November 24, 2020
Vista Classic for Secondary Schools Will Pause until after the Winter Break
We will be shifting all secondary schools to virtual instruction until after the winter break. This means that all middle and high schools will complete the remaining three weeks of instruction (November 30th through December 18th) in virtual learning. During this time, we will continue in-person supplemental learning support for specific student populations based on individual needs. We will also maintain all athletic activities in preparation for the upcoming season unless otherwise adjusted by CIF directives. All elementary schools will continue to provide Vista Classic in-person instruction.
The reason for this period of pause is based on the recent escalation of the spread of the COVID-19 virus globally, nationally, regionally, and locally. Based on verifiable data, the pandemic is expanding at a dramatic pace in San Diego County and within the five zip codes of our own community. While Vista Unified has seen no evidence of the virus spreading within the school environment after 26 days of instruction in the Vista Classic learning model, the impact of the virus within our community is causing staffing challenges for teachers, instructional assistants, custodians, and other employees. Although our pivoting criteria has been effective in combating any spread of the virus on secondary campuses, the frequency of pivoting schools has increased. The increased frequency of pivoting is disruptive to students, parents, and staff.
During the School Board meeting set for December 15th, our trustees will be reviewing the status of the virus regionally and locally, reviewing the feedback and recommendations from the Superintendent's Council for Innovative Learning, and discussing adjustments to the Vista Classic and Vista Virtual learning models for the second half of the school year. During this meeting, the trustees will also be discussing new regulations for quarantining students, staff, and classrooms based on feedback from the San Diego Health and Human Services Agency.
The Vista Unified School District has a dual obligation to ensure the health and safety of all students and staff, while, at the same time, develop an innovative approach to learning and teaching that provides a high quality, engaging education for all students within the environment of a worldwide pandemic. As a school district, we have been committed to working in collaboration with parents to create pathways for students to get back onto campus. Learning is most powerful and effective when students are building in-person relationships with their teachers and their friends. While this work is challenging and, at times, frustrating, we have an obligation to continue our efforts as a community. We are all in this together.
Health and Safety
Today, the State of California released new public health data for all 58 counties in California. Like most of California, San Diego County continues to have high rates of new disease, and our County will remain in the most restrictive tier (Tier 1 - Purple) pursuant to California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Daily new cases of COVID-19 are at 21.5 cases per 100,000 residents (adjusted to 13.1 based upon testing volume in our county). Testing positivity, the percentage of tests that produce a positive result, stands at 3.1% in San Diego County. We will receive updated data at the zip-code level later this week, but generally speaking, the new case rate in our area (the five local zip codes) has been very close to county rates, and our testing positivity numbers have been slightly above county numbers. In other words, our local area should be considered to be in the Purple Tier just like the county as a whole.
In response to the rapidly growing number of cases, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a number of important advisories. The CDC is advising against travel for most people during the Thanksgiving holiday and the CDPH has advised that:
Persons arriving in California from other states or Californians returning from other states or countries could increase the risk of COVID-19 spread. In addition, travel itself can be a risk for exposure to COVID-19, particularly travel through shared conveyance such as air, bus or rail travel. Persons arriving in California from other states or countries, including returning California residents, should practice self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. These persons should limit their interactions to their immediate household.
If your children travel outside of California during the Thanksgiving break, we ask that you follow this guidance and keep them home from school for 14 days following your return to California.
If your child or any member of your household does become ill with COVID-19, we ask that you notify your child’s school immediately. School Principals and Nurses are following COVID-19 guidelines established by the San Diego County Office of Education, and the sooner the school can take appropriate actions, the better.
School Reopening Learning Model Mid-Year Review
We are excited to continue our work with the Superintendent’s Council for Innovative Learning. Students, parents, staff, teachers, administrators, and board members met last week to begin the work of refining our learning models in order to recommend adjustments and/or alternatives to the board to address the changing needs of our community during the pandemic. Two Sprint Teams (one for elementary and one for secondary) are meeting in the next few weeks to collaborate, discuss, and provide options regarding our Vista Classic learning model. And, similar to the spring, both the work of the Council and the Sprint Teams are informed by feedback from our community. We have already completed our Vista Virtual survey for our families, and we will be sending out two more surveys today (one for our Vista Classic families and one for our staff members). These will be emailed out and will close on Wednesday, December 2nd. The council will review the information gathered during the Sprint Team meetings, along with the information they developed and the survey data, to reach consensus on their official recommendations to the School Board for the December 15th meeting. These recommendations may include adjustments or alternatives for our Vista learning models. The learning model registration process for parents remains open until December 4, 2020. We need parents to provide this information prior to the December 15th board meeting so that we are able to review data on parent interest in continuing in the Vista Classic and Vista Virtual learning models. If the board chooses to make significant changes to the learning models for the second half of the school year, we will provide an opportunity for parents to modify their selection.
Family and Community Engagement Network
The holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to promote community engagement. Thank you to all who donated to multiple VUCPTA fundraisers these past two weeks. Gifts and supplies have already greatly supported many of our students and families. In addition, we have been enjoying our growing partnership with the Vista Sheriff Department, whose team has been making home visits spreading holiday cheer and community love. We have been enjoying many conversations and joint activities to bring greater unity amongst us all. Thank you for your generous gifts, time, and efforts to keep our community happy, safe, and healthy. For those interested in donating other items or partnering with VUSD’s FACE Network, please email FamilyEngagement@vistausd.org or call Kiki Bispo at (760) 726-2170, ext 92011.
As a friendly reminder, to ensure you are receiving all communications from your children's schools and the school district, please make sure that your contact information (address, phone numbers, and e-mail) are updated in Parent Portal. In light of the current ongoing pandemic, this is especially critical as we frequently send out important updates. You can update your information as often as needed. For help with this, please contact your school's Community Liaison or office support.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Vista Unified School District