News Briefs | FYI

July 13, 2020

ACSA leaders join weekly Facebook Live show In the July 6 episode of Common Purpose, Uncommon Times titled “Braving the Future of ACSA,” ACSA Executive Director Wes Smith is joined by ACSA President Ron Williams, ACSA President-elect Charlie Hoffman and ACSA Vice President Erin Simon for a special discussion on the organization’s future and its work on social justice. View a recording at Registration opens soon for ACSA Academies  ACSA is pleased to announce the impending launch of the 2020-21 Academy Program. For the first time, academies will be offered in two formats: virtual/online and blended/hybrid (up to three in-person weekends). Build skills for your job, or get on the fast track to your next job, through one of these 26 academies across 10 leadership specializations. New this year, there will be a Co-administrator Academy designed to build capacity for being effective in this role. The Access & Equity for English Learners Academy will also return in a virtual format. Seven Academies begin in August. Look for the 2020-21 Academies catalog in the mail and online at magazine seeks submissions on partnerships Leadership magazine is seeking submissions for its November/December 2020 online-only issue with the theme “Leadership — Through the Lens of Community Partnerships.” Topics include leveraging community partnerships; nonprofits; PTA/PTO/PTC; growing engagement; public-private partnerships; community schools; and afterschool activities. Learn more at The deadline is Aug. 3.
USDA waivers offer flexibility for feeding nation’s students The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a range of nationwide flexibilities to ensure America’s children receive the nutritious food they need throughout the upcoming school year. These waivers give states, schools and childcare providers time to plan for how they will serve children in the fall, including allowing for new and innovative feeding options as the nation recovers from the coronavirus.  “As the country re-opens and schools prepare for the fall, a one-size-fits-all approach to meal service simply won’t cut it,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, in a June 25 news release. “The flexibilities announced today give states, schools, and child care providers the certainty they need to operate the USDA child nutrition programs in ways that make sense given their local, on-the-ground situations and ensure America’s children can count on meal service throughout the school year.”  As fall nears, schools are considering many different learning models. This announcement empowers them to operate the School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program to best serve their students throughout the 2020-21 school year. It also allows providers in the Child and Adult Care Food Program to tailor operations to serve the children in their care.  USDA is providing flexibilities around meal patterns, group-setting requirements, meal service times, and parent/guardian pick-up of meals for kids across all three programs to address anticipated changes for the coming school year.  USDA is also announcing a new flexibility that waives the requirement for high schools to provide students the option to select some of the foods offered in a meal. While this practice, known as “offer versus serve” is encouraged, social distancing or meals-in-the-classroom models would make this regulatory requirement difficult. Collectively, these waivers reduce barriers to meal service options that support a transition back to normal operations while simultaneously responding to evolving local conditions.  The following nationwide waivers will remain in effect through June 30, 2021 for the SBP, NSLP, and CACFP. These flexibilities allow for: 
  • Meals that do not meet normal meal pattern requirements when necessary to keep kids fed; 
  • Meals to be served outside of group settings and outside of standard times to facilitate grab-and-go and other alternate service options; and 
  • Parent/guardian pick-up of meals for students participating in distance learning. 
The new waiver applies to the NSLP’s “offer versus serve” requirement for high schools, which would be difficult to execute while maintaining social distancing, particularly if meals are prepackaged for in-classroom or grab-and-go service. 
Stockton school wins state water challenge  Shawn McCarty and his sixth-grade students from Hoover Elementary in Stockton, Calif., gathered on a video conference one Friday afternoon thinking they would be helping Principal Dr. Charleen Mah pilot a new distance-learning model. Instead, McCarty and his students learned that their project on recycling and water collection won first place in the 2020 Cal Water H2O Challenge, and they received the grand prize of a $3,500 classroom grant, $1,000 scholarship for each student, and $100 gift card per student to help support the local economy.  In collaboration with California Water Service, the North American Association for Environmental Education, and DoGoodery, the Cal Water H2O Challenge ( is an annual classroom competition for grades 4-6 in schools served by Cal Water. The challenge asks students to tackle a local or global water-related issue through an interactive and collaborative classroom project. This year’s grand-prize trip was changed to scholarships due to the school closures.  For their project titled “Water Collectors: Recycle, Reduce, Reuse,” McCarty’s sixth-graders wanted to find a solution for current and future droughts. Students addressed this issue by substituting the use of potable water with recycled rainwater harvested from self-designed water collectors. As part of the project, students researched the benefits of recycling plastic water bottles and how they could be repurposed as water collectors. Students designed and tested various models and discovered which was the most effective: a single-use, plastic water bottle with a laminated cone attachment. During their three-week collection period, they collected 500 milliliters of rainwater and used it for their classroom hydroponic garden.  Students took their research findings on recycling plastic bottles to the next level and learned about how much local recycling businesses would pay for their recycled bottles. 
McCarty described the challenge as having lifelong effects in his students’ daily lives.  “With this project, we saw how easy it is to save, store, and recycle water. Several students said they would like to build rain collectors at their homes. I believe they are more likely now to recycle and reuse water in gardens than they were before.” 
Collaborative seeks to advance SEL in California  A new collaborative online campaign aims to engage educators, school leaders, and families in a wider conversation about how to advance, elevate, and spur action on Social and Emotional Learning in California.  The “Advance SEL in California” initiative will first gather large-scale input through a forum called WikiWisdom, a virtual resource where educators, school leaders, and families can collaborate, interact with peers, and share best SEL practices to support students dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and over the long term. This 2.5 week-long forum launched on May 18 has already seen participation from hundreds of California educators. Following the conclusion of the WikiWisdom Forum, the campaign will hold three virtual convenings in July with education stakeholders from around the state to deepen the discussion on the status of SEL in California. Lastly, the project will culminate in a report on the status of Social and Emotional Learning in California, with recommendations for how teachers, school leaders, and families across the state can address the social and emotional needs of students both in response to COVID-19 and over the long term.  The SEL WikiWisdom Forum was created by WikiWisdom and is sponsored by Beyond Differences.  For more information and to participate in the Social Emotional Learning Forum, send an email to You may follow this campaign on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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