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California education news: What’s the latest?

Friday, January 21, 2022, 4:16 pm

Link copied.Oakland teachers union, district make “progress” on Covid safety plan; negotiations to continue

Negotiations between Oakland Unified’s teachers union, the Oakland Education Association, and the district are slated to continue through the night over a new Covid safety plan ahead of a potential strike.

The district and union have been in talks since Thursday, and have been inching towards a full agreement, OEA president Keith Brown told Edsource. The district has already agreed to two of the union’s key requests, Brown said: providing KN95 and N95 masks to all students and staff for the remainder of the year, and offering access to weekly Covid testing to all students and staff.

Both sides are still hung up on the union’s third key demand, which is providing coverage for staff absences, Brown said. OEA also plans to advocate for improved ventilation and outdoor seating for students.

Brown said both parties are “making progress,” and chalked up the success of the negotiations thus far to the protests by students, staff and families over the past few weeks shedding light on safety concerns.

“The activism of our students and the grassroots activism that has happened over the last two weeks has really brought a sense of urgency,” Brown said.

If talks break off after tonight without an agreement, Brown said the union’s executive board has authorized him to bring a strike vote to OEA members as soon as Monday. If the parties come to an agreement, the union will vote whether or not to ratify it.

 

Ali Tadayon

Friday, January 21, 2022, 9:58 am

Link copied.Pacific Grove teachers picket for higher pay

Teachers in Pacific Grove, in Monterey County, picketed outside a middle school protesting what they consider meager salary increases and costly health insurance, which they say are driving away many teachers from the district, according to the Monterey Herald.

The Pacific Grove Teachers Association is currently in negotiations with the district, asking for cost-of-living salary adjustments and a more affordable way to opt into benefits.

Pacific Grove Unified Superintendent Ralph Porras agreed health care costs are high, but said that the union decides how much of any increase is put toward benefits or salary.

Zaidee Stavely

Thursday, January 20, 2022, 5:12 pm

Link copied.UC regents launching task force to explore enrollment growth

The University of California’s board of regents is creating a new task force to explore strategies for expanding enrollment at the system’s 10 campuses, said Cecilia Estolano, chair of the board, during a meeting Thursday.

“The charge of the task force is to explore and build support for long-term efforts to grow undergraduate and graduate enrollment at the University of California in a manner that maintains academic excellence, achieves inclusive access and success and enables more Californians from every part of the state to benefit from the University of California education,” Estolano said. 

Estolano will co-chair the task force with Maria Anguiano, a regent and executive vice president of  Arizona State University’s Learning Enterprise, a program that encourages lifelong learning opportunities.

The convening of the task force comes as UC is aiming by 2030 to increase undergraduate enrollment of California residents by 16,000 and graduate enrollment of California residents by 4,000. The system could also get help from the state to reach that goal. In his 2022-23 budget proposal released last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed giving the system $99 million in annual funding to increase enrollment by 7,132 students starting this fall. His proposal also says the system is expected to increase enrollment by that amount plus 1% per year for four additional years.

Estolano said Thursday that she is grateful for Newsom’s proposal, adding that it would give UC the “baseline budget and secured funding that we need” to reach the system’s 2030 enrollment goals. 

Michael Burke

Thursday, January 20, 2022, 10:26 am

Link copied.UC chancellors to receive raises

The chancellors of the University of California’s nine undergraduate campuses will each get raises under an action taken by the university’s board of regents.

The board voted Thursday to approve spending a total of about $800,000 to give raises to each of the chancellors. The raises would range from about 6% to 28%. After the raises, the salaries of the chancellors would range from about $522,000 to $640,000.

The vote came after the board’s governance committee recommended the raises on Wednesday.

The biggest percentage raise would go to UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang, who would go from earning a salary of $451,362 to a salary of $579,750, a 28.4% jump.

UC officials argued the raises are necessary because UC chancellors are underpaid compared with the leaders of similar institutions across the country.

Stett Holbrook, a spokesman for UC’s central president’s office, said in a statement to EdSource that chancellor salaries at UC have lagged behind market rates for more than 15 years, adding that even with the raises approved Thursday, the salaries “will still rank well below” salaries of their peers.

“We believe the increases would be a move in the right direction, an important step toward more fair and competitive compensation for our campus leaders. It would help to ensure the University recruits and maintains the caliber of leadership to further UC’s continued excellence and its vital mission,” Holbrook added.

Cecilia Estolano, chair of the board of regents as well as chair of the governance committee, said Wednesday during the governance committee meeting that the chancellors “are scholars, are leaders, are executives. They are extraordinary fundraisers. They have great character. They really are what make the University of California shine.”

Michael Burke

Thursday, January 20, 2022, 9:56 am

Link copied.Frat parties at USC to resume in March – with security present to guard against sexual assaults

After halting fraternity parties in October because of multiple sexual assault allegations, the University of Southern California will now allow them to resume  in March – provided security guards are present, the Los Angeles Times is reporting.

USC released new policies on parties at Greek houses as a Title IX investigation into allegations of multiple women being drugged and sexually assaulted last year continues.

In addition to security guards being posted in hallways and near bedrooms, the university is requiring “mandated risk and sexual violence prevention trainings for all fraternity members,” The Times reported.

“The policies were drafted by a working group of about a dozen Greek life and student government leaders, safety experts, faculty and other student group representatives and approved by university officials,” The Times reported. Provost Charles Zukoski called the partnership between the group and the university “critical” to the future of USC’s Greek life.

Thomas Peele

Thursday, January 20, 2022, 9:51 am

Link copied.CalMatters database shows 940 individual school districts’ Covid-19 policies across state

CalMatters has created a database of 940 public school districts’ Covid-19 policies, showing a patchwork of attempts to control the omicron variant, including more than 40 districts that are attempting vaccine mandates.

“Neither the California Department of Education nor any other agency is keeping track of all individual district policies,” CalMatters reported. The public can use the database to track the individual policies where their children go to school.

“I am surprised that there is no central body that regulates school districts,” Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a professor of pediatrics and of epidemiology at Stanford University told CalMatters. “This clearly isn’t good public health policy.”

“There is no way you can come up with an argument where a patchwork approach to anything is going to be helpful for public health,” Maldonado said. “Viruses don’t look at borders. … You can have a massive outbreak triggered in a small district that can cross borders.”

EdSource staff

Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 5:34 pm

Link copied.Dozens of Richmond High teachers participated in sickout protest Wednesday in support of student demands

More than 30 of Richmond High School’s approximately 70 teachers participated Wednesday in a sick-out protest over the health and safety concerns of their students.

Richmond High’s sick-out was one of several to occur across the district since teachers and students returned from winter break amid the Omicron surge.

In an online petition to West Contra Costa Unified superintendent Chris Hurst and the district’s five school board members, Richmond High teachers said they were concerned about the school’s high number of Covid cases and quarantine absences, a lack of contact tracing and safety leadership, and the school’s design. Richmond High’s main building does not have any windows, and class sizes do not allow for adequate social distancing, according to the petition. The school also lacks air purifying systems in one of its buildings, and filters in other buildings aren’t being changed in a timely manner, the petition said.

“Unfortunately, these conditions have been overshadowed by the rest of the district — (such as) El Cerrito, Hercules and Pinole Valley — having more community resources and therefore (are) experiencing the pandemic differently,” the petition said. “Richmond High School, a school situated in a primarily working-class community of color, has different needs that are being ignored by our district.”

Richmond High teachers are calling on the district to ramp up the number of testing sites, offer twice-a-week PCR and rapid testing, supply students with more at-home tests, increase the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) in classrooms, provide KN95 and N95 masks to students, form a “formal Covid team,” provide “equitable accommodations for students experiencing Covid” and offer more learning opportunities to students who are unable to be in school.

District officials weren’t able to immediately provide Wednesday’s attendance rate.

 

Ali Tadayon

Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 2:26 pm

Link copied.State settles lawsuit over ethnic studies curriculum, to remove two disputed chants

California education officials have agreed to remove a Mayan-based chant and another spiritual invocation from the state’s nonbinding 800-page model ethnic studies curriculum in an out-of-court settlement.

The nonprofit Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, which opposes affirmative action and what it defines as critical race theory, sued in September. It claimed the unity chants violated the First Amendment ban on promoting religion. It called the settlement “a significant triumph for freedom and equality” in a statement.

The foundation referred to the unity chants as prayers, while the curriculum referred to them as class “energizers.” Emphasizing that  the curriculum is voluntary,  the California Department of Education and the State Board of Education said in a statement that it would delete them “out of an abundance of caution and in order to avoid prolonged and costly litigation.” However, the state agreed to pay $100,000 of the plaintiffs’ legal expenses; it also will send a letter to school districts informing them of the deletions.

The curriculum includes several unity chants (go here to read the text in the curriculum, starting on page 5). The two that will be removed are the In Lak Ech Affirmation, which focuses on the Nahui Ollin (pages 9-12), and the Ashé Affirmation, whose origin is Nigerian (page 14). The lawsuit said classes in San Diego Unified and Salinas Union High School District also used the chants.

Correction: The multicultural Unity Clap (page 6), which also includes the Mayan phrase In Lak Ech – “you are the other me” – as shown in this video, led by R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, an author of the first draft of the curriculum, was not removed. An earlier version of the article confused the two passages.

In the settlement, the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation agreed not to sue again over the current model curriculum, even though it disagrees with much of its content. It will continue to monitor individual districts’ ethnic studies curriculums to see that they comply with state law and the Legislature’s intent, said Wenyuan Wu, executive director of the foundation.

John Fensterwald

Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 9:34 am

Link copied.California will distribute Covid test kits to child care providers

California has a statewide distribution of at-home Covid-19 tests for child care providers planned for the end of January, as the LAist reported, which may provide some relief for caregivers scrambling to find tests and masks during the latest surge.

The California Department of Public Health has distributed more than 9.6 million tests to California public schools, as the LAist reported, and the U.S. Postal Service is also making free test kits available to the public, but it remains unclear if these resources will fully meet the demand. Each household is eligible for four test kits.

The state’s plan is to send coronavirus test kits, masks and other supplies to local child care resource centers and referral agencies during the last two weeks of this month. Those central agencies will be charged with distributing the supplies to local child care providers.

“The state will continue coordinating with child care providers to get them the resources they need,” said a spokesperson from Gov. Gavin’s Newsom’s office, as the LAist cited. 

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 9:33 am

Link copied.White House plans to restart talks with Manchin

The White House intends to restart talks with Sen. Joe Manchin on President Biden’s social safety net package, hoping to try a new tack in negotiations, as the Wall Street Journal reported, even as some  Democrats push for passing key pieces of the agenda instead. 

The West Virginia Democrat rejected the roughly $2 trillion proposal in December, saying it was too costly, after months of intense media coverage of his negotiations with party leadership. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, also raised concerns about portions of the “Build Back Better” package, and the White House hasn’t yet specified how it might seek to alter the package to win their support.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren has said she is open to breaking up the Build Back Better bill to increase its chances of passing in the closely divided Senate, as CBS reported.  

“I’m open to whatever is going to get us across the finish line knowing we’re not going to get one single Republican to lower the price of prescription drugs, not one to give us universal child care, not one who’s going to say that these corporations that make billions in profits are going to not get away any longer with paying zero in taxes. We’ve got all those in Build Back Better. We just need to get what we can across the finish line,” she said on Tuesday.  

The expanded child tax credit was among the programs Warren singled out that needed to be passed. The program, which impacted roughly 36 million families, just expired.

Experts say it successfully lifted many children out of poverty. In California, for example, continuing the benefit has cut child poverty from 20% to 13.7% and kept more than 600,000 kids above the poverty line, according to a study by the Urban Institute.

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 9:28 am

Link copied.Backers of two education initiatives cite omicron in ending ballot campaigns

The omicron variant has culled two proposed education initiatives from the herd of three dozen measures vying to make the November state election ballot.

Backers of a proposal to add the right to a “high-quality” education to the State Constitution and of a measure to establish voucher-like education savings accounts  have halted efforts to qualify them for the fall election. Both faced stiff headwinds of collecting signatures from voters wary of signing petitions face-to-face during a pandemic.

Even before the rise of the omicron variant, observers had predicted gathering enough signatures would cost upward of $10 million. And both initiatives would have faced costly campaigns to defeat them by the California Teachers Association.

Lance Christensen, chief strategist for Fix California Education’s education savings account measure, didn’t exactly blame omicron, however. “Gov. Newsom’s continued attacks on our freedoms and his talk of more lockdowns, emergency orders, social distancing and fear mongering has only increased the challenge of collecting 1.5 million signatures for a school choice initiative that competes with a similarly worded initiative,” he told the conservative media outlet California Globe.

Fix California Education’s decision to suspend operations and support a nearly identical rival initiative measure should strengthen Californians for School Choice. It began signature-gathering about the same time last fall and now has until April 11 to submit enough signatures. Its proposal would provide parents or caregivers $14,000 per year per child, which they could spend for a private, religious, charter or home school arrangement. They could put whatever is left over each year into a savings account for higher education. The chair of Californians for School Choice is Mike Alexander, who headed Pasadena Patriots, an arm of the Tea Party.

Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch and other promoters of the “high-quality” education amendment said they would try again in two years. “Due to the omicron surge, our coalition of parents, teachers and civil right organizations have made the decision to continue to grow across California and be on the November 2024 ballot,” the campaign said in a statement Monday.

California would join Florida, Illinois and Virginia as states whose constitutions have a “high-quality” clause. Welch said would it enable proponents to more easily challenge policies, regulations and laws, such as  strong workplace protections for teachers, that they contend interfere with a high-quality education. As currently worded, the initiative would prohibit judges from mandating spending or taxes as remedies.

