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.
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.
- Legislative deliberations in Sacramento could lead to major changes in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Safe Schools for All plan, including the Feb. 1 start date and requirements for COVID-19 testing. The governor told a group of school superintendents on Thursday that all aspects of his plan are negotiable.
- 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 of 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.
- The Orange County School Boards Association awarded a coalition of the county’s 28 public school superintendents the prestigious Maureen DiMarco Award “in recognition of exemplary leadership for youth and the education community amidst a global health pandemic.”
- 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.
- OCDE, in partnership with its San Diego counterpart, is inviting educators to participate in a series of webinars that will promote civic learning and share information on California’s new Seal of Civic Engagement.
- A $14.6 million renovation project has brought two lighted, artificial turf sports fields and a new rubber track to the campus of Corona del Mar High School.
- 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.
- A study measuring the impacts of the pandemic on education revealed evidence of substantial learning loss occurring in the early grades. Low-income students and English learners appear to be hit hardest.
- More than a dozen parent groups across the state have joined forces and are lobbying state officials to resume in-person learning as soon as safely possible, EdSource reports.
- 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.
- The pandemic has resulted in a one-year enrollment drop of 155,000 students. That’s a record, and it’s about five times greater than California’s annual rate of decline.
- Los Angeles officials say school campuses there are unlikely to reopen until teachers have received the COVID-19 vaccine and infection rates drop significantly.
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