EdSource is tracking the impact of the coronavirus on all aspects of education in California. See below for the latest developments compiled by EdSource staff. Click here for the latest EdSource reports on the pandemic.

Friday, October 23, 2020, 11:00am

Chronic absenteeism jumps 10% in Fresno Unified during distance learning

As Fresno Unified looks to reopen schools, data shows thousands of more students have been chronically absent this year compared to last year, the Fresno Bee reports.

Data from Fresno Unified shows a 10% jump in chronic absenteeism since last year, reaching 22.8% this year. The majority of students who are missing class are from low-income families and in grade 6 or below.

“The reason we’re still seeing that is … not everyone had the technology,” Kristi Jackson, attendance coordinator for Fresno Unified, told The Bee. “They may have had a computer but no Wi-Fi. Quite a few students who missed school are because of the absence of technology.”

Sydney Johnson

Thursday, October 22, 2020, 5:00pm

LA County school districts no longer require union, parent support when applying for waivers to reopen

Schools in Los Angeles County no longer need to have support from teachers and other employees when they apply for waivers to reopen elementary schools.

Previously, when applying for those waivers, schools and districts in the county have been required to include a letter of support from unions or groups representing teachers and other school employees. The county’s Department of Public Health informed school leaders on Thursday that it would be dropping that requirement, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Districts have also needed to submit letters of support from parent groups, but that requirement is also being dropped.

Alex Cherniss, superintendent of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District, said in an email to EdSource the changes are “welcoming news” for public schools.

“The prior waiver system benefited families that can afford private and independent schools, of which over 90% of the waiver applications were submitted,” Cherniss said. “Now, public schools can show proof of consultation with teachers and parents and move forward with submitting the application. This is what we have been advocating all along and it is encouraging that cooler heads have prevailed.”

However, some districts may continue to negotiate with their unions before considering whether to apply for waivers. That includes Long Beach Unified, the county’s second biggest school district that enrolls more than 70,000 students.

“We’re collaborating with our labor partners, and we would still want their support for any reopening waiver application. We don’t have a pending waiver application here, though we continue to explore that option,” Chris Eftychiou, the district’s public information director, said in an email.

Michael Burke

Thursday, October 22, 2020, 10:48am

First four Los Angeles County Schools approved for waivers are private schools

The first four schools were granted new school waivers for TK-2  in Los Angeles County Wednesday. All four are private schools. 

These waivers allow schools to bring pre-kindergarten through second-grade students back into the classroom for the face-to-face instruction that early learners have been missing since the pandemic began and schools were shuttered. The four schools are: Kadima Day School, Holy Angels School in Arcadia, Los Encinos School in Encino and Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Ann.

Los Angeles county, which remains in the most restrictive purple tier, began accepting waiver applications from schools earlier this month. No more than 30 schools, evenly distributed between the five districts, will be granted approvals each week and priority is intended to go to schools with higher percentage of low-income students. Letters of support from groups representing teachers, school staff and parents are mandatory.

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, October 21, 2020, 2:26pm

L.A. Unified students with disabilities struggling in distance learning, survey finds

Most students with disabilities in Los Angeles Unified are not having their needs met during distance learning, according to a new survey’s findings.

The survey, which was conducted by the advocacy group Speak UP, was released Wednesday and included parents of students at every grade level and across every type of school in L.A. Unified. That includes traditional district schools, charter schools and magnet schools.

The survey’s main findings included:

  • About 76% of parents said their children are not progressing effectively.
  • 74% of the parents said their students are showing regressive behaviors.
  • More than 60% of parents said they aren’t receiving adequate support from their schools.

“The findings in our survey speak to the failure of LAUSD to adequately serve the vast majority of our most vulnerable learners,” Lisa Mosko, director of advocacy for special education at Speak UP, said in a statement.

The report recommends that L.A. Unified begin offering in-person tutoring for students with disabilities, something they are permitted to do under county guidelines.

Michael Burke

Wednesday, October 21, 2020, 10:55am

Private Central Valley school fined for in-person instruction

A private K-12 Christian school in Reedley, near Fresno, was fined $15,000 for violating a judge’s order to stop in-person instruction, according to the Associated Press. It may be the first fine in California against a school for violating public health orders to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Immanuel Schools opened for in-person instruction on Aug. 13, and when health officials ordered it to close, the school challenged the order in court, eventually reaching a settlement by agreeing to institute health and safety precautions.

Zaidee Stavely

Tuesday, October 20, 2020, 3:34pm

California health official says it’s safe for many schools to reopen, two counties move to purple tier

As Covid-19 cases fluctuate throughout the state, Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services secretary, said he believes it is safe for schools to reopen if they have met the state’s requirements as it pertains to infection rates. But Ghaly added that he supports decisions by local health and school officials to wait longer than the state requires, if they believe that is in the best interest of their communities.

Ghaly and Dr. Erica Pan, the state epidemiologist, announced Tuesday that Riverside and Shasta counties have moved from the red tier back to the most restrictive purple tier in the state’s four-tiered, color-coded tracking system. This brings the total number of counties in purple up to 12 from 10, including 333 school districts and 590 charter schools that educate more than 2.5 million public school students, not including private schools.

Schools in counties in the purple tier cannot reopen for in-person instruction unless they receive elementary school waivers or adhere to strict guidance for small groups. However, if schools opened while counties were in the red tier and then the county moves back to purple, they do not need to close. Instead, they must increase testing of staff, according to state guidance. Counties must remain in the red tier for at least 14 consecutive days before schools can reopen.

Ghaly said the state plans to work more closely with the Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties in Southern California that are in the purple tier to help them improve their testing, contact tracing and isolation practices to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in their communities. Pan also announced that Butte and Napa counties moved from the red to less-restrictive orange tier and that San Francisco moved from orange to the least-restrictive yellow tier, in part due to its success in meeting a new health equity metric, which requires counties to ensure their Covid-19 rates are as low in their most disadvantaged areas as they are countywide.

Ghaly also announced new guidance for large and small amusement parks, saying small parks located in counties in the orange tier can reopen at 25% capacity, but counties where large parks are located must reach the yellow tier before the parks can open at 25% capacity. He also released guidance for professional sports, saying outdoor stadiums in counties in the orange tier can open at 20% capacity and those in counties in the yellow tier can open at 25% capacity.

The state plans to release new guidance for youth sports soon, Ghaly said. However, he said it does not anticipate allowing college sports stadiums to open for audiences in the near future.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 3:52pm

Only 10 of state 58 counties remain in most restrictive level in state’s tracking system

As Covid-19 rates decrease throughout the state, only 10 of 58 counties remain in the purple tier of the state’s color-coded tracking system.

The 10 counties include 288 districts and 540 charter schools educating more than 2.1 million or about a third of the state’s public school students. The counts do not include private schools.

The purple tier is the most restrictive of the four tiers, meaning Covid-19 is widespread and schools cannot reopen unless they receive elementary waivers for students in grades TK-6 or adhere to strict guidance for small groups of students. The 10 counties in the purple tier are: Glenn, Imperial, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, Monterey, San Bernardino, Sonoma, Tehama and Tulare.

Six counties moved from purple to red on Tuesday: Colusa, Kern, Kings, San Benito, Stanislaus and Sutter. Schools in these counties can reopen for in-person instruction if the counties remain in the red tier for 14 consecutive days.

Also on Tuesday, Alameda, Placer and Santa Clara counties moved from the red to the orange tier, and Sierra County moved from the orange tier to the yellow tier, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Health and Human Services secretary, during a noon news briefing Tuesday. His report was the state’s weekly update on the counties in the state’s tracking system.

Schools in the orange and yellow tiers — where Covid-19 is considered to be moderate and minimal, respectively — can reopen for in-person instruction as long as they adhere to state guidance that includes physical distancing, mask-wearing and sanitizing. Counties and districts can impose stricter reopening requirements based on local conditions.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, October 12, 2020, 5:51pm

With quicker testing, California turns to improving Covid-19 contact tracing for schools

With improvements in testing and contact tracing, California is now looking to help set up systems so school districts, in partnership with their counties, can use testing and tracing to quickly control any Covid-19 outbreaks.

This comes as an increasing number of counties statewide have improved their infection rates to the point that they have moved from purple to the red level on the state’s four-tiered, color-coded tracking system, which allows schools to open after 14 days in that tier. The state updates this list every Tuesday. As of last week, only 16 of the state’s 58 counties remained at the purple level, meaning that schools could not yet reopen unless they received elementary school waivers for students in grades TK-6 or adhered to strict guidance for small groups of students.

This new focus on school contact tracing comes after the state significantly improved its testing turnaround time to within 24 to 48 hours, and as 95% of county health departments now report they are able to contact all the people they receive positive test results for on the same day, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary, said Tuesday during Gov. Newsom’s daily press briefing on the coronavirus.

Ghaly said the state is focusing on improving Covid-19 contact tracing for schools so any outbreaks among staff or students at campuses that have reopened can be quickly traced.

“We are now turning a significant part of our focus to helping our partners with school-based models,” he said, to ensure “we’re able to trace at schools among staff or students and investigate outbreaks quickly.”

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, October 7, 2020, 12:07pm

More than 80% of Los Angeles voters view child care as vital to recovery, poll finds

Eighty-two percent of likely voters in Los Angeles County consider access to child care “essential” to economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus, according to a poll released Tuesday. 

The online poll of 843 likely voters, which was conducted during the last week of August in both English and Spanish, found that most of the county’s population sees a clear connection between families having access to child care and the reopening of the economy.

“This is no longer a parent issue. It’s a societal issue,” said Sonia Campos-Rivera, vice president for policy and public affairs at the nonprofit UNITE-LA, which teamed up with the LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment to sponsor the poll. “Even prior to Covid, this was a real issue. Now families are being affected even more. It’s a struggle.” 

The poll also found that 68% of respondents view access to early learning and child care for young children as a social justice issue.  

“The dual crises of COVID and the economic disaster that has ensued have shined a bright light on the inequity and vulnerability that many of us already knew existed,” said Parker Blackman, executive director of the LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment. “There’s a desperate need for social infrastructure. The safety net is not there.”

Heading into a heated general election, other key issues identified by respondents included homelessness, lack of affordable housing, the impact of Covid-19 on low-income residents and the spread of the virus itself. 

Karen D'Souza

Tuesday, October 6, 2020, 2:43pm

No sign of Covid-19 spread as more California schools reopen; fewer counties now in highest tier of state’s tracking system, official says

There is no indication that school reopenings statewide have led to an increase of Covid-19 spreading in the community, California’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday.

“We have not seen a connection between increased transmission and schools reopening for in-person learning,” Ghaly said during a noon news briefing Tuesday, adding that it sometimes takes time to see the trends. “But so far, it’s encouraging to see the tremendous effort and planning that communities and their schools and their staff have done to make sure that it’s lower risk for students and staff alike and…I think that’s encouraging for all of California.”

Ghaly’s assessment came as the state announced a decrease from 18 to 16 in the number of counties in the highest level of purple on the state’s Covid-19 tracking system. Three counties have moved from the purple tier down to the red tier, and one has moved from red to purple, bringing the total number of counties in the purple tier to 16. Merced, Ventura and Yuba counties moved from purple to red, while Tehama County moved from red to purple.

The 16 counties in the purple tier educate more than 2.5 million public school students in 402 districts and 604 charter schools, not including private schools. That compares to last week’s tally of 18 counties in the purple tier.

Schools in counties in the purple tier — which indicates Covid-19 is widespread in the community — cannot open for in-person instruction unless they receive elementary waivers for students in grades K-6 or adhere to strict guidance for small groups of students.

Schools in counties in the red tier can reopen for in-person instruction after they have been in that tier for 14 consecutive days. Counties can impose stricter rules for reopening. Schools that were already open in Tehama County which moved back from red to purple must increase Covid-19 testing of staff, but do not need to close, according to state reopening guidance.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, October 1, 2020, 3:30pm

Governor visits burned school in Napa County

Gov. Newsom visited the burned remains of the private Foothills Elementary School near St. Helena in the Napa Valley on Thursday, as part of a tour of damage from the Glass fire, which has burned more than 56,700 acres and was 5% contained since it began Sunday. The school had resumed in-person instruction about a week before the fire that destroyed a portion of its campus broke out, according to the Press Democrat.

“I’ve got four young kids in elementary school,” Newsom said, standing in the charred schoolyard after surveying the damage. “And I can’t imagine for the children and parents and the families…what’s going through your minds, with all that anxiety that you already had coming into this school season, to see your precious school burned down.”

“My heart goes out to every single one of you,” he said, adding that the state will help to restore the area. “We’re not just here for a moment. We’re here to rebuild and to reimagine your school. To all the kids out there, you’re going to get through this…You’ve got a lot of people that have your backs. And God bless you. We’re very sorry you’re going through all this.”

Napa County is in the red tier of the state’s county monitoring system, meaning schools can reopen for in-person instruction if they comply with Covid-19 guidance from the California Department of Public Health and the county health department. However, many schools are closed indefinitely due to recent fires and evacuations in the area.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, September 29, 2020, 7:20pm

Elementary schools in Los Angeles can apply for waivers

Elementary schools in Los Angeles County will be able to apply for waivers to resume in-person instruction for students in transitional kindergarten through second grade.

The county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution to allow waivers for those grades. The waiver process will be stricter than the state’s guidelines for waivers, which say that waivers can be made available for students in grades TK through sixth.

The resolution approved Tuesday limits the number of schools that can be approved for waivers to 30 per week. Waivers will be prioritized for schools with high percentages of students who qualify for free or reduced price meals.

“The state, county and school districts have invested heavily in distance learning technology, however gaps still exist that disproportionately impact minority communities,” said Board Chair Kathryn Barger, one of the authors of the resolution, according to the Los Angeles Times. “All students are entitled to a free and appropriate education. For many of our students most at risk, distance learning is neither free nor appropriate.”

Michael Burke

Tuesday, September 29, 2020, 2:14pm

Seven more counties move from purple to red tier in state’s monitoring system

California’s Secretary of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that seven more counties have moved from purple to red in the state’s four-tiered, color coded tracking system: Butte, Contra Costa, Fresno, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara and Yolo. Schools can reopen for in-person instruction in these counties if they remain in the red tier for 14 consecutive days.

This brings the number of counties that are still in the purple tier — where Covid-19 transmission is widespread — to 18. They encompass 434 districts and 621 charter schools that serve 2.7 million students, not including private schools. Schools in this tier cannot open for in-person instruction unless they obtain elementary school waivers for children in grades K-6 or follow strict guidance for small groups.

Three counties moved from red to orange, meaning Covid-19 transmission is considered moderate: Amador, Calaveras and San Francisco. Schools in these counties were already allowed to reopen for in-person instruction, but they must ensure that Covid-19 testing and contact tracing is adequate, Ghaly said.

In response to a question about why guidance is stricter for playgrounds than for youth sports, Ghaly said playgrounds in many counties are still closed because they invite mixing of people from different households or neighborhoods, which increases the risk of Covid-19 transmission. He said youth sports usually involve the same group of students mixing together in what is called a “cohort,” which is less risky. However, he said he is not aware of any instances of Covid-19 transmissions that have been traced to playgrounds.

More information about state guidance is at covid19.ca.gov.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, September 24, 2020, 6:20pm

Los Angeles Unified sued over ‘inadequate’ plan for distance learning

California’s biggest district is the subject of the state’s first lawsuit over distance learning.

Charging that Los Angeles Unified’s “inadequate” plan for remote learning violates students’ constitutional rights, nine parents filed a lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. They claim that Black and Latino children, English learners and students with disabilities have been disproportionately harmed by not getting sufficient instruction and the services they’re entitled to.

Two student advocacy groups, Parent Revolution and Innovate Public Schools, organized the lawsuit. The law firm of Kirkland & Ellis is handling the case without charge.

In legislation that Gov. Newsom signed this month, the state set minimum distance learning requirements, including hours of daily instruction, live daily interaction and support services, including mental health services. The lawsuit argues the district’s plan, which it negotiated with United Teachers Union, either doesn’t comply or falls short of what other districts are doing.

“Comparable districts like San Diego and Fresno have kept teacher time constant, rather than reducing student contact time in a time of crisis. Why is LAUSD retreating?” Paul Reville, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and former Massachusetts secretary of education, wrote in a supporting testimony filed with the lawsuit.

Also Thursday, in other education litigation, three online charter organizations, representing 310 online charter operations in California, filed a second lawsuit over the state’s failure to fully fund the growth in student enrollments in their schools. In budget cleanup language passed in August, the Legislature partially increased funding for in-person charter schools with approved plans for growth in 2020-2021; that mostly addressed complaints by three of four charter schools organizations that filed suit last spring; the fourth, John Adams Academy, a TK-12 “Classical leadership” network, is continuing the lawsuit. The Legislature’s deal, however, left out online and hybrid charter schools — those whose students attend both online and in-person classes — leading to the second lawsuit.

John Fensterwald

Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 2:55pm

Five more counties move from purple to red tiers in state’s monitoring system

California’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mark Ghaly, announced Tuesday that five more counties have moved from the purple to the red tier on the state’s four-tiered, color-coded monitoring system: Alameda, Riverside, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo and Solano. Schools in counties in the red tier can open for in-person instruction after they have remained in that tier for two consecutive weeks. Nineteen counties are in the red tier.

This announcement brings the total number of counties in purple to 25 and includes 555 districts and 810 charter schools that educate more than 3.6 million public school students, not including private schools. Schools in the purple tier cannot reopen for in-person instruction unless they receive waivers for elementary students in grades K-6 or they adhere to strict guidance for small groups of students.

Meanwhile, Ghaly warned that many colleges have seen spikes in Covid-19 cases since students have returned, including San Diego State University. The spike caused San Diego County to exceed the purple case metrics for one week. However, a county must exceed the metrics for two consecutive weeks before it moves into a more restrictive tier, so it remained in the red tier, Ghaly said, during his noon news briefing. To help prevent the spread of Covid-19, he said families should take precautions when welcoming college students back home, such as wearing face masks, staying 6 feet apart and minimizing mixing.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 2:28pm

Governor addresses homeless housing for former foster youth, Pac-12 football

Gov. Newsom on Wednesday announced that the state is awarding more than $3 million to to the city of El Centro to build 13 tiny home duplexes in partnership with Imperial Valley College and the Imperial Valley College Foundation to house 26 homeless students who are former foster youth. The project is part of $76 million in first-round awards through the state’s “Homekey” program that aims to purchase and rehabilitate housing for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Newsom also said he has been in conversation with Larry Scott, Commissioner of the Pacific-12 football conference, regarding the state’s guidance for college football. He said that nothing in the guidance prevents college football from resuming, but it does restrict practices to groups of 12 players and also requires them to be tested periodically.

And Newsom delivered an unequivocal “no” in response to a question about whether the state would allow San Diego County to exclude San Diego State University students from its Covid-19 testing metrics in determining where the county falls in the state’s four-tiered, color-coded monitoring system. He noted that the college students are part of the community spread. If San Diego County, which is currently in the red tier, exceeds the metrics to remain in that tier for one more week, it will move into the most restrictive purple tier on Sept. 23, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the state’s Health and Human Services Department.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 1:52pm

Three more counties move from purple to red on state’s four-tiered list

Inyo, Marin and Tehama counties have moved from the purple tier to the red tier on the state’s four-tiered, color-coded county monitoring system, Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California’s Department of Health and Human Services, said Tuesday. This brings the total number of counties rated purple down to 30, and those rated red to 17, while the numbers in orange and yellow remained unchanged at nine and two, respectively. The 30 counties on the purple list include more than 3.9 million public school students in 640 districts and 933 charter schools, not including private schools.

Schools in counties that remain in the red tier for two consecutive weeks can reopen for in-person instruction, while those in the purple tier must continue distance learning unless they receive elementary waivers for K-6 students or follow guidance for small groups of students. Ghaly acknowledged that San Diego County, which has been rated red for the past two weeks, is reporting an increase in cases that could lead it to move into purple if the surge continues. A high number of cases reported at San Diego State University may have contributed to this surge, Ghaly said, during a noon news briefing.

Ghaly also clarified that schools open for in-person instruction are required to ensure that staff is tested for Covid-19 regularly. Although state guidance issued July 17 recommended that staff be tested at least once every two months, Ghaly said each county public health department can determine the level of testing they believe is appropriate. A recent state contract with the diagnostics company PerkinElmer is expected to help schools meet the demand for testing, he said.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, September 14, 2020, 12:24pm

Los Angeles Unified launches Covid-19 testing, contact tracing program

Los Angeles Unified on Monday launched the beginning of an ambitious plan to provide coronavirus testing and contact tracing to hundreds of thousands of teachers and staff.

California’s largest school district, the second largest in the nation, has begun testing staff who are currently working at school sites, as well as their children in child care at schools. In the coming weeks, tests will be provided to all 500,000 students who are enrolled in L.A. Unified schools. All 75,000 staff members in the district will also be tested. 

However, a return to in-person learning is not imminent. The goal of testing all students will be to give the district a better understanding of infection rates across the district. There will be a second round of baseline testing once the district is closer to fully reopening campuses.

“Don’t expect to see a decision about a return to school classrooms by students until the case rate in the area is significantly lower and remains there,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said Monday in a pre-recorded speech.


Michael Burke

Friday, September 11, 2020, 11:32am

Long Beach Unified to continue with distance learning through January

Long Beach Unified will continue with online-only learning through at least the end of the current semester, which continues until Jan. 28, Superintendent Jill Baker announced Thursday.

“One of the hardest things about navigating through this pandemic is that we cannot see its end,” Baker said in a video message. “The neverending feeling is hard on all of us as we try to make decisions in the best interest of our students, while protecting everyone’s health and safety.”

With more than 70,000 students, Long Beach Unified is California’s fourth largest district and the second largest in Los Angeles County. The county’s public health director, Barbara Ferrer, told school leaders Thursday that schools in the county won’t be able to fully reopen for in-person learning until November at the earliest, according to the Los Angeles Times.

However, schools are permitted beginning next week to bring back small groups of students who who are English learners or students who have individualized education plans. Baker said Thursday that Long Beach Unified would “continue to plan for potential phasing in of some student support services and some limited in-class instruction prior to the end of the first semester.”

Michael Burke

Wednesday, September 9, 2020, 2:44pm

Governor reiterates education support, previews new equity testing protocol

Gov. Newsom on Wednesday reiterated the state’s support for schools that are dealing with the challenges of distance learning, saying it is providing $5.3 billion to help mitigate learning loss that can be used in a variety of ways, including for devices and internet access, mental health and academic support. As the father of four children who are learning from home, Newsom said his youngest children are finding it tougher to remain online for long periods of time than are his older kids. He added that the state wants to ensure students can go back to campuses as soon as possible, but that it must be safe to do so.

Newsom also said that he supports the affirmative action initiative on the November ballot, Proposition 16, which he believes will restore opportunities to Black students and others who have been denied access to University of California and California State University campuses since affirmative action was abolished in 1995. “The drawback of the status quo is self evident,” he said, citing data that shows dwindling minority enrollment in state universities.

And in response to a question about a new “equity” Covid-19 testing protocol that is expected to be released later this week, Newsom said some counties are not testing diverse populations as much as they should, noting that Covid-19 disproportionately impacts Black and Latino communities. On the other hand, he said, other counties are doing a good job of testing diverse communities, which could impact their case numbers and positivity rates, and that all counties should be making robust testing efforts.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, September 8, 2020, 2:33pm

Five counties move from purple to red in state’s four-tiered system

State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced Tuesday that five counties have moved from the purple to red tier in the California’s color-coded tracking system: Amador, Orange, Placer, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz. If these counties stay in the red tier for 14 consecutive days, they will be able to reopen for in-person instruction, according to state guidelines.

Gov. Newsom also announced during his noon news briefing that the state has teamed up with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that funds “Sesame Street,” to release three new public service announcements featuring the characters Elmo, Grover and Oscar the Grouch highlighting back-to-school safety messages about wearing masks and other health precautions. The short videos were funded through the Skoll Foundation, founded by philanthropist Jeff Skoll, and his Participant media company, as part of Sesame Workshop’s #CaringForEachOther initiative to support families during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a news release.

Although both Newsom and Ghaly said Covid-19 cases are decreasing statewide overall, they warned that spikes might be seen in the next few weeks based on gatherings that occured over Labor Day weekend. Ghaly said 33 counties are now in the purple tier indicating widespread cases, 14 are in red indicating substantial cases, nine are in the orange tier indicating moderate cases, and two are in the yellow tier indicating minimal cases.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, September 2, 2020, 12:07pm

Legislature fixes funding for growing districts and some charter schools, gives them more time to spend learning loss aid

In the 2020-21 state budget approved in June, the Legislature agreed to fund school districts based on 2019-20 attendance levels, anticipating that the coronavirus pandemic would create havoc with school attendance this year. While most districts welcomed the idea, school districts and charter schools that had planned for growth in enrollment  complained they’d be underfunded as a result. Before they adjourned on Monday, legislators approved a compromise. The state will  mostly fund enrollment increases that were budgeted for as of last spring. Left out of the deal, however, are online charter schools, which have threatened to file a lawsuit to get their share of the additional funding.

Among other final actions on education, legislators:

John Fensterwald

Friday, August 28, 2020, 3:19pm

California replaces county monitoring list with color-coded list

Gov. Newsom on Friday announced that the state is replacing the county monitoring list with a new color-coded list that includes four categories that will guide when businesses can reopen and schools can offer in-person instruction.

The new coding system, which goes into effect on Monday Aug. 31, includes four tiers, each of which is assigned a color.  Purple, or Tier 1,  indicates widespread incidence of the virus.  Red (Tier 2) indicates “substantial” incidence, while orange (Tier 3) indicates “moderate” and yellow  (Tier 4) indicates “minimal” incidence of the virus in the county.  The assigned color or tier will be based on a combination of the number of new positive cases per 100,000 population and the percentage of positive test results of the total number of tests administered.

Go here to see where your county ranks on the tiered list.   Check out this Q&A from the Los Angeles Times. 


The situation for school openings and closings will remain effectively the same.   Tier 1 — colored purple — is equivalent to the previous county monitoring list.   Schools in counties within Tier 1 “are not permitted to reopen for in-person instruction,” unless they have received waivers tor children in K-6 grades. According to EdSource’s tally, “purple” or Tier 1 counties, include  5.3 million, or 87 percent, of California’s public school students, as well as hundreds of thousands of other students in private and parochial schools.

However, the new color coded system did generate some changes from the state monitoring list — as well as confusion in at least one county regarding plans for offering in-school instruction.

As a result of the new tiered ranking, both San Francisco and Napa County will now be ranked “red,” giving them permission to open schools for in-person instruction in two weeks, assuming that they continue to meet the criteria for that ranking during that time.  However, while they might have the ability to open, that does not mean that they will, as Jill Tucker reports in the San Francisco Chronicle.

There was considerable confusion regarding the ranking of Orange County, which came off the state’s monitoring list less than a week ago (on Aug. 23).  Some public and private schools were planning to open their schools for in person instruction after Labor Day, after they had stayed off the list for the required two weeks.  But according to the new ranking system Orange County is now in Tier 1, with a purple color code, which means they couldn’t offer in-classroom instruction.

Gov. Newsom hinted in his Friday briefing that some counties would come off the Tier 1 list very soon. That might apply to Orange County.  In a tweet on Friday, Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s new public health director, said Friday that “as long as Orange County continues trending in a positive way,” K-12 schools will be in a position to resume on-site instruction as early as Sept. 8.

However, on Saturday, the county’s health care agency tweeted again saying it was requesting “additional clarification from the state, and that the county is still “in limbo.”    For more explanation on the situation in Orange County, check out the website of the county’s Department of Education here.

Counties are rated purple if their case numbers exceed 7 per 100,000 residents or the percent of positive test results is more than 8%, indicating that Covid-19 is “widespread.” A county is rated red if it records 4 to 7 new cases per 100,000 residents or 5 to 8% of total tests are positive, indicating “substantial” spread.

Schools in counties on the purple list cannot reopen until the county has moved to red for 14 days, unless they receive an elementary waiver for students in grades K-6, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of Health and Human Services, during a news briefing.

Counties reporting 1 to 3.9 new cases daily or 2 to 4.9% positive results out of the total tested are rated orange for “moderate” spread, and those with less than 1 new daily case per 100,000 residents and less than 2% of total tests that are positive are rated yellow for “minimal spread.”

This is what the guidance from the California Dept. of Public Health on Aug. 28, called Blueprint for a Safer Economy, said about schools specifically:

Schools may reopen for in-person instruction based on equivalent criteria to the July 17th School Re-opening Framework previously announced. That framework remains in effect except that Tier 1 is substituted for the previous County Data Monitoring List (which has equivalent criteria to Tier 1). Schools in counties within Tier 1 are not permitted to reopen for in-person instruction, with an exception for waivers granted by local health departments for TK-6 grades. Schools that are not authorized to reopen, including TK-6 schools that have not received a waiver, may provide structured, in-person supervision and services to students under the Guidance for Small Cohorts/Groups of Children and Youth.

Schools are eligible for reopening fully for in-person instruction following California School Sector Specific Guidelines once the county is off Tier 1 for 14 days, which is similar to being off the County Data Monitoring List for at least 14 days.

Potential re-closure should follow the July 17th School Re-opening Framework.

Louis Freedberg contributed to this news update on Saturday, Aug. 29 to reflect recent developments. 

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, August 27, 2020, 11:15am

California has given 109 schools waivers to open for in-person instruction

The California Department of Public Health has approved 109 schools for waivers as reported in its new statewide list of elementary schools that have received waivers to open as of Aug. 25, the latest update.  The schools are primarily private and religious schools in Orange, San Diego and San Bernardino Counties. Four schools were denied.

In July, the state said that county health officers, after consulting with state public health officials, could permit K-6 schools to open in counties where schools are closed to in-person instruction because of high rates of infection and other coronavirus-related criteria. Schools must submit plans assuring that health protocols would be followed, including social distancing, face coverings and testing.

Several small elementary school districts in San Benito, Orange and San Diego counties, the Moreland School District in San Jose and the Learning Choice Academy, a charter school network in San Diego County, also have received waivers. San Diego County announced this week it was suspending waiver applications, since the county is off the state monitoring list, and all schools will be allowed to reopen, as of Sept. 1.

John Fensterwald

Thursday, August 27, 2020, 9:50am

Students, teachers who test positive for Covid-19 don’t need to retest before returning to campus

California workers and students who test positive for Covid-19 should not have to be retested for the virus before they are allowed to return to work or school, according to new guidance from the California Department of Public Health released Monday.