John Fensterwald

Tuesday, January 18, 2022, 4:48 pm

Link copied.45 colleges selected as part of first round of ‘Californians for All’ College Corps

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that 45 colleges and universities would receive the first round of funding in the new Californians For All College Corps.

The corps, which is similar to AmeriCorps, will deploy up to 6,500 students from the 45 colleges to work or intern in organizations that are working to improve K-12 education, climate action and food insecurity in California. Students can earn a $10,000 stipend for participating after a year of service.

“California is a world leader in both higher education and service,” Newsom said. “The #CaliforniansForAll College Corps advances these priorities by connecting Californians of different backgrounds with enriching service opportunities throughout the state while making college more affordable for our state’s future leaders. We hope the Corps will be replicated across the nation.”

Newsom and the Legislature created the program last year with a $146 million investment.

The following institutions were selected to create College Corps on their campuses:

  • Butte College
  • Cal Poly Pomona
  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • College of the Desert
  • College of the Redwoods
  • College of the Siskiyous
  • Compton College
  • Concordia University Irvine
  • Crafton Hills College
  • CSU Bakersfield
  • CSU Chico
  • CSU Dominguez Hills
  • CSU East Bay
  • CSU Long Beach
  • CSU Los Angeles
  • CSU Monterey Bay
  • CSU San Bernardino
  • Cuesta Community College
  • East Los Angeles College
  • Fresno State
  • Fresno City College
  • Glendale Community College
  • Hancock Community College
  • Humboldt State University
  • Irvine Valley College
  • Riverside City College
  • Rio Hondo College
  • Sacramento City College
  • Sacramento State
  • San Bernardino Valley College
  • San Francisco State
  • San Jose State
  • Shasta College
  • Stanislaus State
  • UC Berkeley
  • UC Davis
  • UC Irvine
  • UC Los Angeles
  • UC Merced
  • UC Riverside
  • UC San Diego
  • University of San Diego
  • University of the Pacific
  • Vanguard University
  • Woodland Community College
Ashley A. Smith

Tuesday, January 18, 2022, 10:27 am

Link copied.Kern County schools face closures, disruptions due to staff absences

School staff absences due to the omicron variant in Kern County are causing school closures, bus delays and warnings being sent out to parents about potential shifts to virtual learning, the Bakersfield Californian reported Tuesday.

Bakersfield Catholic school Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the Mojave Unified School District cancelled classes Friday due to staff shortages, according to the Californian. The Delano Union Elementary School District sent a letter to parents encouraging them to have a plan in place for child care because the district could shift to virtual learning, and the shift “could occur from one day to the next.”

A letter to Bakersfield City School District parents, sent Thursday, warned that staffing shortages are “straining” the district’s resources and support, potentially impacting school offices, classrooms, after-school programs and buses. Bus routes affecting five Bakersfield district schools were delayed Tuesday, the Californian reported.

Norris School District canceled all its bus routes for general education students for two weeks, the Californian reported.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, January 18, 2022, 9:43 am

Link copied.Oakland Unified students plan sickout protests today

Protesting what they say are insufficient Covid safety protocols by the district, many Oakland Unified students plan to call in sick Tuesday.

An online petition started by Oakland Unified students earlier this month garnered more than 1,200 signatures by Tuesday. The petition called on the district to provide KN95 masks for every student, twice weekly Covid tests for everyone on campus and more covered outdoor spaces where students can eat during inclement weather. If the demands weren’t met by Monday, students would strike starting today, the petition said, and on Friday they plan to protest outside the district’s administration building in downtown Oakland.

District spokesman John Sasaki wasn’t able to say Tuesday afternoon how many students participated in the boycott, since attendance figures won’t be available until Wednesday. Staff sickouts in solidarity with the students’ boycott Tuesday resulted in the closures of Acorn Woodland Elementary School,  Bridges Academy and United for Success Academy.

District officials sent an email to families Sunday night saying they “look forward to seeing students at school” Tuesday and that they have been able to meet most of their demands. They reminded families that the district ordered 200,000 KN95 masks for all students, though students have expressed concern about what will happen after those masks run out. The district has also ramped up its testing throughout the district, opening additional testing hubs today and Friday. However, twice weekly testing is only available at some schools.

The district has also been installing more covered outdoor eating spaces at schools since the fall, officials said.  More schools will have them installed once the district receives the necessary materials, some of which have been on backorder for months, they said.

“We feel like we have very effectively addressed the biggest concerns raised in the petition and brought to our attention by students and staff,” Sasaki said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “Moving on from here we look forward to having all of our students in school tomorrow and we look forward to having all of our schools open.”

Ali Tadayon

Friday, January 14, 2022, 2:19 pm

Link copied.San Diego State sees record number of fall 2022 applicants

San Diego State University, which is one of the 23 California State University campuses, announced Friday that it set a new record for the number of applications from first-year undergraduates for fall 2022.

The university received 76,792 applications from all 50 states and 74 countries. Including transfer students, San Diego State has received 99,027 applications, which is also a record high. The application period was extended last year to Dec. 15 to support families dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Including more than 7,000 graduate school applications, the university has received a total of more than 106,000 for the upcoming fall. All students will be notified in March about their admission status.

“This is an incredibly positive testament to the resilience of students and their families, as well as the value they place on higher education,” San Diego State President Adela de la Torre said. “A record number of San Diegans, Californians, and students everywhere see SDSU as their pathway for a brighter future.”

 

Ashley A. Smith

Friday, January 14, 2022, 10:55 am

Link copied.Sacramento Unified superintendent pleads for volunteers, subs

Sacramento City Unified is the latest school district to turn to the community for help overcoming its staffing shortages. This morning  Superintendent Jorge Aguilar sent out a video plea to the community asking for volunteers and substitute teachers.

“I’m asking all of Sacramento for your support,” Aguilar said. “If you already have been cleared to volunteer in our district our schools need all hands on deck. Please reach out to your child’s school to ask what you can do to pitch in. Please. Please consider making a difference in the lives of students and families that depend on us to keep our schools open.”

Aguilar said that the district staff is stretched so thin that principals and district administrators have been teaching in classrooms.

District leaders are hoping that an executive order recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom will make more people eligible to substitute. While substitutes will still either have to pass a test or required coursework to fulfill the state’s basic skills requirement, they no longer will have to file an application for a substitute credential. The order also makes it easier for retired teachers to return to work.

Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Don Austin issued a similar call for help  to parents Sunday.

Sacramento City Unified has information about volunteering or substituting on its website. Volunteers can also go to the district’s Serna Center at 5735 47th Ave.

Diana Lambert

Friday, January 14, 2022, 8:30 am

Link copied.Oakland Unified considers delaying vaccine mandate

The Oakland Unified school board is considering pushing back the deadline again for all students 12 and older to be fully vaccinated.

