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Monday, January 04, 2021


In the news: Santa Ana High School senior accepted to Harvard University
From print to television news, local media outlets are buzzing about a viral video of a Santa Ana High School senior reacting to her acceptance to Harvard University. Despite the financial hardships of her family, 17-year old senior Cielo Echegoyen did not give up on attending the college of her dreams. As KNBC 4 reports, Echegoyen is only the fourth Santa Ana High School student to be accepted to the prestigious Ivy League university.

Governor announces new plan and financial incentives to encourage safe return to in-person instruction
Citing evidence that younger learners pose a lower risk of transmitting COVID-19, Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced a new plan encouraging a return to in-person classroom instruction for elementary school students as early as mid-February. During a morning briefing, Newsom released details of California’s Safe Schools for All plan, which prioritizes a phased-in approach for returning students in kindergarten through the second grade, as well as those with special needs. Upper elementary grades could be incentivized to resume on-site classes as early as March. Information for secondary schools has not yet been released.

Rethinking what it means to connect: 10 Orange County teachers share their 2020 perspectives
We reached out to semifinalists in Orange County’s Teachers of the Year program to see if they’d be willing to share their thoughts, insight and reflections on teaching in 2020. We wanted to know what they experienced, what they learned, what they saw in their students, and how they think they’ve changed. Here’s what they had to say, in their own words.

Reflecting on an unprecedented year: 10 notable OCDE Newsroom stories from 2020
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a year like no other. And now, looking back, we can see that the lessons we’ve learned — about health, resilience and flexibility — are lessons that will stick with us for years to come. Despite the unique challenges that came from an abrupt shutdown of school campuses and a switch to distance learning, our educators, students and community have had many things to celebrate. So like in years’ past, it’s time to look back on the most notable OCDE Newsroom posts for 2020. These posts highlight the grace, compassion, encouragement, strength and grit of our Orange County community.

Mijares: A year of distress and disruption also highlighted our resilience
It is impossible to overstate the challenges our schools were presented with this year, from having to immediately pivot to distance learning in March, to putting in place the latest COVID-19 safety protocols in the summer and fall. Every step of the way, our teachers, students, support staff and families demonstrated extraordinary resilience, working as partners to minimize barriers to learning during the worst public health threat in a century.


The Anaheim lunch lady died of COVID. Like so many in 2020, she was alone but not forgotten.
Students and others from Jefferson Elementary say Linda Homna's kindness mattered. After a year to forget, her lesson is worth remembering.

Huntington Beach district returning from winter break to all distance learning
The Huntington Beach Union High School District will temporarily return to 100% distance learning when its classes resume Monday after the winter break. The school district announced the decision Thursday. Distance learning will remain its exclusive method of education through the end of the semester, Jan. 29. Students had been learning under a hybrid of some in-person instruction and some distance learning.

Newsom announces plan to encourage schools to resume in-person learning as soon as February
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a $2 billion proposal on Wednesday, Dec. 30, to encourage school districts to bring back elementary school students to campus as soon as February — though whether that is a realistic goal for Southern California remains in doubt. The plan, which would use funds from the state’s 2021-22 budget to support schools that reopen their campuses in February and March, calls for prioritizing students who would benefit most from in-person instruction, financial help and other forms of support from the state, and high levels of coronavirus testing among pupils and staff.


Big federal COVID-relief payout expected for LAUSD, but is it enough?
The Los Angeles school district stands to receive more than $1 billion from the new federal coronavirus relief bill — or about $2,150 per student — more than enough to wipe away a projected deficit for pandemic-related costs through the end of the school year, according to preliminary state estimates. Combined with other funding, the total coronavirus support will add up to one of the largest-ever aid programs to local education. The new federal funding would be in addition to a $2-billion statewide plan that Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday to help school districts reopen their campuses. It’s also in addition to $894 million in outside coronavirus aid L.A. Unified had already budgeted.


What Gov. Newsom’s $2 billion school reopening plan means for Sacramento-area districts
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $2 billion plan to reopen schools by early spring doesn’t mean students will return to Sacramento County campuses anytime soon. But it could mean some districts will reopen sooner than they would have otherwise planned. The proposal, announced Wednesday and pending approval by the state Legislature, would fund increased testing and personal protective equipment to encourage some elementary schools to reopen classrooms, possibly as early as February. Under the new plan, counties with a seven-day average of fewer than 28 cases per 100,000 residents would be allowed to open in-person classes. That’s more relaxed than the current threshold, but Sacramento-region counties are still falling far short amid an ongoing surge in cases.


