Winter 2021
A Note from County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey
Dear Community Members,

Welcome to another edition of the Connection newsletter and Happy Winter Holidays! Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Bodhi Day, Festivus, or any of the others, I hope you can take time and enjoy the lights and festivities of the season.

In this issue of the newsletter, there are stories about county students advocating against tobacco use, and the Homeless Technical Assistance Center grant to support homeless students in seven counties.  Also, you can read about some of our work in our Annual Report to the Community which was distributed this fall.

While we face another holiday season under the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, the prevalence of vaccinated people in Contra Costa County does allow us more freedom to safely gather with family and friends and enjoy some of the traditional holiday activities. It is my hope that we can enjoy even more freedoms as more people receive their vaccinations.

The data in this county remains positive. More than 80 percent of county residents over the age of 5 have been fully vaccinated as of December 16 and more than 87 percent have received at least one dose of the vaccination. In the six weeks since children ages 5 to 12 have been eligible to receive the vaccine, nearly 40 percent have received at least one dose. This is a positive trend that I hope continues. If you need more information on the vaccine, please visit the county health website or talk to your health care provider.
You can also watch videos of the town halls held by my office and county health services that addressed many of the concerns about the vaccines.

Thank you for reading and I hope you have a great holiday season.

In community,

Lynn Mackey
CourAGE Students Advocate Against Tobacco Use
TUPE’s (Tobacco Use Prevention Education) CourAGE is a student-led health coalition that gives students from across Contra Costa County in grades 8-12 an opportunity to advocate from a youth perspective against the use of tobacco (including vaping), alcohol, prescription drugs and marijuana. The goal of CourAGE is for students to advocate on a community level.

County Office of Education Wins Grant to Help Agencies Support Homeless Students and Families
Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) won a three-year grant from the California Department of Education (CDE) worth $4.5 million to serve as one of three Education for Homeless Children and Youth Technical Assistance Centers in the state.

CCCOE will serve 25 counties in Northern California. Los Angeles and San Diego county offices of education will host the other two technical assistance centers.

“This grant brings important resources to help educators support unhoused students and their families in Contra Costa County and throughout Northern California,” Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said. “With more than 2,500 unhoused children and youth in our county alone, there is a tremendous need to figure out how to better serve these students. We look forward to working with our colleagues in other counties and community-based organizations on the best way to educate students who are most in need.”

National History Day Registration Begins January 1
Registration for the annual Contra Costa County National History Day competition will take place from January 1 - 31, 2022. National History Day is a year-long educational program that encourages students to explore local, state, national, and world history. It is open to open to all 4th-12th grade students. 

The theme for the 2021-22 competition year is Debate and Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures and Consequences. Hosted by St. Mary's College, the competition will be held on March 5, 2022 (barring any COVID restrictions).

New for this year is a podcasting category open to students in the senior division. Contact National History Day coordinator Dr. Elena Songster. 
Support Needed for Students Aspiring to Legal Careers
Soon-to-be, practicing, and retired law professionals are invited to provide assistance to students interested in legal careers during the upcoming 41st Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial Program, which will be held virtually in January and February. Last year, close to 80 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys and sworn judges, as well as third-year law students volunteered their time with the competition.

Coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education, the Contra Costa County mock trials are an academic event where high school students receive a hands-on educational program designed to help them acquire a working knowledge of the judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of society. 

County Teachers Receive Grants from Retired Colleagues
The California Retired Teachers Association (CalRTA) Division 52 – Diablo Vista awarded $150 grants to 16 teachers from school districts in Contra Costa County to use in their classrooms. The grants were awarded based on clearly stated educational goals for projects that would enhance student learning.

CalRTA Diablo Vista has awarded teacher grants annually. Teachers who wanted to be considered had to submit an application along with a one-page summary of the project the grant would help fund. The criteria for winning projects included defined educational goals, creativity and enthusiasm for the project.

Healthcare Providers Offer COVID-19 Vaccine Information
We all want to do everything we can to keep our children and families safe and healthy. While more businesses and activities have opened in our community, we still need to be vigilant about the threat that COVID-19 poses, especially as more dangerous variants emerge.

Children as young as 5 years old can get a free COVID-19 vaccine, but many people have questions about the vaccines and how they work. Understanding that, John Muir Health and Kaiser Permanente have partnered in a new effort to give unbiased, straightforward and scientific information about the COVID-19 vaccines.

John Muir Health and Kaiser Permanente launched to help people get the answers they need to make an informed decision about vaccination. We encourage you to visit the website and talk to your doctor or your child’s pediatrician if you have questions about getting yourself or your child vaccinated.