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Tuesday, November 30, 2021


COVID-19 update: Health officials are learning about the Omicron variant and preparing for its arrival
A new COVID-19 variant that goes by the name Omicron has a number of mutations that could impact how contagious it is and the ability of immune systems to protect from infection, according to a fact sheet released this week by the California Department of Public Health. Some of Omicron’s mutations are concerning to scientists because they differ greatly from previously identified variants. But it’s not yet known if Omicron causes more severe COVID-19 illness than other variants or how it might respond to treatment, the CDPH says.


The First Year of COVID: A College Degree Was ‘an Insurance Policy’ Against Death
Voice of San Diego reviewed 4,046 death certificates, one for each COVID-related death in San Diego County beginning with the first on March 22, 2020, and ending a year later. Only 17 percent of people who died in San Diego County had a bachelor’s degree or higher. But 40 percent of people 25 and older have that same level of education countywide, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Another 31 percent of victims didn’t have a high school diploma, which is also significantly out of line with countywide figures.


Long Beach USD’s planned all-gender locker rooms causes concern for some
Construction on Wilson High School’s new, multimillion-dollar aquatic center is scheduled to begin next summer – kicking off a streak of five high school pools Long Beach Unified will eventually build – but the recently released final designs have apparently angered some parents because of a planned gender-neutral locker room.


Should California schools require gender-neutral bathrooms? Some Fresno students say ‘yes’
Schools across California may soon see an increase in gender-neutral bathrooms on campuses. California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced the formation this month of a committee that will be charged with making recommendations to expand the availability of gender-neutral bathrooms on California school campuses. The committee will consist of teachers, students, school staff, and other California organizations like Equality California.


State rejects Oakland Unified’s request to avoid county oversight
The Alameda County Office of Education can impose stricter oversight of Oakland Unified’s budget and hiring practices, the California Department of Education ruled on Monday. The county office of education had warned the school board two weeks ago that it would bring in a fiscal management team to review the district’s finances, out of concerns that the board would be unable to cut tens of millions of dollars from its budget. The school board appealed to the state, and the state sided with the Alameda County Office of Education.

Challenges remain for undocumented students to tap financial aid in California
California made history in 2001 when it became the second state in the nation to pass a law that allows undocumented students who attended and graduated from high school in the state to pay in-state college tuition. Since then, it has benefited tens of thousands of students. But advocates say many undocumented students who qualify for in-state tuition and financial aid are not receiving these benefits, 20 years after the law passed.


BCSD considers how to engage students who aren't showing up to school while understaffed
Before the pandemic, the Bakersfield City School District would regularly send out attendance teams from each school to find students who weren't showing up and work to get them back on track. Currently, the district has a small team at Rafer Johnson Day School doing this work, but it's not nearly enough to tackle the current scope of the problem.


Proposed California ballot measure would give parents ‘legal standing’ to sue for better schools as right-to-education efforts spread
Californians could vote next year on whether students should have a constitutional right to a high-quality education, potentially opening the door to litigation from parents dissatisfied with their children’s schools. The effort to get the measure on the November 2022 ballot is just getting started, but such a statute would give parents “legal standing” before a judge to argue that districts should make better use of education dollars, said initiative spokesman Michael Trujillo, a veteran political strategist.

Removal of Pregnancy Exemption May Lift Injunction Against SDUSD Vaccine Mandate
A federal appeals court has granted a request from a 16-year-old Scripps Ranch High School student and her parents who sued to block the San Diego Unified School District’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, one day before students were required to get their first dose. But an attorney for the school district said a change would be made to the policy and he expected the injunction to quickly end.

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