Community Update

May 18, 2021

Shining STARS across the District

STARS are Selfless, Talented, and Reliable Staff members who go above and beyond their typical duties and deserve to be recognized! We kicked off this new district-wide recognition program in the month of April, and the staff members pictured above were selected as STARS of Excellence and Innovation. Congratulations to all of these phenomenal STARS! Follow us on social media @vusdstars.

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Top left to right: Maricela Rivas Herrera, Jorge Garcia, Paloma Orozco, Gerardo Sandoval, Hilda Majewski, Alfonso Arredondo, Laura Blackwell, Kristen Perry, Thomas Geu, Michelle Gutierrez, Mac Greenlee, David Henry, Christina Sandvold, Jennifer Waite, Miles Cook, Kevin Emory, Beth Hayashi, Ellen Crews, Ariana Zepeda, and Michelle Snyder.

Vista Unified is Strong and Getting Stronger

There is much excitement around the district as teachers, staff, parents, and students prepare for graduation, promotion, and award ceremonies. Our school leaders are working hard to make sure that these celebrations are meaningful, engaging, and fun. While this has been a challenging year, Vista Unified has demonstrated strength and perseverance by being the first district in the county to offer parents a choice in their learning model during the pandemic. Our collective efforts over the past year have not only addressed the complexities of a pandemic, but we have also closed our budget deficit completely and positioned our district on a strong financial foundation. In fact, we just recently received a positive certification from the San Diego County Office of Education for our budget projection for the next three years. This progress is due, in large part, to the leadership of our five School Board Trustees: Mr. Vargas, Mrs. Morton, Ms. Alvarado, Mrs. Smithfield, and Mrs. Kelly.

Another area of strength is our continued commitment to putting students at the center of our decisions as an organization. Keeping students safe, connected, and engaged is, and will continue to be, our focus. To this end, we have recently reorganized the administrative leadership structure in the Department of Educational Excellence and Innovation. This reorganization process shifted existing administrative positions towards new roles that are more aligned to the needs of our students, families, and community. During the reorganization, we did create one additional administrative position, the Director of Multilingual Programs, so that we are better positioned to expand dual language programs across the school district and better address the needs of English learners.

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One particular area of emphasis for our new administrative team right now is to strengthen our response to the mental health needs of our students and staff. We are working with a number of organizations to expand professional development for our staff. We are expanding services for families so that they can access mental health services more easily. And, we have launched a set of student equity forums to listen with empathy and respect to what students need to recover from this traumatic pandemic experience.

The vaccination effort nationally and locally has really made a difference in our community with infection rates at the lowest point in more than eight months. Thanks to the efforts of Board Members Vargas and Alvarado, along with Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath and the Vista City Council, we have our very own vaccination center in the heart of our city, with satellite centers opening up on campuses on weekends across the city. The CDC just announced the ability for children ages 12 and above to be eligible for the vaccinations. The CDC anticipates having vaccination access for our youngest students soon.

Finally, Governor Newsom just released his May revision to the state budget last week. The outlook for public education is very strong. He is calling his proposal a Plan to Transform Public Schools into Gateways of Opportunity. If the Governor’s budget is approved by the legislature in June, we will be looking at the largest infusion of financial support for schools in more than a decade. We are very well-positioned to take advantage of this positive news with the reorganization of our leadership team in the Educational Excellence and Innovation Department. We are already working on plans to expand services and support for our students and ensure that our teachers and staff are recognized and compensated for their incredible dedication and contributions during this extremely difficult time. The Schoolboard is committed to our students and a long term vision to meet the needs of our community. Please join us at our upcoming board meetings on June 17th and 24th to preview the latest information on the draft Blueprint and Local Control Accountability Plan and share your feedback.

Special Board Meeting

June 17th, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Click here to be directed to the LiveStream link.

Regular Board Meeting

June 24th, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. Click here to be directed to the LiveStream link.

Vista Unified is strong and getting stronger every month. Thank you for your continued support and belief in our collective capacity to make learning special and successful for all students in our great district. We are all in this together.

Instructional Program for the 2021-22 School Year

As a result of the direction given from the Governor's May revise last Friday and the status of the legislature related to distance learning, Vista Unified will not have the flexibility to offer the current Vista Virtual learning model for the 2021-22 school year. Specifically, the Governor reiterated that the statutory authorization for distance learning ends on June 30, 2021. As a result of this announcement, it is anticipated that all Vista Unified schools will return to fully in-person learning in the fall, starting on August 18, 2021. There is pending discussion in the legislature about making some revisions to the independent study regulations to promote greater access to technology, re-engagement strategies for students with low participation, and tracking of daily student participation with teachers. We are monitoring this closely and intend to revise our independent study program accordingly. We expect to publish details about the revised independent study option for TK-12 this summer for families that would like to continue having their student enrolled in a distance learning environment.