The decision was based on international studies that show that patients can test positive for the virus for up to three months after infection, although virus levels are too low to infect others.

Individuals who test positive can return to campuses and workplaces after at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and after at least 24 hours have passed without a fever. Symptoms should also have improved, according to the Department of Public Health. People who test positive for Covid-19 but never develop symptoms can return to school or work 10 days after the test.

Previous guidance required a person to wait 72 hours after a fever before returning to work or school.

Diana Lambert

Wednesday, August 26, 2020, 3:46pm

Governor announces county monitoring list down to 34 California counties

Gov. Newsom on Wednesday said the state’s Covid-19 county monitoring list now includes 34 of the state’s 58 counties, with the addition of Tehama and the recent removal of Amador and Glenn. The list includes 706 districts and 1,023 charter schools that enroll more than 4.8 million public school students, not including those in private schools, according to an EdSource analysis.

Based on state guidance, schools in counties on the list cannot open for in-person instruction until they have been removed from the list for 14 consecutive days, unless they receive an elementary waiver for students in grades K-6 or are adhering to newly released guidelines for small groups of children.

Newsom also announced a new plan to double the state’s Covid-19 testing capacity and reduce turnaround times for test results to 24-48 hours. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the state’s new deal with PerkinElmer, a major diagostics company could allow testing to be done at schools in the future and would help schools and communities to conduct contact tracing when Covid-19 outbreaks occur.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, August 25, 2020, 3:38pm

Los Angeles County districts can now apply for waivers to open elementary schools for in-person instruction

Although Los Angeles County is still on the state’s county monitoring list due to a high number of Covid-19 cases, its case numbers have fallen below 200 per 100,000 residents. This is the threshold that allows elementary schools to seek waivers to provide in-person instruction to students in grades K-6, the state’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said during a Tuesday news briefing.

As a Los Angeles County resident and former county employee, Ghaly said he trusts county officials to make good decisions for students in their local communities regarding waivers, in partnership with districts, labor unions, parents and community members. Ghaly also said that updated state guidance for reopening businesses to be released later this week would not impact schools, so districts in counties on the monitoring list can continue to plan for possibly bringing students back to campuses after their counties have been removed from the monitoring list for 14 consecutive days, unless they receive elementary waivers.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, August 24, 2020, 4:24pm

Governor announces five counties recently removed from monitoring list, bringing total to 35

Gov. Newsom on Monday announced that the state’s county monitoring list now includes 35 of the state’s 58 counties, down from 40 a few days ago. The counties recently removed are: Calaveras, Mono, Napa, Orange and Sierra, he said.

The current list includes 702 school districts and 1,023 charter schools that serve more than 4.8 million students, 78% of all students. That does not include students in private schools, according to an EdSource analysis. Based on state guidance, no public or private school can open for in-person instruction if it is in a county on the list until that county has been removed for 14 consecutive days, unless it has received an elementary waiver for students in grades K-6.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, August 24, 2020, 11:06am

Oakland Unified teachers’ union ratifies distance learning agreement

The Oakland Education Association teachers’ union has voted to approve a tentative agreement reached Aug. 12 with Oakland Unified that will guide how distance learning will be provided to students starting Monday and extending through Dec. 30.

The agreement – approved by 77% of all teachers – requires that students receive between 60 minutes and 150 minutes of live instruction each day, depending on grade level, along with at least 100 minutes to 215 minutes of pre-recorded or other instruction that is not presented live. Instruction is expected to take place between 9 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.  Teachers and other union members – including counselors, psychologists, social workers and nurses – are expected to work an average of six hours and 10 minutes each day. Teachers  are also given flex time during the school day to use for a variety of tasks such as connecting with families and collaborating with colleagues. In addition, teachers will be given extra time to plan for online courses each Wednesday through Sept. 23.

Although school started Aug. 10, negotiations continued before both sides reached an agreement. In a joint statement, district Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell and union President Keith Brown said the agreement “prioritizes health and safety as well as a rigorous learning experience despite the unprecedented challenges we are facing during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Theresa Harrington

Friday, August 21, 2020, 5:33pm

Governor says he expects San Francisco and Orange counties to come off watch list soon

Gov. Newsom on Friday said San Francisco and Orange Counties are expected to soon be removed from the county monitoring list, starting a process that could result in the reopening of schools in those counties to in-person instruction.  

That list currently includes 38 counties that educate nearly 5.3 million public school students in 734 districts and 1,057 charter schools, not including private schools. Calaveras County and Napa County were removed from the list as of Friday after San Diego, Placer and Santa Cruz counties were removed earlier in the week.

According to the state’s data, Orange County has met the threshold to be removed from the list for two days and will be removed on Saturday if it continues to meet the requirements for reduced cases and other criteria. San Francisco is still exceeding the threshold for its number of Covid-19 cases and has fewer intensive care unit beds available than the state requires, so it is not likely to be removed from the list before Monday.

In response to a question about California’s guidance for reopening schools, Newsom reiterated that the state wants students to be able to go back to classrooms for in-person instruction as soon as possible, but only if it can be done safely. He said the state has released detailed guidelines related to the steps schools and districts must take if they do open for in-person instruction, including that they must be off the county monitoring list for 14 consecutive days, should ensure that staff is tested for Covid-19 every two months and must ensure that contact tracing is conducted in partnership with local health officers if an outbreak occurs on campus.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, August 20, 2020, 1:17pm

Data glitch, confusion over county monitoring list, prompt school closures

Three small schools in Mendocino County were told they needed to close in-person learning on Wednesday after officials determined their county was on the state’s monitoring list. The confusion began on Tuesday  when the schools were told by county Schools Superintendent Michelle Hutchins who was told by the state that they could stay open but on Wednesday the state reversed course and said they had to close.  As a result, Whale Gulch School, the Waldorf School of Mendocino County and the Ukiah Junior Academy Christian school were forced to move to distance learning.

Part of the confusion stemmed from a data glitch that froze the county monitoring list late last month, after it was discovered that the state’s database numbers for Covid-19 cases were inaccurate. Since the county was not on the list before it was frozen, schools assumed they were free to open for in-person instruction. However, they were told on Wednesday that the state decided to retroactively add the county to the list as of July 25, before they opened. This means that all public and private schools in the county are not allowed to open for in-person instruction until the county is removed from the list for 14 consecutive days. However, the schools can apply for elementary waivers for their K-6 students, based on state guidance.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, August 19, 2020, 4:00pm

Placer County off state monitoring list, bringing total to 40 counties

The county monitoring list that guides when schools can reopen for in-person instruction continues to fluctuate daily, with Placer County dropping off the list Wednesday, bringing the total to 40 of the state’s 58 counties that have been on the list for three or more days. San Francisco County is expected to drop off on Thursday, Gov. Newsom said during his Wednesday news briefing.

With San Diego and Placer Counties off the list, it now covers 745 districts and 1,060 charter schools with a combined 5,323,076 students. That’s 87.67% of students in the state.

Theresa Harrington / EdSource

Gov. Newsom discusses the county monitoring list that determines when schools and businesses can reopen during an Aug 19, 2020 news briefing.

When asked about a private school that called itself a day care center and opened in Sacramento County, which is on the list, Newsom said he was not aware of that specific situation, but he acknowledged that some people may be “testing the boundaries of some of the state orders,” and said local health officers should enforce the orders to ensure that students and school staffs are safe. He reiterated that schools in counties not on the monitoring list can provide in-person learning with modifications, but added that community spread of Covid-19 must be taken into consideration.

Newsom said the state expects to release updated guidance next week related to modifications for reopening businesses, which could include 21-day waiting periods instead of the current 14-days, so that reopening is “sustainable, not just episodic,” as the state anticipates a “second wave” of Covid-19 infection in the fall.  However, he didn’t say which sectors the new guidance would affect.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, August 18, 2020, 5:32pm

San Diego comes off state monitoring list allowing schools to open if it stays off for 14 days

San Diego County was taken off the state’s county monitoring list Tuesday, which could allow the approximately 780 public schools and roughly 200 private schools in the county to open for in-person instruction if the county stays off the list for 14 consecutive days.

The county’s rates of infection fell below the level required to remain on the list, below 100 per 100,000 residents, according to Music Watson, spokeswoman for the San Diego County Office of Education. 

California’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly told a press briefing Tuesday that in general case numbers are coming down in southern California, although they are rising in some smaller northern California Counties added to the list on Monday. He also noted that Santa Cruz County was removed from the list on Monday. 

Based on state guidance, no public or private school can open for in-person instruction if it is located in a county on the list until the county has been removed from the list for 14 consecutive days. However, Ghaly noted that elementary schools in counties on the list can request waivers to open for K-6 students if the total number of Covid-19 cases is less than 200 per 100,000 residents.

At the same time, Placer County has been put back on the list resulting in 41 counties on the list which guides when schools and businesses can reopen.

As flu season gets underway, Ghaly urged Californians to get flu vaccines and said children should also get caught up on other vaccines they may have fallen behind in getting since the shelter-in-place order last March.

“Unlike flu, Covid-19 has not had as significant an impact on young people,” he said.  “Flu is notorious for having a great impact on our youngest children, including infants and toddlers.”

Of the total Covid-19 cases statewide, Ghaly said about 66,200 were reported in youth ages 0-17, or less than 10% of the total cases, although children in that age group make up 22% of the state’s population. Of those 0-17 with Covid-19, Ghaly said about 570 were admitted to hospitals and 60 were admitted to intensive care units. He added that the disease is disproportionately affecting Latino children, who make up 71.5% of the age 0-17 cases across the state.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, August 18, 2020, 5:29pm

Citywide Oakland technology campaign begins distributing devices to students

Although school started remotely in Oakland Unified on Aug. 10, a citywide campaign aimed at closing the digital divide in Oakland did not begin distributing devices to students in the district until Tuesday – six days after students were expected to log into classes. The campaign, called “Oakland Undivided,” expects to distribute 25,000 Chromebooks and about 10,000 WiFi hotspots to K-12 students in both district and charter schools by the end of the month.

Courtesy of Oakland Unified

Oakland Unified students receive free Chromebooks through the Oakland Undivided campaign on Aug. 17, 2020.

The group characterized its distribution of about 300 devices to students at Futures Elementary, Community United Elementary and Coliseum College Prep Academy as a “soft launch,” meaning the bulk of the technology is not expected to be given to students for about two weeks. In the meantime, the district has provided students with  district-owned devices that can be exchanged for permanent computers that students can keep to use each year as they progress through elementary, middle and high school.

The campaign – which is a partnership between the district, city and nonprofit Oakland Public Education Fund – was not able to deliver the devices sooner due to a backlog of orders nationwide, organizers said. The campaign raised $12.5 million last May – including a $10 million contribution from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey – to ensure that students have the technology they need for distance learning.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, August 17, 2020, 3:45pm

Newsom said power outages expected to ease by Wednesday

In response to rolling blackout power outages that have occurred due to a heat wave in California over the weekend, Gov. Newsom on Monday signed an executive proclamation aimed at investigating the reasons Calfornia wasn’t prepared and didn’t give residents and businesses adequate warning. He said the power outages could continue through Wednesday and urged Californians to limit energy use from 3-10 p.m.

Although Newsom noted that the outages are “short-term,” he said the state would likely take loss of power into consideration if it affects distance learning in terms of required instructional minutes and student attendance. However, he was not sure how this would be addressed.

Newsom also announced that the county monitoring list that has been frozen since July 31 has been updated with backlogged data, with Amador, Mendocino, Inyo, Calaveras and Sierra counties added to the list and Santa Cruz County removed, bringing the total to 42 counties. County public health departments are using the list to determine whether schools can reopen for in-person instruction and whether to require elementary schools to request waivers for K-6 instruction.

Theresa Harrington

Sunday, August 16, 2020, 10:19pm

LA Unified to unroll ambitious Covid-19 testing for all students and staff

Putting flesh on a strategy he outlined several months ago, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner has unveiled a plan that eventually will test the approximately 600,000 students and 75,000 staff members in the district for Covid-19.

The proposed plan, to be conducted in collaboration with several universities, private companies and insurers, and testing labs, represents the most ambitious plan proposed by any school district in the nation.

Described the testing plan in an op-ed piece published Sunday evening in the Los Angeles Times, Beutner said “an effort like this is not simple and the scale is daunting.” But, he said, if it works “it can be a model for the school districts and communities across the country.”

The district will open on Monday via distance learning, so the vast majority of students and staff will not be in school. Under current state guidelines, LA Unified is barred for the foreseeable future from providing in-school instruction. But a major goal of the plan is to prepare for bringing students and staff safely back to school when health conditions improve in the county.

The testing initiative will begin with staff who are currently in schools and children participating in child care programs offered by the district.

Those tested may also include classified staff, such as those making meals in cafeterias, school counselors and school administrators working either in schools or in district headquarters.

Beutner said testing would also be provided to family members of students and staff who test positive for virus, or show symptoms of the disease.

UCLA, Stanford and Johns Hopkins University will participate in overseeing the testing and contact tracing program. Microsoft will provide an application to manage the program and share information. Testing labs and health insurers Anthem Blue Cross and HealthNet will also “share their data to provide a more robust overall picture of how the novel coronavirus affects different communities.”

According to the New York Times, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will also be involved, and help coordinate the multiple agencies involved in the ambitious program.

Beutner said the plan would cost about $300 per student over the course of the year. “But this is really about something that can’t be measured in dollars and cents,” he wrote in the op-ed piece. “It’s about creating opportunity for children. A good education is the path out of poverty for many students and the promise of a better future for all of them.”

Louis Freedberg

Friday, August 14, 2020, 3:07pm

Newsom signs executive order to close digital divide; small groups of students allowed to attend schools in-person

In an effort to close the so-called “digital divide” throughout the state and provide computers and internet access to all students and families who need them, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced that he has signed an executive order that calls for improvement in these areas. Newsom said during his noon press briefing that he is calling on broadband providers to improve their efforts to make internet services affordable and more widely available in all parts of the state.

Newsom and Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the state Board of Education, also said the state expects to release new guidance within the next week that would allow schools to provide in-person instruction to small groups of vulnerable students who cannot be adequately served through distance learning, including those with special needs, even if they are located in counties on the state’s “monitoring list.” Darling-Hammond said she expects the guidance to be similar to guidance for child care centers, which are allowed to provide in-person care to small groups of students even in areas where schools are not allowed to reopen.

Newsom said the state has finished updating its backlog of cases that resulted in a data glitch and required the state to freeze the county monitoring list. Of the approximately 295,000 backlogged lab reports, he said there were 20,000 positive Covid-19 test results, which will be added retroactively to county databases by Monday, when the county monitoring list will be updated. This will allow counties to begin processing elementary school waivers, he said.

Theresa Harrington

Friday, August 14, 2020, 3:03pm

Inland Empire elementary school receives waiver to reopen

A San Bernardino County elementary school is one of the first in California to reopen starting next Thursday with a hybrid model after receiving approval for a waiver that will allow the school to offer in-person instruction despite being located in a county on the state’s monitoring list for Covid-19.

Lucerne Valley Elementary plans to resume instruction with a hybrid model where no more than 12 students in a class at one time, according to Lucerne Valley Unified superintendent Peter Livingston. The district had already welcomed all of its students back to school virtually on August 6 before gaining approval to re-open the school.

Students will return in cohorts for two days per week and will do distance learning the remaining days they are at home. Classrooms will be outfitted with dividers between students in an effort to maintain six feet of distance between students, there will be temperature checks at bus stops and before students walk on campus, and lunch schedules will be adjusted to avoid clustering students together.

Families who prefer to continue with distance learning will have the option to do so, Livingston said, however the majority of parents told the district they would participate in the hybrid mode.

Waivers are only available for elementary schools and the requirements for approval are extensive. Located more than 50 miles northeast of the city of San Bernardino, Lucerne Valley has about 57 cases per 100,000 residents, which falls below the state requirement of 200 cases per 100,000 residents to be considered for an elementary school reopening waiver. In comparison, the threshold that puts counties on the state monitoring list is 100 cases per 100,000 residents.

Sydney Johnson

Wednesday, August 12, 2020, 9:20pm

Oakland Unified reaches tentative agreement with teachers’ union

After negotiationg for more than a month, Oakland Unified School District announced Wednesday that it has reached a tentative agreement with the Oakland Education Association teachers’ union  regarding how distance learning will be provided to students during the 2020-21 school year, which started Monday. The district did not release specific details about the agreement, saying in a news release that both sides were still “fine-tuning some of the details.”

The district said the agreement “prioritizes teacher flexibility as well as a quality learning experience for students with consistent live interaction with their teachers and other OEA members” despite ”the unprecedented challenges” presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“While we do not always agree on the details, both OEA and OUSD are passionate about serving Oakland’s students and families,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell and OEA President, Keith Brown in a joint statement. “We have worked diligently to reach an agreement to shape distance learning for all students and OEA members. We thank all students, families, staff and the entire community for their support and patience during this challenging time.”

The union and school board expect to vote on the agreement “over the next week or so,” according to the news release. “If it is ratified, students and families can look forward to seeing the hard work of OEA and OUSD’s bargaining teams pay off in the virtual classroom setting.”

Theresa Harrington

Monday, August 10, 2020, 3:57pm

Governor says California’s Covid-19 county monitoring list will soon be updated

California has worked through its data backlog of nearly 300,000 cases which will allow an update of the state’s county monitoring list, Gov. Newsom said Monday.

Newsom said the data been sent to counties to be properly counted on the dates they were collected, with demographic data added. He said he expects that data to be added retroactively to each county’s records within 72 hours, so that dashboards for the past 14 days can be corrected and the county monitoring list can be updated.

If a district’s county is on the monitoring list, the district would have to apply for a waiver to open for in-person instruction for K-6. That process has been frozen since July 31, county public health departments have been unable to decide on elementary school waivers because they could not be sure how many cases were occurring in their jurisdictions. Based on state guidance, no public or private school in a county on the monitoring list can open for in-person instruction unless it has received an elementary school waiver for students in grades K-6 or until the county has been removed from the list for 14 consecutive days.

In response to a question about Orange County, which has high concentrations of Covid-19 cases in some areas but much lower percentages of cases in others, Newsom said it might be appropriate to grant elementary school waivers in the areas with a lower number of cases. Ultimately, these decisions are made in consultation with the local county Department of Public Health.

At his press briefing, Newsom took questions about the data glitches that have prevented the state from accurately reporting Covid-19 cases and positive rates of infection over the past two weeks.  Newsom said he has accepted the resignation of Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the Department of Public Health, and looks forward to working with a new team that has resolved not to repeat past mistakes.

Although Newsom declined to say why Angell resigned, he said it was an appropriate decision and noted that Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, announced last Friday that a delay in communications about the problems would be investigated and people would be held accountable.

Newsom said he did not find out about the problems until last Monday afternoon, after he announced during his noon press conference that Covid-19 cases were trending downward. However, the Los Angeles Times reported that some local officials throughout California received communications from the state Department of Public Health the previous week about a problem with the CalREDIE data-tracking system.

While the infection data was a problem, Newsom said the state’s other data indicators on hospitalizations and death are trending positively.



Theresa Harrington

Thursday, August 6, 2020, 1:35pm

California elementary waivers stalled due to faulty Covid-19 case data statewide

Data related to Covid-19 case rates are incomplete due to glitches in the transmission of test results from testing labs to the state’s database, California officials have announced.

As a result new infection and positive testing rates over the past several days may be artificially low. Because this data is used to determine which county’s are on the state’s “monitoring list,” the faulty data is impeding the ability of elementary schools to submit waiver applications to reopen in person.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary, mentioned the data problems during a virtual news briefing Tuesday. He told reporters that “discrepancies” in the CalREDIE system had been discovered in the past few days.  “We’re working hard and immediately to reach out to the labs that we work with to get accurate information in a manual process so that we can feed that to our county partners,” Ghaly said.

The state subsequently stopped adding and removing counties from its monitoring list, the Sacramento Bee reported late Wednesday. The monitoring list is used by the state to determine which businesses open and whether schools can resume in-person instruction. Counties on the list with fewer than 200 infections per 100,000 residents can apply for the waivers, which must be approved by county public health officials. But without accurate case data, school and county officials do not have a clear idea of how risky it may be to reopen.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, August 4, 2020, 10:00pm

No union agreement yet in Oakland Unified, with school set to start Monday

Despite bargaining unti 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, the 21-member bargaining team for the Oakland Education Association announced Tuesday evening that it has not yet reached an agreement with Oakland Unified to determine how distance learning will be provided to students when school starts Monday.

Eighty-two % of union members – who include teachers, school psychologists, nurses and other staff members who work directly with students – voted to approve a “collective work action” starting Monday if no agreement is reached, they said during a Facebook Live event.

District spokesman John Sasaki said the district looks forward to coming to an agreement soon. “Even though we disagree in a few areas,” he said, “we know that OEA and OUSD are working hard to reach a deal and want the best for our students and families.”

A work action means that the union would abide by work hours, instructional plans and other items they have been negotiating based on their last offer instead of abiding by the district’s proposal. Major disagreements continue regarding how teachers will spend the first two weeks of school, the amount of flexibility they will be given within their work days, and what kinds of training they will receive, and how schedules for students in grades 6-12 will be determined.

The union wants to spend the first two weeks of school building relationships with students and families, ensuring that they have the technology and training necessary to begin online learning, and planning lessons with colleagues in the same grade levels and subject areas. Teachers and other members of the bargaining team said they remain committed to their proposal, which also includes provisions for improving the education of Black students.

Union member Bethany Meyer told EdSource after the presentation that teachers will report to work virtually Wednesday through Friday for professional development, as planned, and will report to schools virtually Monday to work according to their proposal. However, she said negotiations are continuing.


Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, August 4, 2020, 10:15am

California issues guidance for elementary schools to obtain waivers to reopen

The California Department of Public Health on Monday released guidance outlining the process for public and private elementary schools to seek waivers to reopen for in-person instruction if they are located in a county that is on the state’s “monitoring list” for Covid-19 cases. Under the guidance, which applies to students in grades K-6, schools or districts must apply for waivers to their county public health departments and must meet several strict criteria, including detailed plans for physical distancing, how they will handle outbreaks, and when they would close, if necessary.

The state recommends that schools in counties where the 14-day Covid-19 case rates are more than twice the threshold to be placed on the list (more than 200 cases for every 100,000 residents) not be considered for a waiver. Currently, 38 counties are on the list, representing more than 90% of the state’s population.

The state has also released a set of Frequently Asked Questions about its school guidance, which includes a section on the new elementary waivers. Before applying for a waiver, a school must consult with its staff, parents and community organizations. Local health officers should base their decisions about whether to grant the waivers on local case data and available interventions, and must consult with the state’s Department of Public Health. In addition, the state released updated school guidance covering a variety of issues related to school reopening protocols, as well as for youth sports.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, August 3, 2020, 4:49pm

Some California teachers join in national day of action seeking safe, healthy, equitable schools

A coalition of education activists and teachers’ unions is participating in a “National Day of Resistance” seeking “safe, healthy” and “equitable” schools. The coalition – which includes teachers’ unions in Los Angeles, Oakland and West Contra Costa Unified – is conducting rallies on Monday, as well as an online petition drive with several goals, including removing police from schools, improving safety protocols when schools reopen, and directing more federal funds toward education.

In Oakland, the group planned a late afternoon rally outside La Escuelita Elementary, followed by a car caravan to Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell’s home. Members of the United Teachers of Richmond union in nearby West Contra Costa Unified planned to join the rally. They also sent a letter to the Contra Costa County Health Department and Contra Costa County Board of Education listing safe standards for reopening, which have been endorsed by 25 other educator unions in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

By 3:45 p.m., more than 2,900 people had signed a letter to President Donald Trump on Change.org posted by the Journey for Justice Alliance – a group of “predominantly Black- and brown-led” community organizations from 30 cities throughout the country. More information about the national day of action is at www.demandsafeschools.org.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, August 3, 2020, 4:47pm

California Legislature’s ethnic studies bill heads to governor’s desk

Assembly Bill 1460, which would create an ethnic studies graduation requirement for students attending California State University, now awaits Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature. The bill was approved by the Assembly last year and the Senate in June. The Assembly voted 51-9 today to approve minor amendments made by the Senate.

The bill’s author, Assemblymember Shirley Weber, and members of the California Faculty Association, the union representing CSU faculty, will hold a press conference Tuesday urging Newsom to sign AB 1460 to law. The bill is stricter than the new general education ethnic studies requirement the CSU Board of Trustees approved last month.

Ashley A. Smith

Monday, August 3, 2020, 2:09pm

State to release details about elementary waivers Monday afternoon

Gov. Newsom said the state plans to release specific details Monday afternoon about how elementary schools can apply for waivers to reopen if they are located in one of the counties on the state’s “monitoring list.” Currently, he said 38 counties are on the list, including San Mateo County, which was recently added.

He noted that the state is focusing special attention on eight counties in the Central Valley, which have the highest Covid-19 rates in the state. This region includes San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties. According to updated school guidance released last month, no public or private school that is on the monitoring list can open for in-person instruction until the county has been removed from the list or 14 consecutive days, unless it receives an elementary school waiver.

When asked whether school teachers should be required by districts to conduct distance learning from their classrooms, Newsom said decisions about how to deliver remote instruction should be made collaboratively between district leaders and labor unions. “I don’t believe anyone should be forced to put their life and health at risk,” he said. “If people feel their lives and health is being put at risk, it is incumbent on us to call that out.”

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, July 29, 2020, 7:21pm

Orange County Board of Education votes to sue governor to allow schools to reopen in person

The Orange County Board of Education voted 4-0 on Tuesday to sue Gov. Newsom to allow schools in the county to reopen for in-person instruction, even though the county is on the state’s “monitoring list” for Covid-19, the Voice of Orange County reported. Newsom and the California Department of Public Health issued guidance on July 17 that prohibits schools in counties on the list from reopening for in-person instruction until they have been removed from the list for 14 consecutive days.

Jesse Melgar, spokesperson for the Governor’s Office, said in a statement that the state’s Covid-19 guidance is driven by science. “Courts have repeatedly upheld the governor’s emergency authority to issue orders protecting public health in the face of this devastating virus,” Melgar said. “We are confident that will again be the case here.”

The Orange County Board of Education is an elected body.

Orange County Superintendent of Schools Al Mijares, who is independently elected by county voters, said in a statement Wednesday that he was “disappointed, but not surprised” by the planned legal action by the board, which came “on the heels of recommending students return to school without face coverings or social distancing.” The state guidance requires staff and students in grades 3-12 to wear masks and to implement physical distancing when schools reopen for in-person instruction.

Mijares noted that individual district school boards and superintendents in the county “will continue to approve and implement their own plans based on the guidance of state and local public health agencies and the needs of their communities.” He said the Orange County Board of Education’s decision to sue the state “continues the pattern of a highly litigious board majority that seems to have no qualms about diverting time, energy and financial resources from students and programs to satisfy their own ideological interests.”

Mijares is on the EdSource Board of Directors. The directors do not provide input or oversight of EdSource’s daily editorial content.  

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, July 29, 2020, 6:27pm

Oakland Unified still in union negotiations over distance learning, with school starting Aug. 10

With less than two weeks before school starts in Oakland Unified, the district is still in negotiations with its labor unions trying to hammer out how it will deliver distance learning and how it will determine when it is safe to bring students and staff back to campuses. In a Wednesday community update, the district said it could not release “clear detailed plans to reopen schools” until it establishes agreements with each of its unions, including the Oakland Education Association, which represents teachers.

The state requires districts to provide 180 days of instruction, establishes a minimum number of minutes each day for various grade levels, and requires “daily live interaction” between teachers and students, but does not specify how much of the instruction must be live versus pre-recorded or delivered through online platforms or paper packets. The district is proposing to exceed the minimum distance learning requirements and is proposing more of each type of instruction at all grade levels than the union, which is seeking more flexibility, time for planning and “wellness time.”

A side-by-side comparison of the district and union proposals created by the union shows that besides disagreeing on the way instruction is delivered, the two sides also disagree on how to determine when it is safe to return to campuses, how soon learning can begin if all students do not have access to technology and the internet, and how school schedules will be created and approved. The union released a video on Monday highlighting its concerns about the high number of Covid-19 cases in Oakland, which it says should be taken into consideration when deciding when it is safe to reopen campuses, instead of relying on average data that spans all of Alameda County.

The district acknowledges that all students do not yet have access to technology and the internet, but said in a July 22 message to the community that it has ordered nearly 25,000 Chromebooks, which it hopes to distribute “as close to the start of school as possible, starting by late August” and extending into September.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, July 29, 2020, 12:42pm

State scrambling to find computers for more than 700,000 students

The California Department of Education is “mobilizing and scrambling” to get computers into the hands of more than 700,000 students who will need them before school reopens, said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond at a press conference this morning.

There are also 300,000 to 400,000 students who still need Wi-Fi hot spots to provide internet connectivity, he said.

A state mandate that closes schools in counties with rising coronavirus cases means that more than 5 million students are expected to begin school with distance learning.

School districts will be able to spend some of the $5.3 billion designated by state lawmakers for distance learning to purchase computers and other technology, Thurmond said. The state also is working with technology companies to supply computers and internet connections to meet the needs of students who will return to school remotely.

Thurmond said the California Department of Education is studying the work of teachers who have successfully taught remotely in an effort to improve distance learning in the state.

“Let’s face it, distance learning, remote learning for the most part is new for California,” Thurmond said. “That has not been our way. But, out of necessity, because of the  safety and well-being of our students, we are now finding find ourselves really studying those best practices and finding out ways to do that.”

Thurmond said the department will focus on how best to support English learners, families without access to computers and families struggling to meet their basic needs.

“We know that some students have benefited during distance learning,” he said. “Many have not.”

Diana Lambert

Saturday, July 25, 2020, 2:53pm

Santa Clara County reports strong interest in school waivers

Eighty schools in Santa Clara County have inquired about applying for a waiver to open up elementary schools to in-person instruction, the Mercury News reported on Saturday. County health officials declined to disclose the applicants, but at this point they likely are mostly private schools.

Although the article highlights one county, it may reflect broader statewide interest.  Many private and charter schools and school districts had planned a full  or partial return to school before the state issued guidance on July 17 banning in-person instruction in counties with high rates of coronavirus infection. Currently 34 counties, covering more than 90 percent of California’s population, are on the list, and a few more counties may be added this weekend, Gov. Newsom said Friday. Several Covid-related criteria, including infection and hospitalization rates, must decline for 14 days before counties can come off the list.

