September 1, 2020
Esteemed Parents and Staff,
The start of the school year is fast approaching on September 8, 2020. We have a variety of topics to cover in this update from health and safety to student nutrition.
Teacher and Staff Get Set for School
We have over 1,200 teachers and 1,500 support staff participating in a week-long series of professional development, collaboration, and planning for a successful launch of the school year. These daily sessions are customized to the specific job duties of our teachers and support staff. Some of the topics of these professional development and collaboration opportunities include health and safety, Canvas (our new learning management system), English language arts, special education, diagnostic assessments, social/emotional support, grade, and course level essential standards, mitigating learning loss, and health care in a COVID-19 world. By this Friday, every teacher will have participated in over 35 hours of professional development, collaboration, and planning in preparation for the students’ first day of school on September 8, 2020.
Health and Safety
On Friday, Governor Newsom unveiled the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, a statewide, stringent, and slow plan for living with COVID-19 for the long haul. Under the new system, each of California’s 58 counties will fall into one of four colored tiers based upon the rate of recent cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents in the County and the percentage of COVID-19 tests administered to residents that show a positive result.
The four tiers are:
Based upon data released on Friday, San Diego County was placed in the Red (Substantial) tier. As a result of this placement, the guidelines that were applied to schools and school-related activities under the old system, Resilience Roadmap, will remain “as is” for all the schools and school districts in our county.
This new plan announced by the Governor emphasizes that no matter what restrictions the state puts in place, COVID-19 will get the upper hand if Californians don’t adapt their behaviors for the duration of the pandemic. In order for San Diego County to move from the Red (Substantial) tier to the Orange (Moderate) tier and avoid slipping into the Purple (Widespread) tier, it’s vital that all residents continue to follow public health mandates and recommendations.
For more information about California’s new county monitoring system, visit the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy website at https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.
School Reopening Registration
We have completed the registration process for all schools in the district. The distribution of students who chose Classic or Virtual is almost equal (9696 chose Classic, and 9047 chose Virtual). The registration report provides a breakdown of the learning models by school. We are now finalizing the classroom and course assignments. During this process, students will be assigned to their teachers for the semester. All parents and students will be receiving a notification from their school of their classroom and course schedule. As we approach the transition to in-person learning for those who chose Vista Classic, we will be providing periodic updates on the safety steps we are taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
School Reopening Facility Preparation for Health and Safety Update
Our district team has distributed a supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to every school. This PPE includes multiple face masks for students and staff, face shields for staff who request them, face shields and clear face masks for primary students, touchless thermometers, N95 masks for nurses and other health care staff, gloves for staff upon request, soap and paper towels for all bathrooms and classrooms, hand sanitizer for all classrooms without sinks, and classroom sanitizing machines for all schools. Custodial staff are completing the annual deep cleaning of every classroom and office including cleaning all furniture, rugs, windows, blinds, and cabinetry.
The facilities maintenance team has gathered additional information about the health and safety status of each school facility. This information is intended to fully inform the students and parents who chose Vista Classic, with a return to school date scheduled for October 20, 2020. Specifically, all students who return to the Classic model should be reminded that six feet of social distancing will be encouraged but cannot be guaranteed on campuses. While we will have many protocols and precautions in place, including mask wearing for all students and staff, we cannot guarantee that students and staff will be six feet apart at all times while on campus. In fact, fourth and fifth-grade classrooms at the elementary level may have up to 34 students, and middle and high school may have up to the normal capacity. While we will have protocols in place for passing periods and lunch, it is possible that students may not observe social distancing rules. We are in the process of replacing the HVAC air filters for each classroom according to a replacement schedule. We are also investigating the operational specifications of every HVAC unit in the district to ensure that we have the maximum air filtration efficiency as some classrooms do not have windows that open. If you have selected the Vista Classic learning model and would like to change your selection to the Vista Virtual learning model as a result of this update, please contact your school and request a change in the learning model. We will make the necessary accommodations to ensure that you are in the program that best meets your needs.
Supplemental Support Program
San Diego County has been removed from the state watchlist as a result of the diminishing case and test positivity rates. The San Diego County Health and Human Services canceled the waiver process now that the county is no longer on the state watchlist. The Vista Unified School Board of Trustees met on Thursday, August 27, 2020, to discuss the status of school reopening and potential options to bring small groups of students on campus for supplemental support between September 8th and October 20th. The board approved the creation of small-group supplemental support sessions (8-14 students) for between one and three hours a few times a week for the following student subgroups: students with moderate to severe disabilities, English learners, foster and homeless youth, social/emotional counseling, and first-grade students. These small group sessions are intended to complement the core instructional program and will occur after reading, math, and other core instruction. The board approved the Dual Language Instruction program at Grapevine and Alamosa Park Elementary schools to begin whole class instruction for the entire school day, five days a week. The board also directed staff to investigate the possibility of creating supplemental support opportunities for middle and high school, with an emphasis on courses that have laboratory activities. These supplemental opportunities will be voluntary for students who chose the Vista Classic instructional model. Each school will implement supplemental programs based on the need of their school. This means that some schools may offer some of the supplemental programs listed above but not all. Students who may qualify for one or more of these supplemental programs will be contacted in the coming weeks. Some supplemental programs may start as early as September 8, 2020, while others will start later in September.
Computer Device Distribution
All schools in Vista Unified will be distributing technology devices and instructional materials to students. Many of our middle and high schools have already started distributing devices and materials as part of their annual registration process.
Our elementary schools will be distributing devices, textbooks, and supplies on the first day of school, September 8th. The first day for elementary students will focus on picking up materials, setting up your home-work station, and logging in for the first time. Your child’s school will provide detailed directions for device distribution, including procedures and pick-up times.
On Tuesday, September 8th, Child Nutrition Services will have a modified serving site schedule. Starting on Wednesday, September 9th, breakfast and lunch meal kits will be offered twice weekly at these locations and times. To make pick-up as seamless as possible, students, parents, or guardians can pick up meals for students at any open site. If a parent or guardian is picking up for their child, please have the name of their student(s) and the site that they are attending. If attending an alternate meal pick-up time or location, please have the attached form ready or complete it upon arrival. This will help expedite the process. Thank you for your help, and we look forward to serving you this school year.
Thank you again for your continued support and understanding as we work as a unified team to prepare for a successful launch of the 2020-21 school year. Please stay safe.
Matt Doyle, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools