: Local high school football teams get back to work – Times-Herald

Local high schools to begin practicing Monday with some COVID guidelines in place – Times-Herald

BY Matt O’Donnell

When coaches and athletes left fields and gyms in June, many figured that August would be different when it came to COVID-19 protocols.

However, for many school districts, it’s still a wait-and-see scenario. Schedules are not exactly written in pencil. But they’re not scrolled in permanent marker either.

With the Delta variant spreading across California, school districts are planning on in-person instruction and athletic events but moving forward with caution. That includes the Vallejo City Unified School District.

Source: Local high schools to begin practicing Monday with some COVID guidelines in place – Times-Herald

Solano County students earn State Fair scholarships – Daily Republic

Two Solano County residents are among those to share in $46,000 in scholarships to college students from the Friends of the California State Fair.

Keaton Stout of Vacaville and Alexandria LaRoche of Vallejo each received $1,000 scholarships.

Twenty-three cities were represented among the winners.

Source: Solano County students earn State Fair scholarships

VCUSD partnering with Touro for vaccination programs – Times-Herald

By Thomas Gase

Although the Vallejo City Unified School District is not requiring COVID-19 vaccinations in order to attend in-person instruction, the district has partnered once again Touro University’s Mobile Program to ensure all members of the community have access to the vaccine.

Both groups have collaborated to organize vaccination clinics directly on a few school campuses. This is the district’s last push for vaccinations prior to the startup of the 2021-22 school year.

“Vaccinations are not required, for students or teachers, but we are encouraging vaccination for all who are eligible,” VCUSD spokesperson Stephen Nichols said. “Masks are required for indoor instruction and activities, per CDPH guidelines.”

Source: Vallejo City Unified School District partnering with Touro for vaccination programs – Times-Herald

Jesse Bethel High replaces Cusi with Wollenweber as principal – Times-Herald

By Thomas Gase

Kirsten Wollenweber has been named the new Jesse Bethel High principal and will replace Dr. Ramon Cusi, who decided recently to resign for “personal reasons” after three years at the helm.

Wollenweber comes to the school with a lot of experience, having been the associated principal at Pittsburg High for the past two years. She began her career at Pittsburg in 1999 at Foothill Elementary where she worked as a teacher and an Early Literacy Coach. She became an administrator in 2004 with the Albany Unified School District. In 2007 she was an assistant principal at Pittsburg High School, and in 2011 was appointed Principal of Marina Vista Elementary School.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from UC Santa Barbara, her master’s degree in educational leadership and her administrative services credential from St. Mary’s College.

Source: Jesse Bethel High replaces Cusi with Wollenweber as principal – Times-Herald

Jesse Bethel Class of 2021 ready to party – Times-Herald

By Thomas Gase

When giving his speech Friday morning, Jesse Bethel valedictorian Ethan Shull decided to quote the late Scott Heinecke — a longtime teacher and coach at the school who passed away recently:

“Work hard and party even harder.”

The last four years, the Bethel Class of 2021 navigated through numerous difficult situations. On Friday morning at Corbus Field, however, it was finally time to party.

Three-hundred forty-four Jaguar students graduated in a two-part ceremony divided by last names due to COVID-19 safety reasons with maximum occupancy. Although many students wished it could have been done in one ceremony, all of the graduates seemed to be thrilled to have the chance to have a more normal ceremony a year after the 2020 class received its diplomas in a drive-thru parking lot event.

Source: Jesse Bethel Class of 2021 ready to party – Times-Herald

Vallejo High School Class of 2021 embraces its destiny – Times-Herald

By Katy St. Clair

Graduation Day is always a time to celebrate, and the students of Vallejo High School could not have asked for a more perfect day on Thursday as they took to the stage to grab their diplomas and grasp a whole new future.

Most of the grads were born in 2003, the year the Iraq War began, Martha Stewart was indicted for insider trading, “Finding Nemo” was released, and 50 Cent’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” dominated the charts. Now they are emerging in a world where the internet is an even larger part of their lives, Tik Tok rules, and BTS and K-Pop have millions of United States fans.

The school’s Class of 2021 consists of 291 graduates, with 53 students (18 percent) graduating with the Golden State Seal Merit, showing “mastery” of at least six high school subjects.

Source: Vallejo High School Class of 2021 embraces its destiny – Times-Herald