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Tuesday, June 1, 2021


Orange County students honored for films on suicide prevention and mental health
Two mental health videos produced by students from Orange County recently earned statewide honors in the 2021 Directing Change Program and Film Contest, and dozens have earned regional recognition. The contest is part of statewide suicide prevention and mental health efforts administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority. The program’s newest category “Hope and Justice” encourages young people to express how they cope during tough times and find the hope to continue moving forward.


Santa Ana Unified to reopen campuses in the fall for in-person learning
Students in the Santa Ana Unified School District, the largest in Orange County to stay strictly online this academic year, can go back to campus in the fall. The district is reopening campuses for up to 20,000 students this summer, and for all students — approximately 44,500 — when the 2021-22 academic year begins in mid-August. Families who wish for their children to stay off-line will be given the choice of distance learning, though not a hybrid model that combines the two approaches.


Schools face mental health crisis among students as pandemic trauma remains
Before the pandemic, Jessica Bibbs-Fox’s eighth-graders would parade into her classroom bursting with energy. “Settle down,” she’d playfully shout over the clamor of voices. Now, Room 18 at Kelly Elementary is eerily quiet. Her 14 pupils are cordoned off by plexiglass shields. She pleads with them to participate during a math lesson — to say something, anything. The 20 students she teaches on Zoom are just as withdrawn. They turn in work sporadically, if at all. Every single student in her homeroom class has an F.


OC School Districts Are Looking at Ethnic Studies; What Exactly Will Those Classes Entail?
School districts throughout Orange County are increasingly debating whether or not to offer ethnic studies classes as questions still linger on exactly what the courses will teach students. The courses are designed to teach the history, the culture, the plight and the contributions of people of color in the United States. They are intended to deviate from traditional U.S. History and other courses that some say are taught from a eurocentric lens and often watered down. A study done by Stanford Graduate School of Education showed such courses increase attendance and the GPA of students who were at risk of dropping out. But not everyone is ecstatic about these courses.


Efforts to Close the Digital Divide Are Slowing as Kids Return to Classrooms
Fifteen months into the pandemic, more than 22,000 students in the region still don’t have reliable access to high-speed internet at home, and county officials are scrambling to get them connected before schools reopen for full-time, in-person learning and people stop prioritizing efforts to bridge what’s commonly known as the digital divide.


Health officers in 10 greater SF Bay Area counties make statement on schools
Health officers in 10 greater SF Bay Area counties make statement on schools A delegation of health officers from 10 counties and one city in the greater San Francisco Bay Area released a statement Friday supporting the opening of California schools for full-time in person learning across all grades for fall 2021.


Fresno schools to add extra 30 minutes of instruction time to school day next year
Fresno Unified schools will add an extra 30 minutes to each school day in the fall as teachers and students prepare to make up for any learning lost during the coronavirus shutdown. Fresno schools will also add more teachers in key subjects and beef up mental health resources. Speaking at a news conference Friday, Fresno school leaders announced new details of their plans for next school year when most students are expected to return to in-person classrooms full time.


California bilingual programs ready to grow after slowing during pandemic
The pandemic slowed down many California school districts’ expansion of bilingual education programs, putting some new bilingual programs on hold. But now, several school districts are resuming their plans and enrolling students in new bilingual immersion programs in the fall. After years of English-only education in California, the state is now pushing to multiply the number of bilingual programs after a law that limited bilingual education in California was repealed by voters in 2016.


Checkmate! Burbank-based John Muir Middle School’s chess club sweeps state championship
The state championship, usually an in-person event, moved to a completely online format amid the pandemic.


Can California withstand a teacher retirement boom?
Can California withstand a teacher retirement boom? Earlier this year, the California State Teachers Retirement System issued an ominous statement: teacher retirements in California are projected to hit nearly record-breaking heights in 2021.


Teacher uses road to 2016 Paralympic games as lesson on perseverance
Jessica Greenwald, who is a special education specialist, is driven to be an example to her students that disabilities are not weakness and that dreams can be achieved when the road to success is not always smooth. “Even with a disability, you are capable of doing whatever you put your mind to. Your disability shouldn’t stop you,” said Greenwald. The 27-year-old educator is teaching fourth and fifth graders at Orangethorpe Elementary School in Fullerton — a profession that Greenwald said people have told her would not be possible.

A problem for math teachers: Solving the dilemma of learning lost to a year of Zoom
Christopher Ochoa of McAllen, Texas, has loved mathematics since he was a young child, his interest fueled by summer-time math camps and trips to Space Center Houston. The high school senior’s strong work ethic helped him manage his ADHD, dyslexia, and sensory overload well enough to earn stellar marks and gain entry to Texas A&M University. But during the pandemic, both his grades and his academic confidence plummeted.

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