News Briefs | FYI

June 29, 2020
FYI
Students can enter contest to win scholarships
The California Special Districts Association invites students to create a fun and informative short video highlighting the ways special districts “Make the Difference” in California for a chance to win a scholarship. Additional prize money will be given to the teachers of the winning students to promote technology and support distance learning. Once the finalists have been chosen, the videos will be posted online for the public to vote for the winners. In December, after the statewide voting is closed, Districts Make the Difference will award: $2,000 for first-place winner; $1,000 for second-place winner; and $500 for third-place winner. An additional $500 will be awarded to the student’s teacher. High school and college students are strongly encouraged to participate in this educational opportunity to learn about special districts, which provide vital services like water, recreation, libraries, utilities and more. For complete contest rules and instructions, visit https://www.csda.net/dmtd/video-contest. The deadline to submit is 5 p.m. Sept. 30, 2020.  Sign up for ELPAC check-in webinars  The California Department of Education has scheduled three check-in webinars in 2020–21 for Local Education Agency CAASPP and ELPAC coordinators. These webinars will address common questions, provide assessment updates, and include an interactive question-and-answer section and will take place in November, January, and March. To register, visit the CAASPP 2020–21 Training Opportunities web page at http://www.caaspp.org/training/caaspp/2020-21-training-opportunities.html
CDE launches free suicide prevention training program In collaboration with the San Diego County Office of Education, the California Department of Education is launching a free online suicide prevention training program available to middle and high school staff and students throughout the state.  The funding for the program was secured by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) and included in Assembly Bill 1808, which was passed in 2018.  The online training program is called LivingWorks Start, an evidence-based program that is aligned with CDE’s Model Youth Suicide Prevention Policy to address the needs of high-risk populations. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 24. For every youth who dies by suicide, an estimated 100 to 200 young people make suicide attempts.  The San Diego County Office of Education was selected through a competitive application by the CDE to lead the effort and make the training available to Local Educational Agencies through their respective county office of education. LEAs can choose to incorporate the program as an additional resource to an existing youth suicide prevention policy.      “This is not a one-size-fits-all solution,” said Paul Gothold, San Diego County Superintendent of Schools. “By working with all 58 county offices of education to distribute this online training to their areas of greatest need, we are honoring the expertise, resources, and needs of each community.”  The program will be rolled out in two phases, with school site staff trained first and students trained during the second phase, which will take place in September. Having trained school personnel in place will allow students to receive the proper support when they go through the program and will help them be better equipped to support students. Some of the training topics include how to recognize when someone is having suicidal thoughts, intervention strategies, and connections to support services.   For questions or more information, visit the San Diego County Office of Education’s Student Support Services web page at https://www.sdcoe.net/student-services/student-support/Pages/Online-Suicide-Prevention-Training-for-California-Schools.aspx or email Program Specialist Heather Nemour at heather.nemour@sdcoe.net
SPI calls for ‘closing the gap’ on student mental health needs State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond called on counseling groups across California to work together in a coordinated effort to expand services that can close gaps in mental health supports for students experiencing increased levels of trauma exacerbated by the pandemic.  During his weekly virtual media check-in June 11, Thurmond called attention to emotional strains caused by the pandemic: Students are missing important, caring connections with their friends and teachers since school campus closures, and many are living in isolation and experiencing increased feelings of anxiety and depression. Youth across California are struggling to process their own grief and anger over issues of racial injustice while also under the strain of household circumstances such as food insecurity.  In the meantime, there are thousands of students across the state who have not checked in with their teachers since school campuses closed three months ago, Thurmond noted. And the California Department of Education anticipates that the number of youths identifying as homeless could increase as the impacts of the pandemic continue.  Counseling and mental health groups that want to help are asked to email mentalhealth@cde.ca.gov.  “For months, students have experienced intense stress under the biggest challenges they may experience in a lifetime. Just as we are thinking about what academics look like for students in the weeks and months ahead, we must make sure that we prioritize the mental and emotional health of students who will likely be entering a very different school environment this fall,” said Thurmond. “I call on all of our leaders in the field of counseling, mental health, and social-emotional learning to join us in the effort to close gaps in these supports.”  To begin laying the groundwork for this effort, the State Superintendent has convened leaders from the California Association of School Counselors, the California Association of School Psychologists, and the California Alliance of Child and Family Services to begin sharing resources and ideas for creating a framework and securing resources for students in need.  Additionally, the CDE has numerous resources for educators, families, and students, including resources for students in crisis, students experiencing homelessness, and foster youth.
Partnership will support summer learning in LA County A new collaborative effort will support extended learning opportunities for low-income and vulnerable TK-12 students in Los Angeles County this summer. The LA County Summer Learning Initiative brings together the region’s education leaders, including the California Community Foundation, the LA County Office of Education and the Greater LA Education Foundation, to ensure students receive the support they need in the upcoming months.  Together, CCF and Greater LA will grant at least $1 million toward these efforts.  The closure of schools for the COVID-19 crisis has deepened a divide along racial and socioeconomic lines for LA County young people. Many students and families have faced enormous hurdles in gaining equal access to education and support as highlighted in a Beyond the Schoolhouse report published last year by UCLA. The murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests further focused attention on the need to support our Black youth and other minority students.  “The COVID-19 pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated existing inequalities within the education and youth development systems,” said CCF president & CEO Antonia Hernández.  All students in general experience learning loss over the summer. COVID-19-focused research suggests that students in some grades may return in fall 2020 nearly a full year behind what we would expect in normal conditions. “Summer slide” is worse for high-need student populations, from low-income foster youth to English learners to students with disabilities, as they are less likely than their higher income peers to have enriching opportunities over the summer.  Summer programs that can mitigate potential learning loss and address the social-emotional needs of youth are especially needed as students across our region have experienced months of disrupted in-class engagement with their peers.   “Education leaders must use this moment as a turning point to bring about real change in our approach to race and equity. But we can’t do it alone,” said Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo. “The summer learning initiative is a shining example of the power of partnerships. Working together is the only way we can truly stop persistent educational inequities and ensure a brighter tomorrow for our at-promise youth.” 

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