April 13, 2021
Stars of Excellence and Innovation
Have you noticed someone going above and beyond at your school site? Wouldn’t you love to recognize them and show them how much you appreciate their efforts? Well, this month we are kicking off our new staff recognition award program for Vista Unified, STARS of Excellence & Innovation. This recognition is for all VUSD employees. Principals will start this program by recognizing someone from their school in April. After this first round of recognitions, all VUSD staff members will be able to recognize someone by completing a Google Form. This award will be given at the end of every month and will include a memento of appreciation, a picture on the VUSD website, and recognition in the Community Update. Additionally, we hope to plan for a seasonal VUSD Gala event when we are able to gather in person. We are looking forward to recognizing all of our amazing VUSD STARS!
STEM Climate Action - Earth Day
Our STEM Collaborative and teacher work groups have been working diligently to move STEM education forward in Vista. Teachers are collaborating on many projects in the areas of Next Generation Science Standards, Computer Science, and Climate Science. We invite you to celebrate Earth Day as a community on April 22nd. We encourage all teachers to engage students in a climate activity or lesson! Take a picture or video, and share it on social media with #VistaEarthDay. Let’s capitalize on our collective efforts to improve our climate and take action in our own community!
Summer School Opportunities
Final plans are being made for the district summer school being offered at five elementary sites (Monte Vista, Bobier, Breeze Hill, Alamosa, and Vista Academy). Students will be invited to attend at one of the host sites with applications being sent to students at the end of April. Summer school will run from June 21st to July 9th from 8:00-11:30 and will include language arts and math instruction. Additionally, STEM activities for all students as well as some sports offerings will be included in the program. The summer school program will focus on students who have experienced significant learning loss. More information will be provided in the coming weeks as we select staff and invite students to attend.
Middle schools are finalizing plans for bridge and enrichment programs at each school site. Some students will be invited to participate in bridge programs, which will provide targeted learning opportunities to prepare students academically for the upcoming school year. Each middle school will also offer enrichment opportunities in a variety of disciplines. Students and families will receive additional information about the specific programs offered at their schools in the coming weeks.
At the high school level, sites are planning a multi-tiered system of summer school programs. Some of our incoming 9th graders will be invited to participate in a bridge program at the school they will attend in the fall. Each high school will offer a variety of enrichment opportunities for their students, and all students will have the option of remediating failing grades for both the fall and spring semesters at a centralized district summer school program. In addition, we are maintaining our program for our current seniors who need to finish a few more credits in order to graduate in July. Students and families will receive additional information about the programs and enrollment in the coming weeks.
Extended School Year (ESY)
ESY is scheduled for June 28 - July 23, 2021 for all students who qualify through their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). We currently have 186 students in kindergarten through eighth grade who are enrolled in ESY at T.H.E. Leadership Academy from June 28th - July 23, 2021. Of these students, 144 will be Classic, and 42 will be virtual. We also have 114 students in grades ninth through adult education enrolled at the Vista Adult Transition Center (VATC), and 75 preschool students enrolled at California Avenue during the same time period. We are excited to continue to offer a choice to our families, and we are looking forward to a robust ESY session.
Initial Planning for the 2021-2022 School Year
Principals and district staff are gearing up for a great start to the 2021-2022 school year in the fall. They are currently working on student enrollment, staffing projections, initial master schedule design, and student course selection for secondary schools. While Governor Newsom just recently announced that he anticipates to fully open California by June 15th, there is much discussion in Sacramento and locally about continuing to provide school districts with the flexibility to continue to offer a virtual learning option for the fall. If the state government allows for this level of flexibility, Vista Unified may provide a second year of Vista Virtual school. It is important to note, however, that this program offering will likely be limited in scope based on the level of interest from parents and students. We anticipate sending a preliminary survey to parents to gauge interest towards the end of May. We will be proceeding cautiously with the development of a Vista Virtual program offering in the fall because our ability to offer this option depends on the state authorizing a second year of flexibility. More to come on this topic soon.
Athletics Are Going Strong
Athletes from VHS, RBV, and MVHS are actively competing in 26 different sports. The long-standing tradition of excellence in athletics in Vista Unified is strong. While the athletic seasons are condensed, our student athletes are demonstrating impressive skills and abilities on the field, on the court, and on the track. VUSD athletes and spectators follow strict guidelines to ensure safety at all events. This includes all participating students testing weekly to ensure the safest possible conditions for our athletes. We are proud of our student athletes.
