Education Headlines

Article Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Education headlines
Quick takes on the news that matters for educators and staff

APRIL 6 | Newsday: AFT President

The school year is far from lost
AFT President Randi Weingarten’s opinion piece in Newsday discusses the impact of school closures and the COVID-19 pandemic on students. She says, “At this extraordinary time, let’s trust teachers. I propose giving teachers the latitude to sum up either the semester or the school year, depending on how long schools are closed, by creating age-appropriate capstone or term projects that demonstrate students’ learning for the year.”

APRIL 6 | CNN follows AFT Nurses

Inside an ER during the coronavirus outbreak
CNN aired an exclusive look inside the University Hospital of Brooklyn, which is part of the SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University and has been designated as a COVID-19 hospital. The piece features AFT members working on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis and shows how vital our work is to fighting this pandemic. It’s an incredible reminder for Americans that healthcare workers are stretched thin during this time and are in vital need of personal protective equipment, which our union has been fighting for. 

APRIL 1 | Governor’s Press Conference on Education

Governor Newsom confirms that schools will be closed through the end of the year
The governor references Superintendent Thurmond’s memo to superintendents saying schools will likely not reopen this academic year, but that the goal is to increase the education occurring at home. Gov. Newsom has worked with labor to get comprehensive protocols to advance distance learning. In order to do that, the state needed private sector support. Google stepped up in a partnership that will provide “100,000 points of access” to provide wifi and high-quality access to broadband internet for the next three months to address the digital divide. In addition, Google will be providing thousands of Chromebooks. And the governor thanks moms for the extraordinary work they are doing at home now, and offers his deep respect and admiration for the work of mothers.

Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, joined the press conference to say schools are continuing to provide education, but from home, where it is safe. Out of an abundance of caution, he has urged superintendents to educate our kids at home only through the end of this school year. “We urge these efforts to be accelerated by providing wifi and more training for our teachers,” Thurmond said. “Our campuses are closed to kids, but school is not out for year.”

Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the State Board of Education, said almost every district is launching a distance learning program, with increased wifi connectivity and hot spots to allowing distance learning where needed. She said today the CDE will post guidance on graduation requirements and grading and that some districts are planning hold commencement ceremonies in the fall. The CDE will also issue a joint statement today about college admissions. The colleges have agreed to accept Pass/No Pass grading and have extended flexibility for payment, financial aid and more. Students will not have to take the SATs for admission.

  • Food distribution: The state received a waiver from the federal government that will allow more Grab-n-Go meals to reach students. Hammond said the CDE is  making sure as many students are being fed as possible. About 5,200 sites across the state are offering students Grab ‘N Go meals. 
  • Child care: A number of districts are setting up child care centers for kids of essential workers. Districts are organizing where they can to partner with other community organizations to provide this care.

APRIL 1 | Community College Chancellor’s Office

Summary of Wednesday, April 1st Webinar
Chancellor Oakley covered a range of topics. First, he asked all colleges to apply flexibility and equity when it comes to the new grading policy, and said the new Pass/No Pass grading policy is intended to allow students to continue their education. The chancellor is urging everyone to spread the word about on completing the U.S. Census. Participating in the census is one of the ways we can ensure that the community colleges get their fair share. The College Futures Foundation has established a $5 million fund to provide $500 in direct assistance to community college, CSU, and UC students (some terms apply). The Academic Senate is organizing professional development and training webinars for faculty, including a segment on how to run an effective “Academic Senate Meetings on your Campus.”  

The Chancellor’s Office continues to work on the issues below:

  • Temporary distance education blanket addendum
  • Impact of FON penalties on districts
  • 67 percent rule for part-time faculty
  • Implementing flexibility with the Board of Registered Nursing
  • Reporting deadlines and extensions on grants and programs
  • Dual enrollment/middle college
  • Work Study for credit students
  • Grades relevant to financial aid and attendance accounting

The weekly Zoom webinar on Wednesdays at 9 am is open to everyone Join the webinar here:

MARCH 31 | California Dept. of Education

Thurmond issues memo to local superintendents saying schools likely to close for remainder of the year
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond sent a letter to superintendents throughout the state and the media stating that it “appears that our students will not be able to return to school campuses before the end of the school year.” This is not a state Executive Order, but it is an expectation that all the schools will shut down. 

