January 29, 2021
State of the Community 2021
Vista Unified participated in the annual State of the Community on Monday, January 25th. This event was sponsored by the Vista Chamber of Commerce and featured annual updates that highlighted the state of the city, education, business, health, and the economy. The keynote speakers included Mayor Judy Ritter, Superintendent Dr. Doyle, Board President Cipriano Vargas, Chamber CEO Rachel Beld, Dr. Ma from Tri-City Hospital, and Mr. Williams from a legal research firm. This event was live-streamed for the entire community. Click HERE to access the archived video. The State of the District section is 27 minutes into the video. The event was a true testament to the collective efforts of our community organizations to collaborate as a team to support our community.
State of the District 2021 - Excerpt
As a community and as a school district, we have experienced the most challenging year in memory. Most regrettably, we have lost many members of our community. We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and send our condolences and sympathies to the families during this difficult time. Let us take a moment to honor those within our community that we have lost.
It is times like these that we are compelled to fall back on our collective courage, commitment, and resolve as a community and as a school district to provide for our families and our students. Servant leadership shines brightest in times of tremendous need. I am proud to report that the Vista Unified School District has not wavered during this challenging time. Click HERE to read the entire State of the District 2021 speech.
Student Athletics Will Resume on February 1, 2021
Next week is going to be an exciting week for our student athletes. After many months of waiting, the state CIF organization, in consultation with the California Department of Public Health, has agreed to a rolling start of high school athletics for season 1 and 2 sports. For season 1 sports, this means that Cross Country, Swimming, and Diving are set to start on Monday, February 1, 2021. Field Hockey can practice but is not yet cleared for competition. For season 2 sports, this means that golf starts on February 8th, and Track and Field and Tennis start on February 15th. We anticipate that Baseball, Girls Lacrosse, and Softball may be cleared to start in March if our public health metrics in the county continue to improve and we move into the Red Tier. Other sports will come on line in the future as San Diego progresses into the Orange and Yellow Tiers. Vista Unified schools are already making arrangements for a positive kickoff to the season. Please join me in supporting our student athletes. Click HERE for more details.
County Health Officers Give Positive Endorsement While Visiting Bobier Elementary
Vista Unified continues to expand our relationship with the San Diego County Health and Humans Services Agency to refine our health and safety measures on school campuses. On Friday, January 22, 2021, Dr. J.D. Malone, infectious disease expert, and Nurse Mary Kacy-Svoboda, county lead nurse for educational settings, visited Bobier Elementary School to review the adjustments to our health and safety measures and verify that our schools have made the social distancing adjustments that are required based on the CDPH revised guidelines. Board President Vargas and Vice President Morton joined us on the 90-minute visit. During this visit, Dr Malone and Nurse Mary visited all classrooms and learning spaces, spoke with teachers, students, and staff, and congratulated the team for their hard work with a multi-layered safety plan. As we do at the end of every visit, we asked Dr. Malone whether or not he feels we should keep schools open. His response was “Absolutely, yes, you should keep schools open for students.” Dr. Malone did, however, indicate that the county health team is currently tracking closely the incidence of the COVID variant strain across the county as this strain may be more contagious. Dr. Malone will keep Vista Unified fully informed of any new developments related to the variant strain in the coming weeks. We remain ready to make adjustments to our plan based on direction from the county as a result of the new variant strain.
Health and Safety Update - Finally Numbers are Dropping County Wide
The county moved in a positive direction for the second week in a row this past Tuesday when our adjusted average daily new case rate decreased from 60.6 per 100,000 residents to 49.6 daily new cases per 100,000 residents. The percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 also saw a decrease for a second week, moving from 14.8% down to 12.6%. Local officials are “cautiously optimistic” about these improving numbers and downward trends.
As a reminder, in order for our county to move out of the Purple Tier and back into the Red Tier, we must have an average daily new case rate of 7.0 or lower and a percent positive rate of 8.0% or lower. Local health officials are urging all county residents to continue to help fight the spread of COVID-19 by staying home unless participating in essential or other permitted activities, self-isolating when experiencing any symptoms, testing, wearing a mask, and taking the other precautions they have recommended throughout this pandemic.
The county has also been aggressively ramping up their COVID-19 vaccination program for all eligible residents of San Diego County. Like other jurisdictions throughout the United States, the county is using a phased approach for distribution. At this point, all San Diegans aged 65 or older are eligible to receive the vaccination for free. We encourage you to assist anyone you know who is eligible to receive the vaccination by helping them sign up for an appointment or even help by driving them to a vaccination site, including a newly announced “Super Site” at CSUSM. As a district, we are eager for our educational staff to be eligible for vaccination. It looks like access for our team is coming up very soon.
The COVID-19 Testing facility located at the Linda Rhoades Recreation Center will be adjusting their hours of service from 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday. No appointment necessary. Click HERE for more information about county testing sites.
Vista Virtual School Improvement Efforts
The Superintendent’s Council for Innovative Learning, which is composed of students, parents, staff, teachers, administrators, and board members, met on January 26, 2021 to continue our work refining the Vista Unified learning models for the spring. The January council meeting included in-depth discussion about our Vista Virtual learning model with a focus on feedback from students, parents, teachers, and staff to address student achievement, student wellness, and strategies to make virtual learning more engaging for students. Council members collaborated to provide important feedback on Vista Virtual surveys for all of our stakeholders. These surveys will be sent via email in the coming weeks.
