Weekly NewsBrief 6/22/20 - 6/28/20

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Illinois releases guidelines to reopen schools in the fall – By Samantha Smylie, Chalkbeat

Illinois schools will need to check temperatures and screen for symptoms of illness, practice social distancing, and step up cleaning once school buildings reopen in the fall.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala released the long-awaited guidelines during a press conference Tuesday about how to safely reopen school buildings across the state after the coronavirus pandemic closed them in March.

“The benefits of in-person instruction can’t be overstated,” said Pritzker during the press conference.

Pritzker warned that school districts should be prepared to close and return to remote learning if there is a spike in cases during the school year. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency plans to provide cloth masks to students, teachers, and staff members in every public school district — more than 2.5 million masks — at no cost to the districts.

Ayala said, “The board of education strongly encourages schools and districts to maximize in-person instruction for all students. This may require some creative scheduling, but we know our incredible teachers and school leaders are up to the task and we’re here to help work them through any challenges that they may face.”

 

Task force: Concerns over social distancing, hybrid learning – By Kathy McCormack, The Associated Press

Many parents, teachers and education officials are anxious for students to get back to school this fall, but there’s a lot of concern about achieving social distancing and workable hybrid learning plans, a New Hampshire education task force acknowledged Tuesday.

The School Transition Reopening and Redesign Taskforce plans to issue 10 preliminary recommendations by June 30 to the state. The group got through questions and suggestions on the first half, which deal with establishing district and school management communications plans; determining public health protocols; preparing the school environment; supporting student, family and educator wellness; and establishing hybrid learning capacity.

Task force members recognized that it’s very difficult for students to social distance and that guidelines may work for one district, but not another.

“We could write all the recommendations in the world, but kids are going to do what kids are going to do,” said member Phil Nazarro of the New Hampshire State Board of Education.

Students also have mixed feelings about whether the wearing of personal protective equipment, such as masks, should be forced on them, said student representative Ben Lambright.

 

Newsom agrees to rethink sharp California budget cuts in deal with lawmakers – By John Myers, The Los Angeles Times

Gov. Gavin Newsom agreed Monday to largely abandon the far-reaching spending reductions he proposed as necessary without new federal coronavirus relief funds, striking a budget pact with leaders of the California Legislature that relies on a mix of different cuts, along with a more optimistic economic outlook, to protect social services programs and public schools.

The compromise, announced in a brief statement released by Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders, came one week after legislators passed a placeholder budget that met a constitutional deadline, avoiding the forfeiture of their pay. Formal approval of the final budget isn’t expected until later this week.

“The COVID-19 global pandemic has caused a sudden and dramatic change in our nation’s and state’s economic outlook — and has had a cascading effect on our state budget,” the statement said. “In the face of these challenges, we have agreed on a budget that is balanced, responsible and protects core services — education, health care, social safety net and emergency preparedness and response.”

No topic was more contentious than Newsom’s original plan to cut $14 billion in spending, a downsizing only to be reversed if Congress and President Trump provide new coronavirus assistance to states in early summer. The governor’s effort would have cut spending on 89 different state programs. About $8 billion of the cuts would have come from funding for K-12 schools and community colleges.

 

NC bill aimed at providing more mental health resources in schools – By Anthony Kustura, WSOCTV

As mental health problems among children increase, a new North Carolina bill is tackling the issue head-on.

House Bill 75 allows funding for each school district to create a mental health crisis response plan made up of the State Bureau of Investigation, local law enforcement and school administrators to identify students who may pose a threat to themselves or others.

"I think it's better that you catch it at an early age," said parent Kellena Bradford.

The bill also requires a facility assessment once a year to make sure public schools are safe and secure in the event of a major threat such as an active shooter.

 

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