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Friday, January 08, 2021


Irvine Unified still faces concerns about in-person learning
Irvine Unified leaders are hearing from a divided district community of families and teachers concerned about in-person learning given the recent rise in coronavirus cases and those who are confident in the protocols in place at schools for preventing its transmission. The district of about 35,000 students resumed in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 4, after taking its scheduled winter break. Younger students are in classrooms full-time or rotating between learning on campus and remotely while its older students, because of space limitations for social distancing, are all under that hybrid model. Irvine Unified also offers a full-time virtual academy.


Health director calls for hard 3-week school shutdown in L.A. county amid deadly COVID surge
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer on Thursday called for all K-12 campuses to shut down through January amid the raging coronavirus surge, but stopped short of ordering them to close. Ferrer said the danger is too great from the unprecedented prevalence of COVID-19 in the community to continue to provide in-person services and instruction on campuses except in rare cases where it is absolutely necessary. She also called for a pause in athletic conditioning, which has been allowed.

Reopening plans stall as 1 in 3 students are testing positive for COVID-19 at some L.A. schools
With 1 in 3 students testing positive for the coronavirus in some Los Angeles neighborhoods, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s push to reopen campuses is clashing with the reality of a raging pandemic as many school districts opt for January shutdowns and superintendents call for clearer guidance on when it will be safe to unlock their campus doors. The swift-moving developments come one week after Newsom announced financial help — totaling $2 billion — that would go to elementary schools that reopen as early as next month and later to schools serving older students.


How Southern California teachers explain U.S. Capitol riot
Even as custodians and workers clean up damage left after rioters invaded the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday, Jan. 6, there’s another mess, as teachers and other adults try to figure out how to explain the events to the country’s children. “It was hard yesterday,” said Elizabeth Ramos, choking up. She’s taught government and history at Alta Loma High School in Rancho Cucamonga through the Obama and Trump presidencies. Online classes resumed Monday at the Chaffey Joint Union High School District and Wednesday was the first day Ramos met students in her Advanced Placement Government class.


‘You have to address it.’ How San Diego educators are teaching about the Capitol mob
Taunya Robinson, an AP US History, government and economics teacher at Patrick Henry High School, was teaching on Zoom about the Cold War when she started getting notifications on her phone about Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol. “I immediately stopped (the lesson) and said, actually, this is history in the making, so we’re going to stop,” she said. Robinson told her students to start crowdsourcing social media posts and news articles about the events in D.C. as they unfolded, so they could compare what they found.


Moving California teachers to the front of the vaccine line might not be enough to reopen schools
Many parents and public officials throughout California supported pushing the state’s 1.4 million teachers and other education workers toward the front of the vaccine line, believing that would finally allow schools to reopen. But the state teacher’s unions — as well as San Francisco’s — have said vaccinations won’t be enough and are calling for additional measures not endorsed by public health experts as necessary for students and staff to safely return to the classroom. Instead of reopening, it’s looking more likely that many, if not most classrooms will remain in virtual mode for months, if not until the fall, despite the vaccine.


California schools struggle to pay for ventilation upgrades, key to safely reopen campuses
Upgrading ventilation systems is a key way schools can reduce the spread of the coronavirus when campuses reopen, but some districts in California are finding the cost of those upgrades to be insurmountable. Some districts have recently been able to upgrade their HVAC systems using local bond money. Others hope a newly introduced California Assembly bill will pass and allot extra funding for school facilities. Others are hoping President-elect Joe Biden will push through infrastructure legislation that includes money for schools. But few funding streams are guaranteed, and they may not be sufficient to cover the regular inspections and filter replacements that HVAC systems require.


DeVos Resigns As Education Secretary, Says, 'Impressionable Children Are Watching'
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sent a letter to President Trump on Thursday announcing her resignation. She is the latest administration official to quit in protest of Wednesday's violence at the U.S. Capitol. For four years, DeVos has been one of Trump's steadiest allies in a Cabinet with revolving doors, but in a letter to the president, DeVos said she was tendering her resignation, effective Friday, because she had seen enough this week:

How To Talk To Kids About The Riots At The U.S. Capitol
Music teacher Martin Urbach was up most of Wednesday night working with colleagues on lesson plans to help his students make sense of the day's events. "I only got like two hours of sleep." Then, Thursday morning, he and his students at Harvest Collegiate High School, in New York City, met over Zoom to talk about how a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, looted, destroyed property and succeeded, for several hours, in interrupting the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory.


Teachers Grapple With Discussing Capitol Riot With Kids During Already Unstable Year
One teacher compared Wednesday’s events, which many watched unfold live during the school day, to 9/11 and Columbine.

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