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December 3 update from Dr. Flores: safety measures on campuses, upcoming vaccine clinics & GECA award winner
GUSD Communications

Dear GUSD Families and Staff:

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends and that you had a chance to relax.  The three weeks between the Thanksgiving break and the winter break always flies by.   This is such a special time of year.   I am trying to just enjoy it.
 
School Shootings
I know the topic of school shootings is uncomfortable and upsetting especially right now after the terrible tragedy in Michigan. Four teenagers died and seven others were shot and injured. This is a serious issue in our country.  Since schools reopened this fall, there have been almost 30 shootings on school campuses across the nation.  There have been five shootings in California.  We hope that there is never a school shooting on a GUSD campus but we have to prepare as if that unlikely event were going to happen.  We have taken a number of proactive steps to keep our schools safe from intruders and to prepare for a school shooting and I would like to share some of this information with you.
 

  • One of our top priorities has been to create positive school climates on our campuses so that students feel safe and welcome at their school.   There are many components to this approach, including the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) program, robust mental health services from GUSD staff and outside agencies, Restorative Justice practices and other strategies.
  • Staff and students are encouraged to “see something, hear something, say something” so that any threats of violence can be investigated in partnership with the Gilroy Police Department.  
  • All schools in the Gilroy Unified School District, uses the STOPit mobile app for students to anonymously report threats or acts of violence or bullying.  For more information, visit: https://www.gilroyunified.org/parentstudent-resources/safety-and-security/stopit-antibullying-app.  With STOPit, users can submit anonymous reports containing text, photos, or video using a cell phone or other device.
  • All schools are completely enclosed in fencing which was a recommendation by police departments across the nation, including the GPD, following the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and similar tragedies. 
  • After the beginning of the school day, our campuses are locked down until dismissal time.  Each school site has a single point of entry for people coming onto any of our campuses during the day.
  • Sophisticated security systems have been installed at all of our middle and high schools (the level where most school shootings occur).
  • One of the major components of our school safety plans are drills: including earthquake drills, fire drills and intruder drills which focus on a school shooting.   Intruder drills are scheduled to take place at all of our middle and high schools before the winter break and will be observed by our School Resource Officer (SRO) and School Safety Administrator.  Counselors will be available to talk with students and staff if needed.
  • In addition to the intruder drills, secondary students are shown the Run, Hide, Defend video that was developed in conjunction with the Gilroy Police Department is now used throughout the County.   The video is used to prepare middle and high school students and staff about what to do if there is a shooter on campus.  On the day of the drill, teachers give a presentation on safety protocols that should be followed during the drill.
  • Although we do not show the Run, Hide, Defend video at the elementary school level, intruder drills are scheduled and the safety protocols are reviewed regularly about what to do if there is an intruder or shooter on campus.   Drills will also be held at each elementary school before the winter break.  


We need your help!  Data that has been collected regarding school shootings indicates that in most school shootings, the shooter told others what they were planning to do in advance of the shooting.  It is critical that students and staff speak up if they see or hear something about a school shooting, any kind of potential violence against others, or see behaviors that are alarming or disturbing.  Students can report concerns anonymously if they choose using the STOPIT App or they can talk to the administration or another adult who they feel comfortable talking about what they heard or saw.
 
Parents and guardians: please reinforce how important it is that students “say something, do something”.  If you hear something from your child, let your school administrators know immediately.   Staff, please talk to the school administration if you hear or see something as soon as it comes to your attention.  

Many components of education are only successful when there is a strong partnership between home and school.  A commitment to safety for all of the children in our school district is at the top of that list.  We must have the partnership and support of staff, students and families as we work together to ensure the safety of our campuses.

Vaccination Clinics
In partnership with the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, another round of vaccination clinics are underway at all seven elementary schools sites.   Students of any age in the district are welcome as well as family members and staff.  The Las Animas and Eliot clinics were offered this past week.   The schedule for the remaining clinics is listed below:
 

School Site Date of vaccination clinic
El Roble Elementary Wednesday, December 8th 3-7:30
Rucker Elementary Thursday, December 9th 3-7:30
Glen View Elementary Friday, December 10th 3-7:30  
Rod Kelley Elementary Wednesday, December 15th 3-7:30
Luigi Aprea Elementary Thursday, December 16th 3-7:30


Almost 37% of 5-11 years olds in the County have already been vaccinated in just a little over a month since emergency authorization was approved by the FDA. This age group is well on the way to reaching the level of the 12-17 age group which is over 90% in just under seven months.

