Mandatory Testing Could Be Implemented as Soon as 2018

School and County Boards Encouraged to Submit Requests for Free Water Supply Lead Sampling

August 21, 2017

The State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Education are partnering on a new program that provides schools with free testing of their on-campus drinking water. The initiative comes as lead-contaminated water receives increasing attention as a serious public health concern and as the Legislature considers bills that would make lead testing mandatory for all California schools. Additionally, $9.5 million in grant funding is currently available for lead mediation projects in schools serving disadvantaged communities that lack access to clean drinking water.

According to numbers reported by the SWRCB, as of July 21, just over 11 percent (1,201) of California schools have sent in letters of request for free testing, with 9 percent of California schools (981) having submitted testing results to the board...

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Schools, Parents Urged to Make Food Safety a Priority This Fall

August 21, 2017

During the busy fall season, whether you’re working in a school district kitchen, or cooking at home preparing a packed lunch for your child, a weeknight dinner for the family, or a tailgate feast for the whole crew, make sure you prevent foodborne illness by following USDA’s four steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.

Clean: Wash your hands and cooking surfaces before and after handling food. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating, cutting, or cooking. Make sure lunch boxes and coolers are clean before packing.

Separate: Avoid cross contamination. Don’t let raw meat, poultry, or egg products come in contact with fruits, vegetables, or prepared foods. Never put cooked food on a plate or tray that held raw meat or poultry...

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Some Districts, Charter Schools Try Electric School Buses

August 21, 2017

GreenPower Motor Company and School Bus Sales of California announced last week they had secured commitments for the purchase of electric school buses from six different school districts and charter schools in the South Coast and North Coast districts.

GreenPower just rolled out its new school bus – the Synapse 72 all-electric Type D school bus – to go along with its transit buses and double-decker buses.

The company, now headquartered in Porterville (Tulare County), is hoping to begin construction of its assembly plant at the Porterville Airport within a few days. It has submitted building plans and is awaiting approval from the City of Porterville. Construction is expected to take six to nine months...

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USDA Allows More Flexibility in School Meal Requirements

August 21, 2017

Schools now have more flexibility in meeting US Dept. of Agriculture nutrition standards due to changes made earlier this year and in time for the 2017-18 school year.

The USDA will allow states to grant exemptions to schools experiencing hardship in serving 100 percent of grain products as whole grain-rich for the 2017-18 school year. Schools also no longer will have to meet Sodium Target 2 for the school years 2017-2018 through 2020. Sodium Target 1 will stay in place. Finally, schools will be able to serve 1 percent flavored milk through the school meals 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,” said Secretary of Agriculture George E. (Sonny) Perdue when the change was announced in May...

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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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