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Texas News
‘This is the way you can overcome this’ | Fort Bend ISD partners with hospital to vaccinate 10,000 teachers
Teachers are encouraged to roll up their sleeves over Spring Break.

And a COVID-19 vaccination site in Sugar Land is designed especially for them.

“I’ve lost, personally, several members of my family,” said Fort Bend American Federal of Teachers president Glenda Macal.

She helped announce a special effort to vaccinate 10,000 educators and child care workers at Sugar Land’s Smart Financial Centre.

Lamar principal wins administrator of the year award
Lamar Middle School principal Eduardo Lopez was nominated as a finalist and won the 2020-21 Texas Computer Education Associations Campus Administrator of the Year Golden Apple last week.

The award is given to innovative and engaging educators who understand the importance of technology throughout districts.

Lopez told LMT that he was happy to hear the news that he was nominated by a number of Lamar Middle School teachers. Despite the cancellation of the traditional in-person TCEA convention, a virtual ceremony was held for the finalist of the award.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened to sue Austin over mask mandate. The city isn’t backing down.
Austin and Travis County officials said they would continue to require masks even after Gov. Greg Abbott ended his statewide mandate.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened to sue Travis County and the City of Austin if officials don’t back down on local orders that continue to require masks despite Gov. Greg Abbott ending the statewide mask mandate on Wednesday.

Austin and Travis County public health leaders recently announced they would continue to require masks, even though Abbott forbade local authorities from superseding his order. County judges can order COVID-19 restrictions if hospitalizations from the virus rise above 15% of the bed capacity in that hospital region for seven straight days.

Texas state lawmaker introduces bill to set minimum teacher salary at $70K
A Texas state lawmaker introduced a bill setting the minimum salary for teachers at $70,000 per year, saying “instead of just calling teachers ‘heroes,’ let’s pay them like heroes.”

State Rep. James Talarico (D) filed HB 3580 on Thursday, according to a local ABC affiliate. The bill would also adjust salary for inflation and increase it over time.

Talarico explained in a Twitter thread that he struggled to make ends meet as a public school teacher, and that his coworkers drove Ubers at night and sold plasma for extra money.

Texas’ big plan for closing the digital divide: at-home broadband internet for every student
After buying more than 4.5 million computers and hotspots for students over the last several months, Texas education officials have a new goal: making free at-home internet available to every public school student beyond the pandemic.

The ambitious target, laid out in interviews and statements by education leaders, suggests Texas plans to ride momentum building across the nation to close the so-called digital divide. The issue has come into stark view as many students shifted to online-only classes when the novel coronavirus began sweeping the country last March.

In Dallas, an Activist Brings Hope to Vaccination Deserts
Racial disparities persist in the distribution of COVID-19 shots, but Leslie Cannon has been working for months to close the gap.

One rainy Saturday in late January, a woman in her fifties and a man in his nineties walked up to a table temporarily set up in front of a barbershop in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. They had waited in a line that wrapped around the block, mostly among others who looked like them—middle-aged or older Hispanic folks, outside shivering in the cold weather in the hopes of getting registered for their chance to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Supporting Your Career
Three Key Issues To Address When Interviewing For An Executive Role
How important are professional designations at the executive or Board level? For example, I have my CPA but haven’t done any official accounting in years. – Portfolio Analyst

There isn’t any one qualification, like a professional designation, that is required for all senior roles. Likewise, there is no single qualification you can acquire that guarantees you will always get considered. Some position descriptions for senior roles specify a professional designation in the list of qualifications, but not always.

National News
Last Week in COVID & Education Policy: 17 Key Updates on Schools, Students and New Data Surrounding Social Distancing in Classrooms
New Distancing Data — 3 Ft. vs 6 Ft. in the Classroom: New study out this week on classroom distancing, from a number of researchers, including Emily Oster. Findings:

  • The researchers examined 251 school districts in Massachusetts serving 537,336 students and 99,390 staff who attended in-person instruction during a 16-week study period. (Represents 6,400,175 student learning weeks and 1,342,574 staff learning weeks)
  • “Student case rates were similar in the 242 districts with ≥3 feet versus ≥6 feet of physical distancing between students”

Biden administration to implement testing programs in schools as part of reopening effort
The Biden administration will implement testing programs in schools as part of the president’s plan to get children back in classrooms.

The Department of Human and Health Services (HHS) will be giving away $650 million in grants to schools to help with testing efforts of their students and faculty, the White House said in a press release Thursday.

Schools will be given tests, testing supplies and assistance to help implement the testing initiative.

Inside the fight to prioritize vaccinating agricultural workers in Texas and California
“It’s imperative for our food supply and more equitable for low-income mostly Latino workers who feed us,” Rep. Castro wrote. 

A year ago, the federal government designated agricultural workers as “essential,” a status that would enable them to continue working despite stay at home orders, while also marking them as higher risk of contracting coronavirus.

In states with large agricultural worker populations like Texas and California, the decision sparked what has now become a year-long effort to improve working conditions for these farmworkers, who, through the most difficult year in modern history, continued to cultivate food for the nation.

As Schools Reopen, Teachers Need Materials That Can Keep Their Students Engaged & Learning. Open Educational Resources Can Help
As schools start reopening their doors for the first time in nearly a year, educators are beginning to redefine teaching and learning in a post-lockdown era. Much of the focus has been on the limitations of this new school environment — from masking and social-distancing requirements to the difficulties of juggling separate groups of students learning in person and remotely. But what opportunities might there be for student learning?

Tears, sleepless nights and small victories: How first-year teachers are weathering the crisis
The first year of teaching was already known for the “phenomenon of tears.” For rookie teachers during a crisis year, the stress was overwhelming

On a hot Friday afternoon in late August, Amia Bridgeford stood outside of the chain-link fence bordering Western Middle School of the Arts, an imposing brick building with arched windows in western Louisville.

It was four days before the beginning of a new school year. Amia, then 21, a first-year teacher, would spend the next few hours passing out workbooks at the school’s drive-thru, where parents could pick up packets with their child’s schedule and coursework.

This Filmmaker Documented Her Parents Working on Frontlines at Start of Pandemic
In early 2020, filmmaker Arlet Guallpa was about to start working on a project at the Downtown Community Television (DCTV) Center in New York City. Then, COVID-19 started spreading, shutdowns began and the film was put on hold indefinitely.

DCTV, a media center that provides support for youth and underrepresented filmmakers, decided to pass out a few cameras to students, so they could document their personal experience living through the pandemic. One of those cameras ended up in Guallpa’s hands.

Las Tienditas
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Sheryl Colaur – 708-565-3545