News Briefs | FYI
March 28, 2022
LAUSD becomes mask-optional after striking deal with unions
Los Angeles Unified School District has dropped its indoor masking requirement after reaching a deal with labor groups on March 18.
The district reached agreement with labor groups to align with the guidance from the state of California and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to make masking strongly recommended at all elementary, secondary and adult school campuses and in all non-school locations, according to a news release.
Union ratification processes have begun and the new policy will be implemented no later than March 23.
“I strongly support ending the indoor mask requirement and am committed to continuing to uphold our science-based approach to COVID-19 safety and protocols,” Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said, in a release. “I want to personally thank our students, employees and families for their support and patience. We know some in our school communities and offices will continue to wear masks, while others may not. Please consider your situation and do what is best for you or your child. Now that this important issue is behind us, it is time to focus on each student’s full academic potential.”
The second largest school district in the nation, LAUSD was one of the last school districts in the country to relax masking requirements. Other California districts will continue to require masks until students return from spring break: San Diego Unified School District will become mask-optional on April 4 followed by Sacramento City Unified School District on April 18, according to district websites.
Finalists announced for math and science teaching award
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond recently honored six outstanding mathematics and science teachers who are finalists from California for the 2022 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
“These teachers have persevered through the challenges of the past year and are prime examples of excellence in the teaching of science, technology, engineering and math to their students,” Thurmond said, in a news release. “Their incredible efforts inspire STEM and computer science students to think creatively and critically in the classroom in preparation for the challenges of tomorrow.”
The PAEMST program is administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Presidential Award recipients are honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., and receive a $10,000 special award from the NSF.
The California Department of Education partners with the California Mathematics Council and the California Association of Science Educators to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program.
Science finalists are:
Terri Serey, Orange Grove Middle School, Hacienda La Puente Unified School District (sixth and eighth grades). Serey has been teaching for 17 years and has presented multiple workshops, including at the California Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Symposium. She is an induction support mentor for the Walnut Valley Consortium and a coach for the Science Olympiad. Serey utilizes realia, tools, equipment, and badging in her lessons and classes.
Jennifer Trochez, Gates Street Elementary, Los Angeles Unified School District (fourth grade). Trochez is a master teacher for Elementary Professional Development for the California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. Trochez utilized her 17 years of teaching experience on the Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Committee, where she provided feedback and input regarding district initiatives to improve learning experiences for students and teachers.
Dr. Phuong Uzoff, Richmond Street Elementary, El Segundo Unified School District (kindergarten–fifth grade). Uzoff teaches STEM and computer science for kindergarten through fifth grade. Her doctoral dissertation is titled “Virtual School Teachers’ Science Efficacy Beliefs: The Effects of Community of Practice on Science Teaching Efficacy Beliefs.” A teacher for 15 years, Uzoff is the Science Lead Technology Teacher/Next Generation Science Standards Mentor for Richmond Street Elementary. Uzoff has provided professional learning opportunities regarding promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion through science and STEM teaching and has presented at multiple California STEAM Symposiums.
Mathematics finalists are:
Anamarie (Mia) Buljan, Fairview Elementary, Hayward Unified School District (second grade). Buljan has been teaching for 25 years. She has been a district math coach as well as the Coordinator of Professional Development and the Director of Primary Education for the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative. Buljan has written the yearly toolkits for teachers to guide the analysis of student work for the primary Mathematics Assessment Resource Service assessments. She has provided professional development at summer institutes in California, Oregon, and Illinois, and her teaching has been showcased on the Inside Mathematics website, which featured her elementary formative assessment lessons and classroom set-up plans for math talks. Buljan was Teacher of the Year in the Hayward Unified School District (2019–20) and was a previous PAEMST California State Finalist in 2016 and 2020.
Therisa Cash, Casita Center for Technology, Science and Math, Vista Unified School District (third grade). Cash has been teaching for 29 years and has an International Baccalaureate Certificate in Teaching and Learning. She has served as a master teacher, an induction mentor, a district mentor, and a site math coach and has conducted professional development workshops in her district as well as led several day-long workshops for the National School District in San Diego County. Cash has worked with the Irvine Math Project and was a teacher leader for the statewide Next Generation Science Standards early implementer initiative.
Leslie Whitaker, Esencia Elementary, Capistrano Unified School District (third grade). Whitaker was a Math Teacher on Special Assignment in the Capistrano Unified School District and has worked with a team at the Orange County Department of Education to provide professional development in Cognitively Guided Instruction for transitional kindergarten through fifth grade teachers. A teacher for 22 years, Whitaker has presented at multiple conferences, including California Mathematics Council South as well as the Cognitively Guided Instruction Biennial Conference in 2015. She also wrote Canvas third grade math lessons for Capistrano Unified School District distance learning and was a previous PAEMST California State Finalist in 2020.
Tell student leaders about summer conference
The CASC Summer Leadership Conference for high school and middle school students and advisors is scheduled at UC Santa Barbara July 25-28, 2022. This inspirational program focuses on teamwork, conflict management, interactive meeting skills, presentation skills and project planning in its core curriculum. Students work in small groups led by peer trainers to develop their skills. The program is open to any student regardless of whether he or she holds a leadership position. Scholarships are also available and are based on verification of family income. Find more information and registration form at
Teachers can win funding for their DonorsChoose projects
Do your teachers need classroom supplies? Encourage your teachers to enter their DonorsChoose projects now through April 8 for a chance to win. Every day from April 4–8, Horace Mann will draw winners and fund at least $2,000 in DonorsChoose projects. Teachers can enter at
Join free webinar series from Attendance Works
Attendance Works and its national partners are proud to launch the 10th annual Attendance Awareness Campaign webinar series. The first webinar April 6 will feature a panel of diverse speakers from varying communities and organizations who will examine how schools can leverage health services, expanded learning and a community schools approach that motivates students to be engaged and learning. Register for these free webinars at
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