Dear Community Members,
Welcome to another edition of the Connection newsletter.
Schools throughout the county have celebrated a relatively successful start to the 2021-22 school year. Students are back to in-person instruction and many of the activities we have missed over the last 18 months have returned, albeit in a modified fashion. Despite the addition of masks and other safety precautions, seeing students in classrooms and in extracurricular activities is a sign that things are getting better.
To be sure, there have been challenges, but the data is trending in a positive direction. Our hard work is paying off: COVID cases are down, while vaccinations are up. It is my sincere hope that we can continue this trend and reduce the impact this pandemic is having on the students and communities we serve. In order to keep our communities safe and continue to expand the opportunities for students, I encourage you all to get vaccinated and continue following health care guidelines.
One of the challenges facing schools is a shortage of educators, especially substitute teachers. This is not a problem that is restricted to Contra Costa County; there is a shortage of substitute teachers throughout the state. Members of the community can help their local schools overcome this challenge by applying to become a substitute. All you need is to have a bachelor’s degree, basic subject-matter proficiency, and a passion for working with students. You can apply to be a substitute by contacting your local school district’s human resources department. More information at www.cocoschools.org/becomeasub.
While COVID still captures most of our time and energy, this issue of the newsletter will feature stories about the work being done to support education. I am proud to announce that the county office of education was awarded a $5 million literacy grant to help to build capacity to serve struggling readers, including students with disabilities and dyslexia, by strengthening district and site multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS); develop district and pilot site literacy plans and implement evidence-based strategies through improvement cycles; and increase family and community engagement in literacy.
Finally, we recently celebrated the county’s top educators this month, selecting Kristen Plant from Miramonte High School and Michelle Wilson from Dougherty Valley High School as the 2021-22 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year. These two exemplary educators are stellar representatives of the teachers working to educate students throughout this county. They are now competing to be named as California’s Teacher of the Year. You can read more about them later in the newsletter.
I hope you enjoy this issue and welcome back to school!