End of Year Activities
We are excited about the possibility of offering some in-person end of year activities for students at all of our school sites. With the change to the Orange Tier in our county, schools will be working together with district leadership to offer opportunities for students while still complying with the appropriate health and safety guidelines. More information will be coming from your sites in the weeks ahead.
Annual Climate Survey
Every year, we send out a Climate Survey to students, parents, teachers, and staff members to gather feedback on progress as a school district in implementing our Mission, Vision, and Values. We also include in this survey questions about general aspects of the instructional program, our progress on implementing core instructional standards, and student belonging and wellbeing. This year, we have even included some questions about virtual learning. The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) research team, under the direction of Dr. Alan Daly, leads this annual process in an effort to keep the data collection neutral, objective, and confidential. We will be sending out the survey to the various groups during the month of May. The feedback we receive from this survey serves to guide the design of our district Blueprint and LCAP and influences the budget development process. One example of the power of this survey is the Family and Community Engagement Network of community liaisons, which was created as a result of student, parent, and staff feedback in the annual climate survey. It is important to note that we will be sending the student and parent surveys to those students in grades 5, 8, and 11. The survey links will be sent directly to students, parents, and staff through their email.
New Flexibility on Annual State Assessments
Last week, the US Department of Education approved California’s waiver to allow districts to use an appropriate substitute assessment platform instead of the CAASPP should the district choose to do so. Educational Excellence and Innovation has met with the site principals to make the best decision for our students regarding the assessment platform we will use to assess our third through eighth and eleventh graders this year. Elementary and middle school students will be taking the Fastbridge assessments in English and Language Arts in lieu of the CAASPP. High school juniors will be taking the CAASPP, which will allow them the opportunity to qualify for exemption from the CSU placement tests through the EAP program. In addition, seniors will be taking the California Science Test or CAST. We will be using the California Alternate Assessment for students with moderate to severe disabilities. For each assessment platform, scores will be provided to students and parents/guardians.
Feedback on the LCAP and State and Federal COVID Funding
Thank you to the teachers, students, parents, staff, administrators, and community members who completed the surveys, attended a forum, or participated in a feedback session with a district committee. The information and recommendations inform our work as we create the LCAP for the 2021-2022 school year and identify priorities for the state and federal COVID funding. The collection of feedback can be found on our Blueprint Community Forums website. We will be using this feedback to develop the actions and services that support student learning.
Health and Safety
San Diego County is officially in the Orange Tier. Weekly COVID numbers reported a slight uptick this week with an adjusted case rate of 6.0 from last week’s 5.8 and a percent positivity of 2.5%, up from 2.3%. The six zip codes of Vista and Oceanside report an adjusted case rate of 4.3 and a percent positivity of 2.8%. As more stores and restaurants begin to reopen, Vista Unified will continue to implement and monitor the many different mitigation measures on all school campuses and departments to keep our students and staff safe while at school.
COVID Decision Tree
As Classic secondary students return to full time, in-person learning, the district nursing team wants to remind all families of the COVID-19 Decision Tree. This flowchart serves as a roadmap for every school district in the San Diego area when making decisions related to COVID-19. (COVID-19 Decision Tree in Spanish)
VUSD is ONLY able to accept PCR tests. Rapid tests and/or Antigen tests are not accepted as a form of negative results.
Any staff or student who has tested COVID-19 positive or has become fully immunized in the past 90 days will still need to follow the decision tree if they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
If your student becomes a close contact to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or if your student tests positive, it is important that you notify your school office as soon as possible so we may begin contact tracing in a timely manner.
If a student or staff member has been identified as a close contact while on a school campus, quarantine guidelines remain the same and are outlined on page two of the Decision Tree. All students will follow the 14 day isolation. The exception is if someone is fully vaccinated or has had COVID-19 in the past 90 days. Your district nurse will provide final guidance on a case by case basis.
Over 4 million Californians have been vaccinated since the vaccinations started being offered. Starting April 15th, anyone 16 years or older becomes eligible. The Pfizer shot is reporting 100% efficacy in adolescents. Those eligible for the vaccine can register at myturn.ca.gov or Project SAVE (Scheduling Assistance for Vaccine Equity). With a focus on equitable distribution, the county’s Project SAVE is targeting local communities with the highest COVID-19 case rates. Appointments are required for both services.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Vista Unified School District