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2020-21 Monthly Edition #1
Aug. 18, 2020
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Reopening the 2020-21 School Year

Welcome back! It's hard to believe that the new school year has started. I hope that many of you were able to take some time this summer to enjoy a much needed break and put into practice some essential self care.

As we head back to work, it might seem daunting to know where to begin, especially since this is a new experience for us all and there is no guide book in which to reference. For many districts, plans for reopening classrooms in a hybrid or in-person model were quickly changed when San Diego County was placed on the state's watch list at the end of July, and schools were directed to reopen using only a virtual and distance learning format. On Aug. 13, County Supervisor, Nathan Fletcher and Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, held a press conference announcing that with COVID case counts declining, San Diego could allow K-12 in-classroom instruction to begin as early as August 28. With so many unknowns, resources are needed to help school leaders pivot and school counselors have led the charge.

Last week, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) sent out Back-to-School resources to assist school counselors through these changes. Resources include;

In addition, members of the California Association of School Counselors (CASC) developed and released the COVID-19 Planning Considerations and Resources: Addressing Staff and Student Mental Health for School Reentry, which was sent out at the beginning of August. The guide is organized with a three-phase re-entry process and includes ideas to consider, with supporting details and links to resources. These resources include examples of "Welcome to School" videos, PowerPoint training presentations, grade-level lessons, social media student nudging messages, etc. All documents within this resource may be edited and used freely.
Lastly, below are key documents that may help you better understand the rules and guidance that detail the expectations and requirements for schools during the pandemic.
  • COVID-19 INDUSTRY GUIDANCE: Schools and School-Based Programs: Issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Cal-OSHA, the industry guidance defines the prevention measures schools must enact during the pandemic. This document has been updated twice since it was released and is expected to be updated periodically. The latest update includes a section on sports and extra-curricular activities.
  • COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Framework for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year: The language that limits schools in counties on the state monitoring list is included in this document, along with guidance for responding to COVID-19 symptoms and exposures, employee testing requirements, and school and district closure decisions.
  • California Department of Public Health Schools Guidance FAQs: This FAQ expands upon guidance issued by the CDPH in the two documents above.
  • CDPH Guidance for the Use of Face Covers: This document describes the requirements for face covers for all individuals in the state. Specific guidance on school age children is included in the Industry Guidance section.
  • San Diego County Public Health Order: This order addresses all limits imposed by the public health officer for San Diego County. Schools are addressed specifically in Paragraph 4; however, other parts of the order are can apply to school employees and the operation of non-school sites. The health order changes frequently in response to updated guidance from the state or changes in local conditions.

As we move forward, resources will continue to be sent out in the San Diego County School Counselor Network newsletter on a monthly basis. If you know someone who might benefit from this information, encourage them to sign up! I look forward to supporting and advocating for school counselors in 2020-21 and providing new and exciting opportunities for you to learn and grow.

Counseling Coordinator
San Diego County Office of Education
Nicole V.
Virtual School Counseling Offices

If you have been on Instagram or Facebook, you may have noticed that educators have started a new craze creating interactive Bitmoji classrooms and counseling offices. Using Canva and Google Slides, educators are personalizing their websites and creating fun videos for students to connect and engage. Nicole Vergara, a school counselor at Del Rio Elementary School in the Oceanside Unified School District, took it to another level by adding her picture and animation. When you click on items in her virtual office, they link to games, books, and other fun resources. Check out her video, Instructions on How to Create Your Own GIF for more information.

If you are interested in learning how to create a virtual office, there are several "how to" videos on YouTube including, How to Create an Interactive Bitmoji Classroom, and there are Facebook groups, "Bitmoji Craze for Educators," and "Canva Teachers Community" to connect with other teachers and counselors who are actively engaged in this work.

Additionally, if you haven't dived into Canva for Education, a candy store of templates for flyers, social-media posts, Google slides, and more, educators can sign up for a free account, which includes additional tools that are typically offered at an additional cost.
bus and school supplies montage
Help Students Experiencing Homelessness

SDCOE and San Diego County Credit Union are partnering for the sixth straight year on the Stuff the Bus campaign for students experiencing homelessness.

This year donations are 100% online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also a first this year, the backpacks filled with new school supplies will include face masks thanks to a donation of 28,000 disposable masks from San Diego-based Clinical Supplies.

“One of the biggest challenges for a child experiencing homelessness is staying in school. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of a physical school environment has made engagement even more challenging,” said Susie Terry, coordinator for SDCOE’s Foster Youth and Homeless Education Services. “The Stuff the Bus campaign helps provide assistance to our families so they have one less thing to worry about as the new school year approaches."