Vista Classic Secondary School Update
Vista Unified is committed to providing in-person learning opportunities for our secondary students. Working in compliance with the new guidance from the state, which does not allow for a full implementation of Vista Classic, we are engaging teachers, parents, and staff representatives in discussions and planning to get our students back on campuses. We will provide periodic updates on our progress in the coming weeks. In addition, each school site has created a robust set of supplemental programs for students, including special education, homeless and foster youth, English Language Learners, at risk students, students needing additional social-emotional support, high school athletes who are participating in strength and conditioning, and enrichment opportunities. We are continuing to expand these programs as we remain in fully distance learning. For more information, please reach out to your specific secondary school site.
Measure LL Facility Bond Projects Are Successful
We continue to make great progress with our Phase 1 bond projects across the district. Board Vice President Morton has been instrumental in keeping our many different bond projects moving along efficiently. It is important to note that so far, we have completed seven Phase 1 projects at $781,574 under the projected budget.
The Vista High School Sports Complex is starting to take shape with an anticipated completion date in late April or early May. The Vista High School portable classroom replacement project is nearing the end of the design development stage and getting ready to move into the construction phase. We have made great progress in finalizing the plans for the Beaumont Elementary project. We will be replacing all of the portable classrooms and renovating the front office to better accommodate parents and staff. We have made great progress on the initial design work for the Vista Magnet Middle School facade and landscaping improvements.
We are already scheduled for our first official bond project dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony at the Rancho Buena Vista Softball Field on February 10, 2021. The event will be live streamed for the community with details to follow.
We are in the process of expanding the scope of the Rancho Minerva Middle School project to include a more focused approach to creating shade structures that also serve as inclement weather protection for our students and staff. We are in the initial stages of designing the scope of the Lake and Madison project that will focus on expanding student restrooms and shade structures. You can check out details about our progress on the Measure LL Facility Bond website or click HERE to view the presentation slides we used just last week at the board meeting. We have included some artistic renderings below.
Mental Health Supports Continue to Expand in Vista
School Social Workers (SSW) are trained mental health professionals who can assist with mental health concerns; behavioral concerns; positive behavioral support; academic and classroom support; consultation with teachers, parents, and administrators and who can provide individual and group counseling/therapy. School social workers are hired by the school district to enhance the district's ability to meet its academic mission, especially where home, school and community collaboration is the key to achieving student success.
As we move forward to hire additional mental health staff in the coming weeks, the hours of support for our students increase exponentially by the partnership with our university interns. We currently have seven Master of Social Work (MSW) interns who provide direct mental health services for VUSD students. Our MSW interns work 20 hours a week during their time with us to earn their Pupil Personnel Services Credential in School Social Work. That adds up to 650 hours in a school year, totalling 4550 additional hours of support services for our students in the 2020-2021 school year. For the first several weeks of internships, the SSWs work closely with the first year interns. By late fall, they work independently at their school sites. Our SSWs provide weekly supervision for an hour and additional group supervision as needed, including discussion of case management.
To request social emotional support or mental health services, contact your school counselor:
You may also contact the school social worker assigned to your site:
And, as always, families may also contact the Coordinator of Student Support Services, who oversees mental health services for the district, by phone at (760) 726-2170 ext. 92184 or by email at MichelleWalsh@vistausd.org.
Magnet Schools Application Window is Open
The Magnet Schools application is currently open through February 19th at 4:30 p.m. To learn more about the five magnet school options or to apply, please visit our Magnet Schools webpage. All of these schools are holding virtual tours and information sessions through February. We encourage you to attend these events to learn more about each school. See their flyers here:
A virtual support session will take place on Thursday, February 4th from 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Jump in at any time for a single question or to get one-on-one support with the application. Log-in information is on our district calendar. We also encourage you to contact a school directly for quick responses and more information. Application support is available every day.
Let’s Work Together to Keep Everyone Safe
We all agree that we miss gathering in person and are ready to spend time together. We also want to keep doing our best to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible. We encourage everyone to continue following CDC, state, county, and local guidelines regarding the pandemic, especially when it comes to quarantining. When anyone in your household tests positive for COVID-19, please remember that everyone in the house needs to remain in strict quarantine to prevent the spread, even if symptoms are not showing. To receive vital resources such as food, medical and school supplies, or other necessary goods, we will continue to work with you to coordinate these through home deliveries without having anyone from your household having to leave the home. This is for the benefit of family, friends, neighbors, and a beautiful community of partners. For help through VUSD, please contact a Community Liaison or your child’s school.
We are also still hosting opportunities for parents and families. To find out about and participate in any of our parent engagement events across the district, make sure to periodically check our calendar of events on our district parent website. We are primarily virtual in our services but are still providing our usual series of workshops and office hours through Zoom. There are programs for health and nutrition, English literacy, technology, safety, parenting for all ages, culture and community, positive parenting, and so much more. For any family and community engagement questions or needs, please e-mail: FamilyEngagement@vistausd.org. We are dedicated to supporting our families.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Vista Unified School District