County health departments are awaiting further guidance  from the California Department of Public Health on the criteria for allowing some or all elementary students to school before ruling on the waiver applications. The information is expected next week, according to a spokeswoman from the Alameda County Office of Education.

The July 17 guidance said that a school district must consult with parents, teachers and community groups on a wavier request. Last week,  Los Angeles County health officials interpreted that to mean teachers unions must consent to an application.

John Fensterwald

Friday, July 24, 2020, 2:14pm

Governor further explains elementary waiver process to allow reopening

Gov. Newsom explained that schools and districts in the state can apply for waivers to allow elementary schools to reopen for in-person instruction even if they are in one of the 34 counties currently on the state’s “monitoring list.” Referring to a slide in his news briefing presentation, he said that school districts must work with local public health officials to determine how to safely offer in-person instruction after initiating a waiver request “in consultation with labor, parents and community-based organizations.”

Theresa Harrington / EdSource

A slide from Gov. Newsom’s noon press briefing on June 24, 2020 explains the elementary school waiver process.

The state is allowing waivers because younger children are less likely to spread the virus and they would benefit from in-person instruction, Newsom explained.  He said more than 90% of the state’s population lives in the 34 counties currently on the monitoring list and that a few more counties may be added over the weekend.

Newsom also said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had “finally” approved so-called “pooled” testing, which allows several samples to be tested together, and is being done at UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego and Stanford University. “You’re going to hear a lot more about pooled testing,” he said, adding that California is becoming more creative and innovative with its testing strategies, which he expects to discuss in more detail next week.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, July 23, 2020, 4:06pm

California school districts can now apply for funds to help close the digital divide

California school districts scrambling to afford technology and other distance learning supports before school starts can now apply for a portion of a $5.3 million fund created to mitigate learning loss during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Since schools closed in March, California education officials have made closing the digital divide a priority by requesting and collecting donated devices as well as funding to purchase technology. As of July 17, the state had distributed over 56,000 laptops and 94,000 Wi-Fi hot spots, according to the California Department of Education. 

But hundreds of thousands of students still remain without laptops or internet connectivity. California still needs more than 700,000 laptop devices and 350,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, according to Mary Nicely, senior advisor to California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

“School will open in just a few weeks, and we know most of our districts will open with distance learning,” Thurmond said in a digital divide task force hearing on Thursday. “We have to really move quickly to continue to make a dent in the number of folks without a computing device and hotspots and we need to have a longer-term conversation about the need to build infrastructure.” 

Sydney Johnson

Thursday, July 23, 2020, 10:21am

No plan for tuition increase at California State University, CFO says

California State University has no plans to hike tuition in 2020-21, the system’s chief financial officer Steve Relyea told trustees during a meeting Wednesday. He said that while the university could revisit the idea if economic conditions worsen, it would currently not be “appropriate” to do so.

Relyea’s comments come after Chancellor Tim White similarly said last week that the system was not considering a tuition increase. “We’ve taken a tuition increase off the table,” White said during a forum sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of California.

At a Board of Trustees meeting in May, several trustees encouraged the chancellor’s office not to recommend any increase in tuition, including Peter Taylor.

Michael Burke

Wednesday, July 22, 2020, 2:29pm

Teachers, other school employees, should be prioritized for childcare, governor says

As schools begin to reopen in the next few months, Gov. Newsom said teachers and other school employees need to be prioritized for child care along with other essential workers. But he said there is “more work to do” in providing enough child care options to meet the need.

He also acknowledged that distance learning is a challenge for parents and said the state’s “number one desire” is to reopen schools for in-person learning, when it is safe, so students can benefit academically, socially and emotionally. However, he noted that 35 counties are now on the state’s “monitoring list,” with the recent addition of Butte County in northern California, which restricts the ability of schools there to reopen and puts added stress on parents.

To help parents who are struggling to assist their children with distance learning, Newsom said the state and many schools and districts are producing webinars, including Los Angeles Unified. The state is also continuing to address the digital divide by working to provide devices and internet access to those who need it, he said, adding that he expects to make an announcement “very shortly” about these efforts.

And in response to a question about Facebook groups or learning “pods” some parents are creating to help their children with distance learning, Newsom said he encouraged that as a way to share ideas and resources. “That’s exactly what one would expect and hope for,” he said.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, July 22, 2020, 10:20am

State health official explains rationale for elementary school waivers

The state is offering waivers that could allow elementary schools to open in counties that are on the state’s monitoring list because young children need more in-person interactions and don’t spread the disease as easily as older students, said California’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. Not only do young children tend to thrive more academically with engaging curriculum taught in person, but he said they also learn important social skills such as how to work in teams.

Referring to a large study recently released in South Korea, Ghaly said during a virtual state news briefing Tuesday that young children are not considered “vectors” that transmit Covid-19 in the same way as older teens and adults, in part because they don’t have the same cell markers as those who are older, which develop as they grow “and become portals to Covid-19.” Ghaly said some have theorized that the size of young children and the way they breathe may also contribute to why they don’t tend to be infected by Covid-19 at the same level as adults or to “shed” the virus as much.

He also stressed that the state is prioritizing contact tracing to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at schools when they reopen. And he added that it is very important for schools and counties to offer mental health, counseling, access to social workers, and other supports to students virtually during distance learning, including LGBTQ youth. Offering psychological support to students is an “important area of focus we have and will continue to build on,” Ghaly said.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, July 22, 2020, 9:36am

California child care providers struggle to make ends meet, worry about health risks

California child care providers are struggling to keep programs open during the pandemic, with fewer children, lost income, and higher cleaning and staff costs, and they are deeply concerned about the health risks of staying open, according to a survey published Wednesday by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley.

The center surveyed 953 child care programs, both private centers and in-home sites. They found that those providers that had closed did so because they were worried about the health risks to themselves, their families, and the children they serve.

The main reason other providers have stayed open is that they could not financially survive a closure. More than 1/3 of those that are open are worried that they, their families or the children they serve will get sick. Almost 2/3 of child care centers that are open have teachers who are not working because they are worried about the health risks.

Those that are open are facing lost income because of decreased capacity and fewer children attending, higher staff costs, higher cleaning costs and other expenses related to changing physical spaces to meet health and safety guidelines.

Many providers, especially those operating programs out of their own homes, have not paid themselves, missed a mortgage or rent payment, or incurred personal credit card debt, because of the loss of income and increased costs.

Zaidee Stavely

Monday, July 20, 2020, 2:26pm

California high school sports delayed until at least December

High School fall sports will be put on hold in California as coronavirus cases surge and most districts opt to continue distance learning, the California Interscholastic Federation announced Monday.

Though it is up to each of the CIF’s 10 regional “sections” to decide when to start and end their sports seasons, most sections likely won’t start their sports programs until December or January, according to a CIF news release. Most will likely move to a two-season system combining winter and spring sports into the same season.

Rose Ciotta

Monday, July 20, 2020, 2:13pm

Governor says elementary waivers could allow some schools to reopen sooner

Although Gov. Newsom stressed that schools located in counties on the state’s monitoring list cannot reopen until the county has been removed from the list for 14 consecutive days, he acknowledged that elementary schools can apply for waivers to be allowed to reopen even if their county is on the list.

When asked during his daily news briefing if moving education outdoors instead of indoors  would qualify a school for such a waiver, Newsom said “not so far,” but he is “open to argument.”

Newsom and California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly also emphasized that Covid-19 tests will be prioritized for school personnel in local testing centers and and said the state is planning to expand contact tracing beyond the intitial 10,000 contact tracers statewide, to log Covid-19 exposures in counties and school districts. Newsom said improving contact tracing is important, “particularly as it relates to reopening schools in the state.”

Finally, Newsom reiterated that the sooner everyone in California wears masks, practices physical distancing and refrains from mixing with people outside their household, the sooner kids can get back to school. Currently, 33 counties are on the state’s monitoring list.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, July 20, 2020, 2:07pm

Most community college classes to be fully online this fall, chancellor says

Most community colleges across California will not be able to offer in-person classes this fall, the community college system’s chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said Monday, pointing to a surge in coronavirus cases in many parts of the state.

He added, however, that colleges in counties where the virus is not spreading as rapidly may be able to offer some in-person courses.

“It is highly unlikely that the majority of our colleges will have in person learning this fall. We are going to approach this county by county and certainly there will be some counties where more in-person instruction can be accommodated,” he said at a Board of Governors meeting. “But by and large, the communities throughout California that are experiencing a surge in Covid-19 will have a significant ability to offer in-person instruction.”

Monday was not the first time Oakley has predicted that most classes across the system will be held online this fall. In May, he encouraged colleges to plan for an online-only fall, saying that conducting courses virtually would be “the most relevant way for us to continue to reach our students.”

Michael Burke

Friday, July 17, 2020, 2:24pm

Governor announces new guidance for reopening California school campuses

Gov. Newsom Friday announced new guidance for when schools can reopen for in-person instruction, saying both public and private schools will not be allowed to bring students and staff back to campuses if they are in counties that are on the state’s “monitoring list,” which tracks coronavirus metrics.

Currently, 32 out of 58 counties in the state are on the list, including Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego in Southern California, as well as Sacramento, and several Bay Area counties such as Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara.

Newsom, during his daily news briefing, said schools in counties that are on the list can reopen after the counties have been removed from the list for 14 consecutive days. When schools reopen for in-person instruction, Newsom said all staff and students in grades 3-12 must wear masks, while those in grades 2 and under are encouraged to wear masks.

Schools in counties not on the list are free to reopen, as long as they follow the health and safety guidelines and practices recommended by the California Dept. of Public Health.

In addition, he said all staff members should maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance between each other and their students and that staff members should be tested for Covid-19 in cohorts at regular intervals. Schools must check for Covid-19 symptoms including temperatures, and must follow “robust expectations” related to hand-washing stations and deep sanitizing on campuses, he added.


The state is providing $5.3 billion to help pay for distance learning, which Newsom said must be rigorous, as well as to meet other safety requirements. Districts must complete “Learning Continuity Plans” that lay out how they are spending the funding to meet state’s requirements, he said.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, July 14, 2020, 2:17pm

Growing number of districts decide to start the school year online

Stockton Unified, Burbank Unified and all 25 school districts in Stanislaus County have joined the growing list of California districts whose students will begin the school year learning from home.

Decisions to keep school campuses closed come as the number of Californians infected with Covid-19 continues to grow. The state had 336,500 cases as of July 13, with 7,087 deaths. That is a 47% increase in new cases and an 18.5% increase in deaths from two weeks prior.

“The health and safety of our students and employees is not something that we are willing to take chances with in the current environment,” read a letter from Burbank Unified. “Therefore, we have decided that BUSD will open in a 100% distance learning model on August 17.”

Berkeley Unified may also start the school year with distance learning, according to Berkeleyside. It reported that Superintendent Brent Stephens plans to recommend that campuses remain closed at a school board meeting on July 15.

Los Angeles Unified, San Diego Unified, San Bernardino City Unified, San Jose Unified, Oakland Unified, West Contra Costa Unified, Alum Rock Union School District and East Side Union High School District have already announced that they will begin the school year with students learning from home. Pasadena Unified has indicated it is considering that option.

Diana Lambert

Tuesday, July 14, 2020, 1:55pm

International students no longer at risk for deportation due to online classes

The Trump administration rescinded a policy that would have forced international students to take in-person classes in the fall or risk deportation after college campuses closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision was announced at the beginning of the first court hearing in a federal lawsuit filed by Harvard University and M.I.T. The administration also faced seven other lawsuits, including one filed by the state of California. All three public college and university systems in California opposed the new policy.

Zaidee Stavely

Tuesday, July 14, 2020, 1:51pm

State announces new Covid-19 testing guidelines to prioritize essential workers including school employees

Essential workers, including school employees, will get priority access to Covid-19 testing, California’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced Tuesday as part of the state’s new testing protocols.  He also said the state is expanding testing sites to include pharmacies and clinics in an effort to improve testing access.

Ghaly, speaking during the state’s daily briefing,  said the changes would “help us ensure we are setting up California for success in the important mission of bringing kids and staff back to our campuses.”

He also said the state is trying to better utilize academic labs such as those at universities including UC Davis, which has been underutilized, to “match up” demand with capacity in an effort to reduce testing time throughout the state.

In addition, Galy announced that the state’s testing task force will work to ensure that the costs of tests will be reimbursed by health care providers. He said the new guidelines would be posted soon on the California Department of Public Health website.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, July 13, 2020, 1:45pm

Governor applauds LAUSD and SDUSD for decisions to reopen with distance learning, reiterates that reopening is a local decision, but that learning must occur

Referring to announcements by Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified that they will reopen schools remotely, Gov. Newsom said during his noon news briefing that he applauded “the leadership of those districts who are leaning in and recognizing their responsibility to give children and parents the opportunity to begin to adjust and to make plans.” He reiterated that schools should open safely and ensure that students are learning if they opt for distance learning.

Newsom stressed that decisions should be made locally based on state and county guidance and said that he expects to release new guidance related to masks, contact sports, choir, school bussing and addressing children’s social and emotional needs during distance learning. He also said more work needs to be done to close the “digital divide” so that all students have access to devices and internet services.

Noting that coronavirus cases are spiking throughout California, he also imposed restrictions on indoor activities statewide, along with stricter rules in 30 counties that are on the state’s “watch list.” None of the activities included schools or day care centers.

More information about the new rules, as well as state guidance for schools reopening, is at covid19.ca.gov.

Theresa Harrington

Sunday, July 12, 2020, 1:25pm

American Academy of Pediatrics changes its stance on in-person instruction

The American Academy of Pediatrics has changed its position on whether schools should open for in-person instruction in the fall, NPR reports.

Weeks ago, the national professional association issued a statement calling on educators and policymakers to prioritize in-person instruction in the fall, echoing President Donald Trump’s position on the matter.

But in a new statement issued Friday, the pediatricians group said officials should base their recommendations on reopening on “evidence, not politics.” The group’s new stance follows outcry from teachers across the country who felt under siege by the Trump administration’s push to reopen campuses in the fall despite surges in coronavirus cases.

Ali Tadayon

Sunday, July 12, 2020, 1:00pm

DeVos joins Trump in pushing for schools to reopen, gives mixed messages on how

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in TV interviews Sunday joined in President Donald Trump’s press to reopen schools in the fall despite surges in coronavirus cases, but offered mixed messages on how they should go about it.

DeVos, in some appearances Sunday, was supportive of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention school reopening guidelines. Trump had criticized those guidelines as being too stringent.

Yet, DeVos refused to say whether schools should be required to follow the guidelines. In an interview with CNN, she said the guidelines were meant to be “flexible.”

“There is nothing in the data that would suggest that kids being back in school is dangerous to them,” DeVos said on CNN.

Ali Tadayon

Sunday, July 12, 2020, 11:30am

North San Diego County school districts consider returning to in-person instruction

Despite a surge in coronavirus cases in San Diego County, school districts in North San Diego County are considering returning to in-person instruction in the fall.

The Oceanside Unified School District’s school board has called on the district to plan an option for 100 percent student return, the San Diego Union Tribune reported Sunday, along with options for online distance learning and a hybrid model. The board’s decision came after hundreds of parents signed an online petition calling on the board to at least consider an in-person instruction model.

San Diego County health officials gave school districts the OK to open campuses in the fall, but only if they follow state guidelines and keep parents informed about their reopening plans.

Administrators at neighboring Carlsbad Unified School District are also preparing an option to return to in-person instruction.

Vista Unified School District is “looking forward to a normal, in-person, on-campus start to the new school year,” according to its website. The district is also formulating hybrid-learning plans in case state and county authorities reinstate more stringent social distancing rules.

Ali Tadayon

Saturday, July 11, 2020, 8:48am

San Jose Unified announces teachers will not return to start the year; Fremont Unified announces distance learning

On Friday night, the San Jose Teachers Association informed San Jose Unified that it would be unsafe for teachers to return to classes to start the year and that the district should make plans for distance learning.

In an email to parents, San Jose Unified said they are “reassessing the details of returning students to their classrooms in the fall” but stopped short of announcing plans for distance learning.

Also on Friday night, the Fremont Unified school board voted to begin the school year with distance learning. The decision sets a benchmark of seven consecutive days of no new Covid-19 cases in Alameda County before they will begin to consider allowing a majority of students to return to school. A future vote will decide if special education students will be allowed to return to campuses.

Daniel J. Willis

Friday, July 10, 2020, 6:40pm

Oakland Unified announces it will start school year with all students in distance learning on Aug 10, then phase in in-person instruction

One month before school is set to start in Oakland Unified, the district announced that all students will begin classes remotely on Aug. 10, based on recommendations from district staff and public health experts. This means all students will learn from home in virtual online classes until it is safe for the district to begin phasing in in-person instruction for the most vulnerable students, including those who are in special education, and those who are homeless or foster youth, said district spokesman John Sasaki. However, the plans are still being negotiated with the teachers union and are not yet finalized.

The district expects the distance learning phase to last at least four weeks, before it begins offering blended learning that would include some small group in-person instruction on one or two days, followed by distance learning the rest of the week, Sasaki said. The district is in the process of negotiating its new 2020-21 procedures and protocols with unions and expects to release more information Monday, when it will host an online community town hall meeting from 5-7 p.m.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, July 9, 2020, 2:55pm

Governor responds to CTA letter about reopening schools safely, raises concerns about school police, and says UC and CSU dorms may be used as fire evacuation shelters

In response to a letter from the California Teachers Association sent Wednesday to state leaders insisting that schools cannot reopen unless they are safe, Gov. Newsom said  Thursday that he agrees “we need to keep people safe and healthy” and that students and staff should not return to schools until their safety can be assured. He said he appreciated the letter and is starting to engage with superintendents up and down the state about how they can reopen safely, as well as how they can provide quality distance learning if they decide it’s unsafe to reopen.

Speaking during his daily news briefing, Newsom said the state prefers in-person instruction, if possible, to address the social and emotional needs of children, as well as their academic needs. He also stressed that the state is providing $5.3 billion in the budget to help schools address learning loss and safety issues. If instruction continues remotely, he said its crucial that schools are “making sure we’re doing justice to distance learning in a way that’s equitable to all kids, not just some kids.”

Newsom also addressed language in the budget about school police and said that some districts spend more money on police than on counselors and other student support services. “I find that rather curious,” he said, adding that the state has created a task force in partnership with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond that will examine the need for school police, as well as other issues related to student safety and well-being.

And as the state enters fire season, Newsom announced that the Office of Emergency Services has come to an agreement with the University of California and California State University systems to use their dormitories in the event of fire-related evacuations, if space is available. This will help to prevent the potential spread of Covid-19 in more traditional congregate shelters by keeping people in separate rooms, he said.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, July 9, 2020, 10:15am

UC to sue federal government over new visa policy for international students

The University of California announced it plans to sue the federal government over a new visa policy that will force international students to take some in-person classes during the coronavirus pandemic or risk losing their student visas and being deported. The policy, which was announced by ICE on Monday, puts pressure on colleges to offer some in-person classes or lose their international students. UC had about 40,000 students with international student visas enrolled in 2019. Harvard and M.I.T. had already announced they are suing the federal government over the policy.

Zaidee Stavely

Wednesday, July 8, 2020, 1:35pm

Governor says schools could reopen on schedule if coronavirus spike is reversed, but schools must ensure students are learning if instruction is remote 

Gov. Newsom said he’s not worried about President Trump’s tweets threatening to withhold money from states that don’t push schools to reopen quickly.  Schools could still reopen  according to each district’s schedule if spikes in coronavirus cases can be reversed by people wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing and washing hands often, he said during his daily news briefing.

Ultimately, Newsom said it’s up to county public health and education officials to decide if it’s safe for schools to open next month. However, even if schools decide to start the new school year with distance learning, they must ensure that students are being educated, he said, referring to language in the state budget.

He said the state budget provides $5 billion to schools to address learning loss and to reopen safely, and added that he is working closely with the state superintendent of public instruction and other officials to ensure that school leaders understand the state’s expectations.

“We’ll be sharing a lot more on this topic over the course of the next days and weeks,” he said.

Newsom also noted that the state has provided a two-months’ supply of personal protective equipment – including masks, face shields and gowns – to every school in the state, as well as supplies for “deep sanitization.”

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, July 7, 2020, 6:00pm

Trump pushes for schools to reopen

President Donald Trump, at a news conference Tuesday, called for the reopening of schools in the fall despite coronavirus surges in California, Florida, and other parts of the country.

“So what we want to do is we want to get our schools open.  We want to get them open quickly, beautifully, in the fall.” Trump said. “This is a disease that’s a horrible disease, but young people do extraordinarily well.”

Trump cited the decreasing mortality rate of the coronavirus in the United States, as well as the demand from parents as reasons to reopen schools. However, Dr. Anthony Fauci at a separate press conference said taking comfort in a lower rate of death is “a false narrative.”

“There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus, don’t get yourself into false complacency.”

Trump said his administration will “put pressure on governors and everybody else” to open schools, and accused leaders who aren’t planning on opening schools in the fall of doing so for “political reasons.”

Ali Tadayon

Sunday, July 5, 2020, 6:00pm

National school lunch flexibility extended through June 30, 2021

Sunday, July 5, 6 p.m. National school lunch flexibility extended through June 30, 2021

Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program can continue to provide meals to students and their families based on flexibility provided in waivers during the Covid-19 pandemic from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which have been extended through the 2020-2021 school year. The extension is expected to ensure that students can access nutritious foods to support optimal learning, even if school facilities are closed, according to the California Department of Education.

The waivers extend flexibilities regarding non-congregate feeding, meal service time requirements, parent and guardian pick-up of meals, and meal patterns. The USDA waivers also provide additional flexibility to senior high schools participating in the National School Lunch Program.

More information is available on the USDA website.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, July 2, 2020, 10:35am

USC walks back reopening plans, says most classes will be held online

Citing an “alarming spike in coronavirus cases” in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California announced that undergraduate classes will be mostly online in the fall. That is a reversal from what the university was planning as of a month ago, when the university said it expected many classes would be available for in-person instruction and said it was planning a “return to campus life this fall.”

The university is now anticipating that between 10% and 20% of classes will be held in person, administrators wrote in a letter to the campus. On-campus housing will also be limited to one student per bedroom.

Michael Burke

Monday, June 29, 2020, 2:15pm

Bill would protect school districts from lawsuits over coronavirus

Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, who chairs the Assembly Education Committee, introduced a bill Monday to address one of school districts’ biggest worries as they plan for a return to school: fear of getting sued over a coronavirus infection.

Assembly Bill 1384 would provide limited liability protections for K-12 schools. It would not affect workers’ compensation claims by employees or apply to claims for money or damages for gross negligence or for reckless, intentional, or willful and wanton misconduct, according to O’Donnell, D-Long Beach.

“We need to provide clarity and reduce uncertainty for school districts as they navigate the patchwork of state, federal and public health COVID-19 rules,” O’Donnell said in a statement. “We cannot divert scarce resources for instruction, meals and other student needs for legal bills or let schools become cash cows for lawyers.”

Legislators will hear the bill when they return from summer recess.

John Fensterwald

Monday, June 29, 2020, 12:27pm

Some parents, staff in Los Angeles say they are against schools reopening, according to survey

About 20% of families and 36% of school staff say they are currently opposed to schools in Los Angeles Unified reopening this fall for in-person learning, according to survey results released by the district Monday. Another 21% of families and 20% of staff said they are unsure if they will be comfortable with schools reopening in the fall.

The state’s largest school district is scheduled to begin the 2020-21 school year on Aug. 18, but Superintendent Austin Beutner has said repeatedly that he’s not certain school facilities will reopen by that point. “No decision has been made yet about a possible return to school facilities, but a great deal of work is being done to make it possible if it appears that’s the best course come August,” he said in a televised address Monday.

Michael Burke

Monday, June 29, 2020, 10:30am

College admission deans nationally pledge to value self-care in students’ applications

More than 300 college admission deans across the country have signed a statement reassuring students that their offices will value self-care and family care amid the coronavirus pandemic. The “Care Counts in Crisis: College Admissions Deans Respond to Covid-19” statement was created by the Making Caring Common Project at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

In the statement, the admissions deans ranked what they will value in students’ college applications. No. 1 on the list is self-care: “Self-care is of high importance, especially in times of crisis We recognize that many students, economically struggling and facing losses and hardships of countless kinds, are simply seeking to get by. We also recognize that this time is stressful and demanding for a wide range of students for many different reasons. We encourage all students to be gentle with themselves during this time.”

Ashley A. Smith

Sunday, June 28, 2020, 10:00am

California charter schools received millions earmarked for small businesses, according to news report

Dozens of charter schools in the Bay Area and around California received millions of dollars in pandemic-related federal assistance through a program intended to help small businesses, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The money was distributed through the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal initiative to help small businesses meet payroll expenses during quarantine. Charter school advocates said the schools are legally eligible for the funds, and are using the money to pay teachers during this time of financial uncertainty.

Carolyn Jones

Saturday, June 27, 2020, 11:01am

Study finds link between severe Covid-19 cases and brain damage

Results from a recent study by researches at University Hospital Southampton found a connection between Covid-19 and various forms of brain damage. The study, which looked at 125 Covid-19 patients in the U.K., found that 57 had a stroke caused by a blood clot in the brain and 39 had an altered mental state.

The median patient age for the study was 71 years, and “confirmation of the link between COVID-19 and new acute psychiatric or neuropsychiatric complications in younger patients will require detailed prospective longitudinal studies,” researchers said in the article, which was published in the Lancet Psychiatry, a medical journal.

In the U.S., doctors in New York City reported in April that the coronavirus was triggering strokes in younger patients who tested positive for Covid-19 but had few to no symptoms of the disease.

Sydney Johnson

Friday, June 26, 2020, 3:45pm

Lack of funding, technology serious challenges for California’s smallest school districts

Many small school districts in California don’t have enough training for teachers and technology to offer adequate distance learning and may not have enough money to reopen schools without serious challenges, according to a report by the Small School Districts’ Association released this week.

The association surveyed 546 superintendents of school districts with 2,500 or fewer students to determine how successful they were at transforming from in-person to online or distance instruction after schools campuses closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, and to gauge their concerns about reopening next school year.

Of the 185 superintendents who responded to the survey, most said they would struggle to reopen with the funds they have been allotted and need help designing a hybrid education plan, which will allow students to attend class on campus part of the week and at home the rest of the week.

Diana Lambert

Friday, June 26, 2020, 2:34pm

UC San Diego to offer some in-person classes, open dorms this fall

UC San Diego plans to conduct about 30% of classes in-person this fall, the university announced as it formally released its plans for the fall quarter. The university said it will open campus housing to students but, like other campuses across the UC system, will limit housing to single and double occupancy rooms. UC San Diego’s plans are in line with the plans of UC’s eight other undergraduate campuses, which have each said they will hold a limited number of in-person classes and reopen dorms for some students.

UC San Diego also is planning to conduct regular coronavirus testing of students. By doing widespread testing and using interventions such as isolation and quarantine, the university said it expects the program will “lessen the likelihood of a significant outbreak on campus.”

Michael Burke

Friday, June 26, 2020, 11:00am

California needs at least 708,400 laptops and 322,100 Wi-Fi hotspots to connect all students to the internet from home

Pressure is mounting for schools and districts to connect all of their students to computer and internet from home, as schools prepare for distance learning plans and social distancing this fall. California still needs at least 708,400 laptops and 322,100 Wi-Fi hotspots to connect all students to the internet from home, according to the latest figures form the California Department of Education.

The California Bridging the Digital Divide Fund has collected about $12.3 million of its $500 million goal, according to Jessica Howard, CEO of the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation, the nonprofit organization that is partnering with the California Department of Education and is overseeing the digital divide fund.

At least 37,000 laptops have also been pledged by donors, state officials shared, and about 56,700 laptops and 94,000 hotspots have been sent to districts across the state so far.

Sydney Johnson

Tuesday, June 23, 2020, 3:43pm

Subsidized child care for essential workers extended for three more months

The budget deal reached by Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature includes an agreement to extend subsidized child care for the children of essential workers for three months. It had been set to expire on June 30.

The Legislature also rejected the 10% cuts to child care subsidies proposed by Newsom in May.

Zaidee Stavely

Monday, June 22, 2020, 2:50pm

Governor says budget deal includes an equitable distribution of federal funding to combat learning loss, deferrals, and a provision against teacher layoffs

Although Gov. Newsom revealed few concrete details Monday related to the budget deal he has struck with legislative leaders, he said it mitigates some education cuts that were in his revised budget in May and would include an equitable distribution of federal CARES Act funding aimed at helping students overcome the loss of learning they suffered this spring. In addition, Newsom said the budget would include deferrals of payments to the K-12 education system and community colleges to avoid outright cuts.

Newsom also said the budget will include a provision against teacher layoffs. “We are very proud that we were able to all accommodate our collective needs and be able to make that commitment firmly,” he said, noting that there had been a lot of anxiety related to possible layoffs.

He said he looks forward to signing the budget bill and that more details will be revealed in the next hours, days and week.

Theresa Harrington

Sunday, June 21, 2020, 9:30am

College athletes in other states testing positive for coronavirus

As college football and other athletes return to campuses to train, many are testing positive for the coronavirus. USA Today compiled a list of the universities that have reported positive tests among athletes, including 28 at Clemson University in South Carolina, 15 at the University of Texas, 14 at Kansas State, 10 at Iowa State, 8 at University of Alabama, and numerous colleges and universities that have reported smaller numbers.

Zaidee Stavely

Saturday, June 20, 2020, 9:20am

UCLA football players petition university for Covid-19 protection

About 30 UCLA football players presented a petition to the university requesting a “third-party health official” be available at all football activities to make sure that protocols for Covid-19 prevention are followed, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The players also demand whistleblower protections for all athletes and staff, and the ability to decide for themselves if they want to return to Westwood without fear of losing their scholarships or retaliation. In the petitions, the student-athletes said they do not trust UCLA to act in their best interests, in regard to their health.

Players are expected to report to voluntary workouts Monday.

