August 23, 2022
Great Start to the Year
All of our schools had a wonderful start to the school year last week. It was great to see excited students reconnecting with their friends and teachers. At the elementary level, students engaged in tours of the campus, explored their classrooms, and started to engage in reading, math, writing, and other subjects. At the middle and high school level, students and staff made a smooth transition to the new start and end times. We are noticing that the new start and end times may actually relieve some of the traffic congestion across the city and in parking lots. Secondary students were excited to be back on campus with their peers. Each campus had different activities planned to help students reconnect with their school and settle into the learning environment. It is important to note that many of the secondary schools are already into their season in fall sports, band, and other extracurricular activities. In fact, many of our teams have already engaged in competition with other schools. Thank you to every teacher, staff member, and administrator for their tremendous effort and hard work to make the first few days of the school year exciting and inviting for all students. Vista Unified is set to have a fantastic school year!
Framework for the Future
Today, our focus is on the Learner Portrait. This new portrait focuses on students as learners. Originally, this was called the graduate portrait; however, much feedback from students and teachers led us to shift the title to Learner Portrait because the skills and dispositions highlighted should focus on all learners from every grade level.
The Learner Portrait envisions the outcomes for students. It describes the community’s aspirations for what learners will know, be, and be able to do, in order to thrive in their lives and careers.
Kind and Confident
Students are positive, patient, appreciative, reliable, and responsible.
Students are resilient, self-directed learners who are self-aware and focused on a hopeful future.
Curious and Connected
Students are inquisitive, innovative, and able to adapt to new ideas, and situations.
Students are committed to positively impacting their family, their community, and the world.
Capable and Knowledgeable
Students develop and apply deep core academic knowledge and skills and can make connections across subjects.
Students know how to purposefully adapt communication to deliver information.
Measure LL Facility Bond Update
Our Measure LL Facility Bond projects have been very successful. We have completed seven projects so far and have eight more in construction, set to be completed within the next year. As a result of our current success, we have already impacted more than one-third of our school facilities with improvements. The success of these new construction and renovation projects has caused us to expand our thinking about what is possible for all Vista Unified schools in the future. In an effort to keep our community informed and engaged, we have created a long range facility master planning process that will culminate with a high quality, detailed report on the current condition of each school facility in the district and recommendations for improvements made by industry professionals including architects, contractors, and inspectors. To this end, we are sending out a simple informational card that announces two formats for community members to share their ideas. You can either use the QR code to share your ideas about facility improvements using a simple digital survey or attend one of the community forums. Either way, we value your feedback and ideas and look forward to seeing you soon at one of our events. Click HERE for more information.
Our schools are at their best when we partner with our families. Once again, we are happy to welcome back classroom volunteers. Students grow, both academically and socially, when caring adults invest in their lives. As in the past, school volunteers will receive a copy of the new Vista Unified Volunteer Handbook and complete a volunteer application. Please contact your school office for more information on how you can volunteer and positively impact the life of a child.
COVID-19 Cases Continue to Decline
As we continue to monitor COVID-19 within the community, we have seen a reported decrease in COVID-19 cases from a level of High to Medium on the COVIDActNow webpage. This is great news on many fronts. As a result of this decline, we feel confident in allowing teachers to begin closing classroom doors and windows. This will especially help classrooms stay cooler during the hot months ahead and not put an extra strain on our cooling systems. Also, with the installation of MERV 13 filters across our campuses, classroom air will circulate and filter with more efficiency.
We are happy to announce that an additional community COVID-19 testing clinic has opened at Vista High School. To best access the VHS testing site, park in the main lot and follow the signs to Room D-1. The testing site at Vista Adult Transition Center (VATC) has closed.
Additionally, we will be sunsetting the requirement for schools to report their weekly COVID-19 case totals in their weekly communication to families. The district COVID-19 Dashboard will continue to be maintained for those interested in site or district data and can be accessed on the district’s Health and Safety webpage.
Newest Update to the COVID-19 Decision Tree
On August 18th, a new COVID-19 Decision Trees for K-12 Schools was released and reflects great progress towards pre-pandemic normalcy. The changes provide clarity to which elements of the decision tree remain requirements for students and staff and which are now considered best practices, or recommendations. The following revisions will be implemented at our schools in the coming week.
For symptomatic students and adults, only one COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) is now required. With a negative result, a student may return to school with improved symptoms, including 24 hours without fever and no fever-reducing medicine.
Symptomatic students are not required to provide evidence of the negative test result to the school. Only positive results are required to be reported.
“Share the air” letters for students exposed to someone who is COVID positive is now a recommendation, not a requirement.
For a COVID-19 positive student or adult, evidence of a negative test result is still required to exit quarantine on Days 6-10.
Weekly COVID-19 Testing Available to Students
Once again, weekly COVID-19 testing is available to students at their school site. Testing for COVID-19 is not a requirement for students but a service we are providing to help simplify the testing process for your family and bring peace of mind to those wanting that additional layer of assurance. Starting August 29th, Inspire Diagnostics will be visiting our schools every week to conduct a PCR test on students signed up for our weekly testing program.
If you are interested in having your student participate, please complete the form below and pre-register with Inspire Diagnostics (InspireDiagnostics.com/vista-unified-school-district/). Only students who are registered for this service will be tested. If you have already registered with Inspire Diagnostics at a district testing site, you do not need to register with them again. Parents must also complete the Vista Parent Permission online form at Parent Permission for Student COVID-19 Testing. All students participating during the 2022-2023 school year must have a new parent permission form on file.
988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
For the 2022-2023 school year, a change was made that requires information about suicide and crisis prevention be made availalbe to students in all middle and high schools. Education Code Section 215 requires public schools that serve secondary students to include the Crisis Text Line and the local suicide prevention hotline on the back of students’ ID cards. Here is a sample of the message:
If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally or having trouble coping,
or if you just want to talk, there is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or text HOME to 741741 for free, confidential support.
At the regular Board Meeting on August 11th, the Board of Trustees provided direction for the initial general education bus routes to be offered for the 2022-2023 school year. This plan was initiated in response to the national, state, and local shortages of licensed school bus drivers. There are three primary approaches that were used to address the nearly 40% shortage of bus drivers: providing limited shuttle bus services to Mission Vista High School and Madison, Rancho Minerva, and Roosevelt Middle Schools; providing a shuttle bus for Mission Meadows Elementary School and single full route lines to Breeze Hill and Grapevine Elementary Schools; and placing a pause on the services to Hannalei, Lake, Monte Vista, and THE Leadership Academy Elementary Schools. This disruption of services is expected to be temporary while we actively work to reinstate transportation as licensed school bus drivers are recruited and hired.
The initial three days of the modified transportation format has all current routes being highly utilized. However, the shortage of bus drivers and routes has also been met with an increased demand in transportation requests. For example, at one school site there have been nearly double the number of requests for transportation over previous years, and this has exceeded the shuttle bus capabilities. The Vista Unified School District Transportation department will continue to work on a series of options and solutions to this historic labor shortfall. If you know of anyone who is interested in becoming a bus driver, please encourage them to reach out to the Human Relations Department at (760) 726-2170, ext. 92200 or at email@example.com.
The Board of Trustees and Superintendent remain firmly committed to general education transportation services for our students.
Equity Highlight: Trauma-Informed Practices
One of the important impacts of the pandemic is increased student need for social-emotional learning and support. All teachers, counselors, and staff members throughout the district are focused on learning trauma-informed practices to support our students’ needs. There are practices that we can implement both at home and at schools so that all students may be successful academically and socially. This is the first of many highlights we will be including in our Community Updates to support parents as partners in education.
Dr. Becky Bailey discusses how uncertainty affects our brains in this video link: COVID-19 Stress.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides data and offers ways to support students at this link: Data at a Glance.
There are variations in reactions to traumas, based on age. This resource explains some of the differences with student ages: Age-related Reactions to a Traumatic Event.
Child Mind Institute provides a guide to support student who had a trauma: Helping Children Cope.
A Home Within offers free online parent training with supporting children with traumas Online Training for Parents.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Vista Unified School District