Weekly roundup: Santa Ana reopens its Learning Labs, enterprising students bring curb appeal, and more

On the same day California lifted its stay-at-home order, the Santa Ana Unified School District reopened Learning Labs at a dozen campuses to serve students with the greatest needs in small groups.

Learning Lab at Santa Ana High School

Staffed by instructional aides, the labs were first piloted in November as safe and supportive learning spaces with reliable internet connections for students to access their virtual classrooms. They were put on hold in December in response to soaring COVID-19 rates.

On Monday, labs reopened at Advanced Learning Academy, Franklin Elementary, Heninger Elementary, Kennedy Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Madison Elementary, Martin Elementary, Roosevelt-Walker Elementary, Lathrop Intermediate, McFadden Intermediate, Willard Intermediate and Santa Ana High School.

Learning pods within each lab are limited to 14 or fewer students, giving priority to those experiencing homelessness, foster youth, English Learners and students with disabilities, district officials said.

Additional labs are set to open over the next four weeks. Eventually, Santa Ana officials would like to host them at 40 campuses.

And here are some of the other stories we’ve been following this week:

  • Three enterprising seniors from Newport Harbor High School are bringing a little curb appeal to local neighborhoods during the pandemic. Their new business venture paints street addresses outside homes for $20 a curb.
  • With California’s stay-at-home order lifted, some youth sports could resume, but permission depends on where a county falls on the state’s four-tiered monitoring system. In the “purple” tier, cross-country would be the only fall sport that could restart, the Daily Pilot reports.
  • In February, educators and childcare workers are expected to join the list of Californians who have priority to get vaccinated for COVID-19. After that, scheduling will be based on age, CalMatters reports.
  • In a letter to the governor this week, the California Teachers Association said vaccines are a key element to safely resuming in-person instruction.
  • Around this time Typewriterof year, hundreds of students would typically gather over two consecutive Saturdays to compete for individual and team honors at the Orange County Academic Decathlon. Owing to the pandemic, large events are out. But the 53rd annual decathlon will go on as a virtual contest.
  • A number of Orange County schools took part in the Great Kindness Challenge this week. The national program, which features a toolkit and checklist encouraging daily acts of kindness, was adapted to ensure social distancing precautions. The OCDE Newsroom has a roundup of some local good deeds.
  • Irvine Company delivered its latest $2 million donation to the Irvine Unified School District. It’s part of the company’s 20-year, $45-million investment in art, music and science through the Excellence in Education Enrichment program.
  • According to two epidemiologists and a researcher from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, data suggests a path to safely resume in-person instruction, but schools and their surrounding communities must commit to a raft of public health precautions to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
  • COVID-19 isn’t the only disease concerning local pediatricians. They’re also worried about potential outbreaks of measles, whooping cough and meningitis, as many parents are reportedly delaying routine immunizations for their children.
  • Los Angeles officials say school campuses there are unlikely to reopen until teachers have received the COVID-19 vaccine and infection rates drop significantly.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates and following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.