Get Vista Vaccinated

We are excited to partner with the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency in expanding vaccination clinics in our Vista community. Click HERE to check out our video. In addition to the Linda Rhoades vaccination center, families and community members can get the COVID-19 vaccination at three upcoming mobile events hosted by Vista Unified. Clinics will have both pre-scheduled and drop in appointments available. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. We hope you are able to join us at one of the following locations listed below. Clinic hours are 9:30am-3:30pm.

  • Vista Innovation Center (VIC) on Saturday, May 22
  • Foothill Oak Elementary School on Sunday, May 23

  • Ranch Buena Vista High School on Saturday, June 5

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Vaccine Clinics During School Hours for VUSD High Schools

The CDC has recently expanded access to receive the COVID vaccination to children 12 years of age or older. In an effort to reassure anxious families, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a statement recommending COVID-19 vaccinations for children 12 years and older, saying, "vaccines are safe and effective in protecting individuals and populations against infectious diseases" and "new vaccines are evaluated by a long-standing, rigorous, and transparent process." Vista Unified is working in collaboration with the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency to bring vaccination clinics to our three comprehensive high schools during the school day. Champions for Health, a non-profit organization in San Diego, is scheduled to provide 500 vaccinations to Vista High School. Principal Jaffe and his team will collaborate with Champions for Heath to host the event. We are working to secure future dates for Mission Vista High School and Rancho Buena Vista. As a district, we are aware that the topic of vaccinations may be sensitive for some families and community members. Please know that student COVID-19 vaccinations are optional and are not a requirement to attend school. Parent permission is required for a student to get vaccinated. Please contact your school for more information about this opportunity.

Mask Wearing Protocol

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new changes to mask wearing requirements. According to the CDC, masks and social distancing are no longer necessary for people fully vaccinated against COVID-19. While we applaud this testament to vaccinations and our health and safety efforts, these new guidelines will not apply to our schools until they are included in updated guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the County of San Diego Health and Human Services (HHS). We will continuously monitor the health updates from the CDPH and HHS for these changes. Until then, all students, staff members, and guests of Vista Unified must adhere to the requirement of mask wearing when attending school, end-of-year events, or visiting a VUSD site. Please refer to the mask protocol letter from our Health and Safety lead.

CBOC Update

Vista Unified School District is seeking volunteers for the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee. The purpose of the committee is to help provide oversight on the implementation of the Measure LL Bond funds. We currently have openings for those willing to help, and your support will be greatly appreciated. If you are selected to the CBOC, you must live or work within the boundaries of Vista Unified School District. This volunteer appointment also requires up to a two-year term, and employees of Vista Unified are not permitted to serve as a member of the CBOC.

Applications must be submitted to:

VUSD Business Services Office

1234 Arcadia Avenue

Vista, CA 92084

APPLICATION DEADLINE: June 2, 2021 by 4:00 P.M.

Summer Learning Update

Elementary “Super Science Summer School”

Student enrollment for the district elementary summer session is continuing with approximately 500 students invited to attend. Incoming first grade students will receive phonics instruction and reading instruction aligned to the science theme “Properties.” Second and third grade students will study “Force and Motion,” and reading and writing will align to that theme. Second grade students will also receive phonics instruction to enhance their language arts instruction. “Machines at Work and Play” will round out the fourth and fifth grade curriculum for summer school with reading and writing around this theme. Each summer school teacher will have a science kit with hands-on experiments for an interactive science session. Math instruction will focus on the priority standards for each grade level with the use of Eureka Math. Fit4Kids will provide outside organized games for students several times a week to add to summer fun for students.

Secondary Summer School Opportunities

Secondary sites have been making the final preparations for their bridge and enrichment programs. Middle and high schools have been sending targeted communication to families and students, and enrollment is in full swing. There are also options for incoming sixth and ninth grade students at their new campuses. If you have questions about your school site’s summer offerings or would like to enroll your student in a summer school program, please contact the main office of your individual school. At the high school level, students are also being enrolled in our remediation programs. This summer school opportunity will begin June 21st and will run for six weeks at each site, with two three-week semesters. Students can continue to be enrolled after final grades are posted in order to make up failing grades for both first and second semester. Utilizing Edgenuity as an instructional program will allow for students to begin and end courses at their own personalized pace and to remediate failing grades in various courses, earning up to 20 credits in the summer months. If you are interested in your student participating in the summer remediation program, please contact your student’s high school.

Apprenticeship Career Fair

The Apprenticeship Career Fair is slated for Thursday, May 27, 2021, from 3 pm to 6 pm at the Rancho Buena Vista High School campus. This drive-through event is coordinated by the Career Pathways Coordinator Robert Crowell and the F.A.C.E. Network lead Jacqueline Bispo, joined by representatives from the San Diego Building Trades (SDBT). The SDBT offers over twenty different paid apprenticeship programs in high-demand, high-wage fields such as plumbing, sheet metal, and electrical work. This will be a great opportunity for students in the Vista Unified School District to learn about potential careers in the construction industry directly from people in the trades.


Matt Doyle, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Vista Unified School District