Back to School Week September 13-17

by Heather Ippolito, VP Family Engagement

This coming week National PTA celebrates Back to School Week.  From September 13-17 they are hosting activities and encouraging school sites across the country to hold events to welcome students and their families back to campus.  Visit their website to see a wealth of resources for encouraging families to join your PTA and ideas for how to do PTA activities virtually or in a hybrid fashion.  Also be sure to follow their social media channels so that you won’t miss any of the fun ideas and activities they will be sharing all week long.

The California State PTA Family Engagement Commission has some back to school ideas for you to use now as well– regardless if your community started school this week or a month (or more!) ago — these are events we know work!  We’ve held them at our schools to help students and families feel connected as school resumes.

  • Boo Hoo/Yahoo Breakfast for Parents- The first day of school is hard on parents, especially for our TK or Kindergarten families.  They are having to leave their little one on campus for the first time and it can be a little stressful on both parent and child.  While the teachers are taking care of the kids in the classroom, our PTA hosts a coffee and continental breakfast for parents.  Our principal comes and introduces themself, families have an opportunity to meet other parents, and our PTA shares a little bit about our programming and the benefits of becoming a PTA member.  The event doesn’t last more than an hour on the first morning of school, but it was always a family favorite event. School already started? There is no reason not to hold this to celebrate the first week, month or quarter!
  • Ice Cream Social-  Prior to the start of the school year, we invited families to campus for an ice cream social.  We bought giant bags of popsicles and ice cream from either the cafeteria or a warehouse store, set up a table on the school playground, and allowed families, students and our PTA to mingle.  The kids loved the opportunity to see their friends and play, while the parents greatly appreciated the sense of community they began to form with other families at school. School already started? Everyone in your community will love ice cream on the second week, or the eighth just as much as the first day.  
  • Family Picnic- Our school held a family picnic on the Friday after the first week of school.  We encouraged families to bring blankets, chairs and their dinner to the school playground.  PTA had music playing, we invited an ice cream truck or a mobile shaved ice company to park near the school, and we sometimes put out games like the parachute or giant connect four for kids and families to play.  It was a wonderfully low-key way to chat with other families, for kids to show their parents the cool playground that they had been exploring all week long, and oftentimes our administration or some teachers dropped by. School already started? Picnics can happen anytime!
  • Have your Mascot welcome the kids to school on day 1- Most schools have some sort of costume that goes along with the school’s mascot.  Ask for a parent volunteer to wear it on the first day of school as the children arrive.  This is a great photo opportunity, it helps ease the anxiety of some children to be welcomed by a friendly face, and you can promote your PTA by asking them (or their assistant) to hold a “Join PTA” sign with a QR code that links them to your membership site.  School already started? Your Mascot can bring the party any day of the fall semester!

Note:  Try to have your back-to-school events be no-cost or low-cost.  You don’t want price to be a barrier to attendance at welcome back events– this is a chance for all families to feel welcome on your campus.  These give-back events are for relationship building and to help our children and families feel comfortable at school.  They shouldn’t be for fundraising.

If your school isn’t allowing on-campus events this fall many of these things can be held in a local park, community center, library, or other non-campus location.  Or modify your event to make it virtual: Coffee with the Principal (on Google Meet) or a drive through ice cream social with student made signs on the vehicles, or even a socially distant ice cream social!. This may mean a little extra planning on your part, but the returns in helping families and students feeling connected to one another and to your school will be worth the investment of your time.

Test Scores Can Help Jump Start the Learning Process

Register Now!

California State PTA Presents:
A Zoom presentation by Educational Testing Service and Metametrics
September 2, 2021 – 4-5pm

 

We often think of test scores as the ending point of a student’s learning, a “final score.” But test results can actually be the start of learning. In this presentation you’ll learn how to use the results of state testing to find just the right tools for continuing your child’s progress in reading and math. 

Register here and attend on September 2 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

During the presentation, which will be facilitated by California State PTA President Carol Green, experts from ETS and Metametrics will explain the Lexile and Quantile Framework. If you look at the 2021 Student Score Report, based on tests most students took at the end of last school year, you’ll see Lexile and Quantile measures. (You’ll find them on page 5 of this sample Student Score Report.)

