Message from the Superintendent

September 17, 2021

In this Message

  • Attendance Awareness Month
  • National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists
  • Cheerleader's Choice: School Spirit Spotlight Finalists
  • COVID Relief and LCAP Funding – We Need Your Input!
  • Microsoft 365 Advantage
  • Covid Testing Opportunities
  • Free OCTA Youth Bus Passes
  • Employment Opportunities

Upcoming Events

Dear OUSD Community:

The connection between home and school is crucial for our students to thrive. Each September, we recognize Attendance Awareness month to encourage students to attend school daily. This topic is especially relevant now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in considerable losses in school-based learning opportunities over the past two years. It is important to continue to encourage our students to remain engaged in school, whether the educational program is in-person, offered through a high-quality independent study program, or online as our EDGE Virtual Academy provides.

Chronic absence — missing 10% or more of school days, which is as little as one or two days every few weeks — can translate into students having difficulty learning to read by the third grade, achieving in middle school, and graduating from high school. These include absences for any reason: excused, unexcused, and suspensions. Students in certain demographic groups, including those living in poverty, students with disabilities, and English language learners have been especially affected.

Some ways to reduce school absences (from

Make school attendance a priority

  • Help your children maintain daily routines, such as finishing homework and getting a good night's sleep.
  • Try not to schedule dental and medical appointments during the school day.
  • If your children must stay home because they are sick, make sure they have asked teachers for resources and materials to make up for the missed learning time in the classroom.

Help your child stay engaged

  • Talk to your children about school. Find out if they feel engaged by their classes and safe from bullies and other threats.
  • Monitor your child's academic progress and seek help from teachers or tutors when necessary.
  • Encourage your child to join meaningful after-school activities, including sports and clubs.

Communicate with the school

  • Know the school's attendance policy.
  • Make sure your contact information is accurate in the Aeries Parent Portal.
  • Check on your child's attendance to be sure absences are not adding up.

Information and resources to help reduce absence are available at

As a reminder, students and staff should not attend school/work if they are feeling unwell or experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. Information about low exposure, close contacts, and quarantines (including modified quarantine) is on our website under Health & Safety Guidelines and Resources.

The California Department of Public Health has given families additional opportunities to keep students in school even if there has been a close contact exposure for someone that is COVID-19 positive. As long as the close contact exposure occurred in the school setting, we are able to keep exposed individuals on a modified quarantine. Modified quarantines allow the student to continue coming to school, but have the following requirements:

  • COVID testing every three days of the 10-day quarantine (OUSD is offering testing Monday through Thursday at the district office and all four high schools).
  • Students must wear masks both indoors and outdoors.
  • Additionally, those on any quarantine are required to quarantine from extracurriculars for 14 days.

If you would like more information about modified quarantines, please do not hesitate to reach out to Joe Erven, Executive Director:

By working together, all of us can help all children get the education they need every day to help them have an opportunity to learn, flourish, and realize their dreams.

Warmest Regards,
Gunn Marie Hansen, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Orange Unified School District

Congratulations to Our National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists from Canyon and El Modena High Schools

Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced this week that Canyon High School seniors Jayson Hall, Jeremy Letrac, Ethan Nguyen, and Ohm Patel, along with El Modena High School senior Laila Hamidi, are Semifinalists in the 67th annual National Merit® Scholarship Program. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million. These students exemplify the Orange Unified EDGE's focus on excellence in academics.

Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). Approximately 16,000 students, less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, will be recognized as Semifinalists nationwide.

Jayson, Jeremy, Ethan, Ohm, and Laila now have the opportunity to begin the application process to become National Merit Scholarship Finalists. In February, 15,000 of the 16,000 Semifinalists will be named Finalists and can apply for National Merit Scholarships. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. Over 90% of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.

National Merit Scholars each receive a $2,500-a-year National Merit Scholarship, a corporate-sponsored scholarship, and/or a college-sponsored scholarship. National Merit Scholarship winners of 2022 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July.

Great job, Comanches and Vanguards!

Cheerleader's Choice: School Spirit Spotlight Finalists – Villa Park High School

Villa Park High School's cheer program has been selected as one of the Top 20 High School and College Cheer Programs in the Nation and has the opportunity to be featured on Varsity TV! Out of nearly 800 programs across the country nominated, 15 high school and five college programs have advanced on to the final fan vote to be selected as the next Cheerleader's Choice: School Spirit Spotlight winner. Hurry - fans only have until Friday, September 17, to cast their vote at

Good luck, Spartans!

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COVID Relief and Additional Local Control and Accountability Plan Funding

This year only, we are receiving additional funding for COVID relief and our Local Control and Accountability Plan. While we have been hard at work planning ways to use the funds to best support our students, we would appreciate your feedback as well! Please take a moment and let us know your thoughts by filling out the survey at

Some of the input we have already received includes the consideration of shade structures, HEPA portable filters, additional staff to reduce student-to-staff ratios, athletic facility upgrades, summer school for elementary, bottle filling stations, instructional software subscriptions, counselors, and tutoring. Do you agree with these suggestions? Disagree? Have other ideas? Let us know! Thank you in advance for your time.

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Microsoft 365 Advantage

Orange Unified School District is part of the Microsoft Office 365 Advantage program, providing all staff AND students with five full copies of Office 365 ProPlus at no cost! This software can be installed by users on personal computers, tablets, and other devices. (Note: Most Windows Tablets and Windows Phones come with Office installed.)

Get Started in 4 Easy Steps!

To login to your account:

  1. Click here or go to go to the main login page for Office 365.
  2. Enter your Student ID or Staff email address as the Username ( or, then enter the Password you use to sign in to school/District computers.
  3. Once you are signed in click "Office 365" in the top left corner of the page.
  4. Click the orange "Install Now" (lower right) button, and you're ready to go!

More information:


Voluntary, cost-free COVID-19 testing is available four times per week to all interested students. This type of surveillance testing program is recommended by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

EVENT DATES/TIMES: Every Monday and Thursday, 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM.


  • Canyon High School
  • El Modena High
  • Orange High School
  • Villa Park High School
  • OUSD District Office


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Free OCTA Youth Bus Passes

Youth (ages 6-18) can ride all OC Bus fixed-route buses for free beginning this month with a new promotional pass offered by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). There is no criteria to receive a pass, though an application is required.

The Youth Ride Free program is offered by OCTA. The six-month program will start in September and passes will be valid through February 28. For more information, please visit or inquire at your child's school site.

As Orange County continues to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and as many students return to school, this new pass allows youth to re-engage with educational, recreational, and employment opportunities without financial hardship. The pass also provides an opportunity for our youth to experience the benefits of public transportation.

Employment Opportunities

Orange Unified School District is gearing up for its Spring recruiting and hiring initiative. Are you interested in a profession that makes a positive impact in the community? If so, please visit our website at to view a vast array of employment opportunities that span from entry-level to upper management, classified, and certificated. Join the Orange Unified family and Inspire our learners of today to be purposeful leaders of tomorrow.

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Connect with Us

We invite you to take a moment to follow Orange Unified on social media to receive the District’s latest news and announcements. Social media may also be a critical line of communication during emergencies and will be an excellent place for you to get up to date information: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube