August 4, 2021
It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome back students, teachers, staff, and parents to the new school year. Our leadership team has been hard at work over the summer months making the necessary preparations for a great year. Our theme for this year is “The Power of Moments: Being Our Best for All.” We are focused on setting the conditions so that all students are able to re-engage in their learning pathway, making every moment count. Our team has developed a set of administrative commitments that will galvanize our collective efforts to fill this year with powerful moments for every student in the district.
To make this happen, our school board members have unanimously adopted a $68,000,000 Blueprint for Educational Excellence and Innovation that prioritizes a set of support systems including expanding our Family and Community Engagement team; hiring more counselors and social workers to provide a robust response to social/emotional needs; increasing funding for athletics, music, art, and extracurricular activities; adding 42 new teaching positions to ensure a comprehensive learning support team for struggling students; adding a seventh period to our comprehensive high schools to give students more choice in their schedule; creating a new set of ELD support teachers for English learners; and operationalizing our commitment to equity by implementing a districtwide professional development series focusing on implicit bias, trauma informed care, and restorative practice. All of these areas of expansion will be supported by a robust set of health and safety procedures to ensure that all students and staff are safe and confident in their learning environments.
In the spirit of continuous improvement, we have added a new tool to our communication plan in response to parent requests. We have purchased the Remind app for all schools, teachers, and staff to provide a more efficient, easy-to-use tool to get information, announcements, and schedules to parents and students in a seamless manner. As your superintendent, I will be using the Remind app as well to send along important notifications and updates. All families have already received an email regarding Remind, and this video has more information.
I would like to reiterate a message I have conveyed to our community for the past eighteen months. Our community, state, nation, and world continues to be faced with the lingering challenges of a global pandemic. The impact of this pandemic on our lives, our sense of community, and our ability to reestablish normal routines are real, and they are frustrating for us all. In spite of these challenges, our school district has a dual obligation to fulfill. Our first obligation is to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all students and staff. To this end, we intend to carefully follow all of the requirements outlined in the California Department of Public Health guidelines detailed in the Health and Safety section below. This will likely require us to flexibly adapt to changes in state and local health requirements in response to the fluctuations of the COVID-19 virus. Our second obligation is to ensure that all students have access to a high quality in-person learning environment and grade level standards. In keeping with our commitment to parent choice, we are offering Vista Classic and Vista Virtual learning models. The Vista Virtual learning model has been modified, however, due to the new requirements established by the California Department of Education. Please see a detailed description of the learning models below.
Finally, how we treat each other during these challenging times really matters. As adults, we are setting the example for the children of our city and school district. Our words, and how we use them, will impact our relationships well beyond the end of the current health pandemic. Please join me in practicing our values of trust, respect, collaboration, and equity. We are all in this together.
Message from the School Board President and Vice President
With over 20,000 students coming back to school this month in Vista Unified, we are excited to welcome your student back into the classroom. The School Board approved a $290 million overall budget earlier this summer for the 2021-2022 school year to provide our students with the teachers, staff, and resources they need to achieve their potential. While it has not been an easy time in education, we are confident in the work of our entire district team for this next school year.
As a school district, we have the power to transform lives and uplift our entire community. I hope you will join us at a future meeting and/or at school events to support our efforts to create the conditions for all students to succeed. We look forward to serving your family by putting the systems in place to support all the young minds of Vista Unified. Take care, and see you soon.
School Reopening Guide
As a result of our proactive response to getting students back to campus last year, we are poised to have a great year for students. We have refreshed our School Reopening Guidebook for students, parents, and staff to use as the main reference for all of the support systems, rules, and procedures that will be in place for all Vista Unified campuses. Click HERE to access the guidebook. We will also keep the guidebook posted on our website for easy reference. This is meant to be a living document so that we may flexibly adjust and adapt to the changing effects of COVID-19 and state regulations. All administrators and staff will be following this guidebook on a daily basis on campus. The most important part of this new guidebook are the health and safety procedures. As a public school organization, we are compelled to follow the requirements of the California Department of Public Health and the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. Both of these organizations are united in the revised safety requirements for public schools. The main focus of the new guidance is to prioritize live, in-person learning for all students in elementary, middle, and high schools. All students and staff will be required to wear a mask while indoors, but there will be no social distancing requirements in classrooms. We will continue to have quarantining and contact tracing procedures; however, they have been revised to minimize the negative impact of large groups of students being quarantined. Students and staff will have the option of removing their mask while in outdoor settings. We have developed a revised set of student and staff commitments so that we can ensure that all of our learning environments are safe and secure.
Health And Safety
While the COVID-19 virus has substantially subsided over the past three months, there is a concerning resurgence in the past few weeks in positive cases primarily among unvaccinated people due to the new delta variant. Case rates are starting to rise dramatically, bringing with it a need to renew our vigilance as a district and community to follow safety procedures, with an emphasis on wearing a mask indoors and encouraging anyone 12 years and older to get vaccinated. Governor Newsom released a statement requiring all state employees and health care workers to show proof of vaccination or get tested regularly. As of last week, California’s statewide case rate more than quadrupled from a low in May of 1.9 cases/100,000/day to at least 16.7 cases/100,000/day. The testing positivity reached a low of 0.7 percent in June, but this has recently risen to 6.7 percent. Hospitalizations dropped under 900 in June and have now risen to almost 3000. The vast majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated. Specifically, the infection rate is 600 percent higher among the unvaccinated.
We have posted below the most recent data for case rates in San Diego County. We highly recommend that students 12 years and older consider getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The Linda Rhoades Vaccination Center is open five days a week with no appointment necessary. We are also working with our county partners to offer mobile vaccination clinics in locations throughout our district in the coming weeks. Please assist us to Get Vista Vaccinated so that we can minimize any impact on our collective efforts to get students back to full time in-person learning.
As we move forward with welcoming back students on August 18th, we ask for your help. According to the CDPH, universal mask wearing is one of the most effective mitigating measures against COVID-19. We are proactively developing procedures to keep students in school and will continue to align with the CDPH, which requires all students and staff to wear a mask when indoors. Please continue to send your student to school with a mask that covers the nose and mouth. Students will have the option of removing their mask when outdoors, giving them the opportunity to breathe fresh air and smile with friends. We will continue to closely monitor all health and safety updates and implement guidelines to keep our schools safe places for learning. Please visit our Health and Safety website for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 and how we are keeping our students and staff safe.
VUSD Learning Model Options for 2021-22
The Vista Unified School District has been continuously committed to providing innovative and flexible learning environments that meet the needs of our diverse student population. In 2021-22, Vista Unified will offer in-person learning at all schools and will offer a modified Vista Virtual model, centralized at Vista Visions Academy. The program has been updated to meet California independent study guidelines under Assembly Bill (AB) 130. Our team has compiled essential information and frequently asked questions to support parents in making an informed decision. For more information, please click on this document, VUSD Learning Model Options for 2021-22.
Parents/guardians who want their child to participate in Vista Virtual in the 2021-22 school year are required to transfer from their current school to the Vista Virtual program at Vista Visions Academy. We have already received more than 200 transfer applications from interested students, and there is still space available in all grade levels.
If you would like to have your child enroll in Vista Virtual and have not yet completed a transfer, please CLICK HERE to complete the transfer request.
If you are interested but have additional questions after reading the information linked above, please contact school administrator Damon Patterson at 760-726-2170 ext. 92118 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have questions or would like to modify a transfer request that you have already submitted, please come in, call 760-726-2170 ext. 92180, or email the Student Services Department to get clarification or support with the transfer application process.
Assembly Bill 104 Expands Grading and Recovery Options for Students
California recently enacted a new law, Assembly Bill 104, that will expand learning and credit recovery options for students who may have struggled academically during the 2020-2021 school year, including:
A process for students who were enrolled in grades K-11 for the 2020-2021 year to request to repeat the last grade
A process for high school students to change eligible grades to Pass/No Pass
Exemption from district graduation requirements for students in grades 11 or 12 who were not on track to graduate
Summer School Overview
Our summer school sessions were a huge success. Thanks to our teachers and support staff, we created extended learning opportunities for over 4,000 students across all grades levels focusing on intervention, credit recovery, accelerated learning and extension activities, special education support, and extracurricular art, music, and sports programs. We were proud to see our students take advantage of this expanded learning opportunity.
Measure LL Facility Bond Update
Coming off a great start of the Measure LL Facility Bond construction, our team is picking up speed on bond project activity. We just completed the Vista High School Sports Complex, a $6,000,000 project that will provide college-level facilities for student athletes in softball, tennis, field hockey, soccer, track and field, and more. This year, we will see a dramatic increase in the pace of construction through the district. We will be breaking ground on the Vista High School new classroom facilities on September 15, 2021. This project is set to invest over $50,000,000 in replacing all of the aging relocatable classrooms with brand new state-of-the-art science and general education classrooms on the front and back side of the campus. These two new buildings will transform the look and feel of the campus and energize the learning experience for students. We have started the Beaumont Elementary School project that will replace all of the relocatable classrooms with modern learning spaces. We are also planning to build a new multi-purpose room. When complete, Beaumont Elementary will look and feel like a new school. We expect to do the same for Bobier Elementary School by creating a new set of buildings and removing all of the portable classrooms. We will also be investing over $12,000,000 in the design of a stand-alone Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center at Rancho Buena Vista High School. This new CTE Center was identified by Vista residents to be one of the main areas of focus for facility improvement so that students have a direct pathway to expanding career sectors in the local and global economy. Please visit our Measure LL website to follow our progress and watch your tax dollars at work.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Vista Unified School District