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Wednesday, June 2, 2021


With mental health in focus, school-based WellSpace centers offer ‘a space of calm’
Imagine a space on a middle or high school campus that resembles a tranquil coffee house or the lobby of a high-end spa, replete with soft lighting, comfortable chairs, relaxing literature and light snacks. And imagine all that’s asked of students who enter is that they take a moment to unplug, relax and recenter. As part of a multifaceted effort to fortify the mental health of children and teenagers across the county, the Orange County Department of Education and CHOC have teamed up to pilot a handful of school-based “WellSpace” centers that will encourage students to take a break from life’s daily stressors in thoughtfully designed, supervised environments that are safe, calming and inclusive.


California lawmakers urge more help for schools, businesses in budget talks with Newsom
Democratic leaders of the California Legislature unveiled a state budget blueprint on Tuesday that would boost public schools and small businesses beyond the proposal made last month by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Parents frustrated by pandemic education launch activist group to raise their voices
Leaders of OpenSchoolsCA announced Wednesday that they intend to continue their activism through a nonprofit to promote direct parent influence in the state’s highly political education landscape.


High Schools Return to Mostly Traditional Graduation Ceremonies
While the Class of 2020 did not get to enjoy the usual group graduation ceremony, the story will be markedly different for the Class of 2021. Traditional graduation ceremonies will happen at high schools in South Orange County this year, but still with some pandemic-era twists. San Clemente High School, Dana Hills High School, and San Juan Hills High School will host in-person ceremonies on June 3, with two sessions at each school to accommodate social distancing. Attendance will be limited to four guests per graduate.


Students returning to school after COVID-19 facing scarce mental health resources
Caden McKnight was elected student body president of his Las Vegas high school in February 2020. A year later he was in his room, attending a Zoom meeting of the Clark County School District Board of Trustees, pleading with board members to reopen the district’s schools. Just being together in person and having a normal routine, McKnight said, would help kids cope with mental health struggles. He told the board members about his own grief over the death of his friend, Mia, who died just after Valentine’s Day this year from an accidental drug overdose.


Senate and Assembly cut, then add, billions to Gov. Newsom's budget for K-12
The Assembly and Senate budget committees Tuesday jointly recommended billions of dollars of both spending cuts and additions for K-12 in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2021-22 state budget. The additions include hundreds of millions more in funding for special education and billions in defraying districts’ payments for teacher and staff pensions. Assuming rosier revenue projections than Newsom uses, the Legislature’s proposal builds in significantly more revenue for schools and community colleges next year.

More help for struggling California child care sector
The California Legislature took steps Tuesday to respond to the calls of the state’s child care sector to increase what the state pays to support the system. They emerged with a new early learning and care package that doubles the number of subsidized child care slots proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and changes in how child care centers are paid in an effort to rescue the fragile system. While Newsom expanded transitional kindergarten and created 100,000 new subsidized child care slots in the May revision to his budget, state legislators and child advocates argue that he didn’t go nearly far enough.


Hundreds attend county education office's first equity conference
The May 24 virtual conference included prerecorded opening and closing sessions and two live sessions where attendees could pick a presentation to attend. VCOE partnered with organizations such as First 5 Ventura County, Californians Together, 805 EL Advocates and Justice in the Classroom.


1st hearing this week in lawsuit charging California denied equal education to low-income students of color during pandemic
A lawsuit charging that California has failed to offer equal education to low-income students of color during the pandemic will get its first hearing in state Superior Court on Friday. The hearing comes roughly five months after the coalition of students, parents and community organizations sued the state, claiming these students still lack computers, adequate internet connections and sufficient mental health care 14 months after the pandemic started.

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