Weekly roundup: Walk to School Day, reactions to the governor’s mandate, and more

On Wednesday, Darth Vader and his stormtroopers left their TIE fighters at home.

Instead, the menacing Star Wars characters imperial-marched their way to the Santa Ana Unified School District’s McFadden Institute of Technology alongside students and families taking part in International Walk to School Day.

A Startrooper with students
A TIE fighter pilot escorts students to McFadden Institute of Technology in Santa Ana. (Photos courtesy of SAUSD)

The local volunteers were joined by McGruff the Crime Dog, officers from the Santa Ana Police Department, student musicians and school districts leaders on a celebratory stroll to the Santa Ana campus — no tractor beams were needed — before a brief assembly was staged.

A photographer from the Orange County Register captured the morning’s mood with a handful of photos.

Walk to School Day started in 1997 as a one-day event but has since expanded into a global campaign that encourages healthy habits, including walking or biking to school. It’s also used to promote safe routes to school, and it’s a good excuse for families to enjoy a little extra time together on the first Wednesday of October.

Today, of course, is the second Friday of October, and here are some of this week’s top education news stories:

  • California’s new COVID-19 vaccination mandate allows students and staff to opt out for religious or personal reasons. But lawmakers have expressed concerns that allowing broad exemptions may undermine the intent of the mandate. One key lawmaker says he may seek legislation.
  • Fewer OC districts dispatch school buses to transport children, and those that do typically charge families for the service. In California, busing is mandated only for students whose Individualized Educational Plans, or IEPs, require it.
  • Survey data shows that less than 4 percent of California students are enrolled in independent study programs this year. Some have higher risks associated with COVID-19, while others say they thrived with distance learning last year.
  • California’s multilingual education programs are producing long-term academic gains while creating greater cultural awareness. A number of organizations are also promoting cultural exchange by teaching kids about customs, art and cuisine.

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.