October 30, 2020
Vista Unified has a dual obligation to our community during this challenging time. We are obligated to provide a safe and healthy environment for students and staff, while, at the same time, we are obligated to provide access to engaging, standards-based instruction on campus, in-person as much as possible. During the Vista Classic program implementation, Vista Unified is careful to keep all of our learning environments safe. Our COVID-19 identification and contact tracing protocol continues to work as designed to proactively seek out, identify any contacts or positive cases on our campuses, and isolate these cases immediately.
Since October 20, 2020, we have had fourteen total COVID-19 positive cases on school campuses - thirteen students and one staff member: three at the high school level, two at the continuation school level, two at the middle school level, and seven at the elementary school level. We have notified all parents, students, and staff members involved based on the COVID-19 identification and contact tracing protocol. The students and staff identified as positive did not come into close contact with every student; however, we are proceeding with an abundance of caution and considering each of these as close contacts. Based on the information available, all cases were contracted outside of the school environment.
We have just confirmed that three of the cases listed above are secondary schools currently serving students in-person. In keeping with the direction the School Board of Trustees provided on October 27, 2020, each of these schools, including all students and staff members, will pivot to virtual learning starting on November 2, 2020.
This new threshold that the school board set is intended to maintain a very careful and cautious approach to the health and safety of students and staff, mitigate possible staffing shortages that may arise because of the quarantine process, and ensure that student access to learning is not interrupted.
Vista High School, Madison Middle School, and Roosevelt Middle School will pivot from in-person operations and transition to the Vista Virtual environment beginning on November 2, 2020. Beginning that day, students will no longer report to campus and instead will access their courses online through Canvas and Zoom. The return date for all three schools is determined by the most recent confirmed positive case. All three schools are scheduled to return to in-person Vista Classic instruction on November 12, 2020.
Our greatest strength as a district over these past few months has been our ability to discuss our challenges in public, seek feedback from our community, and develop possible solutions to implement. We will continue our focus on maintaining a pathway for parents and students to access in-person learning through the Vista Classic model. This pivot to Vista Virtual should be viewed as a cautious and careful effort to ensure that we are responsive to the needs of our community. We all need to do our part to mitigate the spread of this virus. Most importantly, we need parents to be diligent in monitoring their students' health symptoms before sending them to school each day. This effort will keep our schools open for all students.
While the schools will pivot to Vista Virtual instruction, all staff members will continue to work on campus unless they received a letter to quarantine or have a telecommuting agreement in place.
Expanding COVID-19 Testing and Contact Tracing
Another proactive part of our health and safety mitigation measures is the expansion of COVID-19 testing in our schools and community. We have designed a four-layer approach to testing that is gaining momentum in our schools: 1. Staff testing, 2. Vista Community Clinic mobile testing for students and staff, 3. UCSD Research study of wastewater detection, 4. Regional testing center.
We are in the final stages of partnering with the San Diego Health and Human Services Department and the City of Vista to open a high volume COVID-19 testing center in Vista for all residents, students, and staff members. The center will be open seven days a week and provide up to 800 tests a day. The testing center will be located at the Linda Rhoades Recreation Center. We anticipate opening this center in mid-November. Our very own board members, Martha Alvarado and Cipriano Vargas, were instrumental in making this center possible. We also received support from City Council Member Corinna Contreras, Vista City Manager Patrick Johnson, and Assembly Member Tasha Boerner Horvath.
Vista Unified remains committed to working in collaboration with the community to find solutions and pathways for students to return to on-campus, in-person learning.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Vista Unified School District