NREA Weekly Updates, August 20th, 2021

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2021 National Forum to Advance Rural Education: 113 Years of Highlighting Rural Education
2021 NREA State Affiliates: 43 States & Counting...
NREA "The Rural Voice" Podcast Series
Become A Member of NREA Join Online
Sharing Strategies and Lessons Learned for School-Located COVID-19 Vaccination
Sharing Strategies and Lessons Learned for School-Located COVID-19 Vaccination
Join us for a webinar showcasing how schools can be critical partners in the effort to protect students, their families, and their communities from COVID-19.
Despite the nation’s progress on COVID-19 vaccination, young people aged 12 and older still have disproportionately lower COVID-19 vaccination rates. By collaborating with key community organizations, health care providers, and state and local public health leaders to host school-located COVID-19 vaccination events, schools can help to increase access to and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines for adolescents who need them most.
The event will feature a call to action from White House officials, who will discuss strategies to protect students and communities from COVID-19. Next, in a moderated discussion, leaders from school districts across the U.S. will share promising approaches to school-located COVID-19 vaccination events, strategies for engaging families and communities to build vaccine confidence, and key lessons learned. Please email with any questions.
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First Person: How Colorado’s Homegrown Talent Initiative Is Boosting the ‘Educonomy’ in 8 Rural Communities to Help Students Succeed
First Person: How Colorado’s Homegrown Talent Initiative Is Boosting the ‘Educonomy’ in 8 Rural Communities to Help Students Succeed
When I was working in rural New Mexico over a decade ago, I first heard the term “educonomy,” meaning the blending, linkage, and deeper integration between community economic development and education systems. Over the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to support an educonomy project called the Homegrown Talent Initiative, launched by the organization where I work, Colorado Education Initiative, and Colorado Succeeds. We are two different organizations with two different missions, but we share a vision for a dynamic educonomy grounded in community needs and experiences that lifts up all students and families across the state.
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School Mask Policy Tracker by Burbio
School Mask Policy Tracker by Burbio
Schools in Florida, Texas, Arizona, South Carolina, Utah, Iowa, and Oklahoma are prohibited from imposing mask mandates due to state law or governors’ orders, but as for whether funding can be withheld depends on the language of those laws/orders and if it holds up in court. I think several lawsuits have been filed against the state for bans in TX and FL.
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United States Department of Education Updates
Presidential Memo: 

On August 18, President Biden issued a memorandum to Secretary Cardona directing him to use all available tools to ensure that governors and other leaders are providing a safe return to in-person learning for the nation’s children. Students have experienced tremendous disruptions in their learning over the past two school years, but, with increased access to vaccinations for school staff and students age 12 and older, proven prevention and mitigation strategies, and unprecedented resources from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), all schools can and should open safely this fall for full-time, in-person instruction. Nevertheless, some state governments have adopted laws and policies that interfere with the ability of schools and school districts to keep children safe during in-person learning -- with some going as far as blocking school officials from adopting safety protocols aligned with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both state and local leaders must do everything possible to put students’ health and safety first and comply with legal obligations to their communities. This memo will ensure the Department is doing everything it can to prevent any interference with school officials taking steps to keep all students safe in full-time, in-person learning, without compromising students’ health or the health of their families or communities.
The Secretary reviewed the President’s announcement in an interview with the New York Times, noting on Twitter: “Students first.”
He also penned a Homeroom blog, titled “Meeting the President’s Call to Support the Safe and Sustained Reopening of Schools,” in which he outlined the Department’s commitment to protecting the rights of every student and supporting local districts that are protecting students and educators. 
Following letters he sent to Florida and Texas last week, the Secretary issued similar letters to six states -- ArizonaIowaOklahomaSouth CarolinaTennessee, and Utah -- that have blocked masking mandates in schools, noting on Twitter: “We. Must. Protect. Children.

On the Road

As more students return to school campuses across the country -- some for the first time in 18 months -- Secretary Cardona has been on the air and on the ground emphasizing student and school staff health and safety and access to in-person learning.
“We’re clearly at a fork in the road in this country,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “You’re either going to help students be in school in person and be safe, or the decisions you make will hurt students…. And while I understand the argument around not wanting to wear masks because we’re fatigued, without question students’ safety and staff’s safety come first” (video and transcript).
“I’ve gotten my vaccine, and my children got their vaccine,” he added during a National Press Foundation virtual event. “I know that vaccination is the best way to get our school safely reopened” (video and transcript).
And, on NBC’s “TODAY,” he emphasized the importance of schools addressing students’ mental health needs (video and Homeroom blog).

Meanwhile, the Secretary traveled to Boston, joining Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky for an intimate town hall hosted by the YMCA of Greater Boston and Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston to give students and families the chance to ask questions about plans for going back to school safely and address concerns about returning to the classroom.

He also traveled to Topeka, Kansas, joining Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff for a visit to a school-based vaccine clinic and discussion about getting the community vaccinated (photos 1 and 2 and video).

Plus, he joined remotely an announcement by Pennsylvania state leaders about the new vaccine and testing initiatives to support schools.

And, he traveled to New York City, joining Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten in the Bronx. They observed and participated in social and emotional learning activities, partially funded under the ARP. They also visited with student-athletes, touting the importance of vaccinations for a healthy school year.
A reminder of key resources:
·       Department of Education’s (ED) Return to School Roadmap (now available in English and Spanish)
·       ED COVID-19 Handbook, Volumes 1 (English and Spanish) and 2 (English and Spanish)
·       Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) COVID-19 Public Education Campaign website
Sharing Information From Our Partners and Sponsors:
Start Teaching Girls Entrepreneurship Today
Our guide will serve as a workbook for students to fill in and learn from as they develop their ideas, but it also provides you with hours of classroom activities and clear direction for what to do with your lesson time.
The best part is the flexibility! You can focus it on specific methods like solving problems through advocacy and social entrepreneurship or even focus on specific domains like web applications and clothing design. The opportunities are endless. You’ll take students from “what is entrepreneurship?” to “here’s my business pitch!”

Summit Learning is a whole school change program that makes achieving both academic and non-academic outcomes doable for any school. Schools partnering with us have access to a comprehensive digital platform and curriculum, and receive training and support on best practice pedagogy and change management. 
We’ve worked with over 380 schools across the country since 2015, including schools like Columbia High School in Nampa, Idaho. If your school or district is interested in learning more, you can fill out the Summit Learning Interest Form or set up a call with our team here
Along is a free digital reflection tool that is designed to help educators make each student feel seen and understood. Along lets, students share reflections directly with their teacher. Students can open up about who they are and what’s really on their minds—without pressure from peers.
Educators who are interested in learning more can, read this1-pager, or reach out directly to Jared Chandler, Manager of School and District Success, for a 30-min demo and consultation (

MirrorMeThis makes it easy to share: pencil notes, objects, artwork, sketches and diagrams, whiteboards, and tablets with a mirror that clips over your laptop’s webcam.

MirrorMeThis is a specially-designed laptop mirror. Instead of your students seeing your face, they see the keyboard area where you can place anything you want to share and talk about. Or they can share their work with you and their classmates.

Now you can share writing in real-time, use a finger to point to things, or a pencil to annotate. MirrorMeThis lets you demonstrate ideas with your hands, just as you would in your classroom. Harness all those paper resources and manipulable, and give your remote classes the immediacy of physical interactions.
Wonderfully simple. Stable presentation.
NREA Foundation & Research Awards Announcements
The Rural Educator


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