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August 2020 Vol. 26, 8
Child wearing a mask in school
New state reopening regulations, masks required for students in grades 3-12

Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 17 unveiled new guidelines mandating that all California schools in counties on the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list begin the school year solely with distance learning and must meet strict criteria in order to open campuses. As of July 20, 35 of 58 counties, representing more than 90 percent of the state’s schoolchildren, were on the watch list. It’s important to note that districts located in counties that are not currently on the watch list, but are subsequently added to the list, are not required to close their schools when their county’s status changes. They should, however, begin or increase the frequency of staff testing for coronavirus once their county is placed on the watch list.

“Safety is foundational and safety will ultimately make the determination of how we go about educating our kids as we move into the fall and we work our way through this pandemic,” Gov. Newsom said.

How focusing on mental health can benefit student learning
As district leaders weigh the complex pathways to operating schools in 2020–21 — including distance learning, in-person and/or hybrid models — they need to consider the mental health needs of students and how they can be addressed to enable successful learning.

The past six months of rapid school closures in response to the dangers of COVID-19, parental layoffs or furloughs, sick family members and the racial reckoning the country is facing in the wake of George Floyd’s death have challenged everyone’s mental health. But the impact has been magnified for children, who may have lacked a safe place to process these events and how they impact their future.

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Chief Information Officer:
Troy Flint |

Managing Editor:
Kimberly Sellery |

Marketing Director:

Serina Pruitt |

Staff Writers and Contributors:
Andrew Cummins |
Alisha Kirby |
Mike Ambrose |
Briana Mullen |

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Kerry Macklin |

Senior Graphic Designer:
Mauricio Miranda |

Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez | Azusa USD

Suzanne Kitchens | Pleasant Valley SD

Vice President:
Susan Heredia | Natomas USD

Immediate Past President:
Emma Turner | La Mesa-Spring Valley SD

CEO & Executive Director:
Vernon M. Billy

The California School Boards Association is the essential voice for public education. We inspire our members to be knowledgeable leaders, extraordinary governance practitioners and ardent advocates for all students.

California School News (ISSN 1091-1715) is published 11 times per year by the California School Boards Association, Inc., 3251 Beacon Blvd., West Sacramento, CA 95691. 916-371-4691. $4 of CSBA annual membership dues is for the subscription to California School News. The subscription rate for each CSBA nonmember is $35. Periodicals postage paid at West Sacramento, CA and at additional mailing office. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to California School News, 3251 Beacon Blvd., West Sacramento, CA 95691.

News and feature items submitted for publication are edited for style and space as necessary.

President’s Message: Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez
Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez headshot
Unprecedented times call for sharing our best work
Now that the budget dust has settled and Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued much more concrete guidance for reopening schools, I know we are all hard at work figuring out how to make the 2020–21 school year work best for all students. And by the time you read this, many districts will have just begun the year with the majority of us starting with distance learning and just a few able to resume in-person instruction in parts of the state not on the COVID-19 county watch list.

With 90 percent of California students poised to begin the school year virtually, it is more important than ever to address the digital divide so that every student has the opportunity to fully participate in distance learning. Innovative examples are out there, including East Side Union High School District, which has partnered with the city of San Jose for the past several years to bring free WiFi to not only students, but to everyone within their district boundaries, and is about halfway to their goal. Desert Sands USD in Riverside County formed a public-private partnership, identified areas in the district where WiFi was not reaching and retrofitted old microwave towers to reach those areas — all while following strict E-rate regulations (read more about Desert Sands in the At Issue feature in the spring 2020 issue of California Schools magazine.) These forward-thinking solutions have greatly benefitted the students in these communities and should inspire districts to begin thinking of long-term solutions; however, time and funding are not on our side for the 2020–21 school year.

Image of Buses
Experts say community spread must be addressed before schools reopen
While laying out a few of the many considerations district officials will need to account for when they reopen schools for in-person instruction, infectious disease experts made one thing abundantly clear: schools cannot safely reopen until their communities reduce the spread of COVID-19 beyond the classroom walls.

“One of the really challenging things to think about is that if we go back to school and suddenly there’s a school with five cases, the assumption is going to be that there was transmission in that school — but that may reflect the community and the fact that we aren’t controlling this in our communities well,” Dr. Wendy Armstrong of the Emory University School of Medicine told viewers of a July 16 webinar hosted by the National Parent Teacher Association.

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Appellate Court rules Santa Monica’s at-large election method did not violate the CVRA
On July 9, 2020, a California Court of Appeal ruled that the City of Santa Monica’s use of an at-large election method did not violate the California Voting Rights Act in Pico Neighborhood Association v. City of Santa Monica. This is the first time a public entity has successfully defended a challenge to its election method under the CVRA, raising expectations that the court’s decision will make it more difficult for plaintiffs to successfully challenge a school district’s at-large voting method in the future.
The Santa Monica decision
Plaintiffs sued the City of Santa Monica in 2017, alleging the City’s at-large election system violated the CVRA and the California Constitution. Plaintiffs alleged that the city adopted and maintained the at-large voting system to dilute Latino voting power and to deny Latinos effective political participation in City Council elections, and that the at-large system prevented Latino residents from electing candidates of their choice or influencing election outcomes. At the time of the trial, about 90,000 people lived in Santa Monica, and Latinos comprised about 16 percent of the city’s total population. The trial court found the city had violated the CVRA, and the city appealed.
State Board meeting focuses on tools to help LEAs plan for uncertain school year
With great uncertainty still clouding the 2020–21 school year, the State Board of Education focused much of its attention at its July 8–9 virtual meeting on the tools available for local educational agencies to prepare for the in-flux return of students and staff to the classroom.

