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Friday, February 26, 2021


Black History Month forum addresses experiences and strategies for ensuring equity and inclusion
“I don’t want you to be colorblind. I want you to see my color.” Those were the personal words Robert Sheffield, director of Quality Schools and Districts for WestEd, shared during an OCDE-organized event celebrating Black History Month on Feb. 25. Sharing stories, examining the needs and challenges for Orange County’s African American students and honoring their accomplishments was the mission of the virtual colloquium that featured the personal accounts and experiences of six panelists. Each offered advice and strategies for ensuring equity, opportunity and inclusion.


Santa Ana Unified to offer free weekend meals for children
With lots of families in Santa Ana facing economic hardship, parents soon will be able to turn to local schools for free weekend meals for their children. Santa Ana Unified School District employees already distribute free food for children Monday through Friday. Every child is eligible, regardless of whether he or she attends a district school.  And beginning Friday, March 5, distribution will be expanded to include extra breakfasts, lunches, snacks and “a super snack,” which covers dinners, for Saturday and Sunday.


COVID-19 vaccines prioritized for educators will focus on struggling communities
California public health officials offered details Thursday on the new statewide COVID-19 vaccination effort for K-12 employees, with the priority being teachers and employees already working on-site at schools.


Teachers Union Raises Concerns with CUSD Over Pandemic Safety, Communication Issues
A local teachers union alleges there has been inadequate contact tracing and delayed notifications of positive COVID-19 cases on campuses. Alleging lapses in communication from school administrators and concerns about COVID-19 protocol lapses not being taken seriously, the Capistrano Unified Education Association (CUEA) is calling for tightened safety measures and better responses from Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD). In response, the school district said there has not been a single case of transmission at schools and that health measures are being followed.


The largest school district in the Sacramento region is returning to campus
The Elk Grove Unified School District, the largest public school district in Northern California, has set several target dates to bring its more than 60,000 students back into classrooms in March and April.


San Francisco teachers and schools finally reach COVID safety agreement, but not a date on reopening
After months of debate and the looming threat of a lawsuit by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, the San Francisco Board of Education has finally ratified an agreement with the district teachers' unions over how to proceed with in-person learning. The catch: There's still no confirmed date for when schools will officially reopen, either for hybrid or full in-person learning.

Oakland public schools could reopen in weeks: 'Students are really suffering'
akland students could start heading back to classrooms within weeks, with district officials informing parents this week that it’s critical to reopen schools, starting with the youngest children and most at-risk students across all grades.


Bay Area urban school parents start speaking out for reopening
On Thursday, Crescenciano Mendoza joined another San Jose public school parents, doctors from a community health clinic and Mayor Sam Liccardo in urging schools to find a way to reopen more quickly.


Riverside elementary school students could return to campus March 9
Riverside Unified's return would involve those in transitional kindergarten through the sixth grade, who would start with a hybrid format.


California veteran teachers say they’re working harder and longer, often with little district help
To those parents who perceive that teachers have had it easy during distance learning and put in a short day, veteran teachers surveyed have a reply: far from it. They told researchers last month that teaching remotely during the pandemic has presented an extremely difficult challenge, and most have never worked harder — an average of eight hours a week longer. Nearly all agree, though, that the public doesn’t understand what teachers have been through and how hard it’s been to instruct and engage with students through a computer screen during a pandemic that has stressed them and their families.

California sets priorities for vaccination of teachers and school employees
On Thursday, California health officials released a detailed roadmap with priorities for how and which school employees can get vaccines first, starting with those already back in-person and those with plans to return back to campus in about three weeks. The number of vaccines that each school district or childcare organization receives will be determined by a formula that prioritizes districts with a high portion of low-income students, as well as those that have been hit hard by Covid-19.

Most California parents worry about their young children's education amid pandemic
Almost three out of four California parents with children 5 and under are worried their education and development will suffer because of the pandemic, according to a survey released Thursday. Adding to the stress and strain, more than half of parents from low-income communities and 40% of parents of color also said they are worried about money. In fact, more than a third of parents surveyed  said they have skipped meals or had to cut back on food for the children as a result of the pandemic.

California education official who authored articles espousing conspiracy theories put on paid leave
An administrator at the California Department of Education was put on paid leave Thursday while department officials investigate allegations that he authored books and articles about conspiracy theories and used anti-Semitic rhetoric. The department began an internal investigation of Craig Heimbichner, who was promoted in January to the position of education administrator in the charter schools division, after receiving a complaint last week related to his published writings and statements, said Daniel Thigpen, spokesman for the department.


Laguna Beach USD plans to reopen secondary schools on March 17
The Laguna Beach Unified School District is planning to reopen its secondary school campuses for in-person classes on March 17, pending official notice that Orange County has entered the state’s Red Tier for managing COVID-19, according to a statement released Wednesday. A St. Patrick’s Day reopening means that Laguna Beach High School and Thurston Middle School will have been closed to students for just over a year because of the pandemic.


Now Is Time To Help Students Learning English As A Second Language, Experts Say
Luther Burbank High School senior Emili Carrillo is finding ways to learn English — but lately, school isn’t making that easy. The 17-year-old moved from Mexico nearly four years ago with her dad, and works part-time as a cashier at a grocery store. “Working has helped me a lot, because I have to practice my English,” Carillo said about chatting with customers on the job. But learning English at her South Sacramento school — an entirely computer-based activity since last March — is another matter.


Who has the power to reopen California classrooms?
Increasingly exasperated that most public schools remain closed even as coronavirus cases plummet nearly a year into the pandemic, California parents are taking to the streets.


Governor’s vaccine plan aims to reopen California classrooms
California released a new plan Thursday outlining how the state will allocate vaccines to education workers as Gov. Gavin Newsom continues to push to reopen more schools to in-person instruction.The governor announced last week that at least 10% of the state’s vaccines would go to education workers starting in March, which translates to roughly 75,000 dedicated doses a week. On Thursday, his office released an overview showing how those vaccines would be distributed.

Significant Increase in Black History Classes Interest
The social justice movement in recent months sparked conversations about Black history that some parents had difficulty navigating with their children. One Los Angeles teacher is leaving her mark on the students she teaches using Outschool, a virtual learning platform that's seen a 400% increase in demand for Black history-related classes.

Black History Themed Flashcards Offer Different Take on Learning the ABC’s
They are ABC flashcards with people and things related to Black history and culture. "Yams were actually brought over from the continent of Africa," said Creator and Drama teacher Leilani Brooks, while holding up a flashcard with the letter "Y." She said she got the idea around the time of the Trayvon Martin verdict. She was worried about the negative and fearful images her children were seeing in their own culture.

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