Help give as many students as possible one less thing to worry about. Your donation of any amount will help the campaign reach its goal of $125,000 by Aug. 31. Learn more at
Living Works Details
Living Works Education Youth Summit

The Living Works Education Youth Summit will be held on Sept. 15 to raise awareness of the role suicide prevention training can play in schools and include performances and motivational speeches. Earlier this year, San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold joined California Department of Education State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to announce the launch of a free online suicide prevention training program available to middle and high school staff and students throughout the state. Having students and teachers trained to recognize when someone is struggling and connect them to further help empowers the school community to come together and support those at risk. More information.
SDCOE Suicide Prevention Guide
Suicide Prevention Resource Guide for Schools

The Suicide Prevention Resource Guide for Schools is a comprehensive guide developed in collaboration with the San Diego County Suicide Prevention Council. It is designed to assist school districts in easily navigating the local and national resources available on suicide prevention, intervention, and post intervention. This document includes links to suicide prevention and mental health resources for school staff, educators, students, and parents.

The comprehensive resource guide is also available online through the SDCOE Suicide Prevention webpage here.
REVOLUTION: Equity, Disparities, and Student Mental Health

CASC is sponsoring a virtual conference dedicated to student mental health and race-based trauma in a COVID-19 world. Just like CASC's in-person events, this virtual conference offers nearly 50 educational sessions, access to industry-leading experts and unique virtual networking opportunities. From school climate issues to research-based solution-focused classroom techniques, there are topics to meet all educators' (K-12 teachers, administrators, community professionals, and school-based mental health service providers) professional development needs. Register here.
Interrupting Racism Book
CASC Community Forum: Antiracist School Counseling

Over the summer, CASC hosted a community forum on Antiracist School Counseling to openly address racism in our schools and the important role of the school counselor in leading this work for both students and staff. The panel included Derek Francis, Dr. Caroline Lopez-Perry, and Alicia Oglesby, and was moderated by Dr. Rebecca Pianta. The webinar was powerful, inspirational and school counselors left with valuable tools and resources. Many attendees immediately ordered the recommended book, Interrupting Racism: Equity and Social Justice in School Counseling and made it part of their summer reading. View the webinar replay and download a copy of the presentation.



Online Resources on Implicit Bias:

Additional CASC-sponsored webinar replays and resources on a variety of topics can be found here.
SDCOE Equity Resources and Workshops

The Equity department at the SDCOE has compiled numerous resources for educators, students and parents addressing racialized violence in our community. In July, they held the Freedom Summer Series which kicked off with the Young, Gifted and Black Student Panel, and followed with webinars and workshops to assist educators with learning how to hold spaces for important conversations about race and social justice to take place. Webinars were recorded and are available for playback, including the Latinx and Black Leadership panels with educators from San Diego County.

Exploring Allyship and Accomplice
The Equity department is designing space for a new, informal group that will meet to learn and talk about equity issues every three weeks on Thursdays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. This informal network of support and guidance will be one way to sustain our region's equity work. This will be a self-directed group and a way to strengthen our collective drive to ensure equitable conditions and outcomes for all of our students and learning organizations. 

Register to attend. The kickoff meeting was July 30. You can still join the group! The next network meeting is Aug. 20 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Resource Folder:

SDCOE's Equity department has on-demand video webinars on the events page to watch and share. Listen to panel discussions with Black students speaking about their experience with racism in schools and how you can be an ally, or webinars with Black educational leaders and Latinx leaders about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on their communities.

Latinx Leadership Panel

San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold and several local Latinx leaders discussed how they are proactively addressing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Latinx community. Learn about what they are doing in their leadership roles and how we might join them in their work on behalf of students. This event took place on June 8.

Panelists include:
  • Corinna Contreras, member, Vista City Council
  • Armando Farías, president, Chula Vista Elementary School District Board of Education
  • Dr. Carmen García, superintendent, San Marcos Unified School District
  • Cipriano Vargas, member, Vista Unified School District Board of Education
  • Lou Barrios, member, South Bay Union School District Board of Trustees

Black Student Experience Panel 

Experience how to hold dialogue space for students and adults with the Black Student Panel, and then participate in a three-part series on designing restorative space, listening, and engaging students and adults. This event took place on July 15, 2020.
  • Listen to students who attend San Diego County schools
  • Open to educators, administrators, students, parents, stakeholders, and community members
  • Participate in this practice of holding space for dialogue
  • Register on the link below 

The learning session topics included: 
  1. Session 1: Participate in a restorative dialogue and work through what you heard and your experience with the student panel.
  2. Session 2: Explore what goes into designing space for restorative dialogue for adults and students by planning one together.
  3. Session 3: Ask questions and engage in further exploration of what has emerged in the previous sessions.

