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Oakland Unified Preps for Full Distance Learning

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Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is taking initiative and working with the city and vendors to prepare for full-time distance learning for the upcoming Fall semester amid the COVID-19 pandemic shut down.

OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell announced on July 17 that OUSD is prepared to open the 2020-21 school year in distance learning mode only. Plans were further solidified after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement, also on July 17th, that school districts in counties that are on the state’s COVID-19 watchlist cannot open schools for in-person instruction until their county has been off the watchlist for 14 straight days.  Alameda County is on the watchlist due to “elevated disease transmission.”

OUSD Chief of Staff Curtiss Sarikey explained that planning started in April with the purchase and distribution of 18,000 Chrome Book computers.

“Ed Fund donated $12.5 million, and we have purchased 25,000 more Chrome Books to distribute to families that are theirs to keep.  In addition, we’re working on hot spots and broadband capability for another 25,000 students who need connectivity,” said Sarikey.

OUSD has served over 4 million breakfasts and lunches since March. Partnering with outside vendors, OUSD has been able to distribute 32,000 to 15,000 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables to families with their “box” program.

Families that can afford to pay $35.00 per box are helping other families that cannot afford to pay.  OUSD distributes 4,000 boxes a week and when necessary also provides deliveries to the families

“We are providing food security and health care,”  Sarikey said.  “We’re currently identifying children that need tech support and we continue, in addition to serving breakfast and lunch, prepare 18,000 family grocery bags for a family of five.  We have 24 sites for distribution, and we do this two times a week with enough food to provide for the family until the next distribution.”

In terms of teacher retention and hiring, Sarikey said there has been an increase in Latino and African American hiring. OUSD is pleased that the retention rate this year is better than usual.

Accommodations for childcare have been established as a one-stop-shop resource, and OUSD is working with the City of Oakland, who also provides childcare, which at this time is not maxed out.

“Family Wellness is our focus, we’re helping families, as well as staff and their families navigate through this difficult time by providing resources.  We will have a family guide available when people come to register on August 3rd,” said Sarikey.

Oakland Educators Association (OEA) and the California Teachers Association (CTA) are in full support of the full distance learning model. Thirty teachers have been working on remote learning curriculum and teachers were trained this summer.  Starting Monday, further training regarding wellness checks, aspects of distance learning, and robust support of teachers to assure they have the training and tech support they need will begin.

 

 

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Bay Area

Get Booster Shot, Celebrate Thanksgiving Holiday Safely, State Officials Say

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

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According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”
According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

Golden State public health officials are recommending that Californians take COVID-19 booster shots to prevent a resurgence of the disease and to celebrate the holidays safely with their loved ones.

“It’s not too late to get it,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Department, referring to the COVID-19 booster shot. He was speaking at a vaccine clinic in Los Angeles County last week.

“Get that added protection for the Thanksgiving gatherings you may attend,” he said.

Last week, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine boosters for all adults in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) followed with an endorsement of the booster vaccine, recommending it for people over age 50, and anyone 18 and older who is at higher risk.

The CDC loosened the language for all other adults, saying anyone over age 18 “may” take the shot.

California officials say the booster shots are plenty and available throughout the state.

“If you think you will benefit from getting a booster shot, I encourage you,” said Ghaly. “Supplies are available. There are many sites across the state – thousands in fact.”

On Saturday, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup completed a separate review of the federal government’s approval process for the booster shots and also recommended that “individuals 18 or older who have completed their primary vaccination series,” take the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna boosters.

California, Oregon, Nevada and Washington state came together last year and created the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. The group, made up of scientists, medical professionals and public health experts, is charged with reviewing COVID-19 vaccine safety.

Over the last two weeks, COVID-19 infections across the United States have increased at a rate of nearly 33%, according to the CDC.

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

“COVID-19 boosters are available to all Californians 18 [and over]! Walk-in clinics are open statewide with no appointment necessary – like this mobile clinic in Avenal. Find a clinic or pharmacy near you and get yours today,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office chimed in on Twitter.

Newsom has pushed hard for the vaccine booster since he received his last month.

“Great news for the rest of the country. The holidays are here — make sure to keep your immunity up and protect yourself and your loved ones. Get your booster,” Newsom tweeted on November 18.

According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

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Bay Area

COMMENTARY: Happy Thanksgiving, and Please Get Vaccinated

To all our staff who have been working so incredibly hard over the past few months to welcome our students and families back to school safely with such grace: You all inspire me and our whole community, and I deeply appreciate all that you do each and every day on behalf of our young people and families.

