October 19, 2021
Health and Safety - Positive Cases and Quarantines Continue to Drop
Thanks to climbing vaccination rates and in-school masking, Vista Unified continues to see declining COVID-19 positive cases across the district from the first few weeks of the school year. We have dropped from 46 positive cases the first seven days of the school year to 19 cases last week (60% decline). As a result of the great efforts of the staff at each school following the health and safety processes and procedures, we have had no evidence of spread within the school environment. Due to the drop in positive cases, we have also dramatically reduced the number of students who were quarantined. Specifically, we had 886 students move into quarantine the first week of the school year. Just last week, we had 367 students moved into quarantine as a result of close contact (60% decline). This reduction is especially meaningful considering that we opened up two more COVID-19 testing centers with each averaging over 100 students and staff tested per day. This decline mirrors the county data, showing a similar reduction in positive cases. For more detailed information, please reference the weekly San Diego County COVID-19 Watch Report.
As we continually monitor each school, we are also working carefully with principals to make incremental adjustments to our health and safety procedures and protocols to keep as many students on campus for in-person instruction as possible and reduce the need to quarantine students unnecessarily. One example of this adjustment is the use of the “modified quarantine” option outlined in the County COVID-19 Decision Tree.
We are starting to use this option at the high school level when the health staff feel it is appropriate. This option gives the parents a choice to have their potentially exposed student tested immediately and then a few days later so that they may remain in school if they are asymptomatic.
We will be moving to the middle school level with the modified quarantine option in some cases in the coming weeks as staffing is available to provide additional testing capacity.
We are still investigating the use of the modified quarantine option for elementary schools. Many of the surrounding districts use this option at all levels. The Vista Unified team is taking a more careful, cautious approach with this option. We will notify parents at the elementary level if we move to this option in the coming weeks. This option does require additional staff to expand testing and tracing.
At elementary schools, we have also made an incremental adjustment to the playground procedure. In consultation with all 15 elementary school principals and in response to community request and internal analysis, we have adjusted the outdoor playground procedure to allow students to play outside of their classroom cohort. We will continue to maintain students within their classroom cohort while they are eating. The reason for this adjustment is based on a variety of factors including the need for students to expand socialization opportunities with their peers, actual playground time being short, declining positive cases across the district, reduced demand for staffing, and growing feedback from parents to expand student access to peers. As is always the case, we will closely monitor this adjustment and make changes as necessary.
We are slowly rolling out the opportunity for essential volunteers on campuses. The purpose of an “essential volunteer” is to enhance the education of our students. The following requirements are for all essential volunteers on campuses:
Must wear a mask at all times (indoors and outdoors)
Complete school volunteer application
Show proof of full vaccination OR provide a negative PCR test weekly
Essential volunteers must follow the guidelines below:
Never enter the classroom when students are present
Always work with students outside the classroom (student and volunteer must be masked at all times outside)
PTA/ELAC/SSC/Foundation parents may be on campus to perform school business
Vaccination Rates for Staff
As we have announced in previous updates, we have expanded vaccination centers in the district to maximize access for students and staff to get vaccinated. The San Diego County overall vaccination rate has just reached 80% for all people ages 12 and above, with 89% partially vaccinated. Vista Unified is in the process of tracking the vaccination rate for staff in response to the new requirements from the State of California that all staff show proof of vaccination or test weekly. As of Friday, October 14, 2021, the vaccination rate for teachers is 72%, and the vaccination rate for classified staff is 53%. We anticipate that these vaccination rates will continue to climb as the new requirement takes effect this month. Unvaccinated staff must test for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.
Vision and Strategic Plan Status
Vista Unified’s vision setting and strategic planning process will be kicking off on November 4, 2021 with a Student Summit. It makes sense to start this process with student voices because the purpose of a vision is to set our sights on what students need in order to prepare them for the future 10 to 15 years from today. Following this event, we will engage a Guiding Coalition to lead the actual design work for the creation of a new vision and strategic plan. The coalition will be composed of a team of over 70 members from our community that represent students, parents, teachers, staff, city leaders, business leaders, and elected officials. The Guiding Coalition will be meeting six times over the next eight months to complete their work. All members of the community will also have opportunities to participate in this process in the coming months. We have created a one-page overview of the VUSD Vision and Strategic Planning Process for reference. Look for invitations coming in the new year.
Measure LL Facility Bond Community Forums Final Reminder
Vista Unified will be hosting two in-person Measure LL Facility Bond Community Forums to gather community feedback about the bond projects and to make suggestions about how best to reprioritize bond projects based on need. Please join us at one of these events highlighted below. If you are not able to attend one of these meetings, you can watch a recorded version of the Virtual Bond Forum held last month and then take the Measure LL Facility Bond Survey to provide your feedback. Our school improvement projects will make a difference for all students if we all work together to continue to improve the Measure LL Facility Bond projects.
Virtual Forum Video (Click Link HERE to view) held on September 21, 2021 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
In-Person Forum on October 20, 2021 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Breeze Hill Elementary School, 1111 Melrose Way, Vista, CA 92081 in the MPR
In-Person Forum on October 27, 2021 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Vista Innovation Center School, 836 Olive Ave., Vista, CA 92083 in the MPR
Measure LL Facility Bond Community Survey (Click Link HERE) (Survey link closes on October 29, 2021) Survey link is also posted on the website.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Vista Unified School District