Weekly roundup: Supporting students experiencing homelessness, a state budget starting point, and more

Spectrum News 1 recently spotlighted a social services liaison for the Santa Ana Unified School District who’s working to provide support for students and families experiencing homelessness.

Elida Sanchez and her team are tasked with identifying Santa Ana students who lack stable housing and supplying them with school supplies — including devices and hotspots for online learning — as well as hygiene kits and other necessities. Their challenge has been to keep pace with the growing demand, reflected throughout the county.

Though rates are highest in Santa Ana and Anaheim, Orange County is home to approximately 28,000 students who are homeless, representing about 5.9 percent of the overall student population. An OCDE-led partnership that works with local districts recently said the pandemic has depleted its own stockpile of supplies for families.

Sanchez told Spectrum News that she understands what local families are going through, having arrived in the U.S. at age 10 as an unaccompanied minor.

“I consider myself very fortunate to now be able to be in this role and to be able to educate others from my firsthand experience,” she told the news outlet. “I am able to remove the stigma of homelessness and the struggles these families face.”

Here are some other stories we’ve been tracking this week:

  • A Santa Ana High School student who was accepted to Harvard wrote her application essay on her dad, who was detained by immigration agents last year. According to the Register, Cielo Echegoyen chronicled her experiences navigating the federal immigration system and getting legal assistance on behalf of her father and two other immigrant detainees.
  • State health officials announced updated guidance for K-12 schools, outlining requirements for campuses that have already reopened along with new criteria for those planning to resume in-person instruction. The 50-page document consolidates previous state guidance.
  • Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled his preliminary spending plan for 2021-22, laying out a $227.2 billion blueprint that would increase funding for schools, public health and economic relief. The OCDE Newsroom shared five key takeaways with a focus on education.
  • The governor’s “Safe Schools For All Plan,” a package of incentives aimed at encouraging elementary schools to reopen as early as February, has garnered mixed reviews from parents and educators, the Orange County Register reports.
  • A Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified board member who attended the pro-Trump rally before violence broke out at the U.S. Capitol has since faced a backlash from community members, the Los Angeles Times reports.
  • Laguna Beach High School students organized a campaign to create care packages for the homeless, packaging travel blankets, rain ponchos, reusable masks, hygiene products and food, the Laguna Beach Independent reports.
  • Members of the State Board of Education have signaled they’re in favor of pursuing a waiver from the federal government that would suspend standardized testing for the second straight year, as many students are still taking classes at home. The U.S. Department of Education waived federal testing requirements last year following school closures in March.
  • The superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District says he plans to make COVID-19 immunization a requirement for students once a vaccine is available for children. But, as the Los Angeles Times reports, Austin Beutner is not in favor of campuses remaining closed until then.

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.