January 14, 2021
New Requirements From The State of California Impact Secondary School Reopening
As a result of Governor Newsom’s new Safe Schools for All Plan and the accompanying revisions to the California COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework & Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year, Vista Unified is required to postpone the return of middle and high school students to in-person learning until a plan is approved by the California Safe and Successful Schools Team that incorporates the new state requirements.
The Vista Unified team, including the Board President and Vice President, met with representatives from Governor Newsom’s Safe and Successful Schools Team on Monday, January 11, 2021 to review our school reopening plans for secondary schools. Dr. Naomi Bardach, the lead for the Safe and Successful Schools Team, informed the team that the new CDPH guidelines would include strict language regarding social distancing and the type of stable groups, with emphasis on secondary schools. Dr. Bardach communicated the expectation that middle and high schools cannot return to in-person learning until their team reviews a reopening plan that is aligned with the new CDPH requirements. Click HERE to read a letter Dr. Bardach sent to local health officers and superintendents outlining the changes made to safety guidelines.
This means that middle schools will not be able to return to Vista Classic, in-person instruction on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, nor will the high schools be able to return on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. The revised CDPH guidelines were published today and contain a number of new requirements that more clearly define social distancing and stable groups (formerly referred to as cohorts). The Vista Unified staff will review the revised guidelines and make preparations for the school board to discuss the impact of these requirements on the learning models for all grade levels and provide direction during the regularly scheduled board meeting on Thursday, January 21, 2021. One of the new requirements for schools that have already opened for in-person learning is to post on the website for each school a COVID-19 Safety Plan (CSP) by February 1, 2021. One aspect of the CSP is a COVID-19 School Guidance Checklist for each school to verify compliance with the new requirements for social distancing and stable groups.
Vista Classic In-Person Instruction at Elementary School will Continue Uninterrupted
The Vista Classic, in-person instruction at all elementary schools and alternative high schools will continue uninterrupted. It is possible that after the new guidelines have been reviewed, some adjustments to the learning model at elementary may be necessary; however, it is too early to make this determination at this time. All elementary schools will revise their school reopening plan to include the “schools guidance checklist” and post to their website by February 1, 2021. The school board will discuss the impact of the new CDPH guidelines and requirements during the meeting scheduled for January 21, 2021.
Supplemental Instruction Programs Will Continue Uninterrupted
All supplemental programs (now referred to as “cohorts” by the new CDPH guidelines) at all grade levels will continue uninterrupted. It is important to know that supplemental programs are designed to support small groups of students in a variety of areas of our educational program including ELD, core academic support and acceleration, athletics, social/emotional supports, special education, drama, music, tutoring, etc. Our district focus on equity has made possible many different supplemental programs for English learners, students with special needs, foster youth, homeless youth, and many other student groups who need specialized support as a result of this challenging learning environment. We will continue to expand supplemental programs for all grade spans in the coming weeks.
Health and Safety
San Diego County saw another significant increase in our COVID-19 case rates when the State released new weekly data this past Tuesday. 16.4% of people in the county who tested for COVID-19 showed a positive result. The unadjusted daily new case rate per 100,000 residents increased from 65.9 cases to 89.8 cases. The adjusted rate increased from 53.4 daily new cases per 100,000 to 69.7 daily new cases. It is imperative that all members of the community continue to follow guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health.
The first doses of COVID-19 vaccines began arriving in San Diego County approximately three weeks ago, and as of last Friday, over 58,000 doses had been administered to residents within our county. This number includes doses that have been administered to frontline healthcare staff within Vista Unified, such as members of our school nursing team. The vaccines represent a major step forward in the battle against this pandemic, and the county is urging all who are now eligible to receive the vaccine to make an appointment to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Just this week, the county announced that all members of the community who are age 65 or older are eligible to receive the vaccination now. If you, or someone you know, is currently in an eligible group, please encourage them to make an appointment. Currently, educators are not eligible to receive the vaccine. They are in the next group of eligible individuals, and we expect to see teachers and other school staff in line to receive the vaccine very soon.
The County of San Diego shared additional information on the vaccination rollout for educators in this week’s K-12 Education Sector telebriefing. View a video of the briefing here; access the presentation here.
We are continuing to roll out new technology for Vista Unified students and staff. However, with the increase in distance learning across the country, there is also an increase in the demand for and ordering of devices. This has meant that devices are being delivered in stages to the district. As we receive laptops, iPads, and Chromebooks, our Informational Technology staff is diligently working to process and prepare them for delivery to sites. Teacher devices are being distributed in an order that allows us to replace the oldest laptops first. Student devices are being rolled out as we receive them. We understand we have many devices that need to be updated, and we are excited that many have already been processed and many more will be distributed in the coming months to ensure our Vista Virtual students and staff are getting the appropriate support for teaching and learning. We have already distributed over 5,000 student devices and anticipate distributing 5,000 more student devices this month.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Vista Unified School District