News Briefs | FYI
January 31, 2022
New bill would remove student COVID vaccine exemption
A new bill introduced in the Legislature Jan. 24 would require California students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 1, 2023 and remove the personal belief exemption.
The bill authored by pediatrician and state Sen. Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) aims to close what he called the personal belief exemption loophole for COVID-19 vaccinations.
In October, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced California would add the COVID-19 vaccine to its list of vaccines required for students to attend in-person school. Under state law, only the state Legislature may remove the personal belief exemption for COVID vaccines, according to a news release from Pan.
“As the parent of two school students, I understand parents need confidence and certainty that their child’s school is safe and can be in-person,” Pan said, in a news release. “The most effective way to keep schools open and safe is to ensure the COVID vaccination rate of students and school staff is as high as possible in addition to masks, testing, and good ventilation to minimize infections. My legislation will give parents great certainty that their child is unlikely to get seriously sick and their school will stay open during COVID.”
On Jan. 19, Dr. Pan and six other legislators announced the formation of a legislative Vaccine Work Group to facilitate coordinated action to promote vaccines and science-based public health policy.
In 2015, another bill sponsored by Dr. Pan, SB 277, eliminated the personal belief exemption loophole for childhood vaccinations required for public and private school students, such as measles and polio.
School district bid threshold raised for 2022
The law firm of Lozano Smith is reminding school districts that the bid threshold has been raised for 2022. According to the California Department of Education Office of Financial Accountability and Information Services, pursuant to Public Contract Code section 20111(a), the bid threshold for K-12 school districts’ purchases of equipment, materials, supplies and services (except construction services) has been adjusted to $99,100, effective Jan. 1, 2022.
The bid limit for construction projects remains at $15,000.
For those school districts and other public entities that have adopted the California Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Act (CUPCCAA), as of Jan. 1, 2019 the force account limit remains at $60,000, the informal bid limit is $200,000 and the limit for awarding informal bids is up to $212,500, provided that the cost estimate was determined to be reasonable.
Database shows which districts are mandating COVID vaccines
At least 40 California school districts are currently or will soon require COVID-19 vaccinations for students and/or staff, according to research from CalMatters. The nonprofit newsroom has surveyed all 940 school districts and compiled a database showing which ones are requiring vaccinations ahead of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
According to CalMatters, no other state outlet or agency is tracking COVID-19 vaccine mandates in districts. Find the database at
SPI announces plans to form mentor network
Last month, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced plans to build a statewide mentoring program to help all California students and is calling for participation from mentoring organizations in the state that would like to be part of the initiative. The goal of the effort is to connect caring adult volunteers to California students who need extra support to be successful in school.
“When I first started thinking about running to become state superintendent, I always thought that in order to close opportunity and achievement gaps, there needed to be a program to make sure no student falls through the cracks — a way to put individual focus on students who need additional help,” said Thurmond, in a news release. “I intended to pilot such a program when my term started, but that plan got pushed to the side when the pandemic began. I can see how a program like this is needed even more right now because of how the pandemic has impacted the learning and social-emotional needs of California students.”
The priority focus will be to support students in middle and high school, but students in any grade level can be supported in any part of the state, including students in urban, rural, suburban or frontier communities.
The program will focus on students of color, low-income students and any other students in need of additional support. Mentors can provide career coaching, motivational talks and basic tutoring but mainly will serve as caring adults who can help students find success in school and in life.
Thurmond plans to build out the mentoring program while he continues to visit schools regularly, and he will release more program design details in the coming weeks. He also intends to hold regular motivational talks with students, drawing upon his own experiences as a former student in need, during school visits.
Organizations interested in supporting this mentoring program for California students should contact
Free digital book access extended through Feb. 28
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has announced an extension of unlimited access to myON digital books and daily news articles for students in California until Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. A partnership with Renaissance Learning, Inc. was originally announced in December to give students from pre-K to 12th grade The Gift of Literacy and provide students an opportunity to engage in reading at home, at school and in the community.
“What began as an invitation to encourage students to read over the winter break has led to an overwhelming response, with more than two million books read so far and over 16 million minutes spent reading by students across California in just two months,” said Thurmond.
The digital reading partnership is part of Thurmond’s statewide literacy campaign to help all California students reach the goal of literacy by third grade by the year 2026.
School and district leaders can access information for this special, shared login on the California myON Gift of Literacy web page created for this initiative,
Call for proposals open for ACSA Equity Institute
Be a presenter at the 2022 ACSA Equity Institute, which will be held April 28-29 in Pasadena. This event is designed to provide education leaders with the tools they need to develop, implement and articulate pathways to equity in education in a safe and supportive space. This Institute will include an outstanding keynote, a panel of leaders, a variety of breakout sessions, and opportunities to network. When completing your proposal, you are encouraged to consider the theme: “Equity envisioned: Mobilizing, Creating & Connecting.” Registration will be 50 percent off for presenters (up to 3 per session). ACSA will select 20 workshops. Proposals are due Monday, Feb. 18 by 5 p.m. For selection criteria, list of strands and submission form, visit
Students can submit their essays to Leadership mag
Calling all California students! ACSA wants to hear about your experiences in K-12 education. This is your chance to be heard by the state’s school administrators. Submit your article to ACSA’s Leadership magazine by Feb. 14 for a chance to have your work published. Find submission details at
CTC seeks applicants for teacher, board member
The Commission on Teacher Credentialing is seeking applications to fill a vacancy for the Elementary Teacher and School Board Member positions on the Committee of Credentials. The application can be found on the Committee of Credentials page, The final filing date for applications is March 16, 2022.
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