You can use your child’s Lexile and Quantile measures to find their reading and math levels. The California Department of Education has arranged for all parents to have access to a set of free family-friendly tools, including Find-A-Book and Math@Home, that enable you to match learning resources and activities to your child’s learning levels in both reading and math. 

These two parent guides will give you the basics.

Lexile: https://lexile.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Lexile-Parent-Guide.pdf

Quantile: https://www.quantiles.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Quantile-Parent-Guide-1.pdf

 

But even better, register for and attend our September 2 presentation.   

CONQUERING ANXIETY AS WE ALL HEAD BACK TO SCHOOL

by Mary Perry, California State PTA Board of Managers

All over California, the back-to-school ritual has begun. This year, of course, that ritual is so different. For many students and families, it’s the first time in more than a year that in-person school has even happened.

We hear a multitude of opinions about how to keep schools safe. Governor Newsom issued an executive order calling for universal vaccinations and/or Covid testing at every school. We also have a minority of people agitating against taking safety precautions at all – no vaccines, no masking, no social distancing.

Does it all have you feeling anxious and confused?

There are some great resources available to help you and others in your PTA conquer that anxiety. 

Thankfully, the California Department of Education, the California Department of Public Health, and the U.S. Education Department are all providing solid, research-based information that can guide your actions. And in every case they have created resources directed to parents that are clear, relevant, and informative. We are trying to collect many of those resources on our California State PTA Covid 19 page, but frankly it’s hard to keep up with all that is happening. So in this blog I just want to give you the latest.

Get Vaccinated
The California Department of Education is going all in on encouraging every school staff member, every parent, and every student age 12 and older to get vaccinated. On August 11, State Superintendent Tony Thurmond hosted this Facebook Live session to do just that. [link: https://www.facebook.com/CAEducation/videos/980031342834502/ ]  The main advice: make a date to vaccinate!

Research on COVID and Kids
One of the most informative (and comforting) pieces of information I’ve seen is from the California Department of Public Health. Dr. Naomi Bardach is the lead for the CA Safe Schools for All project and website. (The parent page is also available here in Spanish.) She recently summarized research that is giving health experts confidence about schools reopening. Her key points:

  • Children get COVID19 less often and are less ill than adults
  •  Children most often get COVID19 from a household adult, even when attending school
  •  Schools can operate safely and successfully when key safety measures – such as masks — are in place

Dr. Bardach also explained why kids in general are less likely to get Covid-19 or to get a serious case if they do become infected. Our bodies have these ACE2 receptors, which act like doorways to let the virus into our cells. Adults have developed a lot of these receptors but children have fewer, and the younger a child is the fewer receptors or doorways they have. The virus just doesn’t have as many places where it can enter a child’s body.

Return to School Roadmap
The US Education Department has created a Return to School Roadmap, with a web-page specifically for parents. Their Parent Checklist provides straightforward advice on how parents can make sure their kids are safe as school reopens. The key items on that list include:

  • Make a plan for eligible children to get vaccinated
  • Talk to your school about health and safety protocols
  • If your child isn’t eligible yet for a vaccine, talk with them about strategies to keep them safe at school
  • Make a plan to access safe transportation to and from school
  • Talk to your child’s teacher about your child’s needs

A crucial concern for kids and adults is the impact that the pandemic has had on our mental health, sense of security, and trust in the future. Those social and emotional issues, and what we all can do to address them, will be the subject of another article soon.

Until then, get informed, stay calm, and make a date to vaccinate!

The CDC is Asking You to Help Raise Awareness About Immunizations

By Mary Perry

Vaccinations are a hot topic right now, thanks of course to COVID-19. But long before the current pandemic the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) designated August as National Immunization Awareness Month. 

To help schools and families make sure every child starts school healthy and immunized this fall, we are sharing a wealth of resources created by the CDC especially for school communities.

 

 

 

 

 

GO BACK TO SCHOOL HEALTHY AND IMMUNIZED

An unfortunate result of the pandemic is that many children missed check-ups and recommended childhood vaccinations. CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend every child continues to receive recommended vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are challenging times, but you have the power to help keep your child healthy.

Making sure that your child sees their doctor for well-child visits and recommended vaccines is one of the best things you can do to protect your child and community from serious diseases that are easily spread.

The CDC has prepared great information for both adults and kids about Covid-19 vaccines specifically:

In addition, be sure to check out and share this comprehensive guide to well-child visits and recommended vaccines.

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