Almost a third of students 12 and older in Oakland Unified are not yet fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The board had first set the deadline at Jan. 2, but then moved it to Jan. 31. Now, they are considering moving it to August. The resolution states that if students are not vaccinated by the deadline, students are required to move to independent study.

“We recognize enforcement could potentially be a problem,” board President Gary Yee told the newspaper. “I think we’re doing as much as we can.”

Zaidee Stavely

Friday, January 14, 2022, 8:29 am

Link copied.Number of undergraduates continues to fall in California

The number of undergraduates in California colleges dropped by about 250,000 between fall 2019 and fall 2021, according to a new survey from the National Student Clearinghouse.

The biggest drop came in fall 2020, when colleges went online. There were 148,113 fewer students enrolled in fall 2020 than in fall 2019. The following year, in fall 2021, there were 99,000 fewer students than in 2020. The biggest drop is among community college students.

“Our final look at fall 2021 enrollment shows undergraduates continuing to sit out in droves as colleges navigate yet another year of Covid-19,” said Doug Shapiro, executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Without a dramatic reengagement in their education, the potential loss to these students’ earnings and futures is significant, which will greatly impact the nation as a whole in years to come.”

Zaidee Stavely

Friday, January 14, 2022, 8:28 am

Link copied.Staffing shortages, high infection rates close Lake Tahoe Unified, one Yuba City school

Staffing shortages and high rates of Covid infection are forcing more schools to close temporarily. All seven schools in the Lake Tahoe Unified School District closed Thursday, and Butte Vista Elementary School in Yuba City closed today.

All of the schools are expected to reopen on Tuesday after the long holiday weekend.

“We’ve struggled to keep schools open this week and it has been quite strenuous on our staff and their families,” said district officials in a statement. “In looking at tomorrow’s anticipated absences, it appears we will have a scenario much like today’s. Every staff member at LTUSD knows that keeping school open is what’s best for kids but current conditions continue to intensify and we are at a breaking point.”

Lake Tahoe attributed its closure to staffing shortages related to Covid infections. Butte Vista Elementary officials canceled classes after consulting with the county health officer about escalating infection rates among students and staff.

Chandler encouraged students and staff to stay home during the closure to curb the spread of the virus and to take care of their health. Families in the Lake Tahoe district and Butte Vista Elementary can contact their schools about testing.

“On behalf of the entire district we are immensely grateful to all fellow staff members who have covered the duties of their co-workers, worked overtime, tracked Covid cases and attendance, worked their prep periods, and used all other creative ways to cover classrooms during one of the most challenging times in our District’s history,” Chandler said.

Diana Lambert

Thursday, January 13, 2022, 9:59 am

Link copied.Covid vaccination rates in children 5 to 11 lagging badly in California

The rate of children between ages 5 to 11 receiving covid vaccinations in California and across the nation is lagging badly, and doctors are concerned, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Only 17% of eligible children in the state were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, the news service reported. In contrast, Vermont’s rate for the same age group was 48 %. Experts are blaming disinformation as a leading cause of the lag.

“Vaccinations among the elementary school set surged after the shots were introduced in the fall, but the numbers have crept up slowly since then, and omicron’s explosive spread appears to have had little effect,” the report said.

Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director for the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, called the rates “very disturbing.” Parents, Murphy said, “are taking an enormous risk and continuing to fuel the pandemic.”

 

EdSource staff

Thursday, January 13, 2022, 9:57 am

Link copied.Washington Post: San Francisco school board recall ‘tearing Democrats apart’

The election to recall three members of the San Francisco Unified school board next month has “exposed new, stark political divisions” in the city and drawn national attention, the Washington Post is reporting in a look at the election.

Headlined “San Francisco’s school board recalls are tearing Democrats apart,” the Post report published Thursday notes that some of the city’s liberal stalwarts favor removing board President Gabriela López, Vice President Faauuga Moliga and former board Vice President Alison Collins, all registered Democrats. The effort is largely driven by the board’s decision to end merit-based admissions to the city’s top high school.

Former county Supervisor and mayoral  candidate  Matt Gonzalez gave the Post a blunt assessment: “I hate to break it to them,” said Gonzalez of the recall’s opponents, “but this is really more about incompetence than it is about how it fits into some ideological battle over school boards or textbooks or things like that.”

EdSource staff

Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 4:37 pm

Link copied.Four veteran state school board members retire

Four veterans on the 11-member State Board of Education who guided major shifts in the state’s school funding, accountability, academic standards and testing over the past decade retired after their last school board meeting Wednesday.

In an expected Zoom call, former Gov. Jerry Brown, who appointed them to multiple terms, praised Sue Burr, Patricia Rucker, Ilene Straus and Ting Sun for “contributions to a complex system” of education, made possible by their knowledge and experience. “I have a bias toward experience. I thought it was bunk,” he said, but recognizes now “there is no substitute for experience than the four people you are honoring.”

Michael Kirst, president of the board during Brown’s last two terms, and Linda Darling-Hammond, the current president appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, said they valued the expertise and perspectives that each brought to the board.

Newsom has not yet named their successors. He did reappoint Cynthia Glover Woods, chief academic officer at the Riverside County Office of Education, who had been filling a vacant position. The board’s next meeting will be in March.

Burr, the most experienced in the politics and policy of education, had served as the board’s executive director, an education adviser to Brown, and the executive director of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association before her board appointment. Rucker, a longtime math and English teacher, served as a consultant for the California Teachers Association in instruction and continued as a lobbyist for CTA while on the board.

Straus, a lecturer for the Educational Leadership Program at UCLA, served as a principal and administrator in Santa Monica-Malibu Unified, and then as an assistant superintendent at Beverly Hills Unified. She was California’s secondary school principal of the year. Sun, co-founder and executive director of the Sacramento-based Natomas Charter School, has worked for two decades as a teacher, administrator and charter school operator. She co-chaired the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and the state’s Public Schools Accountability Act Advisory Committee.

During the past decade, the board has overseen the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, the creation of multiple measures of school improvement in the California School Dashboard and the revision of academic standards and frameworks in science and social studies.

John Fensterwald

Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 3:53 pm

Link copied.Teacher sickouts continue at West Contra Costa Unified

After a sickout protest by nine teachers Tuesday at West Contra Costa Unified’s Korematsu Middle School, seven of Stege Elementary’s 12 teachers on staff called out sick Wednesday and Thursday, district officials said.

No permanent full-time teachers were on campus Wednesday or Thursday; Wednesday had previously been scheduled as only a partial day at Stege. In addition to the seven teachers who called in sick Wednesday and Thursday, the other six were either in quarantine or on leave for other reasons, district spokesman Ryan Phillips said. Stege teacher Hannah Geitner said the teachers who are in quarantine are also supporting and participating int he sick-out action.

Substitutes as well as administrative staff with teaching credentials have been filling in for the absent teachers. Of the 209 students enrolled at Stege, 68 attended Wednesday and 78 attended Thursday, Phillips said.

Phillips also said the Korematsu teachers who participated in the sickout Tuesday returned to school Wednesday.