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Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell, Superintendent, Oakland Unified School District
Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell, Superintendent, Oakland Unified School District.

By Supt. Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell

Dear Oakland Unified Community,

As we now begin the Thanksgiving break, I must give thanks for being part of such a wonderful community, with brilliant and beautiful children, caring and supportive families, and amazingly dedicated staff.

It has always been clear to me that here in Oakland, we watch out for each other and take care of each other, especially in the most challenging times.

Last week, my family went to our doctor’s office to get our flu and COVID vaccines. Getting my family vaccinated has given me so much relief and hope as we plan to gather with grandparents and other family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Our staff and partners are working tirelessly to make sure all OUSD families have access to the COVID vaccine across the city. I am so proud of the amazing efforts of our staff to reach out to our most vulnerable populations and help them get vaccinated.

They have reached out to families with thousands of phone calls and letters to answer questions and provide resources and facts about the vaccine. Additionally, this (past) week alone, we co-hosted 21 vaccination pop-ups that served 35 of our schools in neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID.

We heard from Cheryl Narvaez, the parent of a second grader and a fourth grader at Think College Now and what she said was so inspiring. “Our family was eager to get vaccinated as soon as we could since we were going to spend some time with family (including grandparents) during the holiday season. I told my kids that if they got vaccinated, it would help keep everyone extra healthy and safe AND that they could potentially play with cousins and other friends indoors. Once they heard that, they said ‘yes!’”

Narvaez further shared what a positive experience she and her students had by getting vaccinated. “After it was done, I felt a huge sense of relief that my kids had an extra layer of protection from COVID. I am also proud that they were so brave and were opened to sharing their positive experience with others. They also told me that they were surprised that the shot was so quick!”

We are also working with our partners to ensure that our community has access to lots of COVID-19 testing during Thanksgiving break, so that students, staff, and family members can get tested before returning to school.

We trust that families will stay as safe as possible during Thanksgiving break, but we also know that with travel and indoor gatherings, community COVID spread is always a possibility. I urge you once again to get your family vaccinated and to test after traveling or attending large gatherings, before school resumes on Monday, November 29.

We also provided at-home rapid test kits to students attending Child Development Centers, elementary schools, and middle schools in high priority ZIP codes. Each kit contains two tests for testing on Sunday, November 28 prior to returning to school and again on Wednesday, December 1. We had hoped to provide these kits to all students and staff who want them, but the state’s supply is still limited.

To all our staff who have been working so incredibly hard over the past few months to welcome our students and families back to school safely with such grace: You all inspire me and our whole community, and I deeply appreciate all that you do each and every day on behalf of our young people and families.

To our students, families, and staff: I know the last year-and-a-half have been difficult for all of us, but we have real reason for hope as we enter this holiday season. I ask that you join me and my family in getting vaccinated, masking up when gathering, and encouraging others to do the same. I wish you and your family all the best next week: safe, loving, and joyful days together.

Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell, Superintendent, Oakland Unified School District.

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Commentary

COVID-19: Gov. Newsom Signs Executive Order Supporting Healthcare Facilities

Although 88% of Californians 18 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, cases are on the rise as California loses its top position among states with the lowest case rates. Newsom has raised concerns about cases increasing during the winter months.

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During a press conference on Nov. 10, the Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Californians not to become complacent.
During a press conference on Nov. 10, the Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Californians not to become complacent.

By Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order allowing out-of-state healthcare workers to supplement staffing at healthcare facilities across California.

The order is an extension of a statewide COVID-19 provision that also allows “certain medical personnel and emergency medical technicians to continue supporting the state’s COVID-19 response, including administering vaccines,” according to the governor’s office.

Although 88% of Californians 18 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, cases are on the rise as California loses its top position among states with the lowest case rates.

Newsom has raised concerns about cases increasing during the winter months.

“COVID cases are beginning to rise — winter months mean people indoors & more possibilities for spread. The unvaccinated are now almost 7 [times] more likely to get COVID, 10 times more likely to be hospitalized–and 18 [times] more likely to die. Keep your immunity up. Get your booster,” Newsom tweeted.

The executive order allows health care facilities to use alternative spaces like parking lots to administer vaccinations.

California health officials are encouraging any adult who wants a COVID-19 booster shot to get one as eligibility has been extended to all adults.

During a press conference on Nov. 10, the governor warned Californians not to become complacent.

“It was around this time last year that folks started to put their masks down a little bit and started to feel like we can spend a little time together outside of our households,” Newsom said. “We’re looking forward to all that, I’m looking forward to all of that, seeing friends and family. I just want to remind people to do it with some common sense and the kind of protections we’re here today to promote.”

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