MARCH 30 | Community College Chancellor’s Office

New guidance memo outlines technology resources available to educators
This new guidance memo provides information for colleges to understand the technology resources and applications available through the Chancellor’s Office partnership with the Foundation for California Community Colleges and California Virtual Campus-Online Education Initiative (CVC-OEI)

MARCH 30 | Santa Maria Times

AFT local union president shares experience of switching to online teaching
Mark James Miller, a part-time English instructor at Allan Hancock College, talks about the challenges and rewards of the immediate switch to online teaching required because of the coronavirus pandemic. Miller has a regular column in the Santa Maria Times, where this article first appeared.

MARCH 30 | AFT Tele-Town Hall

Join a Tele-Town Hall with AFT President Randi Weingarten
Monday @ 5:30 pm
EST (2:30 pm Pacific)
You’re invited to be part of a telephone town hall discussion with AFT President Randi Weingarten on the union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic this Monday at 2:30 p.m. PST. Simply register your phone number here by 12 pm EST (9 am PST), on Monday the 30th and you will automatically be called at the start of the town hall — no need to call in! Hear about the steps AFT is taking to respond to this global pandemic.

MARCH 29 | The White House

National stay-at-home order extended to April 30
The White House Task Force on the Coronavirus and President Trump extend the national stay-at-home order until April 30. 

March 27 | U.S. Congress & White House

Trump signs federal stimulus package — CARES Act — passed by Congress
The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, And Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provides workers direct checks, additional unemployment insurance benefits, retirement plan rules changes, loans to small businesses, loans to particular industries, student loan suspension, rent relief, veterans benefits, and much more. California will be receiving $15.3 billion, but it’s still unknown how this will impact school and college districts. Read AFT’s initial analysis below.

March 27 | CFT President

UpFront with CFT President Jeff Freitas on Facebook
Watch the video on Facebook with President Freitas as he answered some of the most frequent and pressing questions from members during our first Facebook Live broadcast from the CFT Facebook page. The questions were submitted to our website and last week’s CFT Tele-Townhall, which more than 12,000 CFT members took part in, many asking important questions about their jobs and the health and well-being of their families and their students. If you have a critical question or comment for CFT, please take a moment to share your concerns and your inspirational stories.

March 27 | Community College Chancellor’s Office

Chancellor issues Executive Order about grading policies, pass/no pass requirement
The chancellor has issued a new Executive Order (2020-02) and guidance memo about course grading. It suspends title 5, section 55022, requirement that students select the “pass or no pass” grading option prior to the 30 percent mark of the term.

March 27 | Governor’s Office

Executive Order creates statewide moratorium on evictions for renters
Governor Newsom issued an executive order banning the enforcement of eviction orders for renters affected by Covid-19 through May 31, 2020. The order prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent and prohibits enforcement of evictions by law enforcement or courts. It also requires tenants to declare in writing, no more than seven days after the rent comes due, that the tenant cannot pay all or part of their rent due to Covid-19.

March 26 | NPR

Coronavirus relief package offers up more than $30 billion for education
The U.S. Senate’s $2 trillion coronavirus relief package includes more than $30 billion for education, with more than $14 billion for colleges and universities and at least $13.5 billion for the nation’s K-12 schools.

March 25 | #ThankATeacher

Parents newly appreciate teachers after one week of homeschooling
Last week, as schools began to close due to the spread of the coronavirus, social media sites were flooded with messages from parents and students getting used to homeschooling, sharing their appreciation for the teachers and support staff who keep our kids learning, fed and on a schedule. We are asking our communities to join us in thanking our teachers and school support staff as they share their distance learning stories — #ThankATeacher.

March 25 | Governor’s Office

Californians can get a 90-day grace period on mortgage payments
Financial institutions will provide relief to Californians economically impacted by COVID-19 by offering a 90-day grace period to make mortgage payments. Governor Newsom secured support from Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo and nearly 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and servicers to protect homeowners and consumers. Also (under the applicable guidelines), financial institutions agreed to: 

  • accept that payment relief will not negatively impact individual credit reports;
  • not initiate foreclosure sales or evictions for at least 60 days;
  • waive some fees such as late mortgage payments or early CD withdrawals.