AISD to review pilot program plan designed to address COVID-19 accommodations, in-person learning

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Leaders of the Austin Independent School District will begin the process of reviewing and approving proposed staffing plans on Monday, designed to accommodate alternative working arrangements for employees at six pilot campuses.

A district statement said the plan includes teachers and principals from six campuses working in place of staff members who have requested special accommodations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am proud of the campus teams and their collaborative efforts to be creative while meeting the needs of students,” said AISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde. “I hope we can find solutions to think flexibly to support staff while providing education for all students. “

Campuses include:

  • Cunningham Elementary School
  • Padrón Primary School
  • Burnet College
  • Covington Middle School
  • Bowie High School
  • Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

The proposed plans were developed through teacher surveys, student enrollment, and teacher volunteer data. Campus advisory committees reviewed the plans, which were then voted on by each participating school.

The conditions under which all staff would come to campus include:

  • An increase in student attendance on campus that requires additional in-person teachers to maintain safe classroom environments.
  • Vaccines are available for educators.
  • Austin-Travis County enters Phase 3 of the Austin Public Health Risk-Based Guidelines.

If approved, the pilot will take three weeks to collect data before considering options to expand the program. As in-person attendance increases, plans may be changed for each respective school.

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Riverside County Unveils COVID-19 Rent Assistance Program, Plans to Review Law Enforcement Policies

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Riverside County officials said on Friday they were responding to the coronavirus pandemic, economic recovery and racial inequality as intertwined issues that must be addressed in tandem.

One way to achieve this will be a rent relief program of up to $ 3,500 for landlords and tenants, Supervisory Board Chairman V. Manuel Perez said, noting that racism institutional impact has had an impact on housing, education and employment.

The program will provide up to three months of financial assistance, with no repayment required, benefiting up to 10,000 households. The only qualification is the documentation that you couldn’t pay rent due to the pandemic, Perez said.

“Now we also have to face institutional racism and the fact that it has been over our heads, our dark cloud, for centuries,” he said. “But with this rental assistance program, it’s one way Riverside County is proud to support its people.

People can apply for money from the Riverside County Rental Relief Fund whether they live in a city or an unincorporated area. Applications will open on June 22.

It will be funded with up to $ 30 million available to the county under the CARES Act, as well as with help from two nonprofits, Perez said.

The president also said he would present two measures related to racial justice at Tuesday’s board meeting: one is a resolution to support the charges against four officers involved in the death of George Floyd, and the other would initiate a review of the county sheriff’s department police policies.

“We want to take this time to review our policing and recruiting procedures and assess how we are doing and identify any opportunities for improvement,” he said. “There are bad apples in everything we do.

But Perez added that he was “proud” of the work of the sheriff’s department.

The board will also discuss a proposal to launch a nonprofit relief fund to help more than 400 organizations affected by the pandemic at its meeting on Tuesday.

In California, the black community has experienced the highest number of coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people, followed by the indigenous community – at 16.7% and 10.1%, respectively.

“Not only do we face racism. But we also need to understand that this epidemic impacts mostly communities of color and disproportionately on African Americans and the Latino community, ”said Perez.

But Riverside County does not experience the same level of COVID-19 disparities reported elsewhere, according to Kim Saruwatari, county public health director.

The Latinx population accounts for 46% of deaths and 45% of the population, whites make up 38% of the population and 37% of deaths, and blacks 6% of the population and just over 8% of deaths. Saruwatari noted that the county’s data is incomplete, with no ethnicity reported in 30% of cases and 3% of deaths.

Saruwatari said officials are also working to improve the health of minority residents beyond the pandemic.

“We in public health have seen the health disparities that have wreaked havoc in communities of color and resulted in higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and low birth weight. infants, ”she said. “These are problems created by a system that discriminates against a segment of the population, and it has taken generations to get us to where we are now. This must change.

As of Friday, nearly 8,800 cases of COVID-19 were reported in the county, killing 355. But officials say more than half of those infected – about 5,150 people – have recovered.

Coronavirus hospitalizations have been fairly stable over the past few weeks, although there was a small jump around Wednesday that authorities “will continue to monitor,” Saruwatari said.

“However, even with this jump, we are still well within the state’s guideline of 5% change between given days,” she added.

Saruwatari noted that the county’s positivity rate rose to 8% on Wednesday, which she said underscores the importance for as many people as possible to get tested “so that we have a better idea of ​​the place. where the virus is in our community, and where the virus is not.

Although the county has overturned its order requiring face coverings to meet state guidelines, they are still highly recommended when in public, supervisor Karen Spiegel said.

“We will not be able to continue taking these next steps and opening additional businesses if we lose control of this virus,” she said.

Also on Friday, the state announced it would move to phase 3 of its reopening plan. This means gymnasiums, bars, schools can reopen and professional sports can resume with changes from next Friday.

Schools and day camps can open immediately statewide. But counties will have to meet certain criteria on the number of cases, testing and preparation before the reopening of other areas is approved.

Riverside County was granted permission to move to the Fast-Track Phase 2 of the governor’s plan late last month. It is not known whether he will be qualified to move immediately to Phase 3. Spiegel said officials are awaiting further guidance from the state before they can make the decision.

So far, shopping malls, churches, swap meetups, barber shops and eateries have been allowed to reopen with modifications in Riverside County.

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MyKayla Skinner announces her departure from the program and her intention to continue with the 2020 Olympics

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SALT LAKE CITY – University of Utah gymnastics junior MyKayla Skinner will be leaving the program to compete at the 2020 Olympics, she announced Thursday.

“I love competing for the University of Utah and I am very grateful to my coaches, teammates and the 15,000 fans who come to support us every game (at home),” Skinner said in a statement. “During my three years in Utah, I grew and matured as a gymnast, improved my form and refined my technique. Although I love college gymnastics, I would like to try to compete for my country.

“I see the opportunity to seek an Olympic berth as a chance of a lifetime. If things don’t work out for some reason, I plan to return to the University of Utah for my final year. “

Skinner was invited to attend the national team camp in June, where she will aim for a spot among the five women to represent the United States at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Despite a fourth place finish at the 2016 Olympic Trials, Skinner was adopted for the five-woman team and selected as a substitute.

“MyKayla is a world class gymnast and we support her desire to test the waters of her international career resumption,” Utah head coach Tom Farden said in a statement. “She has the opportunity to go to national team camp and qualify for the American Classic and beyond.

Farden added that the team “keeps a spot on the list open” for Skinner if she returns this fall. “Obviously we would love to see her again for her senior season.”

Skinner is a two-time NCAA champion and was the 2018 vault champion and 2017 floor champion. She was an all-around finalist for both years. She performed the toughest routines on floor and vault in college gymnastics and holds the NCAA record for routines performed without a fall (161).

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Loudoun Supervisors Approve County Conservation Easement Program, Consider Exploring Additional Options | New

Landowners in Loudoun County have an additional incentive and potentially more options to preserve their land after action by the Supervisory Board.

On Tuesday, the board of directors voted unanimously to establish a county conservation easement program proposed by Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) and to seek additional information to establish a rights transfer program. development (TDR) in Loudoun.

“There are a number of questions we want to have asked and answered to discuss this [TDR] program, ”said supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin). “The key to all of this is a vibrant rural economy, so we need to give them lots of options. “

In 2006, the Virginia General Assembly authorized localities to have procedures, methods, and standards in place to create a preservation order.

This week the concept of creating a market-based land preservation system tool that does not require government funding was provided to the board by Higgins and Buffington.

Investigation into the search for additional land preservation options follows Buffington’s decision to establish a conservation easement program it would cost the county $ 150,000 of its fund balance. This proposal was approved on Tuesday.

“If we are to continue the success of the rural tourism and agricultural economy of Western Loudoun County, as well as our small towns and villages where there is a rural, historic and picturesque character and a high quality of life for residents , then we have to find a way to permanently preserve a sufficient mass of open space in farmland, ”said Buffington.

If approved for the program, landowners seeking to put their land in conservation would be awarded 50 percent of the total costs, not to exceed $ 15,000. An online application will be made available twice a year.

Loudoun County has 47,279 acres under easement out of the county’s 333,439 acres, according to county staff.

Staff recommended funding the program offered by Buffington on an annual basis from the year-end fund balance, as is currently the case with economic development incentives.

The $ 150,000 from the program will allow a minimum of 10 scholarships to be awarded during the first year. County staff will report their findings on the program after the first year for council to determine if additional funding is needed.

Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) said she wanted to see a revolving loan program included in the conservation easement program. She was the only member who voted against Buffington’s movement.

At a rural county summit in November, Higgins told the Times Mirror it’s important to offer landowners programs that help them monetize their land, otherwise they might be inclined to sell it to developers. .

“Whether it’s conservation easements, transferable development rights, or land use valuation, all of these things give us tools that might be right for a guy’s situation, but can – not to someone else’s. So the more tools we have, the better. [chance] we really need to preserve the earth, ”Higgins told The Times-Mirror.

County staff will present their findings on the TDR program to the February 21 business meeting.

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