On Saturday, February 20, Solano County added a new posting on its Coronavirus page, sharing guidance from the California Department of Public Health on sports activities . The new guidance takes effect on February 26. The County makes no statement as to if and when Solano County would qualify under the State’s case rate conditions.
Update (2/20/21): State Officials Update Youth and Recreational Sports Guidance
The State has updated youth and recreational sports guidance which takes effect on February 26, 2021. Outdoor moderate or high-contact sports (in the red and orange tiers) can be played in the purple tier with an adjusted case rate equal to or less than 14 per 100,000 if certain conditions are met.
But it’s more complicated than that. The fight over schools slices through red and blue America.
In San Francisco, for instance, despite a waning but still serious outbreak, the city, led by Mayor London Breed, has sued the school district for not having a fully developed plan to get kids back in the classroom. The city attorney said San Francisco kids are being turned into “Zoom-bies.” Breed, who was among the first US mayors to impose strict Covid lockdowns in 2020, wants to know when the kids will be back in schools. She said the nearly full year out of school is hurting communities of color and driving inequality.
In Chicago, the mayor and school board are locked in a standoff with the teachers’ union. “We need our kids back in school. We need our parents to have that option,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday. “It cannot be so that a public school system denies parents that right.”
Unions representing teachers who have avoided physically returning to school buildings want vaccines and more safety measures. Parents are getting louder, organizing on social media and running grassroots campaigns to open school doors in the portions of the country where they remain shut. School districts, which are mostly controlled at the local level, keep delaying and punting.
Democrats, without Republican help so far, are pushing a massive Covid relief package that would give new money to schools and Biden has made opening the majority of schools a key benchmark of his aggressive 100-day plan.
About half of states are prioritizing teachers, according to The New York Times. But it’s notable that some of the states with the worst outbreaks, like Texas, have both ordered schools to open and not prioritized teachers to get vaccines.
The tension between present danger and future risk
For the teacher side of things, read this CNN report about the hundreds of American educators who have been among the hundreds of thousands of American Covid deaths. For the student side of things, look at the recent studies suggesting schools that comply with safety guidance are not the cause of Covid spread.
Schools aren’t just not opening, they’re still closing. In Montgomery, Alabama, the school district closed this week until school staff can all get vaccinated after a string of teacher deaths from Covid.
But new US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday vaccines might not be necessary to safely reopen. “There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely,” she told reporters. “Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for the safe reopening of schools.”
That’s not official guidance, cautioned White House press secretary Jen Psaki. When asked about the comments, Psaki said she’d like to see that officially put out by CDC. “Certainly ensuring teachers are vaccinated, prioritizing teachers, is important to the President,” she said.
Re-opening schools won’t immediately fix the problems caused by a year out of them. In Chicago, where the city’s liberal mayor is at war with the city’s teachers’ union, data released by district about who will actually come back when schools open suggests it’s the White kids who will return, while the Black and Brown kids stay home.
Read this from the Chicago Tribune:
> When CPS offered the choice to return to schools to families in the first two waves, 67% of white students opted in, followed by 55% of multiracial students, 34% of Black students, 33% of Asian students and 31% of Latino students. Students with special education plans opted in at a lower-than-average rate, 36%, as did economically disadvantaged students, 32%.
The New York Times points out more White kids have returned to school in New York than Black kids and tries to explain mistrust of the system in communities that have already been frustrated by institutional racism in school facilities, funding and curriculum.
Mistrust of schools and mistrust of vaccines
There’s a frustrating similarity that should be explored in that the same Black and Brown communities that have been slow to adopt the Covid vaccine have been slow to return to school when given the opportunity.
Everyone’s doing things differently. In Virginia, the state Department of Education tracks what each district is doing, and the state map is a color-coded patchwork of open, virtual and hybrid.
Biden’s nominee for education secretary, Miguel Cardona — who was recently in charge of Connecticut’s education system — was asked at his confirmation hearing Wednesday if kids should be tested in this weird year, and whether the federal government will still give districts who don’t test students the federal money that is normally tied to it.
Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, asked the question in a simple way, according to the Washington Post: “Do you feel like the states should incorporate standardized testing this year given the circumstances of the pandemic?”
Cardona gave a very complicated answer. “I feel they should have an opportunity to weigh in on how they plan on implementing it and [on] the accountability issues, and whether or not they should be tied into any accountability measures as well,” he said.
That’s a definite maybe on the testing question, which is better than the “I don’t know” a lot of parents hear from local districts who won’t set timelines to return.
I hope this communication finds you and your families well and taking in the beauty and joy of this holiday season. As we head into winter break, I wanted to provide you with the following updates:
Last Night’s Board Meeting Regarding In-person Learning: The Board Trustees unanimously approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), that was passed by the Benicia Teachers’ Association. The MOU outlines the impacts and effects related to any in-person learning and was part of the motion the Trustees passed at the November19th Board meeting.
As a reminder, the Board Trustees voted 3-2 at that Board meeting to approve the implementation of in-person learning: Pending eligibility on the California State Government’s four-tiered system and approval of the Memorandum of Understanding with our Benicia Teachers Association (BTA) to implement in-person hybrid learning. In my update of Friday November 20th, I clarified by stating until that happens, BUSD we will remain in virtual instruction at least through the winter break.
While the Board Trustees did pass the MOU last night, they asked for the November 19th item to be brought back to the January 14th board meeting for further discussion regarding the timeline for implementation. This means we will remain in our virtual learning model at least until the January 14th board meeting. I will provide an update following that meeting.
Trustee Changes: During last night’s meeting, we also thanked outgoing trustee Dr. Stacy Holguin for her outstanding work as a Board Trustee during the past five-and-a-half years. Thank you Dr. Holguin! You served with distinction and we are forever grateful for your commitment to BUSD. We also swore in two trustees: Dr. Gethsemane Moss, who has served on the Board since August 2019 and is starting a new, four-year term, and welcomed CeCe Grubbs, who is starting her first four-year term.
Our Amazing Food Services Department: I want to give a shout-out to Ms. Tania Courntey, our Director of Food Services, and her absolutely amazing team, for preparing meal packages for over 400 of our BUSD families. These food packages cover the two-week winter break period and were provided free to any family who requested one. Thank you Ms. Courtney and team!!
The Future: As we head into the holidays for a much needed break, I sincerely hope everyone is able to find ways to safely connect with family and friends in ways that build strong and supportive bonds. We need each other more now than ever.
As a school district, we will continue our ongoing focus on providing the best educational experience for all of our students. We will continue the important focus, from the Board level to the classroom, on equity and opportunity, striving to ensure the success of all our students (all means all), while focusing on any barriers that may impede the success of any student in our system.
The future is bright for our great district and I have the utmost confidence in our entire team as we continue to reflect, improve and keep our focus on our most noble task: helping each student reach his or her potential in a safe and welcoming learning environment.
YOUNG: “…transitioning to in-person instruction is not like flipping an on-off switch…. For now, we will remain in our virtual learning model until the Board approves any changes.”
Solano County COVID-19 Tier Status
Sep 22, 2020 | Latest News, nCoV
Dear BUSD Community,
I hope this communication finds everyone safe and well.
As you know, the Governor implemented a new Covid-19 monitoring system on Friday, August 28, 2020. There are four tiers to the system: Tier 1 is purple-wide spread; Tier 2 is red-substantial; Tier 3 is orange-moderate, and Tier 4 is yellow-minimal.
As of today, September 22, 2020, Solano County has moved to Tier 2, red-substantial. If our county remains in the Tier 2 status for 14 consecutive days, school districts will be permitted to hold in-person instruction. The maintenance of Tier 2 status would allow for schools to implement an approved hybrid model as districts phase into in-person instruction. For more information on Solano County Covid-19 data, see https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/
While we view this as positive news, it is important to note that transitioning to any in-person instruction, including the hybrid models presented before the start of the school year, takes a good deal of planning and preparation. Our administrators, teachers, staff, and Board have been working together to monitor the changing landscape and consider the District’s options. Our planning includes aspects that must be bargained with the teachers union (BTA) and the classified staff union (CSEA).
It is important to note that transitioning to in-person instruction is not like flipping an on-off switch; rather, it is more like bringing a sizable power-grid back on-line, which has to be done thoughtfully, carefully and judicially to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved.
We are currently working on next steps and will discuss them in detail at the October 16th Board meeting. For now, we will remain in our virtual learning model until the Board approves any changes.
We appreciate your patience as we work through this process with the health and safety of everyone involved as our primary goal.
Charles F. Young, Ed. D