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Friday, July 31, 2020


COVID-19 update: Group to offer free meals in Santa Ana, Costa Mesa on Saturday, Aug. 1
OCDE and local school districts continue to track the latest developments related to COVID-19 while following guidance from the California Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency. Below is our running digest, with newer stories posted at the top.


Beckman High grad didn’t get a ceremony, but won a car for never missing school
When Kellie Yada spotted the shiny new car, topped with a big red bow, she was speechless. And that’s no hyperbole. The recent Beckman High graduate stood frozen, a stunned smile her only response. For a minute or two, she opened and closed her mouth as though trying to find her voice – but nothing came out. “You won this car for having perfect attendance,” Glenn Kashima, service director at Tustin Toyota, informed her Wednesday, July 29. “Didn’t it pay off to go to school every day?”

Why now is the time for schools to change how they teach about race and diversity
How will schools look on the other side of this, the largest social revolt in U.S. history that has laid bare disparities throughout American culture, from law enforcement and beyond? Should new classes be added, history and social studies texts augmented? Or, in this moment, can the whole system be rebuilt in the name of a new awareness, the sudden realization by the majority population that what we have been taught wasn’t always the full story.


Anaheim public schools launch virtual academies for the long haul
A handful of public school districts in Orange County spent the summer preparing to launch online-based schools — not just as a pivot during pandemic times but as mainstay educational institutions for the new school year. The director of educational technology for Anaheim Elementary School District put together a proposal for a virtual academy in April.

Less stress, better grades: With schools closed, some kids thrive
Those annoying puffy spots under the eyes of eighth-grader Natalie Alvarez began to disappear, followed by the 10 a.m. hunger bouts and the midafternoon yawns — much to the Carson girl’s delight and surprise. At first, Natalie, 14, had resisted the distance learning thrust upon her when schools closed amid the coronavirus emergency.


San Diego Unified plans for six hours of distance learning daily
San Diego Unified School District is aiming to make distance learning this fall “as close as possible” to what school was like pre-COVID, according to new distance learning ground rules the district announced late Thursday night. That means students will have a six-hour school day that includes daily video conferencing with a teacher.


The school year is about to start. But Bay Area teachers’ unions and districts are still fighting over crucial details
Frustrated Bay Area families already know classes will be online when school starts in the coming weeks, but many still have no idea when their K-12 students will have to log on for lessons or how many hours of live instruction they would get. That’s because districts are still hammering out those details with teachers unions and, in many cases, those negotiations are tense if not near an impasse, even though school starts for some in 10 days.


Kids' mental health can struggle during online school. Here's how teachers are planning ahead.
When her South Carolina high school went online this spring, Maya Green struggled through the same emotions as many of her fellow seniors: She missed her friends. Her online assignments were too easy. She struggled to stay focused. But Green, 18, also found herself working harder for the teachers who knew her well and cared about her.


LAUSD ponders $7 billion school bond measure for construction, modernization
The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Trustee is set to vote Tuesday, Aug. 4, during a special meeting on whether to put a $7 billion construction bond on the November ballot. The bond money, paid back through property taxes on district residents, would go toward a long list of school construction projects continuing ongoing efforts at dozens of schools in the areas of safety, technology, modernization, accessibility, equipment and new construction. It would also cover projects on charter school campuses.


Why So Many LAUSD Charter Schools Ended Up With Coronavirus Relief Loans For Small Businesses
Two months ago, after a teachers union protest, KPCC/LAist identified a handful of Los Angeles charter schools that had accepted money from a now-$659 billion federal loan program aimed at helping small businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. Back then, we didn't know how common it was for charter schools — publicly-funded, tuition-free schools — in the L.A. Unified School District to receive loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. After our own analysis of federal data and charter schools' board documents, we now have a much better idea how common it is. The answer: very common.

Overwhelmed, Stressed, Scared: School Nurses Brace for the Fall Semester
In any ordinary school year, school nurses are busy. This year, that's an understatement. "Our role has expanded tenfold," says Eileen Gavin, who co-leads a team of nurses for Middletown Township Public Schools in New Jersey. She and school nurses across the country face an unenviable and unprecedented task: caring for students and staff during a global pandemic. "We were at the front line of COVID-19 before the stay at home orders were put into place," says Gloria Barrera, the president-elect of the Illinois Association of School Nurses. They'll be at the front line again, she says, as the school year begins.


Could elementary schools reopen this fall? SLO County has a way to make it happen
Local elementary schools could hold in-person instruction this fall if they meet certain criteria, San Luis Obispo County Public Health officials announced Wednesday. According to a county news release, SLO County Superintendent of Schools James Brescia and County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein sent a joint letter to local elementary school leaders this week, notifying them of the process to apply for a waiver that would allow the schools to reopen this fall.

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