Stege teachers are calling on the district to provide KN95 masks, rather than just surgical masks, for all students. Currently, the district has only committed to providing two KN95 masks a week to employees and surgical masks for students. The teachers are also calling for weekly required testing for students and a formal Covid-safety plan for the omicron variant from the district. The district is holding a special board meeting 5 p.m. Thursday to present its current Covid contingency plan.

The Stege teachers who participated in the action sent emails to their students’ parents letting them know they would be calling out sick and their reasoning behind it. Some of the parents participating in the effort as well and helped plan for it, and are filling out petitions in support of the teachers, said Stege teacher Sam Cleare.

 

Ali Tadayon

Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 9:25 am

Link copied.Children’s behavioral outcomes may be worse during remote learning, research shows

New Harvard research shows that educational instability, a hallmark of the pandemic that includes school shutdowns and switching between in-person, hybrid, and remote learning formats, negatively affects children’s social, emotional, and behavioral well-being.

In an online survey of more than 400 families conducted between January to May last year, parents reported that when learning remotely or in a hybrid program, their children exhibited worse behavior, more maladaptive changes and more dysregulation, such as depression and anxiety, than when learning in-person.

Parents felt their children’s behaviors had shifted due to the pandemic’s educational interruptions, as the research shows, suggesting that families need more help coping with the ongoing disruptions they face. 

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 9:23 am

Link copied.Democrats won’t push Child Tax Credit outside of Biden’s spending bill

Senior House Democrats said Tuesday that they will not attempt to restart the Child Tax Credit, which provided up to $300 monthly checks to millions of American families, outside of Biden’s social spending bill, as Business Insider reported.

“It is my hope and expectation that we are going to be able to arrive at an agreement with the Senate, including Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, around a Build Back Better Act,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said at a weekly press conference, as Business Insider cited.

The sprawling $2 trillion spending package is currently gathering dust in the Senate. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia came out against it last month, causing a stalemate. Democrats appear no closer to getting his vote and pushing the massive spending plan through Congress. 

The package includes a one-year extension of the expanded child tax credit, universal preschool, federal subsidies for child care, measures to combat the climate crisis, and more.

 

Karen D'Souza

Tuesday, January 11, 2022, 6:43 pm

Link copied.Teachers at West Contra Costa Unified plan sick-out protests throughout the week

Groups of teachers at West Contra Costa Unified are planning sick-outs throughout the week in protest of what they believe are insufficient safety measures by the district.

Similar actions were taken by groups of teachers in Oakland and San Francisco last week.

A number of teachers at Korematsu Middle School participated in the sick-out protest today, and teachers at Stege Elementary plan to protest Wednesday, said Stege teacher Hannah Geitner. According to the district, nine of 32 Korematsu teachers called in sick. All district schools were closed Monday and last Friday due to high numbers of Covid cases and staff shortages.

Superintendent Chris Hurst, in a statement Tuesday, condemned the protests.

“This type of action is not helpful and just exacerbates our current staffing issues,” Hurst said. “In the end, it is students and families who are not
served when staff coordinate together to not show up at school.”

Though teachers at each site have their own set of demands, Geitner said, Stege teachers are calling on the district to provide KN95 masks, rather than just surgical masks, for all students. Currently, the district has only committed to providing two KN95 masks a week to employees and surgical masks for students. The teachers are also calling for weekly required testing for students and a formal Covid-safety plan for the Omicron variant from the district.

Geitner said the school is seeing a lot of families keep their children home from school, either because they don’t feel comfortable sending them amid the Covid surge or because they’ve had others in the family get sick. The school is also short on teachers right now, Geitner said. Two are out on Covid leave, and two other classes don’t have a full-time teacher.

“It’s been really tough at our site,” Geitner said.

The Stege teachers who plan to participate in the action sent emails to their students’ parents letting them know they would be calling out sick through next Tuesday, Jan. 18.

District spokesman Ryan Phillips said the district doesn’t expect widespread sick-outs, and will have enough administrators and substitutes to prevent schools from having to close their campuses.

 

 

 

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, January 11, 2022, 5:47 pm

Link copied.Cloth masks will no longer be accepted at West Contra Costa Unified

West Contra Costa Unified will not allow students to wear cloth masks after Jan.17, following suggestions by medical experts.

Though California Health and Human Services Director Mark Ghaly has encouraged the wearing of well-fitting, higher-grade masks, the state has stopped short of requiring them. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering updating its mask guidance to recommend that people use N95 or KN95 masks, the Washington Post reported Monday.

The district will provide each student with a new surgical mask every day. Employees will be required to wear KN95 masks, and will be provided with two each week.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, January 11, 2022, 5:46 pm

Link copied.State temporarily loosens rules for substitute teachers

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed an executive order relaxing state regulations around the hiring of substitute teachers as districts grapple with staffing shortages exacerbated by the omicron variant of the coronavirus. “We’re working closely with local education officials to cut red tape to allow qualified substitute teachers to help maintain safe learning environments,” Newsom said in a news release.

Through March 31, the executive order allows for temporary certificates to be issued to substitute teachers who don’t have credentials. The order also extends the length of time substitute teachers can be assigned to a class to 120 days and allows more flexibility for retired teachers to work as substitutes.

Districts must submit a “written finding” that the more flexible rules will allow them to maintain in-person instruction despite staffing shortages.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, January 11, 2022, 10:53 am

Link copied.L.A. Unified reopens in person amid Covid surge

Los Angeles Unified, California’s largest school district, reopened its campuses Monday after the holiday break with upgraded safety measures intended to protect students and staff from the coronavirus.

The district requires students and staff to test negative for Covid before they can return to campus and requires everyone to wear masks at school. In addition to distributing in-home Covid tests, the district has also hosted vaccine and testing sites and required older students to be vaccinated, according to the New York Times.

“We know there is apprehension, and we’ve added the extra layers of protection for the return to school,” the district’s interim superintendent, Megan K. Reilly, said in a video address to families and staff. “There may be a few lines at the start of the school day and longer wait times for buses.”

Carolyn Jones

Tuesday, January 11, 2022, 10:52 am

Link copied.West Contra Costa Unified reopens after two-day closure

After closing Friday and Monday due to staff shortages related to Covid, West Contra Costa Unified reopened Tuesday for in-person classes.

The district has taken aggressive steps to improve safety measures, including opening three new testing sites, giving out 13,000 at-home test kits to families, requiring medical-grade masks for staff, asking families and staff to quarantine during the closure, and requiring vaccines for students ages 12 and older beginning Feb. 18, according to the district.

“In our district, we had far more absences than usual, we also had more students testing more positive for the Covid-19 virus,” Superintendent Kenneth Chris Hurst said in a video address to families. “It also put a strain on our system, and the rapid spread of the virus requires an aggressive response for us all.”