2022 Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Susan Valenta Youth Leadership award winner
On Friday, December 3, I visited the GECA campus to celebrate senior, Alyssa Gonzalez, for receiving the 2022 Susan Valenta Youth Leadership award from the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce.  Alyssa dreams of using her influence to impact the world around her.  She is part of GECA’s Honors Tribunal as its Attorney General and mentor to younger members.   She works to incorporate a restorative approach to the Tribunal’s work, facilitates community circles, and uses her strong moral compass to support others, which impacts her school in many positive ways.  She is a the student representative for GECA’s School Site Council and provides valuable insight to the committee about how students feel about different school policies and activities, and presents ideas to SSC to further student success.   Alyssa has been instrumental in re-chartering the Interact Club at GECA, and serves as a Youth Commissioner for the City of Gilroy.  Her commitment to addressing social justice issues helps to provide meaningful solutions to those issues she finds most important.  Alyssa will graduate from GECA with a high school diploma and two Associate’s degrees from Gavilan College: one in Spanish and the other in Natural Sciences.  She is a first-generation college student who demonstrates the success that is possible with hard work and the commitment to excellence.  Please join us in congratulating Alyssa on receiving this award. We are so very proud of her.

Take care of each other,
Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Gilroy Unified School District

November 19, 2021 letter from Superintendent Flores: many things to be grateful for
GUSD Communications

Dear GUSD Staff and Families:

Today, begins the traditional Thanksgiving break and holiday.   It also marks the beginning of the end of the calendar year.  It is hard to believe that 2022 is just around the corner.    I am excited to spend the Thanksgiving break with family members and so grateful that we are all healthy.   I am equally excited about the opportunity to rest and recharge.  I am sure you are looking forward to doing the same and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Each year at Thanksgiving, I make a list of things for which I am grateful, from the little things to the big.  I encourage you to do this activity with your family and friends.   Focusing on the positive and all that is good and going well in our lives can help us deal with the challenges of still living through a pandemic.  

 

  • I am grateful for the work our staff members do to support the students and families of Gilroy.  

  • I am grateful for our partner organizations who work closely with our staff, students and families, providing crucial resources alongside what our District is able to offer to our school communities.  

  • I am grateful for our leadership team at the District Office and our school sites, for their continued collaboration and their willingness to work together with the communities they serve.  

  • I am grateful for our students, who, in spite of unprecedented challenges over the past 21 months, continue to embody unwavering optimism and resilience.  

  • And I am grateful to our families who entrust us with their most precious gifts: their children, as we strive to provide excellent learning opportunities and rich life experiences.

This Thanksgiving, my family and I will gather around the table to enjoy our traditional meal, and I will give thanks for all that we share, and for a future that is full of promise.  I hope you are able to spend this holiday break with those special people in your life who make your life so full.

I look forward to the return of students and staff on campus on Monday, November 29.

Take care of each other,

Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Gilroy Unified School District

GECA Griffin
GUSD Communications
Vaishnavi Muralidharan

Congratulations Vaishnavi Muralidharan, a junior at GECA, for receiving the Gavilan College 2021 Community Spirit Award as a Morgan Hill resident! Vaishnavi is involved with the City of Morgan Hill Youth Action Council as well as a number of other non-profit organizations serving students in Gilroy and Morgan Hill.

"Vaishnavi loves being able to help the community. It gives her immense joy to make an impact in someone else’s life."

Read the full press release from Gavilan College.

November 5, 2021 update from Superintendent Flores: COVID-19 vaccines for children 5-11, Fentanyl awareness, available mental health supports and resources for students and families
GUSD Communications

Dear GUSD Families and Staff,

We are all so grateful for the recent rains and look forward to more rain this next week.   Although it is not enough to erase the drought, it is a positive start.  Our fields and landscaping that were in rough shape due to the minimal watering schedule we have been following are green again.  If we do receive lots of rain this winter, I want to assure you that the district is prepared for heavy rains and flooding, if they should occur.

COVID-19 vaccines for children 5 and older, and upcoming vaccine clinics at GUSD schools

As I am sure you have heard, the FDA and CDC have authorized emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 5-11 years of age.  Thanks to our great partnership with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, the District will be hosting six mobile vaccination clinics at elementary schools on the following dates and times.