Ashley A. Smith

Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 1:03pm

LAUSD airs television special celebrating Class of 2020

To celebrate about 30,000 district graduates, the Los Angeles Unified School District aired an hour-long television special Monday evening for the Class of 2020. The telecast featured several special guests who gave brief remarks, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts, Ellen DeGeneres and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“You are graduating into a very different world than where we were just a few months ago. And I know you know that,” Harris said during the telecast. “There are real challenges facing our country over the coming months and years. But do not let the moment of this crisis dampen your ambitions or your hopes or your dreams. When you set out on your mission, know that your country needs you.”

Roberts added: “You guys were denied a prom, graduation, all these things that we got to experience in our senior year. And I’m sorry for that. But I look at things as a manager when situations arrive, as a positive, as an opportunity. … We’re counting on each and every one of you guys to lead us through all of these difficult times in our country.”

The television special aired live on KLCS, a local television station operated by the district, and will re-air on June 21 at 7 a.m. It can also be viewed in its entirety here.

Michael Burke

Monday, June 15, 2020, 8:00pm

Legislature passes placeholder budget, while talks with Gov. Newsom continue

Monday, June 15, 8 p.m.   

The Assembly and Senate approved a budget plan, mostly along party lines, while negotiations with the governor’s office continues over how to deal with a massive budget deficit should additional federal aid not be forthcoming. The main difference remains disagreements over making deep cuts in education and a range of other programs as proposed by Newsom, effective July 1. The Legislature wants to defer making any cuts until October, in the hope that the federal government will approve billions of dollars in additional aid.

If that aid doesn’t materialize — and at the moment the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate is balking at adopting anything like the HEROES Act approved by the House of Representative last month — the Legislature’s budget would avoid cuts to child care and K-12 by using up more of the state’s reserves and delaying payment of a portion of funding for school districts to the following school year.

John Fensterwald

Sunday, June 14, 2020, 1:30pm

Gov. Newsom urges Class of 2020 to exercise leadership with moral authorit

Gavin Newsom, Class of ’89, encouraged the Class of 2020 at Santa Clara University to lead through “moral authority” in a pre-recorded message during virtual commencement exercises webcast Saturday by his alma mater.

For graduates whose memories of their last semester will be framed by the coronavirus pandemic and national demonstrations over police violence, Newsom evoked the image that has galvanized the protest movement. “Remember,” he said “no one stands taller than when he or she bends down on one knee to help lift other people up.”

Newsom has been critical of President Trump but did not mention him directly in his 4 minute-remarks. However, he did contrast leadership through formal authority – “command and control” – with leadership through moral authority. The latter, he said, “is more like climate control. It’s about creating conditions where people can live their lives out loud. That’s a paradigm of thinking we’re desperate for this moment,” he said. “So please exercise your leadership, your moral authority …  to be more and do better.”

Joining Newsom in a montage of congratulations were other noted Santa Clara University graduates, including his predecessor, former Gov. Jerry Brown ’59; University of California President Janet Napolitano ’79; NBA Hall of fame player Steve Nash ’96; and former CIA Director Leon Panetta ’61.

John Fensterwald

Friday, June 12, 2020, 7:00pm

Humboldt State to offer some in-person classes, open dorms this fall

Humboldt State University, which says it might have the largest percentage of labs, field work and other courses requiring hands-on participation in the California State University system, announced it will offer some face-to-face classes this fall and partially reopen dorms. Lectures and other large classes will continue to be held virtually.

“Learning by doing is a key element of Humboldt State University’s educational approach, and we’re grateful to the CSU for allowing us to move forward with those courses that really need to be taught face-to-face,” said Humboldt State President Tom Jackson. “At the same time, we’ll be offering a full schedule of courses this fall. We’re working hard to enhance the learning experience in courses that will be taught virtually, and to expand our virtual support for students.”

Humboldt State is known for its programs in forestry, ecology and other natural sciences. About 25% of Humboldt State’s courses include labs, field work and other hands-on requirements, and about half of those will be offered in person. The university is considering a range of health and safety requirements for the fall, such as limiting students’ travel and restricting the number of faculty and staff allowed on campus. The university may also revert to an online-only schedule if needed.

Carolyn Jones

Wednesday, June 10, 2020, 11:00am

Thurmond says California students struggling with impact of coronavirus restrictions, racism will need mental health help

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond called on mental health organizations to help fill counseling gaps in schools in order to meet the needs of students impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and racism during a virtual press conference Wednesday.

Thurmond initially announced the campaign Monday. A coalition of mental health organizations, including the California Association of School Counselors, California Association of School Psychologists and the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, have joined the effort. Wednesday, he asked for more help.

“We know that when students return to campus they will have needs for additional support because of the impacts of Covid-19 and because, quite frankly, everything is different than what they have experienced,” Thurmond said. “Being at school with a mask on, being at school where social distancing is the order of the day, we know has its impacts on students. We also know that our students have experienced trauma related to the death of George Floyd and issues around police brutality, issues around race and racism, and issues around bias.”

The need is great. More than 270,000 California students are homeless, many because of the coronavirus pandemic, Thurmond said. Others haven’t checked in online with their schools because they have moved or are trying to help their families financially.

The call to action was one of many made by Thurmond in the last few weeks, including a request to companies and individual donors to provide computers and internet connections to students and a call to state and federal lawmakers for more funding for California schools.

For more information about the effort or to volunteer email Mentalhealth@cde.ca.gov.

Diana Lambert

Tuesday, June 9, 2020, 5:30pm

Data breach affects more than 150 school districts across the country

Tuesday June 9, 5:30 p.m. 

More than 150 school districts throughout the United States were notified April 27 that their student information software provider Aeries Software had been breached, allowing an unauthorized person access to private student and parent information.

Though the breach was discovered in November 2019, the company didn’t notify school districts until April 27 — after law enforcement conducted an investigation and arrested the person responsible, according to an advisory sent last week to parents at Mt. Diablo Unified School District in Contra Cost County, California.  According to the state Attorney General’s Office website, similar notifications were issued in recent weeks to parents in unified school districts in San Bernardino City, Fairfield-Suisun, Inglewood, and Laguna Beach and Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District.

The information accessed by the unauthorized person includes parent and students addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and “hashed” passwords — which are indecipherable to third parties, according to the advisories. Aeries has found no evidence that any of the information has been “misused.” The company said it has fixed the vulnerability in its system that allowed the person to access the information.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, June 9, 2020, 3:45pm

CSU officers can no longer use carotid hold on suspects

California State University police officers will no longer use the carotid control hold, according to a statement from the university  Friday.

The carotid hold is form of stranglehold that cuts off blood supply to the brain.

The statement was signed by police chiefs from each of the university’s 23 campuses. It said that campus police departments would begin to use the recommendations of The President’s Task Force on 21stCentury Policing, which reported to former President Barack Obama in 2015.

The recommendations are designed to help law enforcement agencies build trust and collaboration, while reducing crime, according to the statement.

“We are determined to lead by example, joining a growing number of American cities that have committed – collectively and collaboratively – to address police use-of-force policies. To that end, and effective immediately, we are prohibiting the use of the carotid control hold by all CSU police officers. Additionally, no CSU police officer will receive or participate in trainings that teach the carotid control hold.”

Diana Lambert

Sunday, June 7, 2020, 4:00pm

California coronavirus cases rise above 128,000

Coronavirus cases in California topped 128,000 Sunday after a surge in cases last week, the Bay Area News Group reports.

Another 2,427 cases were confirmed Friday — a record for cases in a single day. California’s coronavirus death tell has reached 4,604, according to the Bay Area News Group.

Ali Tadayon

Sunday, June 7, 2020, 10:00am

California higher ed community outraged over Trump order barring entry to some Chinese graduate students

President Trump’s May 29 proclamation halting entry for Chinese graduate students tied to China’s “military-civil fusion strategy” has sowed anxiety among the California university community, the Los Angeles Times reports. Universities fear that the order could lead to overreach, wrongfully barring some Chinese graduate students, driving away others, and jeopardizing international research collaboration.

Nox Yang, a sophomore from China studying at UCLA, told the Los Angeles Times that the order adds to Chinese students’ mounting stress exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis.  They feel isolated being far away from family, she said, and distressed by Trump’s references to “the Chinese virus” and the rise of anti-Asian hostility during the pandemic.

Ali Tadayon

Saturday, June 6, 2020, 4:00pm

Racist online comments from Granada Hills Charter High students sparks outrage from classmates

During graduation week, students at Granada Hills Charter High School in the San Fernando Valley called out racist comments made by classmates in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Statements made by Granada Hills Charter High students in a private chat mocking Floyd, and using the n-word and racial slurs, were captured on screen grabs by a member of the chat who was offended by them, according to the Los Angeles Times. The screen grabs were reposted across social media platforms by outraged classmates, as well as students from other Los Angeles-area schools.

Brian Bauer, executive director of Granada Hills Charter, told the Los Angeles Times that the school was notified of the statements Monday and took immediate action. Bauer said the students “experienced heavy consequences” but would not get into specifics or identify the students.

Ali Tadayon

Saturday, June 6, 2020, 11:00am

Teachers, students protest outside of Oakland school board members’ homes against school police

Oakland teachers and students protested outside of two Oakland Unified school board members’ homes Friday to urge them to eliminate the district’s police department. Dozens of protesters filled the streets in front of the homes of school board president Jody London and school board member James Harris holding signs and banners that said “OPD out of OUSD,” and “Black power matters; black lives matter.”

Community group the Black Organizing Project and other activists have been calling on the district to dissolve its police department for years. In March, when school board members identified $18.8 million in cuts to the 2020-2021 school year in order to balance the district’s budget, they considered eliminating the police department but ultimately decided not to. At that time superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell ordered a report to be completed by September on how cutting the police department would impact student safety.

The Black Organizing Project and the teachers union, the Oakland Education Association, are again calling on the school board to eliminate the police department in the wake of the George Floyd killing, and national outrage over the police brutality and racial injustice. School board member Roseann Torres will reintroduce the proposal at a school board meeting Wednesday.

Ali Tadayon

Friday, June 5, 2020, 4:25pm

Summary of California Department of Education guidance on reopening schools includes recommended safety measures

Students, teachers and staff on campuses and school buses should wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart and have their temperature taken every day when they arrive on campus, according to a summary of California Department of Education guidance scheduled to be released tomorrow.

The two-page summary sent to education leaders Friday afternoon announced the release of the entire guidance document, “Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California’s Public Schools,” on Monday morning.

It will offer recommendations to schools as they decide how to reopen safely next fall.

Districts have been awaiting guidance from the governor’s office and the California Department of Education, but their school boards will decide independently whether students will return to school, continue online learning or do a little of both next school year.

“We look forward to offering this guidance as a ‘how to’ as you work with your local public health experts and school communities to navigate next steps and implement the recommendations we have provided,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond in Friday’s letter. “We want to ensure sure you have the support you need as you review this guidance next week.”

The department offered no additional specifics about the plan except to say that takes in consideration the fact many districts are considering a combination of in-person instruction and distance learning. The letter promises recommendations for designing high-quality, equitable instruction for all learners while implementing social distancing on campus.

The letter also invited education leaders to a webinar at 10 a.m. Monday. A public press conference will be held on Facebook at 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. to explain the document.

Diana Lambert

Friday, June 5, 2020, 2:15pm

Governor affirms commitment to distributing CARES Act funding to neediest students, expresses support for juvenile justice reforms, and pledges masks for educators and child care workers

Gov. Newsom said during his news briefing Friday that he stands by his budget proposal to distribute $4.4 billion in CARES Act funding to schools based on a Local Control Formula Funding formula that prioritize districts with high percentages of low-income students – who are largely “black and brown” – as well as English learners. He said he would reject any proposal by the state Legislature that dilutes this funding in an attempt to distribute it more “equally” to all districts because he want to focus instead on “equity.” “I won’t budge on that budget proposal,” he said. “We have to do more and do better.”

Newsom cited the achievement gap as a core reason for his funding priority, citing recent research showing that learning loss due to Covid-19 is estimated to amount to 10.3 months for black students and more than one year for low-income students, compared to seven months on average for all students nationwide.

He also said he has proposed eliminating the Department of Juvenile Justice to instead focus on probation, rehabilitation and higher education opportunities for youth offenders. In addition, Newsom said state leaders should discuss affirmative action and “study more broadly what that means.”

And as portions of the state begin to reopen, Newsom said he is prioritizing the distribution of masks to sectors including the public education and child care systems to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, June 4, 2020, 11:44am

California pediatricians urge schools to reopen despite coronavirus risk 

 The harmful affects of keeping school campuses closed outweigh the health risks posed by coronavirus, the Southern California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“The negative effects of missing in-person educational time as children experience prolonged periods of isolation and lack of instruction is clear,” the statement says. “Children rely on schools for multiple needs, including but not limited to education, nutrition, physical activity, socialization, and mental health. Special populations of students receive services for disabilities and other conditions that are virtually impossible to deliver online. Prolonging a meaningful return to in-person education would result in hundreds of thousands of children in Los Angeles County being at risk for worsening academic, developmental and health outcomes.”

The group advised districts to adopt flexible protocols for reopening, tailored to students’ ages and needs.

Carolyn Jones

Wednesday, June 3, 2020, 11:38am

L.A. Unified superintendent details challenges of reopening schools

Before schools in Los Angeles Unified can reopen, there needs to be sufficient coronavirus testing available for staff and students as well as robust contact tracing, Superintendent Austin Beutner reiterated in a televised speech. Beutner said it should be up to health officials, not schools, to administer the testing and develop the contact tracing.

Beutner also said that if schools reopen, there could be “hybrid” schedules in place, with some students in classrooms and other students learning from home. Those students would switch places depending on the day.

To highlight the complexities of safely returning to schools, Beutner pointed to Topanga Elementary, which is located in the Santa Monica Mountains. The school has 315 students and staff who live across 15 zip codes. They collectively have 53 siblings and other family members who are enrolled in an additional 10 schools across the district that have more than 8,000 combined students and staff.

“The 8,418 people in these 11 schools go home to another maybe 20,000 people. Those in school at Topanga Canyon Elementary are connected to almost 30,000 people in their school community,” Beutner said. “… Schools need to plan for fewer student interactions with each other and with staff and fewer interactions between staff and with families. Scientists tell us this will also help identify and isolate those who do contract the virus to keep it from spreading further.”

Michael Burke

Wednesday, June 3, 2020, 9:30am

College Board postpones at-home online SAT exam

The College Board, which. is the organization that administers the SAT exam, announced Tuesday that it would postpone offering an at-home SAT exam this year.

“The College Board will pause on offering an at-home SAT this year because taking it would require three hours of uninterrupted, video-quality internet for each student, which can’t be guaranteed for all,” according to a statement from the organization. “The College Board will continue to develop remote proctoring capabilities to make at-home SAT possible in the future. It will also continue to deliver the SAT online in some schools but will not introduce the stress that could result from extended at-home testing in an already disrupted admissions season.”

Ashley A. Smith

Monday, June 1, 2020, 2:00pm

Governor and pastor say country is facing two pandemics: Covid-19 and racism; governor calls on moral leaders including teachers to help change hearts, minds and culture

In response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests throughout the state and nation, Gov. Newsom and Tecoy Porter, senior pastor of the Genesis Church in Sacramento, said the country is facing a “double pandemic.” The first is the coronavirus, they said. And the second is racism.

Newsom said that too often in the past, leaders have addressed similar incidents with rhetoric and a feigned resolve to create a new paradigm. But when things don’t change and history repeats itself over and over again, it becomes clear that the past ways of addressing systemic racism have not worked.

Newsom said he could put together a task force and promise a few pieces of legislation, but he knows that would not be good enough. “You’ve got to change hearts, minds, and culture,” he said, “not just laws.”

“We need moral leaders now more than ever who have the capacity to lead by example, to find our better angels, and focus on things that unite us, not divide us,” he said. Besides elected leaders, church leaders and community leaders, he called on teachers to also step forward as moral leaders in their schools.

“That kind or leadership is desperately needed in this nation,” he said. And while he promised to quell the violence that has erupted throughout the state, he said it is also important “to address the foundational issues that led to the violence in the first place.”

Theresa Harrington

Monday, June 1, 2020, 10:30am

California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to answer questions about executive order suspending testing for teacher

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is hosting an informational webinar at 2 p.m. June 1 on the executive order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom Saturday that suspends testing for teachers impacted by the coronavirus.

The order allows eligible teacher candidates to earn preliminary credentials without taking either the California Teaching Performance Assessment or the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment. It also allows students to enter teacher preparation programs without passing the California Basic Education Skills Test and teacher candidates to enter internship programs without passing required tests in the California Subject Examinations for Teachers because testing centers were closed.

Click on the link to join the webinar.

Diana Lambert

Saturday, May 30, 2020, 4:00pm

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Minneapolis school board moves to terminate city police contract, CTA leader calls for an end to institutional racism

As protests erupt around the country in response to the death of George Floyd, educators are reacting with outrage and confirming their commitment to eliminating racism.

The Minneapolis school board plans to vote Tuesday on a resolutionto terminate the district’s contract with the Minneapolis Police Department for school resource officers, halt future negotiations with the department, and direct district staff to come up with a new plan to better serve students by Aug. 18.

“While our school board does not have the ability or authority to arrest and prosecute the officers who murdered George Floyd, we do have the ability to send MPD a very clear message,” board member Josh Pauly tweeted May 29, adding that he wrote the resolution with the support of Chair Kim Ellison and director Siad Ali.

The resolution says the police contract does not align with the priorities of the district’s equity and social emotional learning goals,” which include “identifying and correcting practices and policies that perpetuate the achievement gap and institutional racism in all forms in order to provide all of its students with the opportunity to succeed.” The district is striving to eliminate bias, “particularly racism and cultural bias, as factors affecting student achievement and learning experiences, and to promote learning and work environments that welcome, respect and value diversity,” according to the resolution.

Expressing similar values, California Teachers Association president Toby Boyd issued a statement Saturday saying that “the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor demand that we, as educators and Americans, recognize and confront the institutional racism that exists in our systems and structures.”

Boyd called on educators and all Americans “to work to abolish racism on a personal, structural, and institutional level beginning in our schools and colleges,” confronting it “for the sake of a fair, just, and equitable future for all students.”

The spread of the coronavirus throughout the country over the past 11 weeks, he said, has “shined a light on the divide,” showing that “black students and educators experience schools, the police, and this pandemic very differently than our white students and educators. Saying #BlackLivesMatter isn’t enough.”

Theresa Harrington

Saturday, May 30, 2020, 2:20pm

Joint statement from superintendents of Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified says proposed state budget does not provide enough funding to safely reopen schools

Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner and San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten have issued a joint statement that suggests schools may not be able to reopen without more state funding.

“Reopening schools is integral to the future well-being of our students as well as restarting the economy,” said the statement, issued May 29. “However, opening our schools will not be as easy as separating desks or placing pieces of tape on the floor. We will need to ensure the safety and well-being of all in our school community – students, staff and families. Facilities will need to be reconfigured and supplies purchased to sanitize schools on a regular basis. Personal protective equipment will need to be provided to students and staff. More teachers and staff will be needed to do this extra work in schools and to provide both in school and online learning programs. And State authorities have to provide the funding for all of these necessary pieces.

“The proposed 2020-21 state budget does not provide the necessary funding to safely reopen schools. And the Governor’s proposed cuts for public education in the May Revise to the 2020-21 state budget come at a time when schools are being asked to do more – not less – to deliver a quality education for students.

“Public health authorities must solve some very real issues for the safe return of our school community. For example, our two school districts employ about 90,000 people and serve approximately 825,000 students who live with another couple million people. A robust system of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing will need to be in place before we can consider re-opening schools. Local health authorities, not school districts, have to lead the way on testing, contact tracing and a clear set of protocols on how to respond to any occurrence of the virus.”

Theresa Harrington

Saturday, May 30, 2020, 10:20am

Governor signs executive easing restrictions on child care for essential workers and on teacher credential testing requirements

Governor Gavin Newsom has issued an executive order that waives certain requirements that restrict child care and afterschool programs from serving children of essential workers and that also allows people enrolled in teacher preparation programs during the 2019-20 school year to obtain their preliminary credential without a teaching performance assessment, if they were unable to complete that requirement due to a Covid-19 school closure.

“There remains an increased need for child care for families who may not have previously needed child care, or who may now require additional hours of child care,” the order signed May 29 states. It also notes that “individuals seeking to obtain teacher credentials have been unable to meet certain credentialing requirements, and it is necessary to provide flexibility to minimize the impacts to these individuals and the state’s supply of qualified teachers, while maintaining high teacher credentialing standards.”

Under the order, people otherwise eligible to obtain certain teaching or education specialist credentials or to enroll in teacher preparation programs are permitted to do so without passing certain assessments, if testing was suspended due to the statewide stay-at-home order.

Theresa Harrington

Friday, May 29, 2020, 2:00pm

Governor says school reopening guidance is coming soon, but local officials will decide when to open campuses

Acknowledging that the state has created draft guidance for reopening schools, Gov. Newsom said during his news briefing that it is still being finalized and is expected to be released soon. He said state officials want to make sure the guidance is appropriate and are stressing the importance of protective gear such as face masks for all employees – including teachers, custodial staff, principals, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and maintenance crew members.

Newsom said state guidelines explain how businesses and schools can reopen, but do not say when they should open. It is up to county and other local officials to determine their own timeframes, he said.

The governor also said state officials are continuing to work with Congressional leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the passage of the HEROES Act, which would provide additional revenues to states to protect heroes, including teachers and nurses.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, May 28, 2020, 4:45pm

The California Education Coalition, made up of unions and school administration associations, say schools can’t open safely with proposed budget cuts

Representatives from California teachers and employee unions, and associations representing school boards and school administrators, all agree on one thing — schools can’t reopen safely with the funding proposed in the state’s May budget revision.

California schools are facing a $19 billion reduction in funding from that proposed in the January budget, said Sara Bachez, chief governmental relations officer for the California Association of School Business Officials.

This could result in schools laying off an estimated 58,000 teachers, 125,000 classified employees and could increase class sizes by 19 percent, Bachez said.

“The deep cuts to public education will stand in the way of preparing our schools for the safe return of students and our educators, and it’s going to further prolong the economic recovery since this pandemic,” said E. Toby Boyd, president of the California Teachers Association.

He and other members of the California Education Coalition, a group of nine statewide associations that advocate for education, urged state legislators to reject the proposed budget cuts to education and to prioritize funding for schools in a video press conference Thursday.

State lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom have until June 15 to negotiate and pass a budget.

Schools need more money to bring students back to school during the pandemic, not less, said Jeff Frietas, president of the California Federation of Teachers.

“Until we have a vaccine, there are many steps to safely reopen schools in person,” he said. “We must continue social distancing. We need to provide personal protective equipment. We need to clean. We need clean and safe environments. This all means smaller class sizes, which can only happen with more teachers. It means more bus runs, which can only happen with more bus drivers and buses. It means more cleaning, which can only happen with more custodians and cleaning supplies. It means more nurses and psychologists to help the physical and mental health concerns of our students.”

Diana Lambert

Saturday, May 23, 2020, 10:00am

California schools could be used as safe voting sites this fall

Schools in California could be used as in-person voting sites for this fall’s elections. State election officials in a letter to lawmakers this week asked them to consider closing schools around election day to allow for gymnasiums and auditoriums to be used for voting, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Joe Holland, president of the California Association of Clerks and Elected Officials, told the Times that using those spaces could allow voters to follow guidelines meant to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, such as physical distancing. “Schools have facilities that are big enough to accommodate in-person voting with the COVID-19 environment that we have to deal with,” Holland said.

Earlier this month, Gov. Newsom signed an executive order requiring election officials across the state to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters before the general election in November. Still, voters would have the option of voting in person.

Larry Gordon

Friday, May 22, 2020, 6:15pm

Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks speaks at Skyline High’s virtual graduation in Oakland Unified

Graduates in the Class of 2020 at Skyline High School in Oakland Unified got a big surprise during their virtual graduation ceremony when they heard an inspirational message from guest speaker actor Tom Hanks, who graduated from the school in 1974 and is its most famous alum. This was the first of several virtual graduation ceremonies to be held for Oakland Unified high school seniors over the next two weeks.

Courtesy of Oakland Unified

Tom Hanks’ Skyline High senior portrait, 1974.

“Somewhere out of the fate of every high-schooler, you guys were picked to graduate this year – in the year 2020 – to start off this next chapter of your lives in the face and in the midst of so much change,” Hanks said in his pre-recorded message. “Good luck to you. I’d like to think that just as Skyline High School provided me with a direction and an instinct to follow, the same has happened for you.”

He congratulated the graduates for “having gotten through these years of struggle,” which he predicted would “lead ultimately to the triumph as you pursue your heart’s desire.” Urging them to follow their instincts, he added: “Always understand that you have been chosen by fate to lead the way in whatever our post-pandemic world is going to be. Make it a great one, would you? We’re all relying on you.”

Finally, Hanks proudly let the grads know he is one them, saying: “Let us all be a part of the grand group that is called ‘the alumni of Skyline High School.”

Theresa Harrington

Friday, May 22, 2020, 1:50pm

Governor calls reopening schools a ‘bottom up’ process, promises guidance for summer camps and summer school in next week

Acknowledging that many children – including his own – have been asking about summer camp and summer school options, Gov. Newsom said the state expects to issue guidance in the next week about how those programs could safely open. However, like school reopening in the fall, he said decisions to open summer schools and summer camps should be made regionally, based on input from public health officials.

Before releasing the summer school an summer camp guidance, he said the state is working to “make sure it’s an inclusive process” so that people are comfortable with it and there are “no big surprises.” As the state begins to open other businesses with modifications, Newsom said he hopes schools will also be able to open “in a safe and responsible way” that protects teachers, support staff, students and parents.

To plan for schools reopening, Newsom said he has been working with teachers’ union officials, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond and others to create a “bottom up” process instead of one that is “top down.” The guidance to be released later for schools reopening in the fall, he said, will include “flexibility required to address learning loss and to address the disruption of the school year.”

Newsom also affirmed the principle of local control of schools. “We have over a thousand school districts in the state of California, independently led, with a deep appreciation and recognition that localism is profound as much as it is pronounced. The LCFF process that was developed under the previous administration went very specifically to this framework, and advanced that cause I think in an appropriate way.”

Audio Clip: Gov. Newsom addresses summer programs, and new guidance for schools expected next week during his daily briefing on May 22, 2020

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, May 21, 2020, 12:45pm

State schools chief  Tony Thurmond says state guidance on opening schools is on the way

Schools could open next fall with a variety of different learning models, including a blend of distance and in-person instruction or with more classes held outside, according to Stephanie Gregson, chief deputy superintendent of public instruction at the California Department of Education.

Gregson mentioned some of the ideas being considered by the task force that is developing guidance on safely reopening schools during a webinar Thursday, but offered little new information. The guidance is expected to be ready in the coming days, she said.

A teacher, superintendent, union leader, government official and public health officer participated in the webinar, billed as     “A discussion on the safe re-opening of California schools.”

Speakers expressed concerns about continuing distance learning, laying off teachers and support staff in order to balance budgets, and the need for additional nurses and counselors to deal with the effects of the pandemic.

“Our focus today is to share with you what we have been learning in our task force in how to safely reopen schools,” Thurmond said.

The superintendent also talked about budget shortfalls and the need for additional federal funding. He asked district leaders watching the webinar to share their plans for reopening schools with the department.

Diana Lambert

Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 12:05pm

UC regents choose new UC Merced chancellor, a Houston university president with California roots

UC Merced, the University of California’s youngest campus and one with special emphasis on educating students who are first in their families to attend college, will next be led by the son of a California farmworker who is now president of a Texas university.

The UC Regents on Wednesday voted to select Juan Sánchez Muñoz, who has headed University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) since 2017, as UC Merced’s fourth chancellor. Muñoz, who is to take over in early July and will be paid $425,000 a year, faces challenges in dealing with the current pandemic’s effects on the campus’ academic programs and budget.

Regents chairman John A. Pérez said that Muñoz’s personal story is one that “will give tremendous reinforcement to the hopes and dreams of our students.” He noted that Muñoz’s father at one point picked grapes in the Merced area.

Juan Sánchez Muñoz

Muñoz has strong California roots, having earned a bachelor’s degree at UC Santa Barbara, a master’s at Cal State Los Angeles and a doctorate in urban education at UCLA. A U.S. Marines veteran, he taught in the secondary education program at CSU Fullerton. At UHD, he helped lead increases in enrollment and graduation rates, conducted the school’s largest fundraising campaign and presided over recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey, according to UC officials.

UC Merced opened to undergraduates in 2005 and now enrolls 8,800 students, with plans for a doubling in coming decades. Three-quarters of those students are in the first generation of their families to attend college, the highest rate among UC’s nine undergraduate campuses. Its previous chancellor, Dorothy Leland, retired in August 2019 and since then the campus’ interim chancellor has been Nathan Brostrom, who will now return to his previous job as the UC system’s chief financial officer.

Larry Gordon

Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 11:25am

Oakland campaign to raise $12.5 million to close digital divide reaches goal with $700,000 contribution from Zynga founder

A campaign to raise $12.5 million to help provide computers and internet access to Oakland students reached its goal within days after the founder of Zynga contributed the final $700,000 needed. This was on the heels of a $10 million donation last week by Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey to the “Oakland Undivided” campaign.

“The program created by OUSD and the city of Oakland will play a critical role in allowing students to be connected and develop the critical skills they will need to succeed and make a positive impact on the world,” said Mark Pincus, founder of the San Francisco-based online gaming company Zynga. “I was inspired by how quickly and generously Jack responded and I was excited to be able to complete the first phase of the program.”

Like Dorsey, Pincus tweeted his support in respose to a Tweet from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. The money raised so far will help provide computers and internet access to all students who need them in Oakland Unified and in city charter schools for the coming school year.

However, the campaign is now embarking on a second phase of fundraising to continue providing computers and internet access to students every year, at an annual cost of about $4 million. In addition, the campaign would like to raise funds to improve internet access for residents citywide, technology for teachers and to provide computers to seniors graduating from high school for use in college.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, May 19, 2020, 6:25pm

Oakland voters to decide in November whether to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in school board elections

In response to a proposal by student leaders in Oakland Unified, the Oakland City Council unanimously agreed to ask voters in November to approve an amendment to the city charter that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in Oakland Unified school board elections. The students, along with youth advocates, argued that they should be able to vote for the elected representatives who make decisions that directly affect them and cited research that showed giving 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote creates lifelong, habitual voters, increases voter turnout, and influences their parents by making them more likely to vote.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is also poised to place a similar initiative on the November ballot that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in all municipal elections. In 2016, Berkeley voters passed an initiative giving 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in school board elections. Voters in four Maryland cities allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in all their municipal elections.

Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who sponsored the city proposal, urged advocates to reach out to other Bay Area cities to promote this idea. “This is another opportunity for Oakland to lead in a way that is about opportunity and inclusion,” she said.

If approved, the Oakland measure would go into effect for 2022 school board elections. More information is at http://www.oaklandyouthvote.org/.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, May 19, 2020, 5:23pm

LA schools unlikely to reopen on time this fall with reduced budget, official says

It is “not realistic” to expect schools in Los Angeles Unified to open on time this fall if the district’s budget is reduced, Deputy Supt. Megan Reilly said during a school board meeting Tuesday. “We cannot in good conscience risk the health and safety of our students and staff by returning to the classroom prematurely,”she added.

Reilly’s comments come after LA Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner and five other superintendents of urban school districts said in a letter to legislative leaders Monday that funding cuts proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in his revised budget would result in the reopening of schools being delayed.

Newsom’s revised budget proposed a 10% cut to general funding for school districts. For LA Unified, that would mean a cut of about $500 million. But the superintendents wrote in the letter Monday that it will cost more, not less, to reopen schools for in-person classes, due to increased costs for sanitation, personal protective equipment, more staff and efforts to recover lost learning.

Michael Burke

Tuesday, May 19, 2020, 1:00pm

UC unions contend layoffs can be avoided by tapping investment funds.

The University of California should spend more of its gigantic endowment funds and other investment reserves to avoid layoffs and educational cuts possibly triggered by a drop in state revenues related to the coronavirus pandemic, a coalition of employee labor unions urged Tuesday.

The ten-campus university and its five medical centers should tap the “overall strong financial standing and reserves to avoid austerity measures,” AFSCME 3299 research director Claudia Preparata said during an online presentation. UC could use several billion dollars from various funds if needed and possibly borrow more to cover the 10% reduction in state support recently proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to cover the large spending spike caused by the pandemic, she said.

AFSCME 3299 is the largest union in UC, representing 27,000 service workers, patient care technical workers, craftsmen and others. It was joined in the coalition statement by other unions, including those representing nurses, medical interns and residents and lecturers. The university has not announced any layoffs and the union is seen as trying to get ahead of any such move.

A statement released Tuesday from the UC’s president’s office said: “We will be happy to discuss with the union coalition their
presentation and claims once we have had an opportunity to carefully review them.” The UC system will assess possibly drawing on some of its capital resources or borrowing funds, the statement noted. Meanwhile, UC officials touted other austerity measures such as 10% pay cuts for the president and campus chancellors and salary freezes
for non- unionized staff.

The UC Regents are meeting this week to discuss, among other things, financial responses to the health emergency and the governor’s plan.

Larry Gordon

Monday, May 18, 2020, 6:50pm

California community colleges expect more students even with online classes.

The chancellor of the California Community Colleges said Monday that he was encouraging all 114 campuses to keep classes online in the fall but said he still thought that enrollment would increase as unemployed people seek retraining during the pandemic.

“Displaced Californians are going to come to community colleges to improve their lives. So we’ve got to advocate that we get every resource to help that happen,” Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said during the statewide Board of Governors meeting, which was held online. He said he would advocate strongly to reverse some of the budget cuts recently proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to cope with declining tax revenues caused by the health emergency.

Some of the state’s 72 community college districts, which are making decisions on the matter, have decided to remain online unless the health situation improves significantly in the fall. Oakley said he encourages all to stay with fully online learning since he said it “will be the most relevant way for us to continue to reach our students.” But he said that colleges will need to get better and quicker data on how many students are continuing in the classes and how well they are succeeding, particularly low-income students and some minorities.

Community colleges also need to expand the efficiencies of online by eliminating travel expenses for meetings, according to Oakley. “This Covid-19 crisis has forced us to innovate on a scale we did not think was imaginable,” he said.

Larry Gordon

Monday, May 18, 2020, 4:30pm

Student-led virtual support group slated for May 21

California students from diverse backgrounds will lead a support group for their peers on May 21, sharing personal stories about distance learning, staying in touch with friends and handling anxiety, depression and other challenges during the school closures. Hosted by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, the panel will be the first of a series of virtual support groups aimed at students. It will also include a presentation from the California Department of Education on how students can improve their mental health during the school closures. The panel will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on the Department of Education’s Facebook page.

Carolyn Jones

Sunday, May 17, 2020, 12:00pm

Marin County to open one classroom for special education students this week

The Marin County Office of Education will open up one classroom at a middle school in Novato to serve a dozen students starting Monday in what could be a pilot for the restart of school in the fall.

All 12 will be special education students who have had difficulty adjusting to distance learning, county Superintendent Mary Jane Burke told TV station CBSN Bay Area, which reported the story.

Because of safety precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, school districts are considering a range of options for the fall, including scheduling students on alternate days or offering only distance learning. Burke said a year-round school to make up learning loss is another option. The experience of the class at San Jose Middle school will inform that decision.

Special education teacher Cindy Evans, who volunteered to lead the class, told the CBSN, “I had a phone call with one of the parents and she said to me I feel like a failure, and she was teary eyed, and at that point I said, I really, really need to help.”

John Fensterwald

Saturday, May 16, 2020, 5:00pm

Obama gives virtual “commencement address” to nation’s high school graduates

In a nationally broadcast event, former President Barack Obama shared with the nation’s high school graduates “a hard truth” — that “all those  adults that you used to think were in charge and knew what they were doing…don’t have all the answers.” In fact, he said, “a lot of them aren’t even asking the right questions.”

So, he said, “if the world’s going to get better, it going to be up to you.”

The event, which included a slew of entertainment and sports personalities, including basketball star Lebron James, was billed as the first national commencement ceremony. It was targeted at high school seniors who have been robbed of live commencement celebrations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Obama’s speech was conspicuously non-political, although some of his remarks could easily be interpreted as a commentary on some of the practices and messaging of the Trump administration.

In another commencement address earlier in the day, also delivered virtually and directed at historically black colleges and universities, his language was similar but more explicitly a criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic — again without mentioning Trump by name. “More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” he said. “A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

He reminded high school students that the nation has gone through tough times before — slavery, civil war, famine, disease, the Great Depression and 9/11. “And each time we came out stronger, usually because a new generation, young people like you, learned from past mistakes and figured out how to make things better,” he said.

And in dispensing advice to the graduates he delivered harsh criticism of what passes for leadership at the highest levels in the U.S. “Do what you think is right,” Obama told students. “Doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy — that’s how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way — which is why things are so screwed up.”

The event was organized the  Oakland-based XQ Institute, which is underwritten by the multi-billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs.

The institute is directed by Russlyn Ali, who was an assistant secretary for civil rights in the U.S. Dept. of Educaiton during the Obama administration.  The organization’s principal activity is to promote thinking about “the high school of the future,” and has awarded $10 million grants to several school districts and charter schools to implement innovative strategies toward that end.

Read Obama’s entire speech here

Louis Freedberg

Saturday, May 16, 2020, 12:00pm

In a first in state history, college campuses kick off graduation season with virtual commencement ceremonies

In another fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, and its devastating impact on education in California, several campuses around the state held commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020 on Saturday — for the first time in state history entirely online.

UC Berkeley and UC Merced, the only two University of California campuses on the semester system, became the first UC campuses to hold virtual commencement ceremonies on Saturday.  Some California State University campuses did so too, including San Diego State and Humboldt State University, in Arcata in the far north of the state.

The Cal commencement ceremony was the most elaborate — centered around an animated video based on the Minecraft videogame that was created by more than a hundred UC Berkeley students, complete with student avatars marching into Memorial Stadium to a recording of Pomp and Circumstance. Chancellor Carol Christ gave the commencement “address” in which she said students could not have imagined three months ago that they would be participating in graduation ceremonies “perhaps in your pajamas instead of a cap and gown.”

“The pandemic and its effects have been thrust upon us all, and the only thing in our power is how we choose to respond,” she said. “We can let these weighty circumstances hold us down, or we can decide to pick ourselves back up, to adapt, to push onward. Trials such as this are opportunities to cultivate habits of mind that will serve us for all time: courage, ingenuity, resilience, patience, humility, grace and gratitude.”

Several campuses held their ceremonies on Friday — notably the University of Southern California, Chico State and Woodland Community College, both in Northern California. Cal State San Marcos held a “drive by” graduation, in which students donned their caps and gowns, and drove through a designated route as faculty and staff cheered them on — and students got handed a provisional diploma on a tray as they drove by. Some 700 students participated. The university is promising to hold an in-person commencement ceremony whenever it is possible to do so

Numerous other virtual commencement ceremonies will be held ater this week, such as Laney College’s in Oakland on Thursday, and others during the weeks to come. UCLA’s ceremony will be on June 12, while San Francisco State’s will be on June 18.

Louis Freedberg

Friday, May 15, 2020, 7:45pm

Twitter CEO donates $10 million to Oakland fund to close the digital divide

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced in a Tweet that he would donate $10 million to the “Oakland Undivided” fund launched on Thursday to help close the digital divide for all current and future students in Oakland Unified and city charter schools.

The district and city initially raised $2 million toward its $12.5 million goal, which they expected would take years to achieve. Oakland Unified Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said the money is needed to provide Chromebooks and stable internet service to students who have been educated through distance learning since schools closed March 13 due to the coronavirus.

She said the district expects to offer summer school through distance learning and that students will likely need to learn remotely during the 2020-21 school year. Mayor Libby Schaaf said the city is supporting the effort because computers and internet access help families to connect with community resources, such as free food and other support.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, May 14, 2020, 2:50pm

Governor unveils education cuts, along with some new revenues, in May budget revision

Gov. Newsom unveiled a stark May budget revision for 2020-21 that included a $54 billion shortfall as the pandemic’s hit to the economy sharply reduced state revenues. The proposed budget showed a 13% reduction for public education, shrinking from $81.1 billion last year to $70.5 billion. “It’s a very challenging moment,” he said, adding that he hoped the federal government would provide more funding to the state to help alleviate some of the proposed cuts.

The revised budget, which may be amended before the legislature adopts the final budget in June, includes a 10% cut in local control funding for K-12 schools, as well as deferrals of payments that will likely force districts to borrow short-term throughout the year. However, Newsom promised no cuts to the state’s commitment for special education.

To help soften the budget blow, he said the state would allocate $4.4 billion from  federal CARES Act funds to public education in order to address several issues related to school closures from the coronavirus: learning loss, socioemotional challenges and trauma that families are facing, distance learning needs, as well as for summer school. The state will give districts flexibility to decide how best to use the funds “on a district by district basis,” with strategies that could include extending the school year, he said. “This will be discretionary money to address anxiety,” he added.

To help college students, including parents who may want to go back to school, Newsom said the proposed budget would not cut Cal Grants for higher education students.

He stressed that the cuts are not permanent, but added that they would require districts to make difficult decisions. He also said some cuts would be restored if the Congress passes the HEROES Act proposed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which would give money to states to deal with issues created by the coronavirus.

Keely Bosler, director of the Department of Finance, said that if the HEROES Act does no pass, the state will cut base funding for University of California and Californai State University systems by 10%. She said community colleges would see a 10% reduction in student-centered funding, as well as payment deferrals similar to those that K-12 schools will experience.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, May 14, 2020, 1:40pm

Mostly good news for special education in revised state budget

In announcing his proposed budget revisions, Gov. Gavin Newsom kept intact a 15% increase in per-pupil spending for students enrolled in special education, and left most other special education funding streams unchanged, at least temporarily. In addition, the proposed budget includes $15 million in federal funds to pay for scholarships for those pursuing special education teaching credentials.

Money for pandemic-related expenses was also included: $7 million to help districts resolve disputes related to distance learning and special education, and $600,000 to adjust individual educational programs to account for distance learning. The only significant cut, so far, is a $250 million grant for special education preschools.

“The (revised budget) maintains the Administration’s commitment to increasing special education resources and improving special education financing, programs, and student outcomes,” the proposed budget reads.

Carolyn Jones

Wednesday, May 13, 2020, 1:45pm

Peralta Community College District fall classes will be offered primarily online 

The four colleges within the Peralta Community College District will mostly offer fall classes online. The decision applies to Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College.

“We are making every effort to minimize disruptions to the educational mission as we support student success in achieving desired certificates, degrees and transfer,” said Regina Stanback Stroud, the district’s chancellor. “We will continue to engage in the necessary discussions with faculty and staff to ensure the best decisions in service of our students and their goals.”

Ashley A. Smith

Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 2:30pm

California State University trustees say they want to avoid raising tuition

The California State University system should avoid increasing tuition as a way to make up for revenue losses and higher costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic, several trustees said during a virtual meeting. The system is already facing more than $300 million in coronavirus-related losses.

“The message that it would send to raise tuition, under really almost any circumstances during this extremely sensitive time, I really caution against it,” said state Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, who is a CSU trustee through the duties of her office.

Student trustee Maryana Khames as well as trustees Jack McGrory, Lateefah Simon and Peter Taylor also said they are opposed to increasing tuition.

Taylor was CFO of the system during the Great Recession, when the system raised tuition as it faced similar financial challenges. Taylor said he regrets raising tuition at that time, saying it hurt middle-class families.

“In hindsight, it was the wrong move,” he said. “And I just hope before we consider something like this, we uncover every rock to find every penny and every dime we can collect in order to avoid a tuition increase.”

Michael Burke

Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 10:45am

More community college classes will be offered primarily online this fall

The four colleges in the Sacramento area’s Los Rios Community College District, the San Diego Community College District, and Shasta College in Redding have all joined an increasing number of community colleges to announce fall classes will be offered primarily online.

Constance Carroll, chancellor of the four colleges in the San Diego district, said it was important to make a decision about how fall classes would be offered to allow faculty and students time to prepare.

“Never in my years in higher education have I seen a crisis of this magnitude, certainly never in my 28 years in the San Diego Community College District,” Carroll said. “And the Board of Trustees and I have never been prouder of how faculty, staff, students, and alumni have responded. Their efforts have been extraordinary and have enabled the district to continue to meet the educational needs of students and the community.”

Ashley A. Smith

Monday, May 11, 2020, 1:55pm

Western states seek $1 trillion to help save jobs of teachers and other frontline workers, state distributes masks to educators and childcare workers, UCSF/UCLA trains 500 contact tracers, governor says

The Western States Pact that includes California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado has sent a letter to Congressional leaders seeking $1 trillion in aid to help save the jobs of educators and other frontline workers, Gov. Newsom announced during his daily news briefing. “Without federal support, states and cities will be forced to make impossible decisions – like whether to fund critical public healthcare that will help us recover, or prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other first responders,” the letter said. “This aid would preserve core government services like public health, public safety, public education and help people get back to work.”

Newsom also said the state distributed half-a-million surgical masks to the California Department of Education on Friday, along with thousands more to child care workers, as part of its effort to meet criteria necessary to reopen the state. In addition, he said a new UCSF/UCLA program has trained 500 new “contact tracers” who will work with current contact tracers in counties to track and trace the contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus. This will bring the total number of contact tracers to about 3,500, with the goal of getting to 10,000 in the next few weeks.

On Tuesday, Newsom plans to give a presentation on testing capacity throughout the state and to unveil new criteria that would allow counties to reopen some businesses ahead of the state, if they can self-certify that they meet specific requirements.

Theresa Harrington

Sunday, May 10, 2020, 10:00am

Many California students still lack technology for distance learning, two months into stay-at-home order

Nearly a third of California school districts said that “less than half” or “a small minority/none” of students have access to the internet at home, according to a recent survey of 270 districts and county offices of education by the California School Boards Association.

About 19% of districts said that cell phone service, which is required for mobile WiFi hotspots, is “poor or nonexistent” for their students, and about two-thirds of districts said that most of their students have laptops at home.

Sydney Johnson

Saturday, May 9, 2020, 3:45pm

Placer County high school district will hold in-person graduation ceremonies for high school seniors

All seven high schools in the Placer Union High School District will have in-person graduation ceremonies in July,  according to The Sacramento Bee.

Ceremonies will be limited to 50 graduates at a time.

The article reports that the seniors overwhelmingly voted to have the ceremony in-person with fewer classmates in attendance at a time then to have an online celebration.

Diana Lambert

Saturday, May 9, 2020, 10:00am

California Teachers Association launches digital ad campaign to thank teachers for work during pandemic

The California Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has started an ad campaign applauding teachers for their commitment to students during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am so proud of how our educators have responded during this pandemic to continue reaching and teaching students,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “While we are all in this together, educators are going above and beyond to take care of their students during the statewide lockdown – from providing more office hours, visiting their students at a safe distance, or delivering meals to families in need. Educators have demonstrated that their hearts are and will always be with their students.”

The campaign, which includes television, print and digital advertisements, will run through May 19.

Diana Lambert

Thursday, May 7, 2020, 9:30am

New forecast from Gov. Newsom projects record deficit 

California’s state budget will face a $54 billion deficit by the end of next year, the biggest in its history, the Newsom administration disclosed in documents released Thursday. The coronavirus’ immediate and disastrous impact on the state’s economy will result in a $42 billion decline in state revenues in 2019-20 and 2020-21, bringing the General Fund to under $100 billion for the first time since the end of the Great Recession.

The Department of Finance is projecting that funding for Proposition 98, the formula that determines spending for K-12 and community colleges, will drop by a record $18.3  billion. However, that appears to include the effect on the current year, which Gov. Gavin Newsom had assured would be funded, so the impact may not be quite as severe. (Go here for a press release and here for slides.)

EdSource staff

Tuesday, May 5, 2020, 2:40pm

California Department of Education offers Virtual Support Circle for Educators

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond is hosting a forum on Facebook Live between 4 and 5:30 p.m. Thursday to offer support and encouragement to California teachers.

“The State Superintendent and California Department of Education understand that educators are feeling overwhelmed during this time of distance learning, and this virtual event will be an opportunity to share experiences, resources and encouragement as schools and families navigate next steps together,” according to a press release from the California Department of Education.

The even is the first of many planned for educator support. Participants will be announced as they are confirmed.

Diana Lambert

Monday, May 4, 2020, 5:30pm

Digital divide task force asks internet providers to extend free service to California students

California needs at least 447,451 laptops and 340,202 Wi-Fi hotspots to connect every student to internet at home, according to the latest numbers provided by the California Department of Education. The figures, which are higher than an estimate provided last week, were shared at the second hearing for California’s new digital divide task force led by California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Sen. Connie M. Leyva, D-Chino.

At the hearing, state lawmakers pressed internet providers on what they are doing to help every student in California access the internet from home in order to participate in distance learning. Companies represented included AT&T, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

Each of the companies shared plans to reach more students during the pandemic, such as partnerships with school districts, mobile Wi-Fi school busses, and extending timelines for discount programs. But some lawmakers said they still have concerns about families unaware of free and discounted service programs, as well as ongoing challenges for rural communities to gain access to broadband infrastructure.

Sydney Johnson

Monday, May 4, 2020, 2:05pm

New UCSF/UCLA training program for contact tracers; some retailers can reopen Friday; new guides coming to lift county stay at home orders, no mention of schools

UC San Francisco and UC Los Angeles are partnering on a new program that will train “contact tracers” who will help counties track people who test positive for the coronavirus, as well as those with whom they have come in contact, Gov. Newsom said Monday during his daily news briefing. The program is expected to train about 3,000 people a week so the state can reach a goal of 10,000 contact tracers in the next few weeks, followed by another 10,000 shortly after that, said Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health.

Because the state is flattening the curve of coronavirus cases and is increasing its testing and contact tracing capacity, Newsom announced that some retailers will be able to open as soon as Friday based on modifications to the statewide stay at home order he expects to release on Thursday. He also said counties may be able to lift some restrictions to the stay at home order if they can certify that they meet certain public health conditions that will be released later on Monday. Newsom did not address whether lifting the county stay at home orders would apply to schools.

The ability of some retailers to reopen marks the beginning of phase 2 of a four-part plan for reopening the state, Newsom said. However, he said that public health officials in some counties – such as those in the Bay Area – can continue to impose stricter restrictions on residents and businesses if they do not believe their communities are ready to reopen at the same pace as the rest of the state.

Theresa Harrington

Sunday, May 3, 2020, 2:00pm

Several California community colleges extend online instruction through fall 2020 term

Over the last week, beginning on April 28, the Los Angeles Community College District, Santa Monica College, Sierra College whose main campus is in Rocklin, College of the Desert in Palm Desert, and Santa Rosa Junior College, have announced that most classes will be offered remotely in the fall.  The LA Community College District consists of nine campuses.  Depending on the college, a few classes may still be offered in person.  For example,
Santa Monica President Kathryn Jefferey said the college “is working to determine whether a few courses that may not be easily converted to a fully online format can be offered through a limited hybrid option.”   Santa Rose president Frank Chong said “There may be some courses that require in-person instruction, such as those that require hands-on labs and those offered at the Public Safety Training Center.”

Louis Freedberg

Friday, May 1, 2020, 12:30pm

Modoc County eases stay-at-home rules for businesses, churches and schools

Officials in Modoc County announced a strategic plan this week to allow businesses, churches and schools to reopen if they are able to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between people.

However no school districts in Modoc County, which has less than 9,000 residents and no cases of the coronavirus so far, have said they will reopen yet. Districts and the county education office plan to work with the Modoc County Public Health Department on plans to reopen schools, but no dates have been set, according to an announcement from the Modoc County Office of Education in response to the restriction changes.

Sydney Johnson

Thursday, April 30, 2020, 1:25pm

Governor announces new child care website, closes beaches in Orange County, and says it’s OK “to play catch with my kids”

To help essential workers who are parents find high-quality child care, Gov. Newsom announced the state has launched a new portal on the covid19.ca.gov website with information about child care facilities throughout the state. The portal will also help other workers find high quality child care as the state begins to modify its stay at home order in the next few weeks, Newsom said. He noted that the state has provided $100 million for child care vouchers and facilities and said he expects to include more money for child care in the revised state budget, known as the “May revise,” which he will present on May 14.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Newsom said that beaches in Orange County will be closed this weekend, after crowds congregated on them last weekend and did not practice physical distancing. He said beaches in other areas of the state would remain open because people who visited them did adhere to the state’s requirement to stay 6 feet apart.

Newsom also said the state’s covid19.ca.gov website is updated regularly with information about the state’s requirements to answer questions, such as: “Can I play catch with my kids?” The answer, he said, is yes.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, April 29, 2020, 6:10pm

Families of children eligible for free or reduced-priced meals at school will get $5.70 for each day school has been canceled

A new federal program will give low-income California families money for groceries to feed their children.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Pandemic Electronic Transfer program will pay each family $5.70 per child for each day school has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, up to $365 per child. The money is roughly equivalent to the cost of the meals the children would have received through the free or reduced-price meal program had they been in school.

“The Covid-19 crisis has placed additional economic strain on some of our families that were already struggling to put food on the table,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “This program provides critical food assistance so that our students who are economically challenged households can get the nutritious meals at home they need to thrive.”

The program will provide about $1.4 billion collectively to California families.

The California Department of Social Services will automatically issue electronic payment cards to families identified as being certified for the school meal program in early May. If families don’t receive a card they can apply online before June 30. The online application will launch in late May.

Students who are eligible for this program can still receive school meals at designated pick-up sites and can continue to receive CalFresh benefits if eligible.

Diana Lambert

Wednesday, April 29, 2020, 1:50pm

Newsom: New partnership to feed needy students and their families; concern that Bay Area plans to allow 12 children to congregate exceed state limits

To help feed students who normally qualify for free and reduced breakfasts and lunches, Gov. Newsom announced a new partnership between the state, farmers, ranchers, philanthropists and food banks to provide food boxes to needy students through local food banks.

He also said during his daily news briefing that he had spoken to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond that morning to discuss the idea of reopening schools in late July or early August to help combat the loss of learning many students are experiencing during school closures.

And while Newsom said he generally supports the ability of local public health officials to determine how and when to loosen restrictions in their own shelter in place orders, he expressed concerns about modifications announced by six Bay Area counties that would allow up to 12 children to congregate in childcare groups, which he said exceeds the state’s limit of 10 children.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, April 29, 2020, 1:20pm

NCAA supports rule change allowing athletes to earn compensation, but advocates say athletes need more during pandemic

College athletes across the United States could soon be permitted to earn compensation under  a rule change being supported by the National College Athletic Association, the governing body for most college sports, but advocates for college athletes in California are calling on the NCAA to do more to help athletes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The NCAA’s Board of Governors is supporting a rule change that would allow college athletes for the first time to make money off their name, image and likeness. The change would take effect at the start of the 2021-22 academic year. 

The NCAA began considering the rule change after Gov. Newsom last year signed the Fair Pay to Play Act, which defied NCAA rules by permitting college athletes in the state to make money from endorsements and other personal ventures. That law was scheduled to go into effect in 2023 but could now be moot since the NCAA’s rules seem poised to change.

Despite the likely rule change, the NCAA should be doing more to help college athletes during the coronavirus pandemic, said Ramogi Huma, executive director of the California-based National College Players Association. In a statement, Huma said college athletes are becoming increasingly vulnerable during the pandemic and called on the NCAA to implement its rule change immediately rather than waiting until fall 2021.

Michael Burke

Tuesday, April 28, 2020, 7:03pm

San Francisco School Board drops plan to give all students A’s for online courses

The San Francisco Board of Education Tuesday dropped plans to give all students A’s for online courses after learning that the practice is not legal under the state’s education code because teachers are required to determine a student’s grade.

District officials reporting on the grading policy recommended a credit/ no credit policy which the board unanimously adopted. Officials also told the board that they had learned that the state’s public university systems –  University of California and California State University – expressed signficant concern that giving all students A’s would not be an accurate assessment of student progress. The board decision will allow students who received a no credit grade to repeat the course for a credit grade before the next school year.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, April 28, 2020, 2:00pm

Transcript:  what exactly did Gov. Newsom say about school opening in the fall

The following is what Gov. Newsom said at three points in his press conference on April 28.

The schools are shut down for remainder of the school year, and distance learning is going on. We recognize that there has been a learning loss.  We are concerned about this even into the summer.  So we are considering the prospect of an even earlier school year into the fall, late July or early August.  We have not made any decisions about that.  As a parent myself, and having talked to many other parents and educators, even the kids I think we might want to consider getting that school year moved up a little bit. We need to prepare for that, start preparing for the physical changes in the school and the environmental changes in the schools that are necessary to advance that conversation and make them more meaningful, and coordinate in the child care space itself. ..

As a father of four, that learning loss is very real. from a socioeconomic and racial justice frame, this is even more compounding and more challenging. So it is incumbent on us to think anew in respect to the school year, and I am looking forward   to those robust conversations about the prospect of an earlier school year that I do think is warranted considering the consequences of neglecting  next generation because of the inconvenience and realities of this virus … 

Our kids have lost a lot with this disruption. I am not naive. Some good work has been done on new wifi hotspots, on distance learning, the support of thousands, over 70,000 tablets and Chromebooks and other capacity to provide distance learning. It’s still inadequate to  the magnitude of 6 million children all throughout the state of California, in rural districts and in some urban districts that just simply don’t have the high quality download speed and capacity or anything to download into. So there’s been a learning loss and you can either just rollover and just accept that or you can do something about it.

EdSource staff

Tuesday, April 28, 2020, 1:35pm

Newsom announces new school year could start in July or early August, says expanding childcare is important as some businesses begin to reopen

Acknowledging the “learning loss” happening while schools have been closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Newsom announced today that campuses may reopen in July or August for the next year to help students get caught up academically.

“We recognize there’s been a learning loss because of this disruption,” he said. “We’re concerned about that learning loss even into the summer.”

Normally the new K-12 school year would start in August at the earliest.

Reopening schools early and expanding the availability of childcare are both part of the second phase of a four-part plan to reopen the state, said Newsom and Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health.

“As we open up schools, as we make sure that child care is more broadly available” Angell said, “it also makes it more possible for parents to go back to work.”

Newsom said the second phase of reopening could start in the next few weeks for “low risk” businesses such as for manufacturing and office workers. He said it would take longer to establish protocols for higher-risk businesses such as hair and nail salons, which involve close contact between people.

Finally, he said it would likely be “a while” before California would enter phase 4, which would include concerts, conventions, sporting events and other large gatherings. That phase is not likely to happen until the state reaches widespread immunity or a vaccine is developed, he said.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, April 28, 2020, 12:00pm

UCLA says it can’t guarantee housing in coming academic year. 

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block says the university has not made a decision on what the fall quarter will look like, but “at a minimum, since we know it might not be possible for some students to safely travel to campus, we plan to offer the option of remote learning at least for fall quarter, even if some classes are held in person.” He also said the university “at this point” could not guarantee housing to all students in the fall.  “In normal times, UCLA is able to offer housing to a majority of incoming and returning students,” he wrote in a detailed online message.  “At this point, it is unclear how the pandemic will impact our operations in student housing and residential life during the 2020–21 academic year and therefore we are unfortunately unable to provide a housing guarantee.

Louis Freedberg

Monday, April 27, 2020, 2:00pm

Newsom Tuesday will address ability of schools and businesses to physical distance; Bay Area counties extend stay at home orders

Before he can loosen the statewide stay at the home order, Gov. Newsom said Monday he needs to consider the ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to support physical distancing. Newsom said he will update progress on Tuesday. Ability to physical distance is one of six indicators Newsom and a task force are working on before he will loosen restrictions on the stay at home order.

Newsom said progress on flattening the curve and increasing testing throughout the state could enable him to begin modifying the stay at home order in the next few weeks, instead of months. But, he cautioned that residents must continue to practice social distancing to prevent a surge in coronavirus cases.

Public health officials in the six Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara announced that they intend to extend their shelter in place joint order on residents and businesses through the end of May, but will ease restrictions on some “lower-risk activities,” which were not specified. Solano County has also extended its shelter in place order through May 17 and Napa County has amended its shelter at home order so it is in effect indefinitely.

Meanwhile, elected officials in the six northern counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba sent a letter to Gov. Newsom asking to lift stay at home restrictions in their jurisdictions, based on a leveling off of coronavirus cases. Elected officials in Stanislaus County have sent a similar request.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, April 27, 2020, 11:24am

LA Unified stresses need for help to pay for meals for students and families

Los Angeles Unified is continuing to seek financial help from federal, state and local government agencies to cover the cost of millions of meals that the district is providing to students and families during the coronavirus pandemic, Superintendent Austin Beutner said Monday.

LA Unified has provided about 13 million meals since schools closed for in-person instruction in mid-March. Beutner said last week that LA Unified is facing $200 million in unbudgeted costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic. About $78 million of those costs come from distributing the meals, which are available to any child or adult who shows up to one of the district’s dozens of grab-and-go centers.

Within the past week, the district has requested funding from the City of Los Angeles’ disaster relief fund and from LA County’s food stamps program to help cover those costs. LA Unified has also asked for emergency funding from the state and from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Agriculture at the federal level.

“I mentioned last week we are incurring costs in this effort we did not budget for,” Beutner said Monday in a televised speech. “We’re working at all levels of government to make sure a mass, community relief effort like this is supported by the funding that exists to pay for it.”

Michael Burke

Friday, April 24, 2020, 1:40pm

Governor announces partnership to expand wellness calls and meals for seniors

As Gov. Newsom looks toward potentially loosening stay at home orders in the next few weeks, he said he expects seniors who are age 65 or older will need to continue to remain in their homes. To help meet their physical and emotional needs, he announced a new “Social Bridging Project” in partnership with Sacramento State University gerontology students, the California Department of Aging and other organizations that will make daily check-in phone calls to senior citizens to connect with them and help provide resources to them.

Newsom also announced a new partnership with FEMA and local cities that will pay local restaurants to deliver three meals a day to eligible senior citizens and those with compromised immune systems, which he said would help boost city economies and provide more employment to restaurant workers.

Although he noted the weather is expected to be warm this weekend, he urged Californians to continue social distancing and hinted that he may be ready to begin announcing more modifications to the stay at home order starting next week if hospitalizations continue to remain flat. He said 93 people died and 5% more tested positive for the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, but hospitalizations were flat and the number of people in intensive care units rose slightly, by 1%, which he called “encouraging.”

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, April 23, 2020, 11:00pm

Governor issues order delaying deadline until Dec. 15 for 2020-21 Local Control and Accountability Plans

Gov. Gavin Newsom, as expected, released an executive order Thursday giving school districts more time to complete the annual accountability document in which they set academic and spending priorities.

Districts will now have until Dec. 15 to pass their Local Control and Accountability Plan for the fiscal year 2020-21 that will start July 1. It made sense to push back the deadline, since the Legislature won’t set a final state budget, determining funding for K-12, until after July 15, the new deadline for Californians to file their income and capital gains taxes for 2019.

Although they won’t have to complete their LCAP by June 30, districts will have to report by then how they have spent money on the three areas that Newsom made conditional for receiving state funding while schools are closed because of the coronavirus. They are “high-quality” distance learning, meals for students who qualified for subsidized breakfast and lunch, and child care for the children of first responders and essential employees. The report should account for how districts met the needs of English learners and low-income, foster and homeless students — the groups that get additional state funding under the Local Control Funding Formula.

Because children are confined to their homes under shelter-in place requirements, the executive order also waives the annual instructional minutes for physical education that schools must provide. It also indefinitely suspends physical education tests for grades 5, 7, and 9.

Go here to read EdSource’s article earlier this week with background information on the order.

EdSource staff

Thursday, April 23, 2020, 1:30pm

Governor announces student loan relief, praises UC doctors and nurses helping in New York City, and addresses K-12 education gaps

All but three of the 24 student loan servicers in California have agreed to a 90-day postponement on loan debt, which will affect 1.1 Californians, Gov. Newsom announced Thursday. The debt relief means that those with student loans will not have their credit impacted or be faced with fines or liens if they don’t make payments during this time, Newsom said, during his daily news briefing. He also announced that he signed an executive order preventing debt collectors from garnishing federal stimulus checks unless the debts are related to child support, spousal support or victim’s funds.

In addition, Newsom praised doctors and nurses, including several from UCSF, UC Davis and other California healthcare facilities, who went to New York City to help fight the virus. Newsom said their experiences will help inform the work that is being done in California.

And in response to questions regarding gaps in the distance learning that students are receiving while schools are closed, Newsom said he is working with officials including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to address the “summer slide,” when students usually lose some of what they have learned. Newsom said that loss could be a “tsunami” backwards if students are not getting basic education now. In addition to working to get devices and internet access to students across the state, Newsom said education experts are talking about how to innovate in schools when they reopen, with less of a focus on testing, drills and lectures, and more emphasis on creativity, critical thinking and self-expression.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, April 22, 2020, 2:30pm

Governor lifts ban on scheduled surgeries in first modification of stay at home order

A flattening virus curve allows California to take its first signifcant step toward reopening the state, Gov. Newsom announced Wednesday. Newsom said hospitals can begin scheduling medically necessary elective surgeries, which were banned under the original stay at home order to make beds available for a potential surge in patients needing hospitalization. Although deaths rose 6.8% over the past 24 hours to 86, Newsom said hospitalizations were down 0.2% and the number of patients in intensive care units decreased by 1.8%.

Newsom had previously identified six indicators that would determine whether the state could loosen its stay at home restrictions. The ability of hospitals to accommodate a surge in patients is one of those indicators, he said.

He also announced expanded testing at 86 new sites throughout the state. They are focused in rural areas and urban areas in predominantly “black and brown” and low-income areas, which he said had been identified as “testing deserts.” He said President Trump agreed to send 100,000 swabs needed for testing to California this week, 250,000 next week and more the following week, which should help the state reach its goal of conducting 60,000 to 80,000 tests a day in the next few weeks. Currently, the state is conducting just over 14,000 tests daily.

Newsom said he hopes to announce more modifications to the stay at home order in the next days, weeks and months based on the six indicators, which also include the ability of businesses and schools to implement physical distancing. He said he could not announce a specific date when the order would be lifted.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, April 21, 2020, 1:30pm

Governor unveils new volunteering website, promises to update metrics Wednesday for reopening the state

To make it easier for volunteers to help others during the coronavirus stay at home order, Gov. Newsom unveiled a new website at californiansforall.ca.gov where people can match their interests to the needs in their communities. Josh Fryday, the state’s chief service officer, said examples include volunteering as tutors, at food banks and as 2-1-1 operators who refer callers to resources.

Newsom also announced that the numbers of coronavirus deaths, hospitalizations, patients in intensive care units and those testing positive all went up in the past 24 hours, indicating that “we are not out of the woods, yet.” He said there was a 7.4% increase in those testing positive, a 5% increase in deaths, a 3.8% increase in intensive care unit patients and a 3.3% increase in total hospitalizations in the state.

He promised to provide an update Wednesday on progress in each of the six metrics the state is monitoring before it can reopen, with an emphasis on increasing the numbers of tests available throughout California. Another of the metrics involves the ability of schools and businesses to implement social distancing.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, April 20, 2020, 1:35pm

Governor announces progress in closing digital divide for K-12 students

With the help of California-based tech giant Google, the state next month will go a long way toward closing the digital divide, Gov. Newsom announced Monday.

Ever since schools throughout the state closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Newsom, first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Google and others have been working collaboratively to raise funding and technology to provide devices and internet access to students for distance learning.

Newsom, with his wife nearby and Thurmond joining by telephone, said 100,000 free wifi hotspots donated by Google would be rolled out during the first week in May. In addition, more than 70,000 laptops, Chromebooks and Ipads have been donated, and the CPUC is making $25 million available to help provide wifi hotspots, plus another $5 million to pay for devices.

Also, Sacramento City Unified is converting seven school buses into mobile wifi hotspots as a pilot project, Newsom said. If that is successful, more school bus hotspots may be created in other districts throughout the state.

Thurmond, who is co-chairing a recently formed Closing the Digital Divide Task Force that will meet at 4 p.m. on Facebook Live to discuss internet access, said the group plans to create a blueprint to end the inequitable access to technology for students that has existed in California for decades. Newsom agreed that it is important to address the digital divide both short-term and long-term. “Even though schools are closed,” he said, “distance learning must continue.”

Theresa Harrington

Saturday, April 18, 2020, 6:00pm

Districts propose 2-year suspension in increases for employee pensions

Bracing for potential budget cuts to K-12 education, a half-dozen of the state’s largest school districts are asking the Legislature and Gov. Newsom to suspend scheduled increases in contributions to the two pension funds representing school employees. The projected savings for school districts statewide would be an estimated $1.3 billion in 2020-21 and less than half of that in 2021-22.

Since the Legislature passed a law in 2013 to save the pension funds from insolvency, school districts’ pension contributions have more than doubled for teachers through CalSTRS and for other employees lacking a teaching credential through CalPERS. Districts’ funding for CalSTRS alone would rise by $1 billion in 2020-21, the last of seven straight years of increases under the law, before plateauing.

CalSTRS “employer rate increases have posed serious challenges for us even during times of reliable income. Now, facing the prospects of less revenue growth, paying those increases places an additional burden on our resources, and directly impacts what we can do for our students,” San Francisco Unified Superintendent Vincent Matthews wrote in an April 13 letter to Assembly Budget Chairman Phil Ting. Superintendents from the Los Angeles, Sacramento City, San Diego, Corona-Norco and Long Beach school districts wrote a similar April 15 letter to Newsom.

“We’re trying to point out that if districts’ budgets next year are flat or reduced, they would have an inability to shoulder more than $1 billion in new costs,” said Kevin Gordon, president of Capitol Advisors Group, an education consulting company in Sacramento, who first floated the idea earlier this month.

A two-year suspension of pension fund increases could push back the statutory timetable for restoring solvency to the pension funds from 2046 to 2048.

John Fensterwald

Saturday, April 18, 2020, 4:40pm

Closing the Digital Divide Task Force to discuss internet access gaps Monday on Facebook Live

A new Closing the Digital Divide task force announced Thursday by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond will hold a fact-finding hearing via videoconference at 4 p.m. Monday on the California Department of Education’s Facebook page.

The task force, co-chaired by state Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, was established to address technology gaps for students who lack access to devices and the internet. Executives from internet providers throughout California are expected to speak during the hearing.

The California Department of Education has also created California Bridging the Digital Divide Fund in partnership with the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation to collect donations of funds and technology to provide digital supports such as devices and internet access to students in preschool through 12thgrade, as well as to their families and teachers. Individual contributions can be made through the GoFundMe campaign. Institutional and corporate donors are invited to contact Mary Nicely at mnicely@cde.ca.gov.

Theresa Harrington

Saturday, April 18, 2020, 2:30pm

Motel 6 agrees to lease, possibly sell, 5,025 rooms for homeless

Two weeks ago, Gov. Newsom announced Project Roomkey, with the goal of leasing 15,000 hotel and motel rooms for homeless residents living on the streets, in shelters and in crowded encampments, where they risk spreading the coronavirus.

At his daily press conference, Newsom said that the state will more than meet the goal with an agreement with the Motel 6 corporation in California to free up 5,025 rooms. The state already had procured 10,974 room occupied so far by 4,211 homeless They will receive three meals daily from Chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen.

There would now be about 16,000 rooms, which Newsom called “good news, real progress in just a few weeks.” Newsom also said the state is negotiating with Motel 6 to purchase the 47 motels, located in 19 counties, for permanent shelters for the homeless beyond the pandemic.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay 75% of the motel costs during the pandemic, with the state filling in the rest through money funded already. Buying the Motel 6 properties would require public-private partnerships, with participation by philanthropies, Newsom said.

Newsom made the announcement at a Motel 6 in Campbell, in Santa Clara County, which Newsom praised, along with Ventura, Riverside, Yolo, Merced and Los Angeles counties for their active efforts to address the homeless crisis. But he expressed “frustration” with city officials in other counties, without naming them, for blocking similar efforts to find properties. History will judge their “NIMBYism” (not-in-my-backyard attitude) during the pandemic, he said, adding, “Please consider the morality of those decisions.”

In a daily data update, Newsom said that 87 Californians died Friday of the coronavirus, bringing total deaths to 1,072. The hospitalization rate was up 1.3 %, with a 0.1% drop in patients under intensive care. The state is looking for consistent declines in those numbers before taking steps to ease shelter-in-place orders.

John Fensterwald

Friday, April 17, 2020, 3:00pm

Oakland Unified announces two employees/volunteers tested positive for Covid-19

Two people who are Oakland Unified School District staff members or volunteers have tested positive for the coronavirus, the district announced. The individuals participated in the district’s food distribution program and technology device distribution more than a week ago, but the specific locations where they assisted were not disclosed to protect their privacy, according to the district.

In both cases, the individuals did not show any symptoms while they were at the school sites, but later developed symptoms, self-quarantined and tested positive. The district had protocols in place to prevent the spread of the virus, including social distancing, the use of masks and gloves, and regular cleaning.

In addition, employees or volunteers showing symptoms are ordered to stay home according to CDC recommendations. The district has also created an internal Health and Safety Team that visits all food distribution sites and recommends improvements in safety practices. Food inspectors from the Alameda County Health Department have inspected the district’s food safety practices, according to the district.

Theresa Harrington

Friday, April 17, 2020, 1:45pm

Governor names Tom Steyer to head new economic advisory council

To help guide the state’s plans to reopen businesses and boost the economy, Gov. Newsom announced the formation of an economic advisory council headed by Tom Steyer. The council will also include California’s four former governors Pete Wilson, Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown.

Newsom also said that every Wednesday he will give weekly updates on the work of six task forces formed to track progress in meeting the goals he set for loosening restrictions on the stay at home order – including the ability of businesses and schools to practice social distancing.

He also noted that the state is continuing to bend and even flatten the curve of the coronavirus – with a slight decrease of 1.4 % in the number of patients in intensive care units over the last 24 hours, but an increase in hospitalizations of 1.2%. Yet, he said the state recorded a record high 95 deaths during that same period, bringing the total deaths so far statewide to 985 – very close to 1,000 – “which we never wanted to see.”

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, April 16, 2020, 2:05pm

Governor says states will decide when to reopen, not the president, announces new sick leave benefit, hints at flattening of curve

As Califorinia is beginning to see a flattening of the number of people hospitalized due to the coronavirus, Gov. Newsom said President Trump has assured him and other governors that states will be able to decide for themselves when to lift stay at home orders based on their individual circumstances. During his daily news briefing on Thursday, Newsom said he had just gotten off a call with the president, who told him he intends to make a nationwide announcement later this afternoon about how and when businesses will begin to reopen throughout the country.

Stressing that the state needs to flatten the curve before we can “get back to normalcy,” Newsom said a decline of 0.9% in the number of hospitalizations over 24 hours to 3,141 people showed that the state is beginning to do that. However, he noted that the total number of people in intensive care units grew over the last 24 hours by 1.4% to 1,191 people. The state has seen 890 deaths from the virus, with 69 passing away in the past 24 hours, one of the highest numbers so far.

“We’re not out out the woods,” he said, adding that the state needs to get more certainty of trends over a longer period of time before it can make any decisions about loosening restrictions.

Newsom also announced that he signed an executive order that will provide two weeks of supplemental sick leave to workers in the food distribution chain – from those picking produce on farms to those delivering food to stores and those ringing up customers – to ensure that they will be able to take time off if they have been exposed to the coronavirus, need to quarantine, or have tested positive. On Friday, Newsom said he expects to discuss economic development.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 1:40pm

Governor announces new $125 million fund for undocumented families; college campuses being set up as surge sites

California has set up a $125 million fund to help undocumented families who will not benefit from unemployment benefits. The state has teamed up with several philanthropic organizations to set up the fund which will give $500 grants to individuals and up to $1,000 to families, Gov. Newsom announced during his Wednesday briefing. Although California is processing a record number of unemployment checks for workers who have lost their jobs during the coronavirus shutdowns, Newsom said those who are undocumented have so far been unable to receive these benefits to help care for their families.

He also said that alternative care sites being established at campuses such as Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, which has 900 beds, to prepare for a possible surge in coronavirus cases in the next few weeks. Although that surge may not occur, Newsom said it is prudent for California to be ready, especially since cases could rise as the state and counties begin easing some of the stay at home restrictions that have helped bend the curve.

Newsom also said the state Legislature intends to begin holding budget hearings on Thursday and that he has been in daily contact with leaders of the state Assembly and Senate, as he prepares to unveil his revised budget next month.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 11:15am

SAT and ACT could be offered on-line and at home if crisis persists

The SAT and its rival ACT, the nation’s most important college admissions exams, could be offered on-line, at home later this year in an unprecedented move that will require massive amounts of digital proctoring to prevent cheating, officials announced Wednesday. Those emergency backup plans are being developed if schools remain closed in the fall and prevent the usual in-school testing.

Meanwhile, the College Board, the organization that sponsors the SAT, has suspended all its usual spring testing days because of the health emergency but will try to come back with more frequent in-school testing than usual in the late summer and fall. They will add a September date to the already scheduled August 29 , October 3, November 7 and December 5. It also will be working to offer fall testing for individual school districts across the country that canceled spring testings that they normally use as an accountability measurement or graduation requirement, College Board leaders said.

If the Coronavirus crisis persists, the College Board said it is preparing for an online, at-home offering of the SAT that would implement technology that could monitor movement and sound of possible cheating activities and also lock down access to other sites on the Internet. The College Board already has shifted its Advanced Placement exams, which can earn students college credit, to an on-line format, with administrations of those tests at homes next month.

The ACT also said it will offer an online, at-home version and said more details about its availability and usage will be announced in a few weeks. The ACT is less popular in California than the SAT although either usually fulfills colleges’ application mandates.

Because of the health emergency, the University of California dropped the SAT and the ACT as application requirements for current high school juniors who will seek fall 2021 admissions. The university is debating whether to keep standardized testing as a requirement beyond that one-year suspension. Meanwhile, the California State University is considering what to do with its testing requirements.

College Board officials said Wednesday that they do not know what the impact of UC’s decisions will be on the number of California students who may take the SAT in the fall. Many private colleges still require it.

Larry Gordon

Tuesday, April 14, 2020, 1:30pm

Newsom lays out possible changes for schools as he lays out parameters for loosening stay at home order

While Gov. Newsom said it’s too early to say when stay at home orders can be lifted throughout the state, he described a vision for the future when schools and businesses may reopen.

Comparing the end of restrictions to a “dimmer switch,” Newsom said he anticipated changes would have to be made in schools and businesses to prevent new surges of the coronavirus in the future. For example, he said schools may need to stagger start and end times for specific groups of students, to limit the numbers of students eating meals together or attending assemblies, and to ensure physical distance of 6 feet apart between students during activities such as physical education classes and recess.

He stressed during his daily news briefing that he has been having conversations with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and others about new protocols and procedures that may be put into place when children return to schools in the summer or fall. He noted that Californians are flattening the curve by staying at home and said that if current progress continues, he may be able to talk in two weeks about how the state could begin to loosen stay at home restrictions.

He said school districts would need to work with their unions to figure out how to meet physical distancing goals and to possibly expand distance learning opportunities. Newsom also said schools, playgrounds and parks would need to be deep-cleaned, including common areas such as swings and benches, to ensure that students don’t come home and infect their grandmas and grandpas with the coronavirus.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, April 13, 2020, 2:10pm

Newsom says state is ramping up efforts to help foster youth, needy families

California is devoting $42 million to improving services for families during the coronavirus stay at home order, Gov. Newsom said Monday during his daily briefing. The money would be used to better track about 86,500 children monitored by social services agencies, including 59,000 who are in the foster care system.

Nearly $28 million would pay for $200 in monthly payments to more than 25,000 “at risk” families, and an additional $1.7 million would provide additional money to those who are caring for foster youth. The state will spend $313,000 to provide laptops and cell phones to foster youth to use for distance learning during school closures.

Newsom said millions of dollars will be used to extend the time frame for the emancipation of foster youth so they can stay with their current caregivers to receive food and other necessities.

Kim Johnson, director of state’s department of social services, said $6.8 million would be used to pay for additional social workers, $3 million would support family resource centers and expand the 211 system and hotlines.

On Tuesday, Newsom said he will announce how the state plans to transition back to work. He plans to speak on Thursday about revisions to the state budget.

Theresa Harrington

Friday, April 10, 2020, 7:00pm

Newsom releases $100 million for child care for essential workers, supplies for providers

Gov. Newsom announced the release of $50 million to pay for free child care for about 20,000 children of essential workers during the pandemic and shelter-in-place order. He also announced an additional $50 million to reimburse child care providers for supplies for health and safety, such as gloves, masks, and cleaning supplies.

Zaidee Stavely

Friday, April 10, 2020, 2:00pm

Newsom: funds being distributed for childcare for frontline workers; beds identified, if needed, at UC and CSU campuses

While it’s too early to say when he may be ready to lift the statewide stay at home order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Gpv. Newsom said he expects to release details soon about how the state will make that determination.

In the meantime, Newsom announced that the state is beginning to distribute a $50 million emergency appropriation to help fund childcare for frontline workers “to make sure they’re taking care of their families as they’re taking care of our families.” In some parts of the state, he said the funding would help pay for temporary childcare facilities.

Newsom also said the state is continuing to identify additional beds outside of hospital settings that could be used as alternative care centers if there is a surge in coronavirus cases late next month. In addition to sites such as the Sleep Train Pavilion in Sacramento, he said the state has identified beds at several University of California and California State University campuses, including some in the Sacramento region.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, April 9, 2020, 2:20pm

Governor says state may provide more support for student technology and summer programs, stresses help for LGBTQ youth

Gov. Newsom said he is considering a budget request from department of education to purchase technology for online learning and provide summer support to prepare students for their return to schools in the fall. Newsom said he’s in talks with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. He reiterated that Google is providing 100,000 WiFi hotspots, as well as thousands of Chromebooks. “But that’s not enough,” Newsom said. “There are gaps.” He said Thurmond requested more money to fill the gaps, as well as to help “make up for time lost,” including potential “summer support and preparing kids for the fall school year.”

“We are deeply focused on that,” Newsom said. “And over the next coming days and weeks, we should have a lot more to say on this subject.”

Newsom also addressed the needs of LGBTQ youth and young adults, especially those who are homeless. He said LGBTQ homeless youth are disproportionately represented in Los Angeles County, which has been a leader in focusing on this issue.

He reminded the public that the state has established a teen crisis help line and an LBGBTQ help line, among others, at covid19.ca.gov and pledged to “do everything in our power” to support nonprofit organizations and community centers as the state recovers from this crisis, noting that they will be “bearing the brunt” of dealing with vulnerable populations, including LGBTQ homeless youth.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, April 9, 2020, 1:30pm

New guidelines for child care centers and family child care homes

The California Department of Education and the California Department of Social Services have published new guidelines for child care centers, preschools, and family child care homes that are still open. Under the new guidelines, all children in child care must be kept in small groups of under 10, and stay with the same teacher every day. Child care providers are encouraged to keep children 6 feet apart as much as possible, by arranging play spaces and furniture, or using yarn or masking tape to create individual spaces for children to play alone or in small groups.

Child care programs that contract with the Department of Education to serve low-income children should notify current families that they are to stay home unless they are classified as an essential worker, or at-risk populations as defined below. New children can be enrolled in subsidy programs if all parents or caregivers are essential workers and cannot complete their work remotely and have assets under $1 million dollars. They can also be enrolled if they have disabilities or special health care needs, are homeless, in foster care or under the care of child protective services, or have been deemed at risk of being neglected or abused.

Guidelines from the California Department of Social Services for all early learning programs are here, and guidelines for those programs that receive funding from the California Department of Education to serve low-income children are here: The guidelines are in place until June 30.

Zaidee Stavely

Wednesday, April 8, 2020, 9:40pm

United Teachers Los Angeles reaches deal with LA Unified

Teachers in Los Angeles will have the flexibility to create their own work schedules and will not be mandated to teach classes via live video under an agreement the Los Angeles Unified School District reached with the district’s teachers’ union, the union announced.

The union, United Teachers Los Angeles, reached the tentative agreement with California’s largest school district after weeks of bargaining, including 30 hours of negotiations this week. Prior to the agreement, major points of conflict included whether teachers should be required to teach over a live video platform and whether teachers should be able to set their own schedules or if those schedules should be set by schools.

In the end, the two sides agreed that using live video “is encouraged, but not required,” the agreement states. Meanwhile, teachers will get to set their own schedules but will be required to “create, share and follow a regular weekly schedule” that includes instruction, student support and three office hours each week.

Among many other provisions in the deal, the two sides also agreed that teachers will teach or provide student support for 240 minutes daily.

“The agreement reflects the extraordinary times we are in, when educators are doing a complete reset of our practice while dealing with the stress and uncertainty of a global pandemic that has upended our lives,” the union said in a statement. “Our focus is on supporting our students and delivering instruction as equitably as possible given the extreme circumstances we are in and the needs of our own families and loved ones.”

The full agreement can be found here.

Michael Burke

Wednesday, April 8, 2020, 5:00pm

State releases partial demographic data on coronavirus cases

Gov. Newsom released partial state health department demographic data for those who have tested positive for the coronavirus and those who have died, saying they essentially mirror the state’s population. But, the data only reflects 37 percent of those infected and 39 percent of those who died. He said work continues to collect all of the data. Newsom said 16,957 people have tested positive, 2,714 are hospitalized, 1,154 are intensive care units and 442 people have died. Of those positive cases, 30 percent were Latino, 37 percent were white, 6 percent were African American, 14 percent were Asian, 2.5 percent were multiracial, 0.2 percent were American Indian or Alaska Natives, 1.6 percent were Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islander, and 9 percent were other races or ethnicities.

Of the deaths, 29 percent were Latino, 43 percent were white, 3 percent were African American, 16 percent were Asian, 2 percent were multiracial, 0.6 percent were American Indian or Alaska Natives, 1 percent were Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders, and 5 percent were other races or ethnicities. Statewide, 39 percent of Californians are Latino, 37 percent are white, 6 percent are African American, 15 percent are Asian, 2 percent are multiracial, 0.5 percent are American Indians or Alaska Natives, and 0.3 percent are Native Hawaiians for Pacific Islanders.

Newsom also explained his decision to share ventilators with other states that the state’s health systems don’t need right now but expect to have returned to them when they do need them.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, April 8, 2020, 4:00pm

Three webinars on distance learning scheduled for tomorrow.

The California Department of Education will hold three webinars on April 9 on distance learning during school closures.

Instructional Strategies and English Learner Support will be the topic of a 12:30 p.m. session and highlight the work of Glendale Unified, Natomas Unified, and the education department’s English Learner Support Division resources. To attend by Facebook Live, go here or call using audio only at 669-900-6833, with meeting ID 182 060 732 and the password 180832.

The first of three sessions on providing social-emotional supports for students, Providing Tools for the Challenging Times, will run from 1:30 to 2:30 pm. It will highlight practices, programs, and policies to strengthen student mental health supports. California Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris will give the opening talk. To register through a co-sponsor, the nonprofit Wellness Together, go here. Other sessions will be held April 16 and 23.

Distance Learning Innovations for Special Education –Engaging Families, the second in a series, will begin at 3 p.m. Go here for the department website, where captioning will be available or here for Facebook Live. For audio only, call 669-900-6833 with meeting ID 578 443 966 and the password 180803.

John Fensterwald

Wednesday, April 8, 2020, 11:15am

Alternate care site for coronavirus patients established at Sonoma State University

Sonoma County has partnered with Sonoma State University and the Petaluma Health Center to establish an alternate care site on the campus for coronavirus patients in response to the pandemic. The alternate care site will enable local hospitals to respond to patients with more acute hospital care needs, according to a news release.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced that thousands of beds may be made available in similar alternate care sites on state-owned property, including dorms on university of California and California State University campuses. Sonoma State expects to accommodate up to 580 patients in its recreation center and in a portion of its on campus residential housing.

Patients testing positive for the coronavirus with mild- to moderate symptoms will be placed in the gymnasium of the recreation center while those awaiting test results will be placed in the residential units. People over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions, who are most vulnerable to the virus, will be placed in a separate residential housing complex.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, April 7, 2020, 2:25pm

Six Bay Area counties agree to extend school campus closures through the end of the school year

After consulting with their county public health officials, the Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Francisco County Superintendents of Schools jointly announced that they have agreed to extend all campus closures through the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. However, students will continue to receive instruction through “distance learning,” many campuses will continue to distribute school meals, and some may provide childcare, as needed.

The school leaders had previously announced school closures through May 1. They agreed to extend that time frame after Gov. Gavin Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond recently said that California’s students would not likely be able to return to schools before the summer break begins due to the need to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, April 7, 2020, 1:55pm

Governor announces new stress guidance for adults, caregivers and children

To help families deal with stress, fear and anxieties related to the spread of the coronavirus, the statewide stay at home order and mass school closures, Gov. Gavin Newsom said during his daily news briefing that California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris has created “Stress Playbooks” for adults, caregivers. The guidance, available at covid19.ca.gov, includes checklists, resources and chat lines in up to 170 languages for domestic violence, child abuse, teens in crisis, LGBTQ issues, as well as substance abuse and other topics, he said.

Burke Harris said stress can affect people’s appetites and cause headaches, abdominal pain, increases in blood sugar, exacerbate asthma, and affect moods, causing depression or anger that can result in family violence. She said people with a history of trauma or adversity can be at greater risk of these responses to stress.

Stable, nurturing relationships help alleviate stress, Burke Harris said. She recommended that people eat nutritious meals, exercise, practice mindfulness or meditation, get plenty of sleep and stay connected to others who can provide social and spiritual supports.

Newsom said 15,865 people in the state had tested positive for the coronavirus so far, a 10.7% increase from the previous day, with 2,611 hospitalized and 1,108 in intensive care units. He said 374 people in California have died.

In response to a question about whether the virus was disproportionately affecting African-Americans, as has been reported in some other states, Newsom said he expects to be able to report racial and ethnic breakdowns in the next few days. Burke Harris said some people in African-American communities don’t trust the healthcare system and that it is important for “trusted elders” to deliver the “life-saving message that we need to stay home.”

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, April 7, 2020, 12:00pm

Dr. Tony Fauci expects schools to be open in fall

In the daily briefing at the White House, Dr. Tony Fauci said he expects schools to be open in the fall, but perhaps with some controls in place that weren’t in place previously “It’s going to be different, because this is not going to disappear.” He suggested that the summer campus would still be affected by the epidemic.

These are his complete remarks from the White House transcript:

Well, my daughter is a schoolteacher, so she asked me the same question. You know, it is unpredictable, but you can get a feel for — if we start talking about the things where the curve goes down, and we really have minimum — how we respond and what kind of a rebound we see or don’t see, I think, is going to have a lot of influence probably more immediately on things like summer camps than it does in the fall.

I fully expect — though I’m humble enough to know that I can’t accurately predict — that by the time we get to the fall, that we will have this under control enough that it certainly will not be the way it is now, where people are shutting schools. My optimistic side tells me that we’ll be able to renew, to a certain extent. But it’s going to be different, remember now, because this is not going to disappear. So we’re going to have to have in place the capability of doing the things that we talk about all the time on this stage: to identify, to isolate, to contact trace — number one.

Number two, by that time, we’ll have a better feel with the antibody test, about what the actual penetrance of this infection was in society. How many people have actually been infected? Who is protected? If you have antibody, it’s very likely that you’re protected. Who’s vulnerable? Do you treat vulnerables different than you treat the people who are protected? All of these things are going to go into the decision of just how much back to the original way we’d like it to be in fall.

The bottom line is: No absolute prediction, but I think we’re going to be in good shape.

Louis Freedberg

Monday, April 6, 2020, 1:50pm

Governor says it’s too early to tell whether school closures may extend into fall

When asked whether the coronavirus may ebb and flow based on the seasons and if school closures may extend into the fall if there’s a rebound, Gov. Gavin Newsom said during his daily news briefing that it’s too early to tell. He noted that he has heard speculation about the “seasonality” of the virus, but has seen no data based on what is happening in California that he considers reliable.

“There are no patterns that exist within the state that would lead us to conclude that is the case,” he said, adding that decisions about when students should go back to school or when employees should go back to work must be made based on “facts on the ground.”

Newsom said 14,336 people had tested positive for the virus as of the morning of April 6, with 2,509 hospitalized and 1,085 in intensive care units — a 4.6 percent increase in hospitalizations since the previous day and a 4.3 percent increase in ICU patients from the previous day. He said 343 people have died. Based on this, he said the state continues to predict that cases will peak in mid-May in California.

He noted that Californians have been doing a good job of physical distancing, but warned that if they get “cabin fever” and start to congregate as the weather gets warmer this week, the virus could spread more quickly. “I remind everybody to continue to double down on what has been working here in the state,” he said.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, April 6, 2020, 9:00am

Legislative Analyst’s Office examines budget reserves, federal aid

The Legislative Analyst’s Office released two reports April 5 on the revenue and budget implications on California of the coronavirus pandemic. One examines the impact of the three congressional coronavirus relief acts on state, county and local governments and on education. This includes the biggest appropriation, the CARES Act, which will provide to California $1.6 billion to K-12, $1.7 to higher education and $355 million to government institutions at any level.

The second analysis examines existing budget reserves at the state and local school district levels that would be available to dampen the impact of likely cuts in state revenue this year and in 2020-21. The size of local reserves vary widely, but “few districts have enough to maintain current service levels for an extended period if revenues were to decline significantly,” the LAO concludes.

John Fensterwald

Friday, April 3, 2020, 1:50pm

Governor calls staying home a “civic duty,” encourages people to volunteer to help others

Stressing that California anticipates its peak surge in coronavirus cases to come during the first two weeks of May, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his daily news briefing that he considers staying home to be a “civic duty” that will save lives. He said there were 10,710 cases of the virus in the state so far, with 2,188 hospitalized and 901 in intensive care units – a 10.4 % increase from the previous day. About 237 people have died.

Newsom urged people who want to volunteer to help others in their communities to visit serve.ca.gov, which links to a California volunteers website that includes information about food banks and other organizations.

Theresa Harrington

Friday, April 3, 2020, 10:30am

Advanced Placement exams move online in May with anti-cheating measures

In response to the coronavirus crisis, much-shortened versions of Advanced Placement exams will be administered online — accessible even on iPhones — from May 11-22. The tests, which will be reduced from 3 hours to 45 minutes, will be open-book and will include only written responses, no multiple choice questions, according to the an announcement Friday by the College Board, the tests’ sponsor.

Security measures will be implemented to discourage cheating, as the tests are moved from schools to homes, according to the announcement. Among them are anti-plagiarism software plus a very human element: High school AP teachers will receive copies of test answers and will review them to spot inconsistencies with students’ previous known work, the College Board said. Cheaters face harsh sanctions, including notification to colleges to which they applied for possible admissions revocation.

AP test takers can earn college credit if they score high enough on the AP exams, which are offered in 38 subjects such as biology, U.S. history and Spanish. Good scores also help boost college applicant’s chances at competitive schools. Last year, 2.8 million students – including 423,000 Californians – took the exams and many took at least two.

A series of free online prep classes will be available and help is available for students who do not have the technology or internet service needed for the tests.

Larry Gordon

Thursday, April 2, 2020, 4:30pm

State hosts first in a new series of webinars on special education

Communication, collaboration and regular routines are among the keys to successful online education for students in special education, according to a webinar hosted by the California Department of Education April 2. Led by Director of Special Education Kristin Wright, the hour-long webinar included tips and resources from special education teachers around the state on how to reach families and maintain connections with students during school closures.

The department will host free, publicly accessible weekly webinars on special education to help teachers, administrators and families serve students with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic. The webinars will be streamed on the department’s Facebook page, with more information available on the department’s website. Anyone with ideas or questions about special education and online education can email sedinfo@cde.ca.gov.

Carolyn Jones

Thursday, April 2, 2020, 2:00pm

State is assessing where to deploy free Wi-Fi and Chromebooks

On April 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that Google is donating 4,000 Chromebooks and 100,000 WiFi hot spots to students in rural areas to support distance learning. But it is still unclear exactly how the California Department of Education will distribute the Chromebooks and Wi-Fi devices. State education officials are now in the process of collecting and analyzing data about where students lack access to the internet and devices, according to Kindra Britt, spokeswoman for the California Department of Education. “Once we have the data, we can begin to make decisions about distribution,” she said.

Sydney Johnson

Thursday, April 2, 2020, 2:00pm

Governor reiterates need to close schools through end of school year

Gov. Gavin Newsom reiterated during his daily news briefing that “kids are not going to go back” to their school campuses this school year. They are, however, going to continue working at home through distance learning, he said, adding that it is appropriate for the state to meet this moment by shutting down schools to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“I can’t be more clear about this,” he said, adding that it would not make sense to send more than 6 million children back to school at a time when they could come home and infect their grandparents. Current estimates predict the peak surge in coronavirus cases in California will occur in mid-May.

Newsom said schools must now focus on strengthening their approaches to distance learning, distributing meals to those who need them, and making sure kids are working at home “despite the deep anxiety and stress” their families are feeling.

He also warned that as the state responds to the coronavirus, its budget is being greatly impacted, which will affect the so-called May revise. “I think we should be prepared for substantial adjustments in our budget,” he said.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, April 2, 2020, 12:55pm

California education systems issue statement on helping students through admissions challenges

California’s leading higher education and K-12 systems issued a joint statement highlighting their efforts to help high school and community college students face admissions challenges that have arisen during the coronavirus pandemic.

The statement was issued by the California State Board of Education, California Department of Education, California State University, University of California, California Community Colleges, and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities.

In the statement, they noted that the higher education systems will accept “credit” grades rather than traditional letter grades for any of the required A-G high school courses completed in winter, spring or summer 2020. Community college students can also use “credit” grades for prerequisite courses when attempting to transfer to a four-year university this fall, the statement notes.

The higher education systems are also offering flexibility for when students have to submit their official transcripts and will re-evaluate eligibility for financial aid for families “whose circumstances have changed,” the systems said in the statement.

Michael Burke

Thursday, April 2, 2020, 12:30pm

UTLA attacks “rogue onerous directives” from principals

In a sign of rising tensions on the teacher-administrator front, UTLA’s president Alex Caputo-Pearl said teachers are not going to stand “for ridiculous micro management, onerous directives, time-wasting regimens” that he said some principals are trying to impose. The union launched a campaign on its website against what it calls “onerous directives.”

Louis Freedberg

Wednesday, April 1, 2020, 5:30pm

Emergency bill provides $100 million for schools

California school districts will share $100 million to help clean schools, provide meals for students, keep staff safe and to offer distance learning infrastructure, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced April 1.

The money was authorized by Senate Bill 117, one of two COVID-19 emergency bills passed by the California Legislature on March 17.

“I am very grateful to the members of the state Legislature for their rapid response in providing this essential funding to assist LEAs during this very challenging time,” Thurmond said.

School districts will receive $17.37 for each average day of daily attendance at their schools in 2019-20, according to a press release from the California Department of Education. The money will be dispersed within the next four days.

Diana Lambert

Wednesday, April 1, 2020, 5:30pm

Guidance issued on grades and graduation requirements

School districts are free to offer classes for credit/no credit, pass/fail or a modified A-D grading system. That is just one of the many issues outlined in detailed guidance from the California Department of Education on grading and graduation requirements. It explains, for example, that UC and CSU are willing to accept credit/no credit grades in lieu of letter grades for all courses, including A-G courses completed in winter/spring/summer 2020 for all students.

EdSource staff

Wednesday, April 1, 2020, 3:15pm

Governor discusses state’s education plans

Gov. Gavin Newsom was joined in his daily news briefing by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Linda Darling, president of the State Board of Education, who spoke via phone about plans for distance learning, meal distribution and childcare during school closures. Newsom announced that the state has received a federal waiver that will allow it to provide free meals to more students in high-poverty schools and that Google has agreed to provide 100,000 “points of access” for free Internet service for a minimum of three months to those who don’t have it, along with thousands of Chromebooks.

Newsom also said the state has been working with districts and higher education institutions to resolve issues around grades, tests, and graduation and college admissions requirements.

Thurmond said schools should plan to provide distance learning through the end of the school year. He said the state is surveying districts about their needs and working with philanthropies to help provide devices and internet access.

Darling-Hammond said 20 percent of students lacked internet connectivity when schools first closed, but that is now down to about 10 percent and the state is working to close that gap. She said the state is working with both public and private nonprofit colleges and universities on flexibilities for payments, transcripts, and the need for financial aid based on new circumstances families may be experiencing.

Newsom said he would sign new executive orders in the next couple of days that would lay out some of the guidelines referenced by Thurmond and Darling-Hammond. He said there have been 171 deaths related to the coronavirus in California as of this morning and reminded the public to stay at home to “bend the curve.”

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, April 1, 2020, 12:55pm

Google will provide Chromebook laptops and more than 100,000 WiFi hot spots across California for free for a minimum of three months to help students who will need to continue with schoolwork via distance learning, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced April 1. More details to come.

Anne Vasquez

Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 6:21pm

Affirming a prediction that Gov. Gavin Newsom made exactly two weeks ago, California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond is recommending that the state’s public schools plan to provide distance learning to students through the end of their school year.

“Due to the current safety concerns and needs for ongoing social distancing, it appears that our students will not be able to return to school campuses before the end of the school year,” Thurmond wrote in a letter sent to the state’s 58 county superintendents of schools on Tuesday morning.

Thurmond stressed that health concerns are paramount in determining when schools should be reopen. “The need for safety through social distancing warrants that we continue to keep our school campuses closed to students during this pandemic,” he said.

Louis Freedberg

Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 5:30pm

Legislators want accountability for delivering meals, distance learning

Concerned about an “uneven” rollout of free meals and distance learning across the state, two dozen legislators called on Gov. Gavin Newsom this week to work with the Legislature to hold school districts and charter schools accountable for meeting their responsibilities.

The letter, written by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, noted that Newsom’s March 13 executive order on providing nutrition and high-quality learning during school closures lacked financial penalties for non-compliance. While some districts have made extraordinary efforts, others appear to have insufficient plans or none at all. In an interview, O’Donnell said that weeks into the closure, districts should be transitioning from enrichment to more organized learning. “These are extraordinary times. I understand the predicament,” he said. “But I’m hoping to see districts having programs up and running on the state standards.” The Legislature adjourned earlier this month and at this point plans to return to Sacramento in mid-April.

John Fensterwald

Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 4:00pm

California universities and colleges could provide hospital space if needed

During a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said if a coronavirus surge happens and there is a need for more hospital beds, the state could tap into about 5,000 beds identified in the University of California and California State University systems.

The state is currently adding up to 50,000 hospital beds to add to an existing 75,000 beds and has been looking at convention centers, hotels and fairgrounds to fill the need. If more beds are needed, which Newsom described as phase two, the state could turn to colleges and universities. A spokesman for the California Community Colleges said of their 11 residential halls, about 300 beds were identified.

“Our hope is that a second stage will not be needed because Californians will continue to stay at home to save lives,” said Kate Folmar, a spokeswoman for the California Health and Human Services Agency.

Ashley A. Smith

Monday, March 30, 2020, 5:30pm

Sacramento union proposes buying Chromebooks with health insurance savings

The Sacramento City Unified teachers union is asking the district to use the $1.7 million in savings from lower employee health insurance costs to purchase Chromebooks for all of the 40,000 students needing them. The one-time money, the result of union negotiations, has not been spent. The state’s 13th-largest district is scheduled to launch districtwide distance learning on April 13, but protracted negotiations on what the shift to online learning would involve has slowed the process.

The Chromebook purchase, announced at a press conference March 30, is one element of the union’s proposed four-page memorandum of understanding that includes additional pay for training days. The district had not yet commented on whether it would agree to all or parts of the document. But district spokeswoman Tara Gallegos said after the press conference that the district has already placed a $5.1 million order for 20,000 Chromebooks, using money from a school construction bond, which should cover the need.

Sacramento City Teachers Association President David Fisher also said the union was working to see if internet providers like Comcast would provide free WiFi for students and possibly staff through the end of the school year.

EdSource staff

Monday, March 30, 2020, 12:30pm

California nursing and medical students can apply for temporary licenses

California Gov. Gavin Newsom launched a new initiative March 30 that would increase the number of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in the workforce to help fight the coronavirus. The California Health Corps will give state licensing boards the flexibility to award temporary licenses and expand the scope of practice to health care professionals through June 30.

“Individuals who may have retired in the last five years or are in the process of getting licensed or are licensed, people in nursing schools and nearing completion, we encourage them to get on this platform,” Newsom said. Medical and nursing students can join the new California Health Corps at healthcorps.ca.gov.

Those who participate in the corps will be paid and given malpractice insurance coverage and deployed based on their skills, experience, interest and location preferences. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will provide stipends to Health Corps workers through a $25 million donation to cover transportation, child care support and hotel rooms.

Ashley A. Smith

Sunday, March 29, 2020, 5:24pm

Gov. Newsom to announce initiative to strengthen health care workforce

California Governor Gavin Newsom will announce a “major initiative to surge the health care workforce to fight COVID-19” at noon Monday, according to an advisory issued Sunday by the Governor’s Office. Newsom has said it was a priority to get nursing students nearing graduation licensed and to quickly get medical students through graduation and working. The announcement follows calls from others for the governor to ease regulations affecting nurses and medical students. CSU Chancellor Tim White is among those who urged the governor to ease the state’s nurse training requirements so that 14,000 student nurses can get to work to help slow the pandemic.

Ali Tadayon

Sunday, March 29, 2020, 11:00am

Most of California’s largest districts will be closed until at least May 1.

Large numbers of school districts have set May 1 as the date until when they will be closed. According to an EdSource review, 20 the state’s largest 30 districts have said they will be closed for in-class instruction through May 1. Another two will be closed through April 30. Two have not set any date. One (Elk Grove) will offer online instruction through the end of its school year. With Pres. Trump’s statement on Sunday that he will extend federal guidance for social distancing until April 30, all other districts will presumably also extend their closure dates at least until the end of April or May 1.

EdSource staff

Friday, March 27, 2020, 4:30pm

Number of confirmed Covid-19 cases increases to seven at UC Berkeley

Four UC Berkeley students who recently returned from study abroad in Spain have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the university. The students are self-isolating. One student is being treated by University Health Services. University of California Education Abroad officials have sent letters to program participants and advised them to contact their health provider if they develop symptoms.

As of Wednesday, there are seven known cases of Covid-19 within the UC Berkeley community but no known on-campus exposures.

Ashley A. Smith

Friday, March 27, 2020, 4:20pm

California gets preliminary OK to waive standardized tests

With unusual speed, the U.S. Department of Education has given preliminary approval to California’s request to waive standardized testing for this school year and the requirement to include the test data that would have been produced in the state’s school accountability system, the California School Dashboard. The waived tests will include the Smarter Balanced math and science tests, the assessment on the Next Generation Science Standards and the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California for English learners.

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Friday that he had received notification. It was not unexpected, since President Donald Trump already had said he would suspend tests nationwide. Nonetheless, final approval awaits the end of a public comment period on April 15. For information on where to submit comments, go here.

John Fensterwald

Friday, March 27, 2020, 3:30pm

Governor touches on education-related issues in daily briefing

During a press conference in Los Angeles, Gov. Gavin Newsom reiterated that the state is working to help get fourth-year medical students into the workforce more quickly than they might have anticipated through temporary licensing to meet the demand on healthcare systems expected as coronavirus cases surge throughout California over the next few weeks.

He praised the work being done at medical centers statewide to help come up with new treatments and tests, including UC medical centers, Stanford University and the University of Southern California. One such effort, he said, involves the creation of swabs for tests using 3D printing technology.

Newsom said the new federal stimulus package will provide more money for higher education and K-12 education in California, but he warned that the overall package would not be enough to meet all of the state’s needs and said more will be necessary. State officials, he said, are reassessing California’s budget and will make adjustments to spending plans due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus.

Out of 88,400 tests conducted in the state so far, Newsom said tens of thousands are still waiting for results. As of 10 a.m., he said there were 3,801 positive tests for coronavirus, a 26 percent increase from the previous day. “So I caution people, as it relates to numbers, to consider the magnitude of tests that haven’t come back yet,” he said.

As Californians head into the second weekend since Newsom issued a statewide order to stay home, he reminded the public that parking lots in 98 state parks have been shut down, primarily along the coast, “to reduce what we experienced last weekend,” when people did not practice social distancing. “We’ll see what happens this weekend,” he said, adding that the state is prepared to “ratchet up” efforts to minimize gatherings if necessary.

Theresa Harrington

Friday, March 27, 2020, 2:45pm

Sacramento County school closures extended through May 1

All 13 Sacramento County school districts and the Sacramento County Office of Education will be closed through May 1 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, according a press release from the county office of education.

The extension means most schools will be closed for seven weeks, instead of the two to three weeks initially planned.

Elk Grove Unified has indicated that it will continue distance learning through May 29, the end of the school year.

“Our primary concern is the well-being of our students, staff, and families,” said Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David Gordon. “It is absolutely crucial we all work together to slow the spread of COVID-19. We must follow stay-at-home orders and continue to support learning at home.”

The decision came after school officials consulted with the Sacramento County Department of Public Health.

Diana Lambert

Friday, March 27, 2020, 1:45pm

Grading policies changed at California community colleges

Several changes are being made to grading policies for California’s community colleges, the system’s chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley announced March 27. Students at the colleges will be allowed to retake any class attempted during the coronavirus crisis and, if they do, grades from their first attempt will not count toward their grade point averages. The system is also waiving the deadline for students to select a pass/no pass grading option instead of a traditional letter grade. Additionally, any “no pass” grades received by students will not be considered as part of probation and dismissal decisions. Typically, students can be put on academic probation or even be dismissed from their colleges if they don’t meet minimum grade point average requirements.

Michael Burke

Thursday, March 26, 2020, 3:28pm

Financial aid reform ‘put on pause’ amid pandemic

A state effort to significantly boost financial aid to cover non-tuition costs for community college students “will be put on pause for now,” said Marlene Garcia, executive director of the California Student Aid Commission, during a commission meeting March 26. The commission, which is a state agency, in February proposed a reform of California’s financial aid system that would have resulted in more than 300,000 community college students becoming newly eligible for Cal Grants, state awards that students don’t have to pay back, to cover non-tuition costs. The maximum grants available to students also would have more than tripled from $1,672 to $6,000.

Implementing the reform would cost between $1.1 and $1.6 billion annually. Garcia said that “the guidance from the state is don’t expect any new funding” amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, Garcia added that students’ basic needs should be a “key investment” of any funding that becomes available through federal or state emergency stimulus packages.

Michael Burke

Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 5:55pm

UC Davis-led online learning project gets $1 million grant

With most teaching going online because of the coronavirus, a $1 million grant from the state of California will help bring personalized learning to students, according to a press release from UC Davis.

The grant will help LibreTexts, a national consortium led by the university, develop, test and distribute a new adaptive learning platform that complements its library of virtual textbooks and other resources.

“Adaptive learning is like having a virtual tutor that responds to the performance and needs of individual students,” said UC Professor Delmar Larson, who launched the project in 2008 to create online resources to replace textbooks.

The Libretext website allows instructors to assemble information for their classes and for college students to access textbooks and other materials for free.

Diana Lambert

Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 3:55pm

Gov. Gavin Newsom reiterates help for schools during closures

During his daily Facebook briefing, Gov. Gavin Newsom said schools are getting $100 million in aid from the state Legislature to help pay for protective gear if employees are going to schools to conduct distance learning or food distribution, but added that the state budget released in January will need to be adjusted since the anticipated surplus may no longer be available.

He stressed that one size does not fit all when it comes to the way schools are dealing with the coronavirus, noting that the learning environment in rural areas such as Tulare County are different from those in more urban areas. Newsom warned that families participating in distance learning and other online activities should be careful of phishing or hacking attempts and reiterated that the state has released detailed guidance to schools about how to continue instruction during school closures, as well as food distribution.

He cautioned that we are not close to lifting the stay-at-home order, saying we are not even a week or two away and everyone needs to continue to stay home to “bend the curve.” As of 10 a.m., he said 2,535 individuals have tested positive in the state, a 17 percent increase from the previous day, with more than 40 lives lost, including a 17-year-old, whose death is still being investigated.

Of those testing positive:
37: under 18
1,278: 18-49
638: 50-64
562 : 65 or older
20: ages unknown.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 3:20pm

Senate bill still includes special education provision

Congressional leaders were still haggling over details in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, but a provision that could affect special education in the U.S. remains in the bill. The act orders Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, within 30 days, to draw up recommendations for waivers to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the law which ensures students with disabilities a free public education.

Her recommendations could also affects students with 504 plans, which allow students with learning disabilities certain accommodations in the classroom, such as extra time on tests. Advocates have said the provision empowers DeVos to make significant, and possibly permanent, changes to the 45-year-old law. Some school board officials have said waivers are necessary to ensure districts are in compliance with special education regulations, as schools shift to online learning to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Carolyn Jones

Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 11:30am

California counties, districts extend school closures

Many California districts and entire county offices of education are extending their temporary school closure dates days after Gov. Gavin Newsom said he suspects schools could remained shut until summer. Districts and counties are also warning families that reopen dates could again shift depending on how the coronavirus situation develops. See EdSource’s updated list of California school closures here.

Public health officers in six Bay Area counties, in collaboration with the county superintendents, announced a regional decision to extend all school closures through May 1 in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The decision was made to protect students, staff and the community from the spread of the coronavirus.

Some school facilities may remain open during this time to provide “essential” services such as meal distribution, distance learning and childcare, where possible. If health officials and school leaders decide to extend closures beyond May 1, a new announcement will be made in the future.

Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, said earlier this week that its schools will remain closed until at least May 1. Riverside County schools will also remain closed until at least May 1. Long Beach Unified will now remain closed through May 4 and Elk Grove Unified will transition to online learning through the end of its school year, May 29.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 9:55am

Stanford University coronavirus cases

Stanford University reported that one student living on campus has tested positive for coronavirus and is being quarantined. Twenty-four other people with ties to the campus, including students, faculty, staff or temporary researchers with doctorate degrees, known as “postdocs,” have tested positive, but are self-isolating in their communities in the Bay Area and beyond, seeking medical treatment as needed. These figures also include Stanford School of Medicine employees.

The university said it could not provide additional details about the cases, due to privacy concerns. However, it plans to update information related to coronavirus cases regularly online here.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, March 24, 2020, 5:30pm

Gov. Newsom on young people’s vulnerability to the virus

In his March 24 Facebook appearance, Gov. Newsom, referring to the death of the teenager in Lancaster, said the “tragic loss of a young life underscores the enormity of the challenge in front of us, and how it can affect anybody and everybody.”

He went on to say the following:

“Young people can and will be impacted by this virus. In fact, young people disproportionately are the ones testing positive in the state of California – 50 percent of the 2,102 individuals that have tested positive, 50 percent are between the age of 18 and 49. I’ll repeat that. Half of those tested positive to date in the state of California, are 18 to 49 years old. This disease impacts everybody. The question is the acuity and the hospitalization rate that, yes, does skew on the side of older populations, but with this tragic new death, it is a reminder to everybody to take this seriously. It’s a health crisis. It needs to be met first and foremost head on as such.

That’s why it is incumbent upon young Californians to continue to take our stay at home order seriously, to continue to do the kind of social distancing that common sense dictates, and to heed the warnings we advanced yesterday to stay out of settings like beaches and parks where you’re coming into close contact with others. Practice social distancing. We had to step up our enforcement yesterday as it relates to shutting down those parking facilities, the consequences of which remind people of the seriousness of it. But what more evidence do you need than the loss of a young person’s life?

I just cannot impress upon young people out there more the seriousness of this moment and how critical they are to ultimately getting us on the other side, by practicing that social distancing that we all are accustomed to hearing about but not in every case advancing individually.”

In that same live-streamed Facebook media appearance, Newsom shared the following:

On the role of community colleges:

In a Facebook appearance, Newsom praised the state’s community college system for providing 60 ventilators to the state and called it the backbone of our state’s emergency workforce, saying some estimate that up to 70 percent of first responders have been trained in the community college system.

Latest statistics

Newsom also shared the latest statistics as of 10 a.m. March 24: 40 people in the state have died from the coronavirus out of 2,102 people who have tested positive – a 17.5 percent increase from the previous day.

When asked if the state’s order to stay at home might be lifted in April, Newsom said he did not believe that would be possible, based on the estimates he has seen related to the likely spread of the virus over the next eight to 12 weeks.

“Let us not have to once again announce that a teenager lost their life because we didn’t take this moment seriously,” he said.

Louis Freedberg

Tuesday, March 24, 2020, 1:35pm

Death of teenager

Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health reported its first death of a person under 18 from the coronavirus. The individual lived in Lancaster, north of Los Angeles. No other details were released.

EdSource staff

Tuesday, March 24, 2020, 1:35pm

Latest statistics as of 2 p.m. March 22

Statewide, as of 2 p.m. March 22, there were 1,733 positive cases of coronavirus and 27 deaths.

Ages of all confirmed positive cases:

Age 0-17: 25 cases
Age 18-49: 837 cases
Age 50-64: 442 cases
Age 65+: 415 cases
Unknown: 14 cases

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, March 24, 2020, 1:10pm

Students test positive

Two students at Cal State Long Beach have tested positive for the coronavirus, the university announced Tuesday. Both students are isolated off campus. One of the two students has not been on campus for two weeks. For the other student, “there was no opportunity for on-campus exposure,” said Kimberly Fodran, the university’s co-director of student health services, in a message to the campus.

“While it was to be expected that The Beach family eventually would be affected by this pandemic, we were saddened to hear this news,” Fodran said.

EdSource staff

Tuesday, March 24, 2020, 12:15pm

Surgeon-general issues a video on Twitter

State surgeon general Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris has released a 1-minute video on Twitter to help parents and caregivers talk to children about coronavirus.

Burke-Harris urges adults to approach the conversation in a calm way, ask what children have heard and allow them to share their fears, correct any misinformation, reassure them, and remind them about the importance proper hygiene, healthy eating and exercise.

In addition, Burke-Harris stresses the need for adults to take care of themselves. She urges the public to visit www.covid19.ca.gov for coronavirus information and resources, which are updated regularly.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, March 23, 2020, 6:35pm

Getting medical students into the workforce

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he is working to get fourth-year medical students into the workforce as quickly as possible, along with those in licensed nursing degree programs, to help meet the anticipated surge in coronavirus cases expected over the next eight to 12 weeks. Newsom made the comments during an early evening news conference, stressing that that there is currently no end date to his statewide “stay at home” order.

To better enforce social distancing, Newsom said parking lots for state parks are being closed immediately and that many state parks will also close, after they were overrun by crowds last weekend. Saying he does not want to close all big, beautiful open spaces, Newsom stressed the importance of maintaining social distancing and “not lingering” while enjoying them. A current list of closed parks and park facilities is at parks.ca.gov.

“For the next week or two we’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “We’re going to have to get very, very serious and lean in and hit this moment head-on.”

Referring to a statement he made a few days ago about his estimate that schools may be closed through the end of the school year, Newsom said: “I’ve been very honest with you about the school system, and my estimation of what we’re going to be faced with over the next eight weeks.” He added that as soon as he has more clarity, he will share it with the public, just as he shares it with his wife and children.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, March 23, 2020, 5:15pm

Excused withdrawals at community colleges

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley signed an executive order Friday ensuring that students who drop a class while campuses are closed due to the Coronavirus will not be academically or financially penalized. The order allows students to drop classes as an “excused withdrawal,” which will not count against them. It also allows students to be refunded enrollment fees for those classes, according to a California Community Colleges news release.

The order also ensures that teaching and learning will continue at the 115 California community colleges, the news release said, by allowing all in-person classes — including labs — to be moved online.

Ali Tadayon

Monday, March 23, 2020, 1:35pm

$20 billion education fund debated in Congress

A $20 billion Education Stabilization Fund to provide relief for states appears assured of passing – if Senate Democrats and Republicans can settle their differences on the bigger pieces of a $1.6 trillion coronavirus relief fund that, for now, is stalled in Congress.

Education advocacy groups are hoping the $20-plus billion in relief is a down payment toward the $100 billion that the federal government provided in 2009 to combat shrinking state revenues during the Great Recession. That package included $53.6 billion to states to cover school expenses over two years.

According to Politico, the current bill for $20 billion would be broken down as follows (assume roughly 10 percent in each category would go to California):

  • $12 billion for K-12, primarily distributed based on a state’s population of low-income students, for a wide range of purposes, including teacher training, planning for long-term school shutdowns and technology.
  • $6 billion for higher ed, distributed primarily based on Pell Grant recipients; half of the money would to emergency grants to students “for expenses directly related to coronavirus and the disruption of campus operations.”
  • $2 billion in discretionary education dollars for governors.

A separate section of the bill would provide “immediate assistance” to child care providers through the Child Care and Development Block Grant program and $250 million for Head Start for coronavirus-related costs.