Carolyn Jones

Monday, January 10, 2022, 6:03 pm

Link copied.Rising Covid-19 numbers among youth in California state detention centers

The number of active Covid-19 cases among young people incarcerated at state detention facilities has risen sharply in the last week — jumping from under 50 cases to 135, according to the Division of Juvenile Justice. This means that 42% of all Covid-19 infections among youth since the pandemic started are currently active cases.

Intake of all youth to the state facilities was suspended last week. The last time intake was suspended was at the onset of the pandemic. Family visitation was also suspended.

The sharp increase in infections mirrors the increase at adult jails across the state, which report 2,405 active cases among the inmates and 3,845 active cases among staff.

A staff vaccine mandate is currently in place for a group of select medical workers at the state’s four youth detention facilities. A mandate for all corrections workers that would have gone into effect this week was pushed back to at least March after the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the union that represents corrections workers, and Gov. Gavin Newsom requested a postponement for prison staff. An appeal hearing is scheduled for March.

Betty Márquez Rosales

Monday, January 10, 2022, 9:32 am

Link copied.Palo Alto sends SOS to parents: Volunteer to keep schools open

Most school districts are discouraging parents from coming to school during the omicron surge to prevent schools from closing. Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Don Austin on Sunday sent out an all-points bulletin, pleading with them to volunteer in schools to keep them open.

“We need your help to volunteer as never before,” he said in a video that was emailed to parents with a form they could fill out that would be sent to their children’s principals. “If you are able, please answer.”

The email went out Sunday at 9 p.m. By 9 a.m. Monday, 360 parents responded, Austin said. Jobs include support for Covid testing, signing in students at lunch, recess duty, light custodial duties, work in the office preparing materials and classroom support.

“The jobs won’t be glamorous, Austin said. “Many of the essential jobs we perform every day for your kids aren’t glamorous.”

As in other districts, Palo Alto has been hit hard with teacher and staff shortages. Austin pledged to keep the schools open unless authorities force the district to shut down. That’s unlikely in Santa Clara County. Dr. Sara Cody, the county public health officer, and Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County superintendent of schools, sent a notice to superintendents Friday urging them not to close during the surge and switch to remote learning. “We’ve learned that in-person education is what (students) need, and remote learning doesn’t support their mental health, emotional health and academic well-being nearly the way that in-person learning does,” Cody said.

Under the strict rules that the Legislature imposed in this year’s state budget, districts that close schools due to Covid must document that they consulted with county officials before seeking reimbursement from the California Department of Education.

With parents’ help, “we’re going to tell (students) they don’t have to worry about closing for staff shortages,” Austin said in the video.

John Fensterwald

Monday, January 10, 2022, 9:25 am

Link copied.Hayward Unified reverts to virtual learning due to staff shortages, Covid case rise

Bay Area school districts saw hundreds of Covid-19 cases and teacher absences their first week back after the holiday break, and one opted to switch to virtual learning for all of this week.

Hayward Unified, which enrolls about 22,000 students, announced Friday it would hold classes online Monday through Friday due to the surging omicron variant. Students will work independently on assignments they had already received, and the district distributed Chromebooks to students Monday. From Tuesday through Friday, they will have schedules similar to the previous week, with both live and asynchronous instruction.

The district will host some “learning hubs” at schools where limited numbers of students can get access the internet. The district will also provide “grab-and-go” meals each day.

Ali Tadayon

Saturday, January 8, 2022, 3:20 pm

Link copied.Governor’s budget request to include increased Covid testing, addressing teacher shortage

Ahead of Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal Monday, members of his administration announced that it will include a $2.7 billion emergency response package, as well “continued investments” in addressing the state’s ongoing teacher shortage.

The emergency response package — around $1.4 billion of which is requested for the current fiscal year — includes $1.2 billion to bolster testing at schools, county offices of education, community health clinics and local health departments. It also includes $583 million for initiatives to boost vaccinations and combat misinformation and disinformation by anti-vaccine groups.

Newsom administration members didn’t provide details on the governor’s plans to address the teacher shortage — the effects of which have been devastating to districts trying to keep schools open after winter break amid the Omicron surge. However, they did say his proposal will build off of current initiatives. The state’s spending plan for the current fiscal year includes $2.8 billion for programs to attract, retain and train educators. Specifically,  $1.5 billion is budgeted for the Educator Effectiveness Block Grant over five years for staff professional development. And $1.3 billion is budgeted for other programs including expanding teacher residencies, awarding Golden State Teacher grants for teacher credential candidates who commit to teaching at a low-income school for four years, and funding for classified employees to become credentialed teachers.

The governor’s budget proposal won’t tie a specific dollar dollar amount to providing more N95 and KN95 masks to schools, despite pleas by teachers and students for more of them. However, over the past few days the state has begun making its inventory of adult-sized N95 masks available to counties to distribute to schools and other institutions.

Ali Tadayon

Friday, January 7, 2022, 5:11 pm

Link copied.Student petition demands Oakland Unified offer more Covid protection or return to online learning

A group of Oakland Unified high school students are threatening to walk off campuses if the school district doesn’t provide more Covid protections or return to online learning.

More than 150 high school students signed a petition demanding that the school district provide KN95 masks for every student, twice weekly Covid tests for everyone on campus and more covered outdoor spaces where students can eat in inclement weather. The students say the only other acceptable choice would be to return to online learning.

The students say the district has until Jan. 17 to meet their demands.

“This letter is to inform you that OUSD students are not comfortable with going to school with the rising cases of COVID-19,” according to the letter. “There’s a lot of concerns regarding safety measures and how to protect us from COVID-19, especially the highly contagious Omicron variant. We must go back to distance learning until the cases go down again. In order to ensure a safe learning environment, we demand you give us N95 masks and weekly PCR testing. If these demands are not met we will be striking by not attending school. We will be striking until we get what we need to be safe.”

 

Diana Lambert

Friday, January 7, 2022, 5:03 pm

Link copied.Cal Poly San Luis Obispo isolating Covid-positive student off-campus amid shortage of on-campus quarantine beds

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, started housing on-campus students who test positive for the coronavirus at off-campus hotels because campus isolation beds filled up the first week of classes, according to a university official.

The university has 62 on-campus isolation beds, but 332 students tested positive for the virus between Sunday, Jan. 2 and Jan. 5, according to The Mustang News, the student newspaper.

The university has 194 isolation beds, of which 132 are located in off-campus hotels.

As of Friday morning, the university reported 397 on-campus students had tested positive for Covid-19 in the last seven days. Of which, 46 were reported yesterday.

 

Ashley A. Smith

Friday, January 7, 2022, 5:01 pm

Link copied.L.A. Unified assigns 4,000 admin employees to staff classrooms next week amid rising Covid rates

About 4,000 administrative employees at Los Angeles Unified are ready to staff classrooms, cafeterias, and other positions at school campuses when the district begins the new semester amid another surge in Covid-19 cases, according to a district spokesperson. The number of positive Covid-19 tests significantly increased in the last 24 hours as more test results have been added to the district’s data dashboard, indicating a rising number of educators and staff who might be quarantined when students return to campus on Jan. 11.