  • Tuesday, November 9, Las Animas Elementary, 3:00-7:30 pm
  • Wednesday, November 10, Eliot Elementary, 3:00-7:30 pm
  • Wednesday, November 17, El Roble Elementary, 3:00-7:30 pm
  • Thursday, November 18, Rucker Elementary, 3:00-7:30 pm
  • Friday, November 19, Gilroy High School, for members of the Glen View Elementary School community, 3:00-7:30 pm
  • Wednesday, November 24, Rod Kelley Elementary (for the school communities of Rod Kelley and Luigi Aprea), 12:00-7:00 pm

At this time, there is no mandate for students to be vaccinated, although the Governor recently announced that a state mandate is coming - possibly next year.  However, we hope our parents give serious consideration to having their child(ren) vaccinated as the more staff and students that are vaccinated the safer our schools will be and we can hopefully avoid another school closure.  This past week, we hosted a vaccination clinic at the district office for staff and 137 staff received shots.

Fentanyl Awareness

On a very serious note, I asked the District Attorney’s Office to develop a letter (English/ Spanish) to send to you about the drug Fentanyl.  Fentanyl is a dangerous drug that can cause very serious reactions and death.  Please talk to your child(ren)/students about this drug relying on the information provided by the D.A.’s Office, and attached to this message.   The District will also continue our practice of teaching students during health units about the dangers of substance abuse with an emphasis on the dangers of drugs like Fentanyl.

Mental Health Resources available

As I shared in my letter on October 31, in response to the tragic shootings in Gilroy last weekend, counselors were available at all of our school sites this past week to help students process their concerns and anxieties.  Staff from the district as well as our community -based partners will continue to be available going forward.  If your child(ren) need to speak to a trained professional about the shootings or any other issue, they should let their teacher know and an appointment will be scheduled.  Teachers should let their administration know if students ask for counseling or if they see students in distress.

Our partner organizations have rallied around our residents to provide a number of services to children, families and people affected. 

  • If you or your child are in need of mental health services or emotional support, the Gilroy Strong Resiliency Center (GSRC), located at 7365 Monterey in Downtown Gilroy.  If you need more information, or would like to make an appointment to speak to a therapist, please call 408-209.8356.  This week the Gilroy Strong Resiliency Center has drop-in therapeutic and victim services through Friday from 10:00 – 6:00 PM. 
  • Next week, Victim Advocate services will be available at the GSRC Monday, November 8 – Wednesday, November 10, and Friday, November 12 between 10 am – 6 pm and therapeutic services will be available by appointment. To book an appointment, please contact the GSRC Victim Advocate, Liliana Dominguez at the GSRC Hotline: 408-209-8356. The Center will be closed Thursday, November 11, in observance of Veterans Day. For further information, please visit the GSRC website: https://countyda.sccgov.org/victim-services/gilroy-strong-resiliency-center.
  • Appointments for individual counseling with therapists are also available through Dream Power Horsemanship.  To schedule, contact dreampowerhorsemanship@hotmail.com
  • Uplift’s Mobile Crisis Program offers a 24-hour crisis hotline at (408) 379-9085 or toll-free 1-877-41-CRISIS.
  • There are drop-in 1:1s and youth-based activity/group supports from 3-7 PM on Tuesdays (November 9 and 15) and Fridays from 3-6 PM (November 12 and 19) at the Gilroy Library. For more information, contact sandra.cruz@cityofgilroy.org)
  • The San Ysidro Community Center is hosting drop in safe space with group activities for youth and families on Monday, November 8 and Friday, November 12 from 3-6 pm (prior registration not required.  Contact monica.gonzalez@cityofgilroy.org or beranda.lopez@cityofgilroy.org for more information

Attached to this message is information from the Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Services which offers a number of resources and information for caregivers of children.  You might find some of this information helpful.

Please remember that on Thursday, November 11, all GUSD schools, except for GECA, and the District Office are closed in honor of Veteran’s Day.  Classes resume on Friday, November 12.  I’m looking forward to our Thanksgiving Break as well, from November 22-26 (November 25-26 for GECA students), as an opportunity to rest, read, and reset.  I hope you are able to do the same.

