Community News

Supervisor Slocum's Bulletin 08/10/2020

Author: 
Community Affairs
Dear Friends,
It’s back to school time! And this school year will start off very different and challenging for students.
 
Back-to-school is on all parents’ minds right now, and in what form our students will attend school – whether it be by distance learning, in-person, or a hybrid version. We are working on some great projects in the County and in my office to ready students for the coming school year during this pandemic.

This newsletter highlights Backpacks for Back-to-School, an Internet Access For All pilot project, Universal Meals for students, Measure K funding for United through Education/Familias Unidas, and a story about an NFO resident who makes masks. 
 
Regards,
Warren Slocum  

Your questions are invited. Please call me at (650) 363-4570 or email wslocum@smcgov.org.

Para registrase por un boletin en español haga clic aquí
 
Back-to-School Backpacks
Complete with a COVID kit

Every August, the County Human Services Agency (HSA) Children's Fund prepares backpacks stuffed with school supplies for elementary, middle, and high school students who are low-income or foster children. 

The backpacks always contain school supplies such as pencils, notebooks, binders, etc. This year, our office partnered with HSA to also include a COVID-19 kit in each of the 700 backpacks to prepare these students for the coming school year during this pandemic. Each COVID-19 kit contains a face mask, hand sanitizer, wipes, a water bottle, USB drive, and headphones for distance learning.

 
Whether students continue learning remotely or can move into small in-person cohorts soon, we hope that these backpacks and all they hold will help make each student feel more prepared to start the school year.

If you are interested in receiving more information or referring a child to the Children's Fund program, contac
childrensfund@smcgov.org or 650-802-5152.

 
Internet Access for All
This pandemic highlights the universal need for internet access for all in this County.  That is why Supervisor Don Horsley and I asked our Board of Supervisors to approve a pilot project to provide internet access for the most disadvantaged students and improve overall digital equity.  The pilot will include the Ravenswood City School District, Redwood City School District, and the La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District.  As of this week, most of these districts have announced plans to start school with improved distance learning and this access is critical for these students and their families.

The County will partner with Comcast and T-Mobile to provide service inside student homes, as well as expanding the County’s existing public Wi-Fi networks for drive-up access to the internet where access is limited or nonexistent.  The $2.8 million in funding for this project will subsidize the cost for qualifying students for up to one-year with T-Mobile and 14 months with Comcast. Access to the County’s SMC Public Wi-Fi is free.
 
 
Universal Meals for Students
Previously, elementary, middle, and high school students were eligible for free and reduced meal programs if their families made less than $50,000 per year.  Although this program is great for the students it serves, there are some students who would benefit from the program, but who have been ineligible in the past. With so many families struggling as a result of the pandemic, we know that food insecurity is rising.  Now more than ever, it is important that our children are able to get meals through their schools.

On August 4th, the Board of Supervisors also approved a pilot project to provide $1 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding for the purposes of establishing a pilot FREE meals program to reduce food insecurity among ALL students in ALL school districts in San Mateo County, if they choose to participate. This means that every single student can receive free meals without having to apply for the program or qualify based on income. 

This pilot program may be extended beyond the COVID-19 pandemic as well. This would greatly benefit low-income students whose parents do not have the correct documentation to apply for the old program as well as any family that experiences sudden food insecurity but has not yet applied for the program, such as in the event that one parent becomes unable to work. 
 
Measure K
Contributions to the Community
Measure K funding is given to each of the County Supervisors to distribute to projects in our community which will benefit the public. This week, I asked the Board to approve $45,000 in Measure K funding to United through Education (Familias Unidas) for virtual parenting classes that guide and support families with effective distance learning and other educational tools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

United through Education’s mission is to create a better community, one family at a time. Through their culturally-responsive virtual 8-week course, they will continue to teach parents from underserved communities how to support and help their children achieve success, focusing on the academic, social, emotional, and physical aspects of a healthy life. 

This is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic where students are learning online and at home – and they will begin their course with a lesson on Zoom. 

Like many organizations – United for Education had to move quickly to an online platform due to this pandemic. This grant will allow them to continue to focus on parents and their students in the Redwood City School District.
 
Our Community Heroes
Ana's Mask Making
Ana Juarez is a mother of three who has been a resident of North Fair Oaks for the last 15 years. In March, when the pandemic started, Ana was taking classes with Familias Unidas, and she decided to volunteer to make masks to give to the teacher of the other class and the other parents taking the class. 

Little by little, more people in the community began to hear that she was making masks, and asked her to make more. Now, she has made dozens of masks and has even sent some as far as Los Angeles and New York. 


Click the video above to watch a short video about Ana. English subtitles can be turned on by going to the CC button on the bottom right of the video and clicking "English".
 
 
Stay home and stay healthy, and remember to wear your mask when out in public! Together we will help save lives. Stay tuned for more next week.

If you want to get more insight into what my staff and I are working on, please connect with us on social media. It’s also a great way to interact with the office and to get notifications on upcoming events. Click the icons and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.