Weekly roundup: NFL star surprises Santa Ana students, school reopenings, promoting tolerance, and more

A Los Angeles Charger dropped by Heroes Elementary School in Santa Ana with a special delivery this week.

Isaac Rochell, a defensive end who played in all 16 of the Chargers’ regular season games last year — and both postseason contests — donated T-shirts and school supplies on behalf of his charity, Local Human, to Maria Martinez’s kindergarten and first-grade class. He even brought a keyboard for Mrs. Martinez.

Chargers defensive end Isaac Rochell with school staff
Isaac Rochell, a defensive end with the Los Angeles Chargers, greets the staff at Heroes Elementary School on Wednesday.

Rochell, whose mother is a fifth-grade teacher, greeted students Wednesday as they logged on for their daily distance-learning lessons. Needless to say, they were excited to virtually meet an NFL star.

Born and raised in Georgia, Rochell said he came to realize the impacts of the pandemic on children’s social interaction and connections. The Huntington Beach resident and Notre Dame grad started Local Human with a couple neighbors to offer social-emotional support for teens and the elderly who are isolated.

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

  • There are still lots of questions over the use of face coverings in school settings — including which grade levels require them. To bring a little clarity, OCDE’s Legal Services division worked with the Orange County Health Care Agency to develop a list of frequently asked questions and answers.
  • A number of Orange County school districts will restart some form of in-person learning within the next few weeks. While some parents and teachers believe the time is right, others say it’s too soon, the Orange County Register reports.
  • In Huntington Beach, a group of parents and students gathered outside the district office before a special board meeting on Tuesday to urge local leaders to reopen their schools sooner.
  • Some districts have indicated they’ll stick with distance learning a little longer based on local transmission rates and community needs. To help families make the most of their distance learning experience — however long it lasts — the OCDE Newsroom shared a video with five tips.
  • As districts reopen, they’ll work with the Orange County Health Care Agency to report and trace confirmed coronavirus cases. The Register reports that families and school employees will be key to providing timely and accurate information.
  • OC Pathways, an OCDE-led consortium of school districts, businesses, colleges and local agencies, has hired 14 career counseling coordinators to help the region’s middle and high schools better align their career technical education curriculum, activities and counseling efforts.
  • The OC Health Care Agency reportedly denied the elementary waiver application submitted by Capistrano Unified, citing a lack of support from collective bargaining groups. District officials had called the waiver an “insurance policy” that would allow campuses to reopen even if state guidelines shift.
  • Community college enrollment across the country has fallen nearly 8 percent, NPR reports. The decline is largely attributed to the pandemic and economic concerns.
  • In recognition of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, OCDE’s counseling services coordinator talked to the OCDE Newsroom about how local schools are addressing mental health needs and how the department is supporting these efforts. There are also some tips on how to help friends and loved ones who might be struggling.
  • On a split vote, the Westminster school board opted not to pursue an investigation of its president over potential voter fraud. At least one trustee has asked the District Attorney’s office to review the matter.
  • State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced an “Education to End Hate” initiative set to include resources and training grants for teachers to promote tolerance, virtual classroom sessions on ending discrimination, and a roundtable with political and social justice leaders on how to create safe learning environments.

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.