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Monday, January 10, 2022


COVID-19 update: Health officials urge preventative measures as case counts skyrocket
Between Dec. 30 and Jan. 5, the county’s seven-day average case rate jumped from 25.5 to 67.5 per 100,000 people, and the average number of daily COVID-19 cases rose from 822 to 2,179, according to the HCA. Fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant, the positivity rate also increased from 6.5 to 16.2 percent, hospitalizations rose from 453 to 673, and ICU admissions were up to 114 per day. The HCA noted that 87 percent of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

OC students outpace state in latest performance assessments that reflect pandemic’s impact
Orange County’s public school students continued to outpace the state in the latest round of standardized tests, according to assessment scores released Friday by the California Department of Education. But overall data from the 2020-21 Smarter Balanced Assessments reflects how the pandemic has impacted schools and students. Statewide, 49 percent of students tested proficient or advanced in English language arts, while 33 reached proficiency or higher in mathematics. In Orange County, about 61 percent met or exceeded grade-level standards in English, and 43 percent did so in math.


Struggling California students fell further behind during pandemic, state report finds
California’s public school students struggled with online learning during the 2020-21 school year, with students who were already behind falling further behind, according to new data released by the state. Absenteeism also went up in 2020-21 and graduation rates dipped slightly, the state reported Friday, Jan. 7. The California Department of Education released data looking at how the state’s students performed on standardized tests, as well as graduation rates, absenteeism and student discipline. It’s the first such look at how students did during a school year dramatically disrupted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


LAUSD determined to open amid increase in infections; Montebello schools will delay term
Coronavirus infection rates have shot up to 13.5% among students and staff tested this week in the Los Angeles Unified School District, a nearly 10-fold rise since before winter break.


San Diego Unified says it won’t currently require COVID-19 vaccine for sports, extracurriculars
For now, San Diego Unified will not require students to get a COVID-19 vaccine before they can participate in sports and extracurriculars, the district said in an email to parents Friday evening.


12 Oakland schools close as 500 teachers out amid sickout, omicron surge with educators calling for remote learning
About 500 Oakland teachers called in sick Friday — more than twice as many as earlier in the week — prompting the closure of about 12 schools in the district to instruction and sending officials and families scrambling.

Hayward school district reverts to temporary online instruction to weather omicron
As public health officials urge school districts to stick with in-person instruction, the Hayward district temporarily reverts back to remote classes. The Hayward Unified School Board voted Friday to move classes online for all students next week due to the rising COVID-19 surge.


New law on mental health curriculum goes into effect with start of the new year
Health classes in California high schools will soon cover more than nutrition and exercise. Thanks to a new law that went into effect Jan. 1, students will learn about depression, schizophrenia, mood disorders and other serious mental health conditions. Senate Bill 224 requires all school districts that offer health classes to include mental health as part of the curriculum. The California Department of Education has until Jan. 1, 2023 to incorporate mental health into the state standards, and districts have until Jan. 1, 2024 to begin teaching the new material.

Standardized test scores in California fell during year in distance learning
After five straight years of gradual improvement, standardized test scores declined significantly last year for many California students, most of whom spent 2020-21 in distance learning. Gaps in achievement between Black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian peers, already wide before the pandemic, expanded in math and English language arts. State education officials, however, cautioned that the number of students who took the tests last year was much smaller than in earlier years. Before the pandemic, districts were required to administer Smarter Balanced tests each spring.

Student petition demands Oakland Unified offer more Covid protection or return to online learning
A group of Oakland Unified high school students are threatening to walk off campuses if the school district doesn’t provide more Covid protections or return to online learning. More than 150 high school students signed a petition demanding that the school district provide KN95 masks for every student, twice weekly Covid tests for everyone on campus and more covered outdoor spaces where students can eat in inclement weather. The students say the only other acceptable choice would be to return to online learning. The students say the district has until Jan. 17 to meet their demands.

L.A. Unified assigns 4,000 admin employees to staff classrooms next week amid rising Covid rates
About 4,000 administrative employees at Los Angeles Unified are ready to staff classrooms, cafeterias, and other positions at school campuses when the district begins the new semester amid another surge in Covid-19 cases, according to a district spokesperson. The number of positive Covid-19 tests significantly increased in the last 24 hours as more test results have been added to the district’s data dashboard, indicating a rising number of educators and staff who might be quarantined when students return to campus on Jan. 11.

State seeks to put 10,000 more mental health counselors at schools
The California Department of Education wants to get 10,000 more mental health counselors on school campuses. According to the Los Angeles Times, the state aims to attract clinicians into schools by offering loan forgiveness, deferrals and scholarships and by reducing the time it takes to get licensed as a mental health professional.


San Diego Unified pauses hunt for new superintendent amid COVID-19 spike
Citing rising COVID-19 infections rates in the county, San Diego Unified School District board leaders announced Friday that during the month of January, they would pause all activities related to the search for the district's next superintendent. Public forums planned for the coming week have been postponed. The State of the District Address, which was scheduled for Jan. 18, will also be postponed.


Amid pandemic, just 25% of students took statewide tests
California’s Department of Education said Friday that only 25% of students took statewide assessment tests in 2020-21 as schools scrambled to administer the exams in the midst of the pandemic. The low participation rate makes it impossible to know the full extent of learning loss statewide during a year when most of California’s classrooms were closed and students were doing remote learning. “COVID-19 not only created challenges for teaching and learning but also for the administration of the statewide assessments,” the Department of Education said in a statement as it released results of the limited proficiency tests and other data on absenteeism and graduation rates.

COVID Test Kits for San Diego Students to Be Distributed to School Staff Sunday
The remaining 205,380 at-home COVID-19 test kits allocated by the state for San Diego County’s K-12 public school students were scheduled to be distributed Sunday at a warehouse for school staff members to pick up and disperse to families, the San Diego County Office of Education announced Saturday. School district and charter school staff members will be loading pallets of the at-home test kits into cargo trucks and vans, said Music Watson of the Office of Education.

LAUSD begins distribution of take-home COVID tests
With classes set to begin next week, the Los Angeles Unified School District began distributing thousands of take-home COVID-19 tests to students' families Friday so they can meet the requirement of logging a negative test before returning to campuses. The LAUSD is requiring all students and staff to be tested ahead of the re-start of classes. District staff are expected back on campuses Monday, with the start of classes pushed back until Tuesday.

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