Staff and teachers are required to get a negative test result by Jan. 10 so they can be on campus. Teachers return on Monday and students on Tuesday.  Reflecting the increased testing underway, of over 250,000 tests administered to students and staff by the end of the day on Wednesday, at least 18,000  or 7.2% were positive for coronavirus. One day prior, 6,940 or 4% of 170,000 tests were positive.

On Friday, dozens of campuses across the district were handing out free at-home coronavirus tests in an attempt to ensure every student and staff member is tested before the semester begins. Free tests will also be available for pick-up at select locations on Saturday, in addition to the district’s stationary testing centers being open for extended hours on Saturday.

Betty Márquez Rosales

Friday, January 7, 2022, 3:33 pm

Link copied.Five-day quarantine applies to workers including school staff, CalOSHA says

CalOSHA announced last night that it had updated its website to clarify that employees, including teachers and other school staff, are eligible for the shorter quarantines recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and adopted by the California Department of Public Health last month.

Now people who test positive for Covid-19, but remain without symptoms, can isolate for only five days rather than 10, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. The change was prompted by research showing the majority of Covid transmission occurs in the one to two days prior to the onset of symptoms and the two to three days after.

The only exception is for employees who choose not to take a Covid test before returning to work. They must quarantine 10 days.

Conflicting state information has caused confusion about whether school districts should follow CalOSHA Emergency Temporary Standards, which required a 10-day quarantine, or the new recommendation to quarantine for five days.

CalOSHA officials said the department is is following Executive Order N-84-20, which states that its recommended isolation and quarantine periods are overridden by any California Department of Health recommendation that has a shorter period of isolation.

The CDC guidelines also recommend that people who are exposed to Covid-19 quarantine for five days, followed by five days of strict mask use. If that’s not feasible, the CDC said, the individual should wear a well-fitting mask at all times around others for 10 days after the exposure.

People who are fully vaccinated and have had a booster do not need to quarantine following exposure, the CDC said, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.

Local health jurisdictions and school districts may have more restrictive isolation or quarantine requirements.

Diana Lambert

Friday, January 7, 2022, 3:30 pm

Link copied.Milpitas Unified closes campus, returns to virtual learning

Staffing shortages caused by Covid infections and quarantines are forcing Milpitas Unified School District to temporarily return to online learning Monday.

The district’s school board voted to close campuses until mid-January at a board meeting Thursday night, according to the Mercury News.

A letter to the school community from the office of Superintendent Cheryl Jordan said that there has been an “exorbitant” number of positive cases of Covid among students and staff, resulting in numerous quarantines.

The teacher absences left 167 classes without a substitute. Other teachers, principals, and district office staff filled in. In some cases classes had to be combined, according to the letter.

“While we are diligently recruiting substitutes, we are not able to fill the shortage,” said the letter. “Given the number of cases, the possibility of being in close contact with a positive case has increased.”

During the 10-day quarantine, students and their families are being asked not to travel or attend large gatherings so that students can return to school safely on Jan. 18.

Students should expect to go into virtual learning with the same schedule they had when on their campus. Parents will be required to sign a contract for independent study, according to the letter.

Diana Lambert

Friday, January 7, 2022, 2:44 pm

Link copied.More UC campuses extend remote learning through Jan. 28

The University of California’s Irvine, Los Angeles and Riverside campuses announced they will extend remote learning by three more weeks amid a surge of Covid-19 cases in the state.

The three campuses previously planned to resume in-person classes on Jan. 18 but now won’t do so until Jan. 31. They were the latest campuses to extend online learning until that date after the San Diego, Santa Cruz and Davis campuses did the same Thursday.

“Since making the decision to start winter quarter with two weeks of remote instruction, we have watched COVID-19 case numbers climb rapidly in our region and state. Though the case positivity rate at UC Riverside remains well below the county and state rates, we remain committed to the health and safety of our community as our first priority,” UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox said in a statement.

Michael Burke

Friday, January 7, 2022, 2:21 pm

Link copied.Twelve Oakland schools halt instruction during teacher “sickout”

Twelve of Oakland Unified’s 80 schools were “non-operational” Friday during a sickout protest by a group of teachers decrying what they said are insufficient Covid safety protocols.

The schools were not technically “closed,” district spokesman John Sasaki said, because they still opened their doors, and some staff remained on campus. There was no instruction held at those schools Friday, and families were advised the day prior to keep their children home. Oakland Unified did not offer a child care alternative.

None of the students of those schools attended class Friday, resulting in more than 8,000 absences, Sasaki said. About 503 teachers called in sick Friday.

The one-day protest was organized by rank-and-file members of the Oakland Education Association teachers union, though it wasn’t sanctioned by the union. The group is calling on the district to purchase and distribute N95 and KN95 masks for all students and staff, provide weekly PCR testing for all students and staff, install high-efficiency (HEPA) air filters in all cafeterias and other large spaces, avoid budget cuts to classrooms or student services, provide extra support for school nurses, retroactively extend Covid leave from Nov. 7, 2021, to June 30, 2022, and take other measures, according to a news release. The group is also calling on the district to pivot to remote learning for at least two weeks in order to implement those measures and to reduce the spread of Covid in the community.

While the district has ordered N95 and KN95 masks for all teachers and is working on getting enough for students as well, it is not considering closing for two weeks, Sasaki said.

Oakland Unified and the Oakland Education Association came to a tentative agreement Thursday night regarding Covid leave, Sasaki said, though he didn’t know what the details were at Friday’s news conference. The agreement must still be approved by the district’s school board and by a ratification vote by the union’s members.

Ali Tadayon

Friday, January 7, 2022, 10:24 am

Link copied.State seeks to put 10,000 more mental health counselors at schools

The California Department of Education wants to get 10,000 more mental health counselors on school campuses.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the state aims to attract clinicians into schools by offering loan forgiveness, deferrals and scholarships and by reducing the time it takes to get licensed as a mental health professional.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said he is hoping legislators will introduce a measure in the coming weeks.

Zaidee Stavely

Friday, January 7, 2022, 10:22 am

Link copied.Sickout, Covid leave San Francisco without one-fifth of teachers, aides

San Francisco public schools were missing 900 teachers and aides on Thursday after a group of teachers staged a sickout to call for more protections from Covid-19, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The number represents about one-fifth of all teachers and aides.

It was unclear how many of the missing staff were out because they were ill or quarantining after a Covid-19 exposure, and how many were out in protest.

Districts across the state have struggled to find enough substitutes to cover the high number of absences caused by Covid-19.

Zaidee Stavely

Thursday, January 6, 2022, 4:10 pm

Link copied.Three UC campuses extend remote instruction until end of January

Three University of California campuses said Thursday that they will continue to hold classes online only until the end of January amid a surge in Covid-19 cases across the state.

