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August 5, 2022 update from Dr. Flores: Back to School!, test kits, updated cell phone policy, elementary school pick-up and drop-off, and more!
GUSD Communications

Dear GUSD Families and Staff,

I hope you have had a good summer!  I am looking forward to the start of the 2022-23 school year in just 12 days on August 17.  This is my first Friday letter of the year.  I will continue writing to you on Fridays at least once, and usually twice, a month throughout the school year.

COVID-19 Test Kits

The most important message in today’s letter is to remind you to use the COVID test kits that staff at the school sites distributed to you at the end of the last school year.  Please use the kits to test students 24-48 hours before returning to school on the first day.  Santa Clara County is still in a COVID-19 surge with many people contracting the latest variant as it is highly contagious.  Everyone did a great job last school year staying home if they tested positive or if they exhibited symptoms. 

Thankfully, we were able to keep our schools open all year even during the worst surge during January and February 2022.  Our goal is to minimize the spread of the virus at schools and to keep our classrooms and schools safe and open.  If you need a test kit, please contact your school site and they will provide you with a kit.  You can also contact the district office at (669) 205-4000 to pick up a test.  For more information about COVID-19 protocols in GUSD, visit our website.

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Updated Guidance

The California Department of Public Health recently issued new guidance for K-12 schools.  The CDPH still strongly recommends that all staff and students be vaccinated.  As we did last year, the District will host vaccination clinics in the fall.  Masks are no longer required indoors but are still recommended for specific situations. Masks will be available at each site for anyone who wants one. We will continue to encourage frequent hand washing with soap as this is a good practice to prevent the spread of germs.  As I shared last year, all 1200+ of the district’s HVAC’s have been serviced and repaired when needed and filters replaced at least two times per year.   Events involving large groups will continue to be held outdoors. Volunteers will be welcome on campuses, but must be cleared by the district first and approved by the principal.  Please see the instructions below.

Volunteers
Only parent volunteers who have completed the District’s clearance process will be allowed on campus during the school day and only at times approved by the principal.   All parents will be invited to back-to-school nights, parent conferences, special activities and many other events during the year.

District staff will be sending out a recertification task list for all existing approved volunteers in the next few days.  Recertification is a quick process and will ensure active volunteer status and maintain existing fingerprints on file.  Existing approved volunteers who recertify will not need to fingerprint again.   If you have any questions on the recertification process, or are interested in becoming an approved volunteer, please email volunteer@gilroyunified.org or visit our website for more information.

Cell Phones on campus
The GUSD Board of Education believes that a productive learning environment is one that is free of unnecessary distractions; and therefore, the District has updated the regulations for Possession of Cellular Phones and Other Personal Electronic Signaling Devices on school campuses.

Each school site will be sharing the updated policy with all students and families. Here are a few highlights in preparation for school:

Elementary School (TK – 5th grades): Cellular phones, smart watches and other electronic signaling devices are prohibited to be used on campus.

Secondary (6th – 12th grades): Cellular phones and other electronic signaling devices must be turned off and kept out of sight during class time. Electronic signaling devices shall not be left on in vibrating mode. 

All: 

  1. Students bring electronic signaling devices on campus at their own risk. The school is not responsible for lost, stolen or damaged electronic signaling devices
  2. If a student is found to be in possession of an electronic signaling device without proper authorization, a district employee will confiscate the device and turn it over to the administration.

We appreciate your cooperation in helping to maintain a distraction-free learning environment for our students.

Elementary Drop-off and Pick-up

Our elementary school sites are following the same procedures for arrival and dismissal from campus as last school year.  Parents will drop-off and pick-up their children at the gated entrances to campus.   Your school’s principal will communicate more detailed information about drop-off and pick-up closer to the start of school.

South Valley Middle School Construction Project

Over the summer, there was tremendous progress at the South Valley Middle School site.  The new classrooms on Murray Avenue were completed and furniture is arriving and being set up this week. The contents of the old buildings were removed and the buildings were demolished except for the gym which will remain until next winter. Here are some recent photos for you to see the progress.

Summer Programs

Summer school programs were successfully operated at three schools this summer – Eliot Elementary, Brownell Middle School and Solorsano Middle School.  These included: high school credit recovery, literacy intervention at the elementary and middle school levels, special education classes and Power School.  We celebrated the graduation of 28 students from our Adult Education and high school programs on August 3 at Brownell Middle School.  Congratulations to all of the graduates!

Back to School

We recently introduced the GUSD Back to School hub on our website that contains ways to prepare for the 2022-23 school year.  We urge all GUSD families to complete a meal application either electronically or paper, even if you think your family doesn’t qualify for services.  These applications help to provide almost $3 million in vital funding to our District, which supports educational programs for all students. Additionally, students and families who qualify for the program can receive reduced fees for AP tests, reduced fees for the City of Gilroy Recreation Programs, and other support.  All families in our District should complete this application by September 28.  You can complete an online application or download and print a paper application (English/ Spanish).  Applications will also be sent home with students when the school year begins.  

Other ways to prepare for the 2022-23 school year include:

School Safety

I wanted to share some information with you that I shared with our families in June 2022, following the Uvalde, TX school shooting.   The safety of our staff and students remains the highest priority for our leadership team.  Here are some of the measures that we have implemented on our campuses throughout the years, and continue to enforce on our campuses today and in the future.

Family Resource Fair, Wednesday, August 24

Mark August 24 on your calendar, for the inaugural GUSD Family Resource Fair, which will be held at the District Office from 5-8 pm.  This event will provide families with help in accessing the Aeries Parent Portal, learning how to use the ParentSquare app, onsite fingerprinting and other assistance to complete the volunteer clearance process, information from our Child Nutrition Department and After School programs, information about our specialized programs, giveaways, food, and much, much more!   Additional information will be sent to you shortly.  I hope you’ll join us.  This event is open to all GUSD families.

New Websites in GUSD!

Finally, be on the lookout for completely redesigned websites for the District Office and all 14 school sites. This project has been in development since last year, and we are excited to share our new design with you. More information about navigating the websites will be shared with families and staff soon.  The District Office website will launch next week.

Summer is winding down, and the anticipation of the start of a new school year is at the top of my mind. I’m excited to see what will happen in our classrooms and on our campuses this year, and look forward to celebrating the successes of our school communities.  I also look forward to connecting with you throughout the school year.  Enjoy these last few days of the summer break, and we will see you on campus on August 17!

My best,

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

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