October 12, 2020
School Reopening is October 20, 2020
Vista Unified is committed to working in close partnership with students and families to address the challenges of the school reopening planning for 2020-2021. With this guiding commitment, the Vista Unified School Board of Trustees approved a school reopening plan in July that gave students and families a choice of the learning model that best fits their need and level of comfort related to the current status of COVID-19 in San Diego County and our community.
We have established the Vista Virtual learning model for students and families who have chosen to have a fully virtual learning environment for the entire first semester. We have established the Vista Classic learning model for students and families who have chosen to return to in-person instruction on October 20, 2020. Interestingly, the distribution of choices between Vista Virtual and Classic is almost 50/50 - meaning that about half chose Virtual (9922 students) and half chose Classic (9546 students).
In preparation for the school reopening for Vista Classic on October 20th, our principals and staff have been working diligently to ensure that all school environments include various enhancements to accommodate a greater level of health and safety measures. These enhancements include student entrance and exit procedures, lunch and hallway procedures, face-covering procedures, hand washing procedures, and social distancing procedures. The principal of each school has worked with staff to develop a comprehensive COVID-19 Prevention Plan. This plan serves as a primary source document that provides over 15 pages of detail about every aspect of health and safety for students and staff. Every school has posted their plan to their webpage. If you have questions about the health and safety procedure for your student’s schools, I would encourage you to go to this source to get accurate information about our commitment to keeping students safe.
One important fact about our Vista Classic learning model is that this model is five days a week, full-time learning, not a hybrid. This means that all Vista Classic classrooms will have the same number of students as a normal school year. As we have pointed out in previous communications, this does create a situation where social distancing in the classroom environment will not be six feet apart. We have rearranged the classroom environments and removed furniture to maximize space between student desks; however, even with this adjustment, students will be sitting closer together than six feet. Click HERE to view a picture of the classrooms (one elementary and one high school) to demonstrate the arrangement of student desks. It is also important to note that we are one of only a few school districts in the county to offer a full-day in-person learning option. Most school districts are only offering a virtual learning option for middle and high school students. Our decision to hold fast to our commitment does involve some challenges, like social distancing in the classroom; however, we believe that the opportunity to get students back on campus, while practicing a host of health and safety procedures, is essential for many of our students and families. We are counting on everyone to work together to make the Vista Classic option work for students and for staff.
School Board Meeting and Community Engagement
In keeping with our commitment to transparency and community engagement, our school board will be holding the next board meeting live and in-person at Foothill Oak Elementary School on October 15, 2020. During this meeting, the board will revisit the school reopening plan, listen to the community, and discuss any adjustments they feel necessary in preparation for the official launch on October 20, 2020. Please visit the district webpage for details about the board meeting. We will also be broadcasting the meeting through live streaming.
A key commitment we made during the development process for our school reopening plan is to engage students and parents in providing periodic feedback about how our plans are working. Our team has worked hard to design and implement a Vista Virtual learning experience that is meaningful and high quality. With a complete month of Vista Virtual behind us, we are eager to gather your feedback. We want to continue to refine this new learning model.
Please click the survey link below to provide feedback by Monday, October 19th:
Health and Safety Update
The rate of the COVID-19 disease continues to be closely monitored by the state in each of the 58 counties. Specifically, the state is measuring the number of new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents and the percentage of COVID-19 tests that show a positive result for the disease.
On Tuesday, October 6th, San Diego County’s adjusted rate of daily new cases increased slightly to 6.5 cases per 100,000 residents. The testing positivity rate remained steady at 3.5%. Based upon these numbers, the County will remain in Tier 2 (the Red Tier) of the State’s four-tier system for at least another two weeks. It also means that indoor operations at restaurants and other establishments may continue and most importantly, that schools may continue to reopen to in-person instruction at any time over the next two weeks as long as we follow guidelines established in the county’s current Health Order and the California Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 INDUSTRY GUIDANCE: Schools and School-Based Programs. Based upon our county’s current status with the State, we will be permitted to begin the Vista Classic in-person program on Tuesday, October 20th and schools will open to Vista Classic students on that day.
Student Agreements for Health and Safety Protocols
As students return to campuses, we are committed to ensuring that schools remain safe and healthy places for learning. To achieve this goal, a collaborative effort is needed from students and staff alike. On October 20th, every student enrolled in Vista Classic will receive a copy of the newly developed Student Agreements in their morning class. Students will commit to do their part to keep our school community in good health by being responsible for their choices and actions. The student agreements are age-appropriate and designed as reminders of the role we all play in keeping our campuses as safe as possible. Please preview the agreements here:
Our students, staff, and parents are doing a tremendous job adapting to our new Learning Management System, Canvas. As our staff continues to build capacity in Canvas, we can bring in features that increase communication and feedback between teachers, students, and parents. This week, a feature was activated for middle and high schools that allow teachers to sync grades between Canvas and Aeries (Parent Portal). Parents may monitor their student’s progress through Canvas and Parent Portal. For more information about specific grade information, please reach out to your student’s teacher. In addition, our VIP page has many resources and videos to guide parents through Canvas and Virtual School. Check out these two videos for support with accessing student grades for middle and high school:
The district has worked proactively to upgrade our technology for both our students and staff. Through our Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan, we were able to set aside substantial funds to support teaching and learning with new devices. We are purchasing $5,000,000 of new devices for students, and principals were able to select which devices would best meet the needs of their sites. Most selected Chromebooks. However, some elementary schools added iPads to their inventories, and some secondary schools were able to order new laptops or MacBooks for their specialized programs. In addition, we are ordering $2,000,000 of new devices to provide updated laptops for classroom teachers, counselors, assistant principals, principals, and other staff who work directly with students. We know that these new devices are essential to support our students and staff as they navigate this new learning environment.
I am very proud of our collective focus on getting students back to school. I know that this journey over the past few months has been difficult, but our work as a community is making a real difference in the lives of 19,468 students and families. Please stay safe.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Vista Unified School District