John Fensterwald

Monday, March 23, 2020, 1:15pm

CDC issues tips for children to stay healthly

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new tips to help keep children healthy while school is out. The tips include information about children’s overall low risk of contracting coronavirus, noting that mild symptoms tend to include coughing, runny nose, sneezing and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

The guidance also reminds families about the importance of proper hygiene and sanitizing, as well as social distancing. In addition, it includes suggested routines for continuing children’s education at home.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, March 23, 2020, 11:35am

Verizon to offer internet access to LA Unified

Los Angeles Unified, in partnership with Verizon, plans to spend $100 million to provide internet access to all students in the district who don’t already have that access at home, district Superintendent Austin Beutner announced March 23. The district, which is the largest in the state, enrolls more than 600,000 students and estimates that 25 percent of those students don’t have internet at home. As part of the $100 million investment, the district will also provide devices to all students who need them. Further details on how the district will distribute those devices and set up internet access will be provided shortly, Beutner said.

Meanwhile, L.A. Unified and San Diego Unified, the second-biggest district in the state, in a joint letter on March 23 asked the state Legislature to consider emergency state funding for school districts to help with distance learning and other challenges. They asked for a minimum of $500 per student, saying that they were facing severe fiscal challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Said simply, our budgets will not balance for the current fiscal year because of the extraordinary costs associated with responding to the global pandemic. We request an additional emergency appropriation to address these unforeseen costs,” Beutner and San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten wrote in the letter.

Michael Burke

Monday, March 23, 2020, 11:15am

Advanced Placement tests to be offered online

The College Board has announced that it is moving Advanced Placement testing online during coronavirus school closures. Students will be able to take 45-minute online exams at home using a computer, tablet or smart phone. Photos of written work may also be allowed.

Each testing subject will have two different dates, which will be announced April 3. Tests will focus on material covered through early March.

Starting March 25, free online study review courses will be available here. In addition, any students who have already registered for exams can cancel at no charge.

Support for AP teachers can be found here.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, March 23, 2020, 9:15am

L.A. Unified to stay closed until May 1 — at least

Schools at California’s largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, will stay closed until at least May 1, superintendent Austin Beutner said in a statement Monday morning. Schools in the district, which enroll more than 600,000 students, have been closed since March 16. Beutner’s announcement Monday comes after L.A. County Superintendent Debra Duardo said Friday she was recommending all public schools in the county stay closed through May 5. The county has 80 school districts.

“I wish I could tell you it will all be back to normal sometime soon but it does not look like that will the case,” Beutner said in the statement Monday. Beutner will give a “more complete update” at 11 a.m. Monday, he said.

Michael Burke

Sunday, March 22, 2020, 8:00am

Governor warns young people to stay home

Gov. Gavin Newsom, during comments late Saturday on how Californians need to use “common sense” to ward off the spread of the coronavirus, had pointed words for young people who may be taking the stay at home and social distancing orders lightly. “Those young people that are still out there on the beaches thinking this is a party? Time to grow up. Time to wake up. Time to recognize it’s not just about the old folks. It’s about your impact on their lives. Don’t be selfish. Recognize you have responsibility to meet this moment as well.” Newsom’s order allows only essential trips for food or prescriptions. Outdoor walking or exercising is allowed as long as people stay six feet apart.

EdSource staff

Saturday, March 21, 2020, 10:34pm

School staff member tests positive in Sacramento

A member of the Riverview STEM Academy school staff has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Folsom Cordova Unified School District. The employee was not a teacher at the Rancho Cordova school and worked with a small number of students, according to information released by the district. The school employee last worked on March 12, began experiencing symptoms the next day and did not return to work. The employee has been isolated and is recovering, according to the district. The school district was informed of the illness by Sacramento Public Health late on March 20. The school district, along with all Sacramento County schools, closed its schools on March 16.

Diana Lambert

Saturday, March 21, 2020, 4:00pm

California Department of Education issues guidance for school districts

On Friday, the California Department of Education issued new guidelines for districts on how to handle special education during the corona virus crisis. Among other things, the guidance says that school districts could “consider providing classroom-based instruction to small groups of students with disabilities that have extensive support needs, despite the fact that the school site has closed, consistent with federal, state, and local health directives related to Covid-19.” CDE also notes that as of now the federal government has not waived the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Louis Freedberg

Saturday, March 21, 2020, 10:30am

College commencement plans in flux

UCLA has partially reversed its plan to replace this year’s commencement with an on-line graduation ceremony. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block apologized to students for not consulting them and pledged to work with student leadership to come up with an alternative, which may include a postponement of a face-to-face event.

USC is postponing is postponing its commencement ceremonies this year. The California State University system also announced earlier this week that graduation day ceremonies would likely be postponed as part of the system’s push to eliminate gatherings and large events. UC Merced has also postponed its ceremony, which was scheduled for May.

EdSource staff

Friday, March 20, 2020, 2:05pm

Oakland Unified school board meets online

Based on guidance in an executive order signed March 17 by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Oakland Unified school board held an entirely virtual meeting on March 19, which it believes was one of the first in the state. The board unanimously declared a state of emergency due to coronavirus and authorized Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell to enter into contracts related to the virus of up to $500,000 each through May 27, due to school closures.

More than 100 community members logged onto Zoom to watch the meeting, including several who contributed public comments by using the “raise your hand” feature. The board used the “share your screen” option to show amendments to the resolution.

Boards can use teleconferencing technology to conduct meetings online “only during the period in which state or local public health officials have imposed or recommended social distancing measures,” according to the executive order.

Theresa Harrington

Friday, March 20, 2020, 11:40am

CSU chancellor delays retirement

California State University Chancellor Tim White will delay his retirement amid the coronavirus crisis and stay in the role through the fall, the university system announced Friday.

The search for White’s successor, which was nearing a conclusion, will also be put on hold and resume later this year.

White announced his retirement last year and said he wanted to leave the system by this summer but would be willing to stay as late as December, depending on the progress of the search for his successor. Now, there is no specific date scheduled for him to step down.

CSU system officials were preparing for the selection of a new chancellor, with a likely announcement during the March 24 meeting of the system’s trustees. The search committee had been working for months and reportedly was focusing on finalists. But the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the final selection and the introduction of a new chancellor. Travel restrictions also would restrict any candidates from being interviewed in-person by the trustees.

Perhaps more important, the CSU leaders decided that stability is needed for the next stretch of time, with veteran administrators like White remaining on hand.

“As the world faces an unprecedented crisis, now more than ever, it is crucially important for stable and experienced hands to provide thoughtful guidance on all areas affecting the operations of the university,” CSU Board of Trustees Chairman Adam Day said in a statement.

Michael Burke

Friday, March 20, 2020, 10:30am

U.S. Department of Education announces relief on student loans

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Friday that the Federal Student Aid office will provide student loan relief to millions of borrowers because of the impact of the coronavirus.

All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have interest rates set at 0 percent for at least 60 days. Borrowers also have the option to suspend their payments for at least two months without worrying about accruing interest.

“These are anxious times, particularly for students and families whose educations, careers, and lives have been disrupted,” DeVos said. “Right now, everyone should be focused on staying safe and healthy, not worrying about their student loan balance growing. I commend President Trump for his quick action on this issue, and I hope it provides meaningful help and peace of mind to those in need.”

Borrowers should contact their loan servicer online or by phone to request a forbearance. DeVos also approved the automatic suspension of payments for any borrower who is more than 31 days delinquent as of March 13, or who becomes more than 31 days delinquent.

Ashley A. Smith

Friday, March 20, 2020, 9:45am

President suspends national testing requirements

President Donald Trump announced Friday that the federal government would suspend national testing requirements this year because of the impact of the coronavirus, granting the waiver that Gov. Gavin Newsom and other governors had said they’d seek.

Trump made the announcement at his daily press conference. The decision grants a one-year suspension from testing mandates under the Every Student Succeeds Act. In California, that applies to the Smarter Balanced tests in math and English language arts, the new science tests and the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California for English learners

On Wednesday, Newsom issued an executive order suspending state testing. In a statement he said, “This time is stressful enough for students, families and educators without the additional burden of annual testing.”

Several states, including Texas, Florida and Washington also had suspended testing, and others were considering it. The Council of Chief State School Officers had lobbied for the nationwide suspension and praised Trump and the U.S. Department of Education for granting it.

The test data are a key element in the state’s school accountability system. It’s unclear what the impact of the suspension would have on the state’s system of measuring school and district progress, the California School Dashboard.

John Fensterwald

Thursday, March 19, 2020, 7:50pm

Asking everyone to do more to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all Californians to stay at home. The order which impacts the state’s 40 million people represents the highest escalation in efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The order came as Newsom asked for federal help to fight the pandemic, which has killed 19 and infected 958. In his letter to Congress, Newsom said he expects the virus will infect more than half of the state’s residents, or 25.5 million people. It follows orders that have directed residents of the Bay Area and Sacramento County to shelter in place and other orders limiting activities in Los Angeles County. “It’s time for all of us to recognize, as individuals and as a community, we need to do more,” Newsom said.

Rose Ciotta

Thursday, March 19, 2020, 3:50pm

The number of positive coronavirus cases in California rose to 675 and the number of deaths was 16, according to California Department of Public Health data as of 6 p.m. March 18. The number of cases in children ages 0-17 remained unchanged from the previous day at 13, in adults 18-64 it climbed to 448, and in adults 65 or over it was 209. There are five cases reported in which age is unknown.

In a letter to President Donald Trump, Gov. Gavin Newsom projected that 25.5 million people in the state could be infected with the virus over the next eight weeks. In a separate letter to leaders of Congress, Newsom requested $1 billion in federal aid, in part to help schools and universities deliver high-quality education during closures.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, March 19, 2020, 3:10pm

The state has created a “one-stop” coronavirus website at www.covid19.ca.gov with updates on public health, education and other issues. The education page includes links to guidance for K-12 schools and colleges and universities, as well as links to other resources for families and educators.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, March 19, 2020, 1:30pm

The University of California should switch from letter grades to pass/no pass grading system for the rest of the school year because of difficulties involving the switch to online courses during the health emergency, student leaders say.

Varsha Sarveshwar, president of the UC Student Association, made the request Thursday to the UC Board of regents, citing the personal stress many students are feeling and their problems adapting to remote teaching and learning. “It doesn’t make sense to continue with the traditional A to F letter grade system, she said. “Collective systemwide action should be taken to ensure that students are focused on their health and loved ones, not their grades.”

The Academic Senate of the ten-campus UC system, which controls issues of grading, said it needs time to consider the proposal. “The Senate appreciates the request on pass/fail grading and will assess the various input it receives to navigate this challenging period and do what is best for the University,” a statement said.

A spokesman for the 23-campus California State University said the grading changes are being discussed among many other operational issues during the health crisis but that nothing has been decided.

Larry Gordon

Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 6:30pm

In a Facebook live message to update the public on the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he has made official his directive to school districts to offer or other curriculum materials so students can continue to be educated during the coronavirus school closures which he noted are likely to continue through the school year. He said the state is providing districts and the public with lists of online resources they can use. In addition, he said he signed an executive order that would eliminate standardized testing for students in grades 3-8 and 11 this spring. “Kids don’t deserve to be put through the anxiety of testing,” he said, adding that he also clarified rules for open meetings for elected official such as school boards that may need to be held via teleconference.

Newsom said the state is preparing for scenarios in which up to 56 percent of California’s population that is not sheltered at home could be infected with the virus over the next eight weeks and require a surge in hospital bed capacity. As of March 17, the state registered 598 positive cases, a 21 percent jump in one day. And although 12,600 people have been tested so far, Newsom said 3,215 test results have not yet come back. Newsom stressed that the state is working to increase its capacity for testing and for returning results more quickly.

He noted that the entire state has not been ordered to shelter in place, but said that each county health department is instructing the public about restricted movements based on the local spread of the virus. However, Newsom said he expects more counties to direct residents to stay home unless they are engaged in essential activities such as grocery shopping or working in jobs such as healthcare. Statewide, he said bars are and movie theaters are closed and restaurants have been ordered to only provide take out or delivery options to comply with social distancing requirements. Public gatherings are prohibited, but families and close friends are still allowed to gather in homes, unless otherwise directed by their health departments.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 5:30pm

UC Merced is postponing it commencement ceremonies, which were scheduled for May 16 and 17. No replacement date has been chosen yet. UC Merced and UC Berkeley are the only UC campuses on the semester calendar system. Their graduations usually are a month or so before the ceremonies at the nine UC schools on the quarter term calendar.

“We are incredibly disappointed but the health and safety of our graduates and guests must take precedence,” UC Merced interim chancellor Nathan Brostrom said in a statement.

Meanwhile UC Berkeley has not decided about its May 16 commencement, although ticket sales have been postponed pending a decision.

Larry Gordon

Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 4:00pm

Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued an executive order to waive all state testing for the current academic year, a move that would first need federal approval. At least one district, Palo Alto Unified, already decided to delay its annual state assessments. There are more than 6 million students in California’s K-12 schools, although standardized tests in math, English language arts and science are not required for each grade.

Sydney Johnson

Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 3:30pm

Updated data released by the state’s Department of Public Health shows the number of positive coronavirus cases in California has climbed to 598 and the number of deaths is 13, as of as of 6 p.m. March 17. The number of cases in children ages 0-17 is 13, in adults 18-64 it’s 392, and in adults 65 or over it’s 188. There are five cases reported in which age is unknown.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 7:00pm

Sonoma County’s Public Health Department joined seven other Bay Area counties in ordering residents to shelter in place effective at midnight on March 18 in the wake of four recent coronavirus cases reported in the county. Like the other counties that have already released similar orders — Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz — Sonoma County’s order ends April 7 and limits residents to “essential” activities to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Sacramento County’s Pubic Health Department stopped short of ordering residents to shelter in place, but instead directed businesses to allow employees to telecommute and said only those conducting “essential” business should be required to physically report to work. The directive also said that people ages 65 or older and those at higher risk of contracting the virus should stay home or maintain 6 feet of distance between themselves and others. It said those at lower risk should stay home to the maximum extent possible and prohibited social gatherings outside the home, noting that all schools in the county are closed.

During a news conference on March 17, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he anticipated other counties would soon announce similar orders restricting residents’ movements outside their homes. He also warned that schools may remain closed until the end of the school year, but said child care centers may remain open if they adhere to social distancing and other requirements.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 2:30pm

California school districts and preschools could be getting more federal aid that they can use for a range of coronavirus-related school costs and mental health support. Both the U.S. House and Senate have introduced bills to provide $3 billion in grants to districts and preschool programs throughout the U.S. This would include $1.2 billion for student meals, cleaning schools, buying laptops for distance learning and teacher training in online education. It would also include $600 million for early education programs to use for emergency staffing, training and cleaning, according to the news site Education Dive, which said that President Donald Trump has indicated he’d sign the legislation.

As a rule of thumb, California can expect an estimated 10 percent of the total. On Monday, the state Legislature approved $100 million for schools and child care centers to buy safety equipment and disinfect schools.

John Fensterwald

Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 1:00pm

The state’s Department of Public Health released updated data related to coronavirus cases as of 6 p.m. March 16. The number of positive cases in California is 472 and the number of deaths is 11. The number of cases in children ages 0-17 is seven, in adults 18-64 it’s 300, and in adults 65 or over it’s 160. There are five cases reported in people whose age is unknown.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 12:30pm

Students from four high schools will discuss how school closures are affecting them in a web conference on Zoom that the nonprofit student advocacy organization Californians for Justice has scheduled for 4 p.m. March 18.

“This moment of crisis has illuminated how essential public goods are to young people and families, and how fragile our public infrastructure is to support young people and their families during an unprecedented moment in California history,” they stated in the announcement. The students are from Long Beach Unified, East Side Union High School District in San Jose, Oakland Unified and Fresno Unified. To access the video conference go here.

John Fensterwald

Monday, March 16, 2020, 4:00pm

A substitute teacher who worked in the Sacramento City Unified District has died from complications from coronavirus, according to a joint press release from the district, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Sacramento City Teachers Association President David Fisher. The Sacramento Bee is reporting the teacher worked at Sutterville Elementary School.

“Today the Sacramento City Unified School District was deeply saddened to learn that the individual who worked as a temporary volunteer and substitute teacher in our district has passed away,” said Superintendent Jorge Aguilar. “We join the family, friends, colleagues and students in grieving this tragic loss. This death underscores the seriousness of this current public health emergency. Sac City Unified will continue to implement any and all measures recommended by public health leaders to protect the health and safety of our students, our staff, and our community.”

The substitute teacher tested positive earlier this month and parents at Sutterville Elementary were notified in a letter March 11. The district told parents they would not be closing the school at that time after conferring with Sacramento County Public Health Department officials. Instead, the school was given a deep cleaning.

All Sacramento City Unified Schools are closed for two weeks beginning today, including Sutterville Elementary School.

Diana Lambert

Monday, March 16, 2020, 2:15pm

The public health directors of seven Bay Area counties — Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and Santa Cruz — have ordered all residents to shelter in place beginning at 12:01 a.m. March 17 except for those that are conducting essential business. The order, which was issued to slow the spread of coronavirus throughout the Bay Area region, last for three weeks through April 7.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said during the March 16 press conference that school distribution of lunches is included in essential business. Public health officials said residents may travel by foot, car or public transit to conduct essential business such as buying food or visiting doctors, but that they must adhere to social distancing requirements by keeping at least 6 feet between people, including those standing in lines or on public transit. School meals must be provided on a pick-up-and-go basis and cannot be eaten on site. More information is expected be released in the coming days.

Theresa Harrington

Monday, March 16, 2020, 12:20pm

ACT has rescheduled the April 4 national ACT test date to June 13, 2020 due to concerns about the coronavirus. All registered students will receive an email with instructions for next steps. Additional test dates and other information is available at www.ACT.org.

The College Board is canceling the May 2 SAT administration, as well as makeup exams for the March 14 administration scheduled March 28. Registered students will receive refunds and the College Board will provide additional SAT testing opportunities “as feasible in place of canceled administrations,” according to a news release. It has not yet canceled the June 6 test and advises students to access free online resources at https://www.khanacademy.org/sat. 

Theresa Harrington

Monday, March 16, 2020, 9:00am

The city of San Francisco is offering emergency child care for the children of health care workers and other first responders, and children from low-income families, from March 16 to March 31. The emergency child care will be offered at recreation centers and libraries, which have closed to the public. More information is available here.

Zaidee Stavely

Sunday, March 15, 2020, 2:00pm

Zoom, the San Jose-based teleconferencing company, is providing schools in the United States affected by closures due to the coronavirus unlimited, free use of its software to provide online instruction. The company already provides free basic service for up to 40 minutes. The new policy extends the time limit without charge. Teachers and schools can learn more about the offer and how to sign up and use Zoom by going here.

EdSource staff

Sunday, March 15, 2020, 11:00am

In an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, UC Irvine has cancelled its traditional spring graduation ceremony, according to a message sent to students Friday.

Though University officials are looking into alternatives to the ceremony, they advised families not to make arrangements to come to the campus for the celebration. Graduating students will receive a message from the university’s commencement office with more information once an alternative is determined.

Ali Tadayon

Saturday, March 14, 2020, 7:45pm

UC Berkeley officials on Saturday confirmed that a graduate student has contracted COVID-19. The student does not live on campus or in the city of Berkeley and has self-isolated at home. The individual is in good condition and has no serious symptoms, according to the university.

“We understand that this news is unsettling, but we want to assure you that your health and safety remain our number one priority,” said Vice Chancellor for Administration Marc Fisher and Assistant Vice Chancellor for University Health Services Guy Nicolette in an email to the university community on Saturday. On March 13, the university announced that remote instruction will continue through the end of the semester.

Anne Vasquez

Saturday, March 14, 2020, 5:10pm

Most California public colleges and universities — the University of California, California State University and community college systems — have now suspended in-person courses. Some colleges are moving to remote instruction for the remainder of the academic year, while others are holding out hope they will be able to resume face-to-face classes in the spring. Go here for the full list of colleges that are transitioning to online classes.

Michael Burke

Saturday, March 14, 2020, 3:20pm

Pleasanton Unified School District has announced it will dismiss classes beginning Tuesday, March 17.

Officials in El Dorado County, east of Sacramento, have announced the closure of all schools for a week starting Monday, March 16, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Smita Patel

Saturday, March 14, 2020, 1:20pm

Stanford University has asked students to move out of dorms and leave the university by Wednesday, after an undergraduate has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a letter published Friday by President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. He said that a small number of students “who have no other option than to be here” will be allowed to stay in Stanford’s on-campus housing. Those include international students who cannot travel home, as well as those with underlying health issues or who are homeless.

Anne Vasquez

Saturday, March 14, 2020, 12:30pm

Several more California county offices of education have closed all schools, including Madera, Riverside, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Solano. All the countys’ schools are closing as of Monday, March 16, except Santa Barbara, which begins its closure March 18. Check the EdSource list of school closures, which will be updated with additional information, as it becomes available.

Daniel J. Willis

Friday, March 13, 2020, 7:30pm

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order saying closed schools could still receive state funding, but only if they meet a series of conditions, including providing students with “high quality educational opportunities” through distance learning or independent, continuing to provide school meals, and “to the extent practicable arranging for the supervision of students during school hours.” It is unclear how school districts will be able to satisfy those conditions.

Louis Freedberg

Friday, March 13, 2020, 5:50pm

All classes at the three colleges in the San Diego Community College District are canceled for the week beginning March 16. Classes at those colleges — which include San Diego City, San Diego Mesa and San Diego Miramar colleges — will resume in online formats on March 23. “Our top priority is to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff. We also must ensure the continuation of instruction and operations. This is a challenging time but if we keep these two priorities in mind, we will manage it well,” Constance Carroll, the district’s chancellor, said in a statement.

Michael Burke

Friday, March 13, 2020, 5:26pm

Several county superintendents in California have recommended that all schools in their counties close due to coronavirus. So far, those counties include Alameda; El Dorado; Los Angeles, which includes 80 districts; Marin; Orange; Placer; Riverside; Sacramento; San Diego; San Francisco; San Mateo; San Joaquin; Sonoma; and Santa Clara. In most cases the decision was made in conjunction with the county public health offices.

Al Mijares, superintendent of schools for Orange County, said, “We got a ton of calls from parents wanting their schools closed.” The tipping point toward closing was the advisory from Gov. Gavin Newsom banning groups of gatherings of more than 250 people. Many high schools have several thousand students in close contact. “There was a consensus among our superintendents that we should find a common period for closing to avoid confusion and settle the reaction of some people who felt districts were not cautious enough and others who felt they were being too cautious.”

John Fensterwald

Thursday, March 12, 2020, 6:45pm

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified is closing all schools to students March 13-16, but teachers and staff will report to work to plan for possible extended school closures starting March 17. The district will thoroughly clean schools because a community member with children in district schools was exposed to the virus and the district was experiencing a high rate of absenteeism. Officials will announce on March 17 whether the closures will continue.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, March 12, 2020, 5:31pm

West Contra Costa Unified is closing all schools for three weeks starting March 16 due to concerns over contact between students and staff members with others who may have coronavirus. It moved spring break from the week of April 6 to the week of March 30, with classes resuming April 6. The district will continue to provide instruction via laptops and tablets using online tools, while younger students will take packets of work to take home. Meals will be offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at several schools during the first two weeks of the closure.

San Francisco Unified is closing all schools in the district March 16 through April 3 due to concerns about the spread of the virus. It plans to provide meals to students who rely on them and advises parents to avoid leaving children with elderly care givers, since they are most susceptible to the virus.

Natomas Unified is closing all schools in the district March 13-16 because a medically fragile student at Natomas High came to school with symptoms of the virus. The school will be deep-cleaned and district officials will announce Sunday whether schools will remain closed Tuesday.

Sacramento State University announced it would begin transitioning to online courses for the remainder of the spring semester starting March 16.

Theresa Harrington

Thursday, March 12, 2020, 12:53pm

Gov. Gavin Newsom said schools do not fall under his executive order to cancel non-essential gatherings of more than 250 people until at least the end of March. He said schools are considered “essential” and local officials should consult guidance sent out Saturday before deciding whether to close. In making his decision, Newsom said he considered the impact of school closures on low-income students who rely on school meals and students whose parents may be on the front lines of fighting the virus like law enforcement and medical professionals who would not be able to assist the community if they were home caring for their children. To distance students from each other, Newsom suggested that schools stagger P.E. classes, cancel assemblies and provide meals in classrooms or other isolated settings. He also recommended “common sense” sanitization practices. While some K-12 schools and colleges have turned to online learning, Newsom said they must consider educational equity because a lot of students may not have access to laptops or wi-fi. “It’s a point of real concern,” he said. “Those that can, do. And those that can’t, are unable.” When asked if his own kids are still in school, Newsom said, “They are.”

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 4:33pm

K-12 Schools

Parlier Unified announced on March 9 that it would close two of its schools — Parlier High and Mathew J. Brletic Elementary — March 10-13 for deep cleaning after the Fresno County Department of Health determined that a district student recently traveled to an area at risk for the virus.

Theresa Harrington

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 4:00pm

K-12 Schools

The Oakland Unified School District announced on March 11 that two students — one from Oakland Technical High School and the other from Oakland High School — may have been exposed to a person at another location who has tested positive for the coronavirus. The students show no symptoms but agreed to self-quarantine at home. The high schools remain open. The district declined to identify where the students may have been exposed. The district also cancelled most activities through April 5, the end of spring break.

Ali Tadayon

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 3:53pm

California Community Colleges
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of California’s community college system, on March 11 told presidents of the state’s 114 community colleges with face-to-face classes that they have the green light to move classes online. Colleges typically need to get approval from the state chancellor’s office to do that, but Oakley told the presidents that they can convert classes online as soon as they deem it necessary and get the administrative approval later.

So far, more than a dozen community colleges across the state have announced plans to move classes online, including all nine colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District, the largest community college district in the state.

California State University
Cal State Fullerton will move all classes online effective March 25 and continuing until April 26. From March 12 through March 20, faculty will be encouraged but not mandated to teach classes online, except for on March 17 and 18, when virtual teaching will be mandatory for a two-day trial period. All classes will be canceled on March 23 and March 24 to allow faculty to make final adjustments before online teaching becomes mandatory.

Michael Burke

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 2:46pm

The California Department of Public Health issued the latest tallies of positive COVID-19 cases in California. Of the 157 confirmed cases, two are children in the 0-17 age group, 91 are in the 18-64 age range, and 60 are 65 or older. Four are of unknown age. Eighteen public health labs in California are testing for the virus.

Louis Freedberg

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 2:15pm

California State University
Cal State Northridge announced it would cancel classes March 12 through March 15. The university will be on spring break next week, but classes will resume online on March 23 and continue to be held virtually through April 19.

Michael Burke

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 12:00pm

California Community Colleges

The San Jose Evergreen Community College District suspended in-person classes at San José City College, Evergreen Valley College, and the Milpitas College Extension from March 11 until March 16. When classes resume on March 16, they will be offered in an online or other distance learning format, to the extent possible, and remain in this alternate mode of delivery through at least April 6.

Mission College in Santa Clara is suspending in-person classes starting March 11 and continuing into April. Classes will resume in waves on March 16, March 23, and April 6 as online courses or with alterations. Lists of classes will be published on the college website and through direct communications from instructors.

Smita Patel

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 12:00pm

K-12 Schools
The Los Angeles Unified school board voted March 10 to declare a state of emergency across the district, authorizing superintendent Austin Beutner to take “any and all actions necessary” in response to the coronavirus. No immediate actions were taken March 10 but Beutner now has the ability to unilaterally relocate students or take any other steps he deems necessary. The emergency powers also allow him to enter into any contract for any dollar amount without going through the usual approval process.

University of California
Most University of California campuses have announced plans to suspend in-person courses. UC Irvine, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara became the latest to move classes online, joining UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and UC San Diego. UC Merced also said the campus would begin “moving toward remote learning.”

UC Davis, meanwhile, says it is “strongly encouraging faculty to go online with their teaching” and has canceled in-person final exams for next week.

The only other UC campus, UCSF, the medical school which offers only graduate courses, has not suspended in-person classes but has canceled large events on campuses.

California State University
San Diego State plans to move most classes online. From now until the end of spring break on April 3, moving classes online is voluntary and up to each individual instructor. Beginning April 6, the policy will be mandatory, with minor exceptions, such as small lab courses that will continue to meet face-to-face.

San Francisco State has canceled all in-person classes for the remainder of this week. They will resume on March 16 and be held online or through other remote methods until April 5.

Sacramento State faculty have the option of moving their classes online but it is not mandatory. In-person classes will continue for courses whose instructors do not choose to move them online.

CSU East Bay is canceling all in-person lecture, discussion and seminar courses online for all three East Bay campuses beginning March 11. Instruction will resume on March 16 at the regularly scheduled date and time. Courses currently offered online will continue as scheduled.

Michael Burke

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 10:46am

California State University

Cal State Long Beach became the latest university to suspend in-person classes. The university canceled those classes from March 12 through March 17 to allow faculty time to prepare for remote instruction. Courses will resume online beginning March 18.

Michael Burke

Tuesday, March 10, 2020, 3:20pm

K-12 Schools

A student who attends a private, Catholic school operated by the San Francisco Archdiocese has tested positive for the virus, Superintendent Pamela Lyons announced March 10. All 90 schools operated by the archdiocese will close from March 12-25.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, March 10, 2020, 1:22pm

University of California

UC Santa Cruz on March 10 became the latest university to suspend in-person classes. Chancellor Cynthia Larive said in a message to the campus that, through April 3, most courses would be offered through alternate methods, but added that some lab courses would continue to meet in person.

Michael Burke

Tuesday, March 10, 2020, 12:00pm

K-12 Schools

Gov. Gavin Newsom met with State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and county superintendents on March 9 to hear their concerns about coronavirus and how it could impact schools. Kindra Britt, spokeswoman for the California Department of Education, said the California Department of Public Health is the lead agency working with districts to help them determine if school closures are necessary. She said the state Department of Education wants districts to act the best interests of their students and staff and said that funding questions can be worked out later on a case by case basis.

Theresa Harrington

Tuesday, March 10, 2020, 8:00am

UC and CSU

On March 9 UC San Diego, San Jose State University, San Francisco State, Santa Clara University and University of San Francisco’s School of Law joined UC Berkeley and Stanford University in moving to online-only instruction, on varying timelines. More colleges are expected to follow.

Michael Burke


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