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Tuesday, May 4, 2021


PAL programs and advisors earn honors for engaging students
Ten Peer Assistance Leadership (PAL) programs and more than a dozen advisors have been recognized for their efforts to stay connected and support their schools despite the challenges of the past year. Administered by the Orange County Department of Education, PAL programs are built on the concept of students helping other students. Youth leaders in grades four through 12 are empowered to create positive school environments through mentoring, new-student transition support, conflict management, service learning, tutoring and prevention activities.

COVID-19 update: Parental consent required for anyone under 18 to get vaccinated
News outlets reported this week that the Food and Drug Administration was poised to grant emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 to 15. As we’ve noted before, parental consent is required for anyone under 18 to get vaccinated, and COVID-19 vaccinations are not mandated for any residents of the state of California, including students. Despite rumors to the contrary, no such proposal is — or has ever been — under discussion by OCDE or the Orange County Health Care Agency.

5 questions (and answers) about ethnic studies
In March, the State Board of Education unanimously approved the first model ethnic studies curriculum for California’s high schools. Focusing primarily on the often-underrepresented contributions and struggles of Native Americans, African Americans, Latino Americans and Asian Americans, this model curriculum is not mandatory for any school or district. Instead, it was created to offer local districts ideas and examples to consider if they choose to develop their own ethnic studies coursework.


Self-described ‘literature nerd’ from Westminster juggles 16 acceptances to elite colleges
After weighing and reweighing her many options, Julia Do finally hit the “commit” button Sunday, May 2, on Harvard University’s website. Then, on Monday, the La Quinta High senior heard from Princeton; she’d been promoted from waitlist to official offer. What’s a girl to do when top colleges — 16 of them — are vying for her attention? “The also rans – schools mere mortals would move mountains for – are: Amherst, Brown, Claremont McKenna, Fordham, Hofstra, Scripps, Stanford, Swarthmore, University of California in Berkeley, UCI, University of Pennsylvania, USC, University of the Pacific and Williams College.


Hundreds of thousands of California students won’t take statewide standardized tests this spring
Hundreds of thousands of California students this spring will not be taking the state’s annual Smarter Balanced standardized tests, an EdSource survey of the state’s largest districts shows. The Smarter Balanced tests are aligned with the Common Core state standards for English language arts and math and are required by state and federal law each spring. Federal education officials in February told states that they must measure student progress this year, after waiving testing requirements in spring 2020 when Covid-19 caused school closures across the country.

California state board likely to adopt long-awaited ‘student growth model’ to measure test scores
At their meeting on May 12, members of the State Board of Education are expected to finally adopt what other states have adopted and what’s been under study for years in California: a way to include individual students’ progress on state standardized tests as part of the state’s school accountability system.


Baldwin Park Unified School District expands mental health services for students
With students returning to in-person instruction, the Baldwin Park Unified School District is expanding its mental health services to help with the transition to hybrid learning and modified academic environments.


Kids As Young As 12 May Be Able To Get The COVID-19 Vaccine Soon
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 in the next few days. Pfizer reported several weeks ago that in the clinical trial, none of the adolescents who received the vaccine developed symptomatic infections, a sign of significant protection. Barbara Ferrer, director of L.A. County's Department of Public Health, said her staff is prepared to offer the shot, for free, to kids.

LAUSD Abandons Plan To Extend The Upcoming School Year
Facing tepid parent support and firm opposition from teachers and principals, Los Angeles Unified School District leaders have abandoned a plan to lengthen the upcoming school year. In a memo posted Monday, LAUSD officials said they will withdraw their proposal — which would’ve added six instructional days to the normal 180-day calendar — despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s encouragement that schools extend their school year as a means of helping at-risk students make up for classroom time lost to the pandemic.

‘They’re Taller!’ Teachers And Students Are Seeing Each Other In Person After A Long Absence
During online Zoom classes, many teachers say it’s common for students to leave their cameras off. As a result, many students and teachers who have returned to L.A. Unified School District campuses over the past month — some of whom have been working together for almost a full school year — are now actually seeing each other for the first time since the pandemic forced schools to close campuses.

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