October 28, 2020
The school board held a Special Board meeting last evening to discuss the status of the Vista Classic learning model implementation. This meeting was open to the public via live stream, with over 8,500 viewers. During this meeting, I made an official statement about our collective efforts. Our administrators, teachers, and staff have done an incredible job preparing and implementing in-person learning opportunities for more than 9,000 students across 28 schools in the district.
During the school board meeting, our board discussed two specific challenges we are facing as we move to reopen schools. The first is responding to symptoms, close contact tracing, COVID-19 positive cases, and implementing the 14-day quarantine protocol. The second challenge is the impact of the COVID-19 protocol on staffing classrooms. Please reference the COVID-19 Dashboard to follow the identification of positive cases. As Dr. Malone from the San Diego County Health and Human Services Department stated, “isolated community acquired individual cases are to be expected” during school reopening.
The school board was unanimous in their desire to keep the Vista Classic in-person option in place. They felt that it is essential to follow through on their commitment to offer in-person learning for parents and students who chose this model. In order to address the challenges of quarantining large groups of students and to mitigate the impact on staffing, the board took action in the following areas:
- The board took action to establish a threshold at all comprehensive middle and high schools: if two COVID-19 positive cases are identified at one individual school, this will initiate an immediate pivot for Vista Classic students and staff to Vista Virtual for 14 days at the impacted school.
- The board took action to establish a secondary threshold at all comprehensive middle and high schools: if one COVID-19 positive case is identified at three or more secondary schools concurrently, within the same 14-day period, this will initiate a pivot for Vista Classic students to Vista Virtual for 14 days at all of the impacted schools.
- Due to the identification of two COVID-19 positive cases, Mission Vista High School Classic students and staff will pivot to Vista Virtual starting on Thursday, October 29, 2020 with a return to Vista Classic scheduled for November 9, 2020.
This new threshold for secondary schools will ensure that we respond quickly to avert any possible spread of the virus when cases are discovered, we create a more seamless learning environment for students who are quarantined, and we mitigate any negative impacts on our staffing for in-person learning at other schools across the district. Another benefit of this new threshold is to actively engage each school community in working together to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We are all in this together, and we all have a responsibility to keep students safe at home, in the community, and at school. A detailed set of regulations governing the implementation of this board action will be developed and submitted to the board for approval on November 12, 2020.
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.
- Layer 1 - We have implemented a mandatory testing rotation for all teachers and staff who work on every school campus in the district. It is our goal to have employees tested every 45 days.
- Layer 2 - We have developed a partnership with the Vista Community Clinic to expand mobile testing at schools throughout the district. This testing is available to parents, students, teachers, and staff.
- Layer 3 - We have joined the Safer at School Early Alert pilot that the University of California at San Diego is leading countywide to design a system of non-invasive COVID-19 testing of wastewater and surface particles for signs of the virus. This study includes voluntary testing of students and staff weekly.
- Layer 4 - We are in the initial stages of partnering with the San Diego Health and Human Services Department to open a full-time testing center in Vista for any resident, students or staff member to use.
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. This is a plan, do, study, act cycle that is the hallmark of improvement science. In order to use this continuous improvement process, we all need to have the strength to try our plan, study the successes and challenges, make adjustments, and then retry the plan again. Thank you for your continued support as we work together to reopen our schools for students.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Vista Unified School District