San Diego schools may get $128 million in federal COVID relief
San Diego County public schools are expected to receive about $389.6 million in total from the new federal relief package signed Sunday by President Donald Trump, including $128.1 million for San Diego Unified, according to calculations by analysts at EdSource. California schools in general are expected to receive at least $6.8 billion, according to EdSource. That’s out of a total $54.9 billion of aid going to public schools nationwide.


Corona-Norco pulls back on reopening elementary schools in near future
Corona-Norco Unified’s 27,000 elementary school students will not return to the classrooms in early January as planned. Only five days after announcing that in-person learning would resume on Jan. 5, the school board reversed course Saturday, Jan. 2, voting 3-2 to delay reopening until receiving specific guidance under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Safe Schools for All Plan. The plan provides specific details on funding, COVID-19 testing, protective equipment, contact tracing and vaccinations. The plan envisions schools reopening in February.


San Bernardino County coronavirus cases 6 times the goal for school reopening
To reopen schools, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday, counties must have a seven-day average of fewer than 28 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents. As of Tuesday, San Bernardino County had 165.5 cases per 100,000 residents, almost six times the goal, and the number has been going up all month. On Dec. 1, San Bernardino had an average of 46.1 new cases per 100,00 residents.


California schools build community wireless networks to bridge digital divide
California school districts and cities that are grappling with unequal internet access among their students during the pandemic are taking it upon themselves to solve the problem. Early on, schools often gave individual hotspots to students who don’t have the means to access the internet at home. But service can be patchy and expensive. So, some communities — San Jose, West Contra Costa County, Kings County and Oakland among others — are building their own wireless network infrastructure.

Responses of cheer and doubt to Gov. Newsom’s plan for in-person instruction
District and county superintendents, school advocates and union leaders reacted Wednesday to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan for reopening elementary schools for in-person instruction with hope, enthusiasm and skepticism. Newsom is proposing to give $2 billion — from $450 to about $700 per student — to school districts that agree to extensive Covid testing and other requirements for phasing in transitional kindergarten to second grade as early as Feb. 15. Students in grades 3 to 6 would follow a month later.

Expanding school year in new ways may be one outcome of pandemic in California
Expanded summer school for K-12 students may be one positive outcome of the pandemic that has contributed to varying levels of learning loss among students across the state. Without providing details, Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated that he will be including funds in the budget he will present to the Legislature in January that might allow schools to effectively extend the school year into the summer, as a crucial way to help make up for the learning loss that many students have suffered during the pandemic.

Newsom offers $2 billion plan to bring back in-person instruction in elementary grades
Gov. Gavin Newsom presented a $2 billion proposal for financial incentives Wednesday to prod school districts to bring back elementary school students for in-person instruction, starting in mid-February. School districts would receive extra funding — from $450 to about $700 per student — if they agreed to a timetable for reopening schools, a rigorous regimen of testing both students and staff for the virus, and a strict health and safety plan that teachers and employee unions would have to consent to. Newsom said more details would be available with the state budget next week.

California substitute shortage compounded by pandemic could keep some schools closed
Lack of childcare, reluctance to learn new technology and fear of returning to classrooms during the pandemic are keeping subs at home.


A Quiet And 'Unsettling' Pandemic Toll: Students Who've Fallen Off The Grid
For American families and their children, school is more than just a building. It's a social life and a community, an athletic center and a place to get meals that aren't available at home. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted — and continues to disrupt — the lives of U.S. students in profound ways. Many kids haven't set foot in their schools since March, when most in-person schooling shut down across the United States. Teachers are working tirelessly to educate their students online, but they are growing increasingly anxious about the kids who aren't showing up at all.

Schools Face A Massive Challenge To Make Up For Learning Lost During The Pandemic
With millions of kids still learning remotely, the learning losses are piling up. Some school districts are reporting a higher level of failing grades this fall. A report from the consultant McKinsey & Company estimated that students were three months behind in math when they started the school year. And another study said learning losses were minimal, but left out many students from the analysis. The pandemic is causing Black and Hispanic students in particular to fall further behind their white peers, according to McKinsey.


Research shows changing schools can make or break a student, but the wave of post-COVID mobility may challenge the systems in ways we’ve never seen
The closing months of 2020 have brought little certainty to the question of when the COVID-19 pandemic will end. Through the beginning of a new school year, coronavirus infections and deaths have surged in a frightening second wave that has left tens of millions of K-12 students stuck in virtual classes for the time being.

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