Take care of each other,


Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Gilroy Unified School District

October 31, 2021 letter from Dr. Flores re: added safety & security at high school campuses following this weekend's events
GUSD Communications

Dear GUSD staff and families:

As you may be aware, there was a shooting involving teenagers and young adults in Gilroy in the early morning hours of Saturday, October 30, 2021.  This tragic event left one person dead and three others injured.  The Gilroy Police Department has apprehended one person suspected to be involved in the shooting.  We are awaiting further details from the department as their investigation unfolds.   

As a community member, I am distressed to learn that an altercation between people at a celebratory event ended in gun violence that has forever changed the lives of all who attended, as well as their friends and families.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have been directly impacted by this tragedy.  As a result of the events this weekend, my attention now is focused on ensuring the safety of our staff and students while on our campuses, and for the District and our community to do the best we can to make sure that there are no further acts of violence that might occur in retaliation.  

  • Beginning tomorrow, Monday, November 1, we have deployed all available mental health support staff and school psychologists to Gilroy High School, Christopher High School and Mt. Madonna High School to provide counseling services and emotional support for those who need it.  
  • The Gilroy Police Department and GUSD safety personnel have been assigned to campuses to add an extra layer of safety and security, and to provide staff and student support as we return to campus following the events of this weekend.  
  • Our Emergency Preparedness and School Safety Coordinator has provided ongoing guidance and support as needed.
  • Community Solutions has committed their available resources to provide support to staff, students and families outside of regular school hours. More information regarding the supports Community Solutions offer can be accessed online
  • GUSD continues to use the STOPit mobile app for students to anonymously report threats or acts of violence or bullying.  

I want to reiterate that the safety of our staff and students is always the top priority in all decisions we make.  There is no room for violence on our campuses.  I am well aware of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures has had on our students who depend on the connections made with teachers and school staff to provide positive mentoring and access to resources.  Now is the time for our community to come together to provide that safe space for our children.  It is imperative that we do our very best to provide alternatives to violence for our youth, and model that behavior for them.  

The goal of our school communities is to provide a safe and welcoming environment for students on our campus at all times.   Any acts of violence or threats of violence will be taken seriously by our staff and school district, and may result in the removal of student(s) from campus.  We will take the strongest actions possible in dealing with threats of violence and violent acts, up to and including, expulsion from the Gilroy Unified School District. Please encourage your students to tell a trusted adult if they hear or see something that makes them uncomfortable on campus.  

I appreciate your continued commitment to partner with our schools and the greater Gilroy community to emphasize to your children that violent acts are not the answer for problems they are facing.

Many thanks for your participation and support as we work together to maintain safe environments for our children in which to learn and thrive.

Sincerely,

Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Gilroy Unified School District

GUSDlogo
GUSD Communications

Notice is hereby given that the Gilroy Unified School District intends to submit an application to the California Department of Education for a 21st Century Community Learning Centers program grant.

If granted, funds will be used to maintain and expand Power School before- and after-school and summer camp programs to include more than 1,000 students across seven school sites, and provide equitable access support. Public input about the proposed 21st Century Community Learning Center program must be submitted to Kathleen Biermann, Director of Curriculum and Instruction – Elementary, at kathleen.biermann@gilroyunified.org or (669) 205-4026 by 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, 2021.

October 22, 2021 update from Superitendent Flores: celebrating Team GUSD, South County Annex grand opening, and vaccine clinics are back on GUSD campuses
GUSD Communications

Dear GUSD staff and families:

Today I’m thankful for the wet weather that is expected through the weekend, which is something California and the western United States need so badly.  I hope your weekend is also shaping up to be just as you hope, whether you’re staying home or out and about.  As always, there is so much going on in the Gilroy Unified School District.  Here is some information for you:

Celebrating Team GUSD

This week we received word that a number of our staff members have been recognized for the amazing work they do on our campuses and in our classrooms.  Please join me in congratulating four GUSD teachers who will be honored on Thursday, October 28, at the annual Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) Teacher of the Year event: Amber Bruce (GECA), Yesenia Campuzano (SVMS), Eric Davis (MMHS) and David Salles (CHS).  They are all receiving awards from SCCOE for their innovative teaching in the areas of the arts, civics and STEM.  In addition, GUSD’s Teacher of the Year, Ana Benich (GECA), will also be celebrated.  I’m looking forward to congratulating them at the event.

On October 21, I was notified that GECA principal, Sonia Flores, is one of eight recipients of the Terrel H. Bell award for Outstanding School Leadership, from the U.S. Department of Education.  This award is a great honor for Sonia, and our District, and we are so proud of her.  Read more about that recognition in the press release that was distributed yesterday.