Black Leadership Panel

The Black Leadership Panel with San Diego County educational leaders took place on July 21. Guests will be discussing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Black community and the impact this is having on our educational systems. Topics of discussion will also include the current civil rights movement and proactive measures to both address and support our students and communities. Join us in this important San Diego County dialogue. 
Panelists Include: 
  • Dr. Shirley Weber, assembly member, California District 79
  • Dr. Joi Spencer, interim dean/professor, University of San Diego
  • Dr. Cynthia Larkin, principal, Morse High School, San Diego Unified School District
  • Dr. Joseph Johnson, executive director, National Center for Urban School Transformation
  • Timothy Shaw, school counselor, Board Member, Lemon Grove School District
College Board: Fall 2020 Updates

On Aug. 6, College Board released information regarding new options for administering the SAT School Day, PSAT/NMSQT, and PSAT 8/9, which can be found in their newly released supporting guide. To get a better understanding of the new options, SDCOE will be hosting a College Board workshop with our regional representative to answer your questions regarding the SAT Suite of Assessments for Fall 2020. The workshop will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 11 a.m. Registration is open.

Last spring, the University of California and the California State University systems both released statements that they would be "test optional" meaning students would not be required, nor penalized for not having an SAT or ACT test score. Following suit, many out-of-state and private universities also went test optional and the list continues to grow. Two websites that provide updated lists are FairTest: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing and NACAC: Test Optional Means Test Optional. Although many universities are moving to test optional, at this time both NCAA and NAIA still require student-athletes to submit an SAT or ACT score for eligibility and admission.
Virtual Fair
College2Career Virtual Fairs

Fall 2020 C2C Fairs will be virtual, free, and open to high school and community college students statewide. The registration form enables schools to receive advance fair preparation information.

Early fair participants include Purdue, UNLV, UN Reno, Iowa State, University of Minnesota, Verto (gap year programs at more than 40 colleges), Kansas State University, more than 10 Canadian and other international universities, and eight Western Undergraduate Exchange institutions. 

Schools that register, will receive an individual student registration link for distribution on Aug. 31. The fairs are targeted to high school seniors, however juniors are welcome to attend.
Learning Opportunities

2020-21 School Counselor Professional Development Opportunities Calendar
For an updated list of 2020-21 professional development opportunities and workshops for school counselors, click here.

August/September 2020

NACAC: A Virtual College Fair Just For Counselors!
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: free, Virtual

College Board Q & A Workshop on the SAT Suite of Assessments for Fall 2020 (Hosted by SDCOE)
Wednesday, Aug. 26, 11 a.m. to noon
Cost: free, Virtual

Fall 2020 WACAC Wednesdays for Public High School Counselor Series Session #1: Tech Tools for College Counseling
Wednesday, Aug. 26, noon to 1 p.m.
Cost: free, Virtual

The Fall 2020 workshop series is free, but attendees do need to be WACAC members to attend. WACAC membership is free for public school counselors. Complete the membership link here.

SDCOE Mental Health in Schools Collaborative Ad Hoc Meeting
Friday, Aug. 28, 9 to 10:30 a.m.
Cost: free, Virtual

AMHCA 2020 Suicide Prevention Summit
LIVE Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 29-30
On-Demand, Aug. 21-Sept. 30
Cost: free, Virtual

2020 Fall UC High School Counselor Conference
Sept. 1-11
Cost: $40, Virtual

College Board Counselor Workshop
Thursday, Sept. 3, 9 to 10:30 a.m.
Cost: free, Virtual

Develop Students’ Social & Emotional Skills with Kahoot!
Thursday, Sept. 3, 3 p.m.
Cost: free, Virtual

College Board Counselor Workshop for NEW School Counselors (0-2 yrs)
Friday, Sept. 11, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Cost: free, Virtual

Living Works Youth Summit
Tuesday, Sept, 15, 1 to 3 p.m.
COST: free, Virtual
*The CDE will be distributing a password to its schools and approved schools for event access to all students, teachers, and staff

2020 Fall CSU Counselor Conference
Sept. 17-30
Cost: Unknown, Virtual

College2Career Virtual Fairs
Sept. 29-30, Oct. 1
Cost: free, Virtual
Newsletter Archive and Resources
The School Counselor Network newsletter and resources created by the SDCOE have been archived on the SDCOE COVID-19 website on the "Resources for School Counselor and School Social Workers" tab under "District Resources."
Stay Connected
If you have any questions or comments on the San Diego County School Counselor Network newsletter, please contact Tanya Bulette, counseling coordinator, at
Get up-to-the-minute information about what's happening at SDCOE and in our districts across the county.