February 23, 2021
Governing Board Joint Statement Promoting Civil Discourse and Following Our District Values
The Vista Unified School Board of Trustees and the Superintendent would like to jointly underscore the importance of promoting civil discourse and mutual respect during school board meetings and all official district functions.
Our use of technology to provide access to virtual school board meetings has resulted in a huge increase in the number of community members watching and participating in these public forums, which we welcome. Many of these meetings have included very difficult topics that lead to differences of opinion and perspective. While all members of the public have the opportunity, and right, to address the school board, the Vista Unified Board of Education continues to take an unwavering stand against hate speech and racism in all forms. We understand and welcome differences of opinions, but we should always move forward in a respectful manner. Our district and the community we serve has no room for racist, sexist, xenophobic, or hateful comments; our students, staff, and families deserve better.
As adults, every member of our community sets the example for our students to follow. Our students are watching us, and they remind us that we must be the change we wish to see in the world. How we use language really matters. While public speakers are able to express their own opinions, including those critical of our decisions, it is important for every member of the public to respect and embrace our district Mission and Values.
Disagreements will always exist, and the beauty of our democracy is that we are provided public platforms to express our views. These views are protected by the Constitution of the United States. While members of the public are free to express their opinions, we will condemn any and all hateful speech, racial attacks or slurs against board members, students, staff, and members of our community. To that end, the Vista Unified Board of Education in July 2020 developed and adopted a resolution to Reaffirm our Commitment to Fight Racism. We invite the community to learn more about our commitment and join us at our upcoming events being led by our Superintendent's Council for Equity and Anti-Racism. We have a public forum scheduled on April 29, 2021 to gather feedback from the community on our collective efforts for equity and anti racism.
Together, we rise above words and ideas rooted in ignorance and hate, and we move forward with a framework that promotes civil discourse and mutual respect so that our learning environments keep the focus on positive outcomes for all students.
High School Vista Classic Return to In-Person Learning Set for March 8th
The School Board met on Thursday, February 18th to review options for returning high school students who chose Vista Classic to in-person learning. During the meeting, four possible options were presented based on recommendations from the Superintendent’s Council for Innovative Learning and alignment to the most recent revision to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) requirements for social distancing. The board voted unanimously to return all Vista Classic secondary students (middle and high) on March 8, 2021 to in-person learning 5 days a week if the district is in the Orange Tier and the state approves the exemption (called CDPH Safe Schools for All Specific Safety Review). If the exemption is not approved or if Vista Unified is not yet in the Orange Tier, all comprehensive high schools will open on March 8, 2021 with the same stable group model as middle schools, which calls for one day per week in-person instruction, three days per week synchronous virtual live learning with the teacher, and one day per week asynchronous learning (without the teacher). Middle schools will open on March 1st using this model, as planned.
Each secondary school is in the process of organizing the grouping, schedule, and communication plan for students and parents. Our administrative team is working with teachers and staff to address appropriate impacts and effects so that our staff is supported as we implement this new structure. Each school will be shifting to one asynchronous day - February 26th for middle school and March 5th for high school - to prepare for the transition back to in-person learning. The board directed the district administration to collaborate with the Vista Teachers Association in an effort to bring simultaneous teaching opportunities to secondary students in Vista Unified. Please note that in the event of inclement weather (defined as 30% chance of rain 48 hours before the day) all middle and high schools will pivot to virtual synchronous learning for that day or days depending on the forecast. This is a health and safety measure outlined in the Guidelines for Quarantines and Instructional Pivots approved during the December 15, 2020 board meeting.
Health and Safety
Our Health and Safety team has partnered with middle and high school principals to prepare for the return of Vista Classic students the week of March 1st for middle and March 8th for high. Safety procedures and routines have been revisited to ensure social distancing when students are on campus, and the removal of nonessential furniture from classrooms has helped increase the distance between student desks. Anyone coming onto a Vista Unified school site or district property is required to wear a mask as universal and correct mask wearing is one of the best mitigation measures in the fight against COVID-19.
The rate of COVID-19 virus spread within San Diego County and the Vista community continues to decline. The average daily cases have dropped significantly for five weeks in a row. Just last week, the overall county percent positive fell into the red tier for the first time in months. Based on county sources, we anticipate the case rates to continue to decline over the next few weeks. As we pointed out during the board meeting last week, there is some concern among health professionals about the possibility of the COVID-19 variant (B.1.1.7) leading to an increase in cases in March. We will monitor this situation and provide frequent updates in the coming weeks.
Vista Works for You Video - Measure LL Facility Bond Progress Update
We continue to make great progress on the various bond projects across the district. The Bond Team has just started another set of seven projects using Phase 1 Measure LL Facility Bond funding. Check out the new video update below.
Student Athletics Update
At the end of last week, the CDPH released new guidance related to youth sports, which takes effect this Friday, February 26th.
Our CIF Section Commissioner, Joe Heintz, has prepared a brief memo that summarizes the impact this new guidance will have on CIF athletics in our section. Key points include:
- Some sports (including football and soccer) will now be allowed to participate in competition when our adjusted case rate falls below 14.0 daily new cases per 100,000 residents despite the fact that this is still in the purple tier
- Informed consent forms will be required to be signed by parents whose children participate in athletics.
- Students recovering from COVID-19 will have different paths to return to sports based on the severity of their illness.
Nursing Staff Update
As we head into the second half of the school year and secondary students begin to return to in person learning, the district nursing team wanted to send out some reminders and updates to the COVID-19 symptom Decision Tree. The Decision Tree was formulated by a group of experts at the San Diego County Office of Education and the Health and Human Services Agency and serves as a roadmap for every school district in the San Diego County area.
The Decision Tree is an ever changing document, and as new situations arise, new guidelines are created or modified. The most recent change includes:
- A student now is able to return to school 24 hours after symptoms resolve or greatly improve,
- A Negative Covid-19 PCR test has been obtained, and
- A copy of the PCR Test proof is sent to the school.
This has changed from the previous “72 hour guidance.”
As a result of this new guidance, we have seen a large uptick in the amount of “COVID-19 rapid tests'' being submitted to our school sites. Due to the high false negative rate, San Diego County guidelines have deemed a Negative Rapid Test or an Antigen Test as not acceptable for a student to return to school. “Please ensure when you are getting your student COVID tested that it is a PCR test, as those are the only tests our District may accept”. The Linda Rhoades Recreation Center is open to all members of the public to get a PCR test for free Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Counties to Allocate Vaccine Doses for School Employees
Governor Newsom announced last week that, beginning on March 1st, each county will set aside 10% of its vaccine doses for school employees and child care workers. According to the announcement, within the county, the priority will be school staff currently working in person, then staff that will be in person in the near future. The governor’s office is expecting to release more details this week. We will share additional information as it becomes available.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Vista Unified School District