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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
News Briefs | FYI
February 8, 2021
CDC: ‘Little evidence’ schools cause COVID spread
A new article published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association says there is little evidence to suggest that schools play a part in the community spread of COVID-19 when mitigating measures are in place.
The paper, authored by three researchers at the CDC (Dr. Margaret A. Honein, Dr. Lisa C. Barrios and Dr. John T. Brooks), cited much uncertainty about the risks of in-person learning at the start of the 2020-21 school year.
“While the benefits of in-person school attendance were well understood, the appropriate evaluation of its risks vs. benefits was hampered by limited information about transmission risk in classroom settings,” according to the article published Jan. 26.
The authors acknowledge there were “no simple decisions” for parents, teachers, administrators and public health officials as most districts started the 2020-21 school year in a distance-only or hybrid model.
As data has been collected from districts that reopened, the authors say there is now “little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.”
The article cites a case-control study in Mississippi that showed that participation in social functions outside the home and having visitors resulted in an increased risk in infection, while in-person school attendance did not.
The authors also cite a recent CDC report on 17 K-12 schools in rural Wisconsin with “high mask adherence.” “COVID-19 incidence was lower in schools than in the community,” according to the JAMA article. “During 13 weeks in the fall of 2020, there were 191 COVID-19 cases in staff and students, with only seven of these cases determined to result from in-school transmission.”
While these reports are encouraging, the authors note that large outbreaks can occur in schools. They point to one case in Israel, where 153 students and 25 staff members in a grades 7-12 high school became infected with COVID. The outbreak occurred in May after students returned to campus following a two-month closure amid a heatwave. Researchers believe the virus’ spread was aided by students being crowded into air conditioned classrooms and exempted from face mask requirements.
The authors also caution that some school-related activities, namely athletics, have led to an increase in COVID transmission.
“Paradoxically, some schools have used a fully online model for educational delivery while continuing in-person athletic programs,” according to the authors. “Even though high school athletics are highly valued by many students and parents, indoor practice or competition and school-related social gatherings with limited adherence to physical distancing and other mitigation strategies could jeopardize the safe operation of in-person education.”
Read the full article at

Summer meal programs now accepting applications
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has announced that applications are available for the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option, both federally funded, state-administered programs that serve free meals to children 18 and younger when school is out of session. During the school closures, these programs have also played a pivotal role in assisting districts with meal service for students throughout the state.
“The pandemic has put an additional strain on those families who were already struggling with basic needs,” said Thurmond, in a news release. “Food insecurity is a real issue for our students who are living in economically disadvantaged communities. It is difficult for a child to focus on reading or solving a math problem when they are hungry. Having programs in communities where children can easily access nutritious meals during the summer months can help students thrive and be ready to learn in the fall.”
In its quest to ensure that there were enough sites to serve kids, in 2020, the California Department of Education worked closely with the USDA to secure COVID-19 related waivers that removed certain participant eligibility requirements that allowed all students to receive meals.
In 2019, during the months of June and July, the Summer Meals Programs served close to 34 million meals throughout the state. In 2020 during that same period, the programs served close to 75 million meals.
“We could not have met the demands brought on by the COVID crisis if not for our summer meal sponsors,” said Thurmond. “The ability to feed the most vulnerable kids throughout the state, in multiple locations, would not be possible if organizations did not apply to participate as sponsors.”
Summer meal sites are located in communities where at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. All meals meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition requirements, and no paperwork or personal information is required for children to participate.
Organizations eligible to participate in Summer Meal Programs include schools, camps, nonprofits, tribal governments and government agencies. Applications are due by May 15, 2021. For more information, visit

CTA calls for ‘more rapid’ vaccine rollout for educators
The California Teachers Association has sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom urging a “more rapid and effective vaccine rollout” for educators.
The Jan. 27 letter cites new variants, including the highly transmissible B117 variant found in California, in the call for more rigorous vaccination and mitigation measures. “CTA has said from the beginning: low community transmission rates, a strong public health infrastructure, and layered prevention measures within schools that are effectively maintained, tracked and enforced are the path forward,” according the letter. “Those actions, combined with an effective vaccine rollout, are necessary to get our schools open for in-person education.”
The CTA recommends all schools in the purple tier remain in distance learning. The letter also recommends that the vaccine rollout include “school-based sites where school staff, their eligible household members, and students’ parents, guardians, and household members who are essential workers or seniors can be vaccinated at the same time — providing even greater wrap-around protection for our school communities.”
The letter also asks for enhanced enforcement of Cal/OSHA safety standards related to COVID and asymptomatic testing of individuals at increased risk.
Read the letter at
Grant available to improve school climate In partnership with the Orange County Department of Education and Butte County Office of Education, the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools is excited to share a new grant funding and training opportunity for school sites to evaluate their school conditions and create the systemic change needed to improve outcomes for all learners. Schools will be able to train their entire staff and become certified in their knowledge based on their particular role in the school. This will allow schools to fully implement the CA MTSS framework and leverage it to improve school climate and conditions. Participating school sites will be eligible for up to $150,000 in order to provide stipends/release time for educators who participate and complete the online CA MTSS Pathway Certification course within an 18-month period. Visit OCDE website to apply. Application must be completed by Feb. 12, 2021.
Free tool assesses student well-being
Persistent disruptions to learning, systemic racial oppression and the collective trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic have deeply affected the well-being of young people everywhere. To help educators assess student well-being directly, quickly and frequently (both in-person and virtually), Turnaround for Children has developed a free new tool: The Well-Being Index. This self-assessment tool can minimize making assumptions about students and instead support students to understand and look after their own well-being. Register for access to the tool at
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