August 12, 2020
Esteemed Parents and Staff,
Our preparation for the first day of school on September 8, 2020 is picking up speed. We are in the middle of the Learning Model registration process, with 72.5% of students registered already. We have included an update on the status of the latest health order, including an overview of the elementary school waiver process. We have restarted our Vista Works for You video series to provide parents and community members specific details about the health and safety and instructional preparations for the start of the school year. Please find brief summaries of these important topics below.
Vista Works for You Video Series
We have restarted our video highlights of various aspects of the work behind the scenes in Vista Unified. While most folks were enjoying a much deserved summer break, we had a huge team of staff members working diligently to prepare for a successful start to the school year. We have prepared two topics that are of particular interest to parents. Please click on the brief 3-5 minute video below for details on the Health and Safety preparations we are making for students and staff. We will be sending the Instruction program video out next week.
School Reopening Process Clarification from the County
Last week, there was inaccurate information circulated in social media about the process for school reopening in the County of San Diego. In order for a school or entire school district to reopen, it would take a minimum of 17 days (see county wide reopening process from Dr. Wooten). To make the process more clear, we have outlined five steps that Vista Unified will be following to reopen all schools. It is important to note, however, that this process is for all schools and does not include the waiver process. We have added an additional update below on new developments in the waiver process.
- STEP 1: San Diego County needs to satisfy the State’s six requirements. Right now, the County metrics are good with the exception of case rate per 100,000 residents. That metric has to be below 100 infected persons per 100,000 residents. San Diego County case rate as of August 6, 2020 was 110.1 infected individuals per 100,000 residents. The metric has been generally trending downward over the past couple of weeks but has not satisfied the state’s requirement yet. Once the case rate metric falls below 100 per 100,000 residents, San Diego County can move on to STEP 2, assuming that the other five metrics are still meeting State requirements.
- STEP 2: San Diego County enters a THREE-DAY waiting period. The State continues to monitor all six metrics for three days. Assuming the six metrics all continue to meet State requirements, we will no longer be a “monitored” county, and San Diego County can move to STEP 3.
- STEP 3: San Diego County enters a FOURTEEN-DAY waiting period that is specific to schools and a resumption of in-person instruction. As long as all six metrics continue to meet State requirements for ALL fourteen days, San Diego County moves to STEP 4.
- STEP 4: We wait for a modified Health Order from Dr. Wooten as it pertains to schools and the resumption of in-person instruction. It is reasonable to expect that this would happen very quickly, likely on the fifteenth day following the fourteen-day waiting period. Once Dr. Wooten amends her order, San Diego County schools move to STEP 5.
- STEP 5: The Vista Unified School District Board of Education determines when in- person instruction for students may resume in Vista Unified. Students may return to school in-person at the Board’s direction. It is important to note that this reopening process may phase-in based on students' needs.
Transitional Kindergarten Through 6th Grade Elementary School Waiver
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently published the guidance for waivers: COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Elementary Education Waiver Process. The CDPH also published a revision to the school guidance document that will assist the county and school districts to comply with state requirements related to the waiver process. This new guidance is step one of a multi-step process for school districts to apply for a waiver. It is important to note that to be eligible for a waiver, districts need to consult with labor, parents, and community organizations prior to submission of the waiver. The actual application for a waiver was just published by the local health officer (LHO), Dr. Wilma Wooten in San Diego County. We will review the waiver application and the submission process with the school board on August 13, 2020. It takes 14 days for a waiver to be approved.
Learning Model Registration Update
We continue to receive student registration choices for the Classic and Vista Virtual. We have 13,998 students registered as of August 11, 2020, which is 72.5% of the student population. Of the students who registered, 7,495 have registered for Classic, and 6,503 have registered for Virtual. We have developed a registration chart to get a visual picture of the status. We have 5,307 students still pending registration. Our timeline for parent outreach will shift into the active contact phase. Parents who have not yet registered will receive a paper-based letter to remind them of the registration process. All principals will be sending out a message to parents who have not registered as a reminder. Family and Community Engagement liaisons and office staff will start reaching out individually to parents who have not yet registered on Monday, August 10, 2020. The registration process will end on Wednesday, August 12, 2020. Students who have not been registered will be defaulted to the Vista Virtual model, as per board direction. Schools will begin to build Vista Classic and Virtual classes and courses starting on August 13, 2020.
School Reopening Website Updates
We continue to provide updated information and resources on our School Reopening website. The main reopening page has details about recent board meetings, our planning work through the Superintendent’s Council for Innovative Learning, infographics and details about the two different learning models, and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that contains questions and answers for each of our five support areas (Health and Safety, Instruction, Social-Emotional, Nutrition, and Technology). There is also a button at the bottom of the page to allow our community to Contact Us with questions and feedback. To date, we have had almost 200 submissions that we answered, and we have adjusted our FAQ with additional answers and information. There are also links to 11 separate subpages, one for each of our Sprint Teams. These pages showcase all of our planning and guidance, with Sprint Team members, forum information from the spring, and links to resources. Each page also includes recommendations, initial design ideas, and, most importantly, links to separate documents that detail our Implementation Action Steps for each area. For Instruction, that includes scope and sequence, assessment information, and learning model details. For Health and Safety, that includes hand washing and cleaning and disinfection practices, protocols for school buses and arrival and departure on campus, classroom policies and procedures, training and education for staff and students, and special plans for individuals who become sick or exhibit symptoms. These Implementation Action Steps are regularly updated and added to as we continue our school reopening planning.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools