Summer 2021
A Note from County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey

Welcome to the summer edition of the quarterly newsletter highlighting the work taking place at the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and in public schools throughout Contra Costa County.

In this issue, you will read about some of the great school employees who are being recognized for their work during the pandemic, and the academic and competitive success of county students.

I’d also like to take this time to inform you of the recent news around health guidance for schools when we return in the fall. The California Department of Public Health issued guidelines for schools that require masks for K-12 students when indoors and all adults in K-12 school settings when they share indoor spaces with students. Local schools and school districts must create policies to enforce mask requirements and offer alternative educational options for students who will not wear a mask or other face covering.

CDPH also said in-person instruction can safely take place without minimum physical distancing requirements when other mitigation strategies like masking are utilized. These directives are consistent with recent schools guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, the guidelines are clear that the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants, is for people to be vaccinated. The same recommendations regarding respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene remain in place. With these new guidelines, schools can properly prepare for the 2021-22 school year.

If you have any questions about how the new guidelines will affect your student in the fall, please contact your school district or visit their website.

I can’t wait to see more of you in person this fall.

In community,

Lynn Mackey
Superintendent of Schools
CCCOE Provided Critical Opportunities to Students Needing HS Equivalency Exams During the Pandemic
For the last year, through some of the most critical phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) continued to offer in-person General Education Development (GED) and High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) testing to all California residents. CCCOE, a proud provider of direct services to incarcerated, homeless, foster care students, and students with severe physical or emotional challenges, offers a stable testing program environment to fulfill the needs of participants of all ages and backgrounds who are seeking GED or HiSET certification to move forward in their lives.

San Ramon Valley USD Custodian Selected as a State of California Classified Employee of the Year
Dan Luu, lead custodian at John Baldwin Elementary School in Danville, was one of nine 2021 California Classified School Employees of the Year, recently honored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond for their dedication to California’s public school students.

Luu is now eligible to be nominated for the second annual Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award, a national honor which will be announced by the U.S. Department of Education in 2022.

“I want to congratulate Dan Luu for so ably representing the classified employees of Contra Costa County at the state level,” County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said. “Classified school employees are important to the successful everyday functions of schools. They represent the backbone of our school districts and contribute to the success of our students, teachers and communities.”
2021-22 County Teacher of the Year Finalists Named
Four educators have been named finalists in the 2021-2022 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year program, Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey announced today.

Alisha Douglass, a ceramics teacher at Liberty High School in Brentwood; Kristen Plant, an English teacher at Miramonte High School in Orinda; Michelle Wilson, an English teacher at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon; and Christina Zenzano, an English teacher at Rancho Medanos Junior High School in Pittsburg were selected from the 20 Teacher of the Year winners within 15 school districts of Contra Costa County, Contra Costa Community College District and Contra Costa County Office of Education.

“It is my pleasure to congratulate the four finalists on the honor of being named one of the county’s top teachers,” Superintendent Mackey said. “All of the professional educators who are being considered for this prestigious award are to be commended and thanked for their professionalism and leadership, especially throughout this pandemic. These four are prominent examples of the great work teachers throughout the county have done over the last year.”

Four County Students Named National Merit Scholarship Winners
Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) is proud to recognize four local student winners of corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarship Awards, in the 66th annual edition of the distinguished program.

CCCOE congratulates the following students on their outstanding academic achievements and awards: Kevin Chen, Dougherty Valley High School, San Ramon; Bhavya Gupta, California High School, San Ramon; Clara Hung, Summit K2, El Cerrito; and Sanjana S. Ranganathan, Dougherty Valley High School, San Ramon.

High School Students Win Journalism Awards
More than 60 students representing 13 Contra Costa County high school journalism programs won honors in the 2021 Lesher Awards competition, the California Scholastic Journalism Initiative (CSJI) announced recently.

The competition is organized by CC Spin, a collaboration of CSJI, the Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education.
The Lesher Awards recognize excellence in news reporting, feature, sports, opinion writing, photography, editorial cartoons, design, podcasts, and overall news publications. The competition is open to Contra Costa high schools as part of the CC Spin newspaper program and is judged by five professional Bay Area journalists.

Dougherty Valley High School Student Earns National Cyber Scholar Title
Dougherty Valley High School’s Katrina Lee earned the coveted title of “National Cyber Scholar” by the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation. She is the only one recipient from Contra Costa County, and among 70 in the state, to have earned the honor. She earns the distinction after winning a rigorous 48-hour competition designed to evaluate the aptitude in combating cyber threats and showing the best of what California schools have to offer.

Lee was one of 5,000 high school students out of over 300,000 from across the United States to advance out of the first round of the competition. Of those, only 600 students in the country performed well enough to earn the National Cyber Scholar accolade. The honor includes a $2,500 scholarship and an invitation to participate in the Cyber Foundations Academy, a multi-week training and certification course.

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 12 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.
County-sponsored Charter School Recognized for Arts Education
Contra Costa County School of Performing Arts was one of 33 schools in California recognized and selected for the California Exemplary Arts Education Award, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond recently announced. Schools selected for the Exemplary Arts Education Award (EAE) demonstrate broad-based achievement in Arts instruction and for advancing the Arts for all students.

Contra Costa School of Performing Arts (SPA) is a charter school authorized by the Contra Costa County Office of Education that serves about 500 students in grades 6 – 12. In its fifth year of operation, the school’s mission is to provide distinguished, pre-professional experience in performing arts within a college and career preparatory setting.

San Ramon Valley Unified Student Places Second in National Spelling Bee Finals

Chaitra Thummala, a 12-year-old student at Gale Ranch Middle School in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, finished in second place at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Orlando. Chaitra went to round 17 before misspelling “neroli oil.” You can see each word Chaitra spelled during the competition at