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CDE Today for September 17, 2021

A streamlined weekly publication from the California Department of Education (CDE) designed to provide you with clear, consistent updates on what is important to California schools.

CDE Today Logo - State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond

Welcome to CDE Today, a new streamlined weekly publication from CDE Communications designed to provide you with clear, consistent updates on what is important to California schools.


Clarifications for Student Learning During Quarantine

To support instructional continuity for students in quarantine, a package of statutory amendments intended to clarify and strengthen student learning during quarantine is forthcoming. See recent information CDE has shared to clarify student learning during quarantine. Please note, CDE has posted important updates to the Independent Study 2021-22 document as well as a series of frequently asked questions on the Form J-13A requirements as they relate to losses of attendance due to quarantine and COVID-19 school closures.

CDE Webinar Kicks Off Important Conversation on Mental Health

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond hosted a webinar on Wednesday for local educational agencies (LEAs) and education partners to discuss how schools can support students, families, and communities by addressing and investing more in mental and behavioral health services. State Superintendent Thurmond is raising the bar and challenging the CDE and partners to lead efforts to invest more into mental health than ever before by bolstering social-emotional and counseling resources, championing community schools, creating blueprints for expanded outdoor learning and summer programs, and supporting programs to help students recover and accelerate their learning.  Read more on the Mental Health Services news release from September 15, 2021, and watch the full webinar External link opens in new window or tab. on the CDE Facebook web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Back to School–Website Resources

As part of our endeavors to share important efforts, CDE’s new Back to School website provides quick access to key information and tools specific to serving the needs of students as schools work to open for safe, in-person instruction and stay open even within the changing public health conditions, wildfires, smoke, and other challenges. This page will be updated as new information becomes available.

School Health, Safety, and Support

COVID-19 Decision Tree

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has created a Decision Tree Flyer External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) for managing confirmed or suspected COVID-19 at school. It can also be found on the CA Safe Schools for All Hub website External link opens in new window or tab., under the heading “COVID-19 School Liaison with LHD/LHJs”. The CDPH website also has Toolkits in English and Spanish External link opens in new window or tab..

Free Rapid COVID-19 Tests Available

CDPH has confirmed that there is an ample supply of Binax rapid COVID-19 tests for any school interested. The first step to securing these FREE tests is to fill out the California School Antigen Program interest form External link opens in new window or tab.. The onboarding process takes about two weeks. A completed MOU must be submitted before any shipments take place.  If you have any questions, please email Jennie Carreon, CDE Deputy Superintendent at

Student Supports and In-Person Dashboard

Want to know how many children in California are doing in-person learning vs. independent study? The state’s new Student Supports & In-Person Dashboard External link opens in new window or tab. provides data collected from school districts regarding how many students are back in classrooms, and the expanded educational opportunities and wellness services available for students. The data shows that the vast majority of districts have 95–100 percent of students in-person, and nearly 98 percent of schools are expanding mental health, afterschool, and tutoring programs.

Program Highlights

School Food Service Programs Navigating Significant Supply Chain Challenges

School Food Service Programs across California are facing food shortages, inflationary pricing, cancelled food service contracts, and labor shortages. The CDE calls upon each school community to support their food service teams as they work tirelessly to provide nutritious meals to students during these unprecedented worldwide challenges. The CDE is continuing to advocate for greater USDA flexibilities and is participating in a nationwide call with USDA leadership to help identify solutions. Read more in the CDE School Meals and Supply Chain Issues letter that was shared with LEAs.

Gender-Neutral Restrooms Guidance

The School Facilities and Transportation Services Division (SFTSD) is pleased to share our present effort to develop guidance for multi-user gender-neutral restrooms in K–12 schools. To inform development of the guidance, SFTSD is seeking interested party participation from local educational agencies, school site personnel, architects and other design professionals, students, and community-based organizations. Apply now for this exciting opportunity (Online Survey) through September 24, 2021. For more information, contact SFTSD at

Events and Opportunities

Announcement of New Literacy Campaign  (September 21, at 11:30 a.m.)

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond will hold a press event to announce a bold new plan to improve literacy rates of California students. Specifically, Thurmond intends to launch a statewide literacy campaign that will help all third grade California students to be able to read by the year 2026. The event will be livestreamed on the CDE Facebook web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Emergency Connectivity Fund Details and CDE Webinar (September 22, 2021, Noon to 1 p.m.)

The FCC's Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) is a $7.17 billion program that will help schools and libraries provide the tools and services their communities need for remote learning. ECF will help provide relief to millions of students, and school staff, and will help close the Homework Gap for students who currently lack necessary Internet access or the devices they need to connect to classrooms. For eligible schools, the ECF Program will cover reasonable costs of laptop and tablet computers; Wi-Fi hotspots; modems; routers; and broadband connectivity purchases for off-campus use by students, and school staff. An initial application window closed in August but a secondary window opens September 29, 2021 and closes October 13, 2021. The CDE is hosting a Zoom webinar on September 22, 2021 from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. Register for this webinar via Zoom External link opens in new window or tab..

Directing Change Program and Film Contest

The CDE is pleased to support the annual Directing Change Program and Film Contest. This event is part of a collaborative statewide effort to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and promote the mental health and wellness of students. For more information, contest rules, and available resources to support your school’s prevention efforts, please visit the Directing Change website External link opens in new window or tab. and view the CDE Directing Change Program Student Film Contest letter that was sent to LEAs.

State Board Seeks Members for Advisory Committees

The State Board of Education is accepting applications for three advisory committees: The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), the California Practitioners Advisory Group (CPAG) and the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools (ACCS). In addition, the Board seeks applications for two student positions: The student member of the State Board of Education and the student member of the Instructional Quality Commission. Committee applications are due September 24, 2021. The Student Board member application is due October 8, 2021. Applications and more information can be found on the State Board website.

Trainings for Student Clubs that Raise Mental Health Awareness

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the CDE will be hosting several virtual trainings for NAMI On Campus High School Clubs. These clubs are student clubs that raise mental health awareness and reduce stigma on campus through fun activities and education. Want to register but have not established a NCHS Club? Email NAMI for more information, or visit the NAMI On Campus Trainings webpage External link opens in new window or tab..

Suicide Prevention 101 for Parents: Recognizing Signs and What to Do Webinar (September 21, 2021 in English and September 23, 2021 in Spanish)

CDE, Directing Change, and TeenLine are partnering to offer free webinars and Facebook Live events for parents, families, and caregivers. Suicide Prevention 101 for Parents: Recognizing Signs and What to Do will be offered in English on September 21, 2021, and in Spanish on September 23, 2021. These webinars will provide information about suicide prevention for parents, including warning signs for suicide, how to have a conversation with their child, actions to take if their child is having a suicidal thoughts, and resources.

Follow-Up to Evaluation of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations: A Non-Discriminatory Assessment Framework for All Practitioners: Ask the Expert Questions and Answers Session (September 24, 2021, from 1 to 3 p.m.)

This webinar is a sequel to the webinar that took place on September 16. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions to experts from the field. Register through the Imperial County Office of Education Scheduled Events web page External link opens in new window or tab.. For more information, contact Brenda Sandoval,

Family and Community Engagement, Virtual Summit: Integrating Systems and Practices to Support Equitable and Inclusive Family Engagement (September 22, 2021, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

The Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) will be hosting this no-cost event featuring a state update from Lisa Borrego, Director of Family Engagement at CDE and Michele P. Brooks, Principal Consultant for Transformative Solutions in Education, whose interactive session will focus on transforming family engagement by identifying the systems and practices that strengthen and promote equity and inclusion. The summit is presented by Transformative Solutions in Education in partnership with the SCOE FACE Network and Seeds of Partnership External link opens in new window or tab.. Learn more and register on the SCOE Professional Learning Registration System web page External link opens in new window or tab.. Please invite your school and district leadership teams to attend. For more information, contact Patrick Garcia-Smith,


CDE Welcomes Steve Zimmer and  Deanna Niebuhr

On Thursday, State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced the addition of two new staff on the CDE team (made possible through grant funds and our partnership with the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation) who will be helping to coordinate and support efforts to implement the community schools strategy. CDE welcomes Steve Zimmer, Deputy Superintendent for the Superintendent’s Initiatives Office and Deanna Niebuhr, Community Schools Coordinator.

Important Dates and Deadlines

September is Suicide Prevention Month

Since the pandemic began, students have experienced intense stress and some of the biggest challenges they may experience in a lifetime. We must ensure that we prioritize the mental and emotional health of students who will likely be entering a very different school environment this fall. During Suicide Prevention Week (September 5-11), World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10, 2021), Suicide Prevention Month (the month of September) and throughout the year, schools are encouraged to use the following resources to engage students, staff and the larger school community: CDE’s Mental Health Resources web page, CDE’s Help for Students in Crisis web page, the LivingWorks Online Training External link opens in new window or tab. for middle and high school staff and students, and the Back to School: Mental Health Thrival Kit External link opens in new window or tab. from the Suicide is Preventable website External link opens in new window or tab..

High School Voter Education Weeks (September 13–24, 2021)

CDE encourages your school to participate in High School Voter Education Weeks to put our students on the path to a lifetime of civic engagement and voting.

National Hispanic Heritage Month

The CDE encourages you to annually recognize National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. Learn more at the National Hispanic Heritage Month website External link opens in new window or tab..

Native American Day

Schools may be closed on the fourth Friday in September, known as "Native American Day," if the governing board agrees to close schools for that purpose. Schools are encouraged to celebrate and commemorate the many contributions that Native Americans have made to this country. California Education Code 37220.7 External link opens in new window or tab. has more information. Last fall, CDE hosted a roundtable on Facebook External link opens in new window or tab. about pedagogical approaches to teaching about Native Americans.

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CDE committed to improving communications with more than a thousand school districts and county offices and 10,000 plus school districts. If you have any feedback about this publication or would like to see information on particular topics, please email

Questions:   Communications | | 916-319-0818
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, September 21, 2021
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