“One thing is clear, it’s that we are going to be in a very unpredictable situation for quite a while,” State Board President Linda Darling-Hammond said in her opening remarks. “Clearly, teaching and learning will be organized in many different ways this fall in in-person, some distance learning, some hybrid learning, et cetera. It will need to be governed by purpose rather than by place.”

CSBA’s Masters in Governance program moves online to serve members during COVID-19
woman typing on laptop
CSBA’s Masters in Governance program is the premier professional development opportunity for school board members interested in strengthening their understanding of the foundations of effective district governance, school finance, community relations and advocacy, human resources and policy development. As a result of COVID-19, the robust program has been adapted and will soon be offered for the first time online. California School News caught up with CSBA Director of Trainings Darcel Lee to learn more about what members can expect from the virtual version, and why it is more important than ever that governance teams ensure they are effective in promoting student success.
COVID-19 has chilling effect on vaccination rates for other diseases
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccination dose orders declined from mid-March, the beginning of the emergency declaration due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to mid-April by 2.5 million compared to previous years. In a report issued May 18, the agency wrote, “The identified declines in routine pediatric vaccine ordering and doses administered might indicate that U.S. children and their communities face increased risks for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.”
In California, data from the Department of Public Health shows that the number of vaccinations given to children from birth to 18 years old declined by 40 percent from April 2019 to April 2020. While this troublesome trend is perhaps unsurprising with the COVID-19 pandemic running rampant through much of the U.S., it does add further safety concerns regarding reopening schools across much of the nation. In California, however, some of the fears are allayed by legislation — which was strengthened just last year — requiring immunizations in order to begin school and at certain checkpoints throughout a student’s academic trajectory.
Call for nominations open Aug. 1 for CSBA Directors-at-Large
Nominations for CSBA Directors-at-Large Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic are being accepted through Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. Directors-at-Large play an important role at CSBA, helping shape policy and set organizational direction.

Nominations must be made by a CSBA member board of education and each nominee must be a board member from a CSBA member district or county office of education. Nominees must submit a candidate statement and two letters of recommendation by the Oct. 2 deadline. Nominees may also submit an optional one-page, single-sided resume.

CSBA’s Board of Directors consists of four officers, 21 regional directors from across the state, four ethnic directors-at-large, one county director-at-large and the California County Boards of Education president. The Delegate Assembly elects Directors to serve a two-year term beginning immediately upon the close of the Annual Education Conference and Trade Show in December.

Please visit the CSBA website for more information and to access the forms required to participate in the nomination and election process.

Strong engagement can resolve lingering parental concerns with math standards

Now a decade after the California State Board of Education’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, teachers and school leaders say they are still facing family engagement challenges in implementing the standards.

A new CSBA brief, “Effective Family Engagement: A Lesson From Common Core Math” (available at provides insights on standards implementation and family engagement from teachers, and education and family engagement professionals. They share not only the misconceptions surrounding the standards, but also the importance of family engagement and sample strategies and practices that districts can consider to improve these practices.

GovernanceCorner Practical tips from our MIG faculty

The importance of student school board members

Many district and county school board governance teams in California have a student board member. Why is this important?

Students should have the opportunity to experience different leadership options during their high school years — becoming a student board member is one of these. Once elected, a student board member can experience democracy up close and personal. They serve as the liaison between all students and the school board and between the school board and students. They represent student interests, are the student voice in important discussions and are able to voice an opinion on important policy and procedure conversations.

county boards
Planning for a back-to-school season like no other

While things are usually a bit more relaxed in the summer-break months, county offices of education and districts across the state are working harder than ever to develop plans for what learning will look like in the 2020–21 school year. What is clear is that this will be a back-to-school season like no other.

In Yolo County, that work began with leadership surveying parents, staff and students, running countless simulations, measuring classroom space and evaluating the effectiveness of cleaning supplies — all with the goal of providing the safest learning environment for students in the new school year. It will take the ingenuity and dedication of local educational agency leaders and staff to tackle these complex problems, and they are up to the challenge.

county boards
A county perspective on the Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan

As the COVID-19 pandemic and its health and economic impacts rolled forward this spring and into the summer, the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom reconciled significant education budget considerations, ultimately adopting a budget for the new fiscal year that maintains last year’s funding levels as much as possible. While the budget relies on the promise of massive federal funding, many in the education community still gave a sigh of relief that major cuts were not a factor that has to be addressed at the same time local educational agencies are facing the herculean task of preparing for an uncertain new school year that undeniably involves a kind of flexibility and effort that has never been seen before.

The required new Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan came as a big surprise to many school districts and county offices of education, as did the speed with which it must be adopted. The document addresses the expected, continuing and growing student learning needs and the need for continuity of learning whether instruction takes place in person or virtually.

UpcomingEvents info: 800-266-3382

ATTENTION: All in-person CSBA events are cancelled through August due to the coronavirus pandemic. For more information about events, visit
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