California Department of Education Update: April 2021

By: Charles Parker, California Department of Education, State FFA Advisor

At the end of March, I received my first Pfizer vaccination. As I left the vaccination center, I was waiting for the sun to shine, the clouds to open up, singing to occur, for something to make me appreciate the moment. But, I simply walked to my car and headed off to my next meeting. Maybe in three weeks when I receive the second dose I will feel as if everything is better.

Don’t get me wrong, I am sincerely appreciative of receiving the vaccination and look forward to being able to travel to visit family and friends. As with most of you, it has been almost a year since I was last able to see my parents.

While some students never left the classroom, we are seeing more California students returning to schools where they are beginning to experience the comfort of those great teachers. Yes, not all districts are electing to open up, a few are continuing to choose virtual learning through the end of the current school year.

Masking, distancing, proper ventilation, COVID-19 testing, and much more are used to keep students, staff and school communities safe. The goal is not only to reopen schools, but to do it in a safe manner so that they will remain open.

Athletics in many schools are back in vogue. You are seeing live broadcasts of football games while golf, baseball, and other sports are starting to open up. Cheerleading has also been given the greenlight to begin their delayed season. Recently marching bands were allowed to perform with restrictions.

As we begin to open up school farms and laboratories, practice for upcoming competitions, and conduct project visits, we must ensure that we are doing so in a safe environment. Continue to be proactive and follow all health advisories. According to Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, moving forward we should focus on: 

  • Mental health and well-being should be at the foundation of all activities and interactions.
  • Relationship-building amongst students, teachers, and staff is of utmost importance.
  • Learning opportunities should be inquiry-based and honor the cultural context of each student.
  • Professional learning, collaboration opportunities, and coaching for all educators must be prioritized.
  • Collaboration and communication with families and community partners is critical. 

We are not there yet, but each day seems to be bringing us closer to what our new normal will be. That light I see in the distance means that I will be able to see teachers and students sooner, rather than later.


  1. PLEASE, if you have not already done so, go to AET and complete your individual profile. 
  2. State Leadership Conference registration is open. The dates of the 93rd Annual State FFA Leadership Conference are May 14-16. This is a unique opportunity where every student who has ever had the desire to attend a state conference can easily sign-up and take part. Make the event part of your curriculum and embrace the opportunities that exist for every student.
  3. Career Development Events Timelines (All will be held in a virtual format). Utilize to register for upcoming Career Development Event State Finals. Names can be changed until the date of the event

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit

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