The Davis, San Diego and Santa Cruz campuses announced that classes will be held remotely for three more weeks and now plan to resume in-person instruction on Jan. 31. Davis was previously planning to resume in-person classes on Monday after holding them online this week — the first week of the winter quarter. The San Diego and Santa Cruz campuses previously planned to return to in-person instruction on Jan. 18.

“We had hoped that our award-winning COVID response program would allow us to resume in-person instruction on Monday, but based on what we’re seeing with positivity rates related to the omicron variant, as well as staffing and operational concerns, we have decided that it is most prudent to continue remote instruction for three more weeks of winter quarter,” UC Davis Chancellor Gary May said in a message to the campus Thursday.

UC’s four other undergraduate campuses that are on the quarter calendar — Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside and Santa Barbara — plan to hold classes remotely through the end of next week and resume face-to-face instruction on Jan. 18, though administrators have said those plans could change.

At the system’s two semester-based campuses, Berkeley and Merced, instruction for the upcoming term doesn’t begin until Jan. 18. Merced plans to hold classes remotely for the first week. Berkeley is still planning for all classes to be in person.

Michael Burke

Thursday, January 6, 2022, 11:09 am

Link copied.Group of Oakland Unified educators plan “sickout for school safety” Friday

A group of Oakland Unified teachers and school staff from Skyline High School and at least five other schools are planning to call in sick Friday in protest of what they see as lax Covid safety protocols by the district.

Specifically, the group is calling on the district to purchase and distribute N95 and KN95 masks for all students and staff, provide weekly PCR testing for all students and staff, install HEPA filters in all cafeterias and other large spaces,  avoid budget cuts to classrooms or student services, provide extra support for school nurses, retroactively extend Covid leave from Nov. 7, 2021, to June 30, 2022, and take other measures, according to a news release. The group is also calling on the district to pivot to remote learning for at least two weeks in order to implement those measures and to reduce the spread of Covid in the community.

“Throughout the pandemic, (Oakland Unified, the State of California and the U.S. Government) have constantly served the interests of capital and profit rather than the interests of the workers they depend on,” the group said in the news release. “The only solution is for workers to withhold our labor until we win the pandemic response we deserve.”

The district’s teachers union, the Oakland Education Association, had called on the district to schedule a bargaining session on school safety before Monday, when students returned from winter break. Skyline teacher Harley Litzelman, one of the organizers of Friday’s sickout, said it still has not happened.

Litzelman said it’s unclear how many teachers will participate in Friday’s action, but he expects the majority of educators at each of the six schools will call out sick. It’s also unclear how the district will respond to the action, since a high number of staff absences this week due to Covid has strained the district’s substitute pool and prompted credentialed administrative staff to step in to teach classes.

In a message to parents Thursday, district officials said they will be doing “everything possible to keep schools open for our students on Friday” but that the unexpected loss of additional teachers would be “devastating” to schools and efforts to keep them open.

 

Ali Tadayon

Thursday, January 6, 2022, 9:53 am

Link copied.Governor appoints Futuro Health CEO to new health workforce education training council

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that Van Ton-Quinlivan, the chief executive officer of Futuro Health, will join the state’s new Health Workforce Education and Training Council.

The council, which was created last year by the Legislature, is responsible for coordinating California’s health workforce education and training to meet the state’s needs. The council consists of 17 appointees from different medical education programs.

Ton-Quinlivan formerly served as executive vice chancellor of the California Community Colleges and in 2013 was named a White House Champion of Change under the Obama administration. For nearly two years she’s led Futuro Health, a nonprofit joint venture by Kaiser Permanente, a Bay Area-based health system, and the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West. Futuro creates certificate programs and connects with colleges to recruit and train new medical professionals in allied health fields.

Ashley A. Smith

Thursday, January 6, 2022, 9:51 am

Link copied.Academics reflect on Capitol riot, say universities should be doing more today to reflect on attack

On the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Capitol insurrection, academics and scholars around the country are reflecting on the massive riot and its aftermath, but few colleges and universities are formally acknowledging it today, Inside Higher Education is reporting.

Some scholars told the website they are disappointed higher education institutions are not doing more to acknowledge the events in Washington a year ago.

Nancy MacLean, William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University, said she’s been “stunned and saddened, frankly, at how relatively little attention higher education has paid to the events of Jan. 6 between the week after the attack, when there were many grave public statements, and now,” Inside Higher Ed reported.

Among the organizations that held events Thursday is the Organization of American Historians, which had an online forum.

Hakeem Jefferson, a Stanford assistant professor of political science, told Inside Higher Ed that the insurrection “completely changed the way he teaches his Introduction to American Politics course since Jan. 6, theming it “In Defense of Democracy.” He said he’s also encouraged colleagues at other institutions to do the same.

“At this moment of democratic crisis, we have an obligation to speak plainly and tell the truth, and an obligation to clarify for our students and the broader public what is happening and what is at stake,” Jefferson said. “I tell my students at the start of the course that I do have a bias. I am pro-democracy.”

Thomas Peele

Thursday, January 6, 2022, 9:46 am

Link copied.Teacher sickout expected to hit San Francisco school, reports say

A wildcat sickout of teachers in San Francisco who believe the local school district has failed to adequately protect them during the Covid pandemic and the surge of the omicron variant is expected Thursday, news outlets are reporting.

Nearly 500 people signed an online petition supporting the action, which is not organized by the teachers union, the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting.

There has already been an “overwhelming  absentee rate” among teachers in the San Francisco Unified School district this week, the newspaper reported, with central office administrators and the superintendent of schools acting as substitutes.

The action comes on the same day that a bargaining session between the district and the United Educators of San Francisco over safety protocols is scheduled.

 

EdSource staff

Wednesday, January 5, 2022, 5:13 pm

Link copied.Pediatric Covid hospitalizations spike in California

Pediatric Covid hospitalizations have shot up over the past few days, surpassing the number of pediatric hospitalizations at the peak of last winter’s surge, California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly told reporters Wednesday. However, he did not specify how many beds are filled at pediatric hospitals or how much of an increase California had experienced.

Despite general hospitals nearing capacity in California, pediatric hospitals and hospitals serving children are “able to take on the current demand,” Ghaly said. Many children hospitalized with Covid are not being sent to intensive care units and are not having to be put on ventilators, Ghaly added. Children who are hospitalized with Covid typically have other underlying health issues, he said.

Pediatric hospitals throughout the country are also reporting surging Covid hospitalizations. During the week ending Jan. 2, an average of 672 children were hospitalized with Covid each day across the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

California Health and Human Services is continuing to call on families to get their children vaccinated against Covid and to provide them with well-fitting, filtrated masks.

Ghaly also announced that, as of Wednesday, 6.2 million at-home tests have been delivered to counties to distribute to schools. Gov. Gavin Newsom had initially pledged to provide all 6 million California K-12 students with an at-home test prior to their return to school, but only about half of those tests made it out to counties by Monday due to transportation and weather issues.

Ali Tadayon