Student Vaccination Rate Reaches All-Time High

By Christina Cox, Santa Clarita Valley Signal - Rep: August 7, 2017

A record number of students in seventh grade and kindergarten were vaccinated during the 2016-17 school year, according to two executive summary reports from the California Department of Public Health.

According to the reports, immunizations increased to 98.4 percent for seventh grade students and increased to 95.6 percent for kindergarten students in 2016-17.

The increase in immunizations could be attributed to the state’s stricter vaccination law that went into effect July 1, 2016.

Senate Bill 277 ended the exemption of vaccinations based on personal beliefs. Under the law, only students enrolled in independent study programs or homeschooled programs are not required to be vaccinated. Students can also still receive exemptions due to medical reasons...

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Study Examines Broadband Access in PreK-12 Schools, Finds Many Districts Lack Measurement Skills

By Chris Ritzo - Rep: June 19, 2017

In schools across the United States, IT departments are routinely tasked with supporting teachers as they move toward more technology-centric instructional environments. It may seem obvious that this can only be done with a foundation of robust broadband infrastructure. In practice, however, schools don’t always know the state of their infrastructure, or how to best improve it. The challenges that school administrators face when budgeting for and deploying technology vary widely, as do their approaches to supporting its use within their schools. Measuring and assessing network health is a critical challenge facing public schools as they plan for both today’s and tomorrow’s broadband needs.

During the 2015-16 school year, New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) and Education Policy program partnered with the IT staff at Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) in Virginia to conduct a pilot study as a first step toward addressing this challenge...

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Summer Meals Program in Participating Districts Underway

June 19, 2017

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson encourages parents, caregivers, child care organizations, and community groups to take advantage of the Summer Meals Program that provides free meals to children eighteen or younger at local community sites.

“Nutritious meals help a child thrive both physically and mentally,” Torlakson said. “The Summer Meals Program helps to keep kids well-nourished during the summer months so they can return to the classroom prepared and ready to learn.”

The Summer Meals Program begins when school districts end their school year. For a complete list of participating sites, visit the California Department of Education Summer Meals Service Sites Web page...

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California Department of Public Health Works on Controlling Norovirus Outbreaks

June 5, 2017

During the past two weeks, norovirus outbreaks continued to turn up in various school districts around California. In Yolo County, where a total of more than 3,000 students spread over school districts in Woodland and Davis went home sick, health authorities recommended one-day or two-day closures – for the purpose of “deep cleaning” to rein in the highly contagious virus – at two elementary schools, one community school, and one preschool campus. There were also reports of norovirus at schools in other counties including northern Santa Barbara, Modesto, and San Jose.

On May 23, the California Department of Public Health issued the following statement regarding norovirus:

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is working with local public health departments across the state to help control norovirus outbreaks that have increased in the past few weeks, and are occurring in schools and other institutional settings...

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New Agriculture Secretary Says He’ll Roll Back Michelle Obama’s Healthy School Lunches Initiative

By Melissa Etehad, Los Angeles Times - May 22, 2017

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on May 1 that he would roll back part of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s healthy eating initiative: stricter nutritional standards for school lunches.

Perdue, who became head of the agency last week, announced he would be relaxing guidelines and providing greater flexibility in nutrition requirements for schools’ meal programs.

“This announcement is the result of years of feedback from students, schools and food service experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals,” Perdue said during a visit to Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va...

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California’s Kindergarten Vaccination Rates Hit New High

April 24, 2017

On April 12, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) posted results for the annual immunization assessment of children attending kindergarten in California in the 2016-17 school year. The report found that vaccination rates among kindergartners are at their highest point since 2001.

Compared to 2015-16 results, the percentage of students attending kindergarten in 2016-17 who had received all required vaccines rose from 93 percent to 96 percent.

“I am encouraged to see that California parents are making sure their children get the vaccinations they need,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “Many vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, can easily spread in school settings. Getting all recommended immunizations on time is one of the most important things parents can do to keep our children healthy and in school.”...

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Advocacy Group Sues Two California School Districts for Serving Students Processed Meats

April 24, 2017

The nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, based in Washington, DC, filed a lawsuit on April 12 to stop schools in California’s Los Angeles Unified School District and Poway Unified School District from serving students processed meats – including hot dogs, pepperoni, and luncheon meat – which are linked to colorectal cancer.

The lawsuit alleges that serving foods that have been linked to cancer in school lunches violates California’s Education Code, which mandates that school lunches must be of the "highest quality" and "greatest nutritional value possible." Processed meats are available daily on many California public school menus.

Tracy Childs and Steven Sarnoff, who have two children who were Poway Unified School District students, and Jennifer Mack, a Los Angeles Unified School District teacher, are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the California Department of Education, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the Poway Unified School District...

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Influenza Cases Widespread in California

January 16, 2017

On December 30, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that influenza activity is increasing in the state and has reached “widespread” levels. Areas with the most influenza activity include the Northern California, Central California and Bay Area regions.

Since the beginning of the influenza season in California, CDPH has received reports of three influenza deaths and 29 severe influenza cases resulting in admission to the intensive care unit in patients 64 years old and younger.

In the United States, influenza activity reaches its highest levels between December and February, and may continue through May. It is not too late to get vaccinated against influenza. Now is a perfect time to do it: CDPH recommends the annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older, including pregnant women...

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Parents Spending More Than Nine Hours a Day with Screen Media – and Worry When Children Do the Same

December 19, 2016

A first-of-its-kind study released on December 6 by Common Sense shows that parents spend more than nine hours (9:22) a day with screen media, the vast majority of that time being spent with personal media (7:43) and only slightly more than 90 minutes devoted to work media. The vast majority of these parents (78%) believe they are good media use role models for their kids. Meanwhile, many parents are concerned about their children’s media use, including thinking that their children may become addicted to technology (56%) and that technology use negatively impacts their children’s sleep (34%).

"These findings are fascinating because parents are using media for entertainment just as much as their kids, yet they express concerns about their kids’ media use while also believing that they are good role models for their kids," said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense. "Media can add a lot of value to relationships, education, and development, and parents clearly see the benefits, but if they are concerned about too much media in their kids’ lives, it might be time to reassess their own behavior so that they can truly set the example they want for their kids."...

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Federal Agencies Release First Joint Policy Brief on Use of Technology with Young Children

November 7, 2016

On October 21, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services today released a policy brief on the use of technology with early learners to help families and early educators implement active, meaningful and socially interactive learning. The brief includes a call to action for researchers and technology developers, highlighting topics for further research and encouraging the development of research-based products.

"The early learning community has been wisely cautious about using technology with our youngest children," said Libby Doggett, deputy assistant secretary for Policy and Early Learning. "But technology, when used appropriately with caring adults, can help children learn in new ways – and lessen the growing inequity in our country. This brief helps early educators think about developmentally appropriate ways to use technology in their classrooms."...

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