GECA Application Period open through November 19

As a reminder to parents of incoming high school freshmen (2026 graduation year), applications for the Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy are being accepted now through November 19.  The GECA team has visited eighth graders at all three of our middle schools and VLA students to talk about the program, and assistance for completing the application is available.  For more information on how to apply, and other important deadlines, please visit their website

GECA is a 9th-12th grade academic program, located on the Gavilan College campus, that is designed to foster academic and career success. The school operates as an educational partnership between GUSD and Gavilan College, and is one of the cutting-edge Early College High Schools that have been designed, implemented, and funded nationwide through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in cooperation with Jobs For the Future, local community colleges, and school districts.

GECA students graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, or two years of college credit (between 40 to 60 transferable college units), which allows them to enter a four-year college or university with sophomore or junior standing.

Great Shakeout Earthquake Drill

GUSD Staff and students participated in the Great Shakeout Drill on October 21, 2021 at 10:21 am.  Everyone at our school sites practiced protocols that are in place in the event of an earthquake during the school day, including “drop, cover and hold on,” and safe evacuations from classrooms when appropriate.  District Office staff and departments at other sites also practiced the same protocols.  Following the drill, our Communications Department conducted a test of our emergency communications system.  Parents and guardians should have received a ParentSquare message in the app, text message, email and phone call notifying them about the drill and the system test.  If you did not receive any of these forms of communication and think you should have, please contact your child’s school site, and staff there will be able to update your contact information. 

As part of the Great Shakeout drill, we encourage all of our families to practice what to do in the event of an earthquake while your family is home.  You can sign-up for emergency alerts from the County’s Emergency Operations Center to be sent directly to your phone, establish a reunification plan for all members of your family, and prepare an emergency supply kit so that your family is ready for any number of scenarios.

For more information, visit preparescc.org.

South County Annex Grand Opening

Congratulations to the Santa Clara County Office of Education for a successful grand opening of the South County Annex.  The Annex offers a plethora of resources for families, students and staff members in Gilroy.  The Annex will provide access and opportunities for many people through alternative educational opportunities, early learning, support for migrant students, professional development opportunities for staff members and enhanced health services for residents of South County. 

The Annex is housed at the former Antonio Del Buono Elementary School site which closed in June 2020 due to declining enrollment in our District.  I am thrilled that our mission to serve students and families will be carried on at one of our former school sites through the great capacity of the County Office of Education. 

As a reminder, COVID-19 vaccine testing is available by appointment only at the South County Annex, Monday through Friday, from 10 am-4 pm.  To make an appointment, visit: sccfreetest.org.

Upcoming COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics at GUSD schools

We continue to maintain a strong partnership with the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health to provide COVID-19 vaccine clinics at some of our school sites.  The upcoming vaccine clinic at Gilroy High School will offer first and second doses, as well as booster shots for any eligible person 12 and older.  Gilroy High School will offer vaccine clinics on October 29 and November 19, from 3:00 pm-7:30 pm on both dates.  More dates and times will be released as details are finalized.  Clinics will offer vaccines via walk-in or appointment.  To schedule a first, second, or booster vaccine, please visit: sccfreevax.org. 

School Resources Officers Return to GUSD Schools

At the October 21, 2021 regular board meeting, the GUSD Board of Education voted to reinstate two School Resource Officers (SROs) on our campuses for a one-year period.  These officers will work on the 14 campuses in our District and will provide enhanced safety measures at our schools as part of the team of providers who support student health and safety.  SROs who work on our campuses will participate in regular and mandatory restorative justice trainings with other GUSD staff members, and they are specifically trained to work with children and adolescents.  I look forward to their support for all members of our school communities.

As the weather cools and our holiday season approaches, I continue to look for bright spots in all that we do.  Last week, both of our high school choir programs were able to perform in-person, for an audience, for the first time in two years.  That news is literal music to my ears. 

We continue moving forward, albeit slowly, to a place of safety and a return to a new normal.  Please continue to be patient with yourselves, your children, our staff, and others.  I truly believe we are all doing the best we can every day. 

Take care of each other,

Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Gilroy Unified School District

For media requests regarding the Gilroy Unified School District, school sites, staff and/ or students, please contact Melanie Corona, Public Information Officer, 669.205.4095 or melanie.corona@gilroyunified.org.