Dear GUSD Families and Staff,
Happy New Year! I hope the winter break has been a good one for you and your family. I am writing to share important details related to COVID-19 testing and our return to campus after break.
Return to School Dates
Elementary students return to school on Tuesday, January 4 and Middle/High School students return to school on Wednesday, January 5.
COVID19 Surge & District Protocols
Unfortunately, we are experiencing another COVID19 surge in California and Santa Clara County (and the Nation). The number of positive cases has significantly increased to a level similar to last winter and is anticipated to increase. In order to minimize the risk of school closures due to COVID-19 outbreaks, it is essential that everyone follow the COVID-19 protocols faithfully. Children and staff should not come to school if sick with COVID-19 symptoms or if anyone in the family or home is experiencing symptoms. As a reminder, symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
When students and staff return to our campuses, masks will be required to be worn at all times indoors and there is a possibility that they will also be required outdoors. We are waiting for further guidance on this from Public Health. We recommend that masks be worn indoors and outdoors due to the surge of COVID-19. Students and staff should wash their hands frequently with soap and water throughout the day.
COVID-19 Test Kit Distribution
Because of the surge in COVID-19 cases, particularly among children, the State has provided COVID-19 test kits for all California students. The kits arrived to the Santa Clara County Office of Education in San Jose late last week and our staff picked up our allocation of test kits on January 2.
Test kits are being distributed to families tomorrow, Monday, January 3 and Tuesday, January 4, from 10:00 am-2:00 pm in the Gilroy High School student parking lot. The parking lot is located on Princevalle in the back of the school next to the football stadium. This will be a drive-through process. Please stay in your cars and wear a mask as our staff hand you the testing kits. After Tuesday, the test kits will be sent to the schools for further distribution. The details will be shared with you by your school’s principal.
This video shows how to administer the at-home tests and the state has developed flyers in English and Spanish that explain when to test your child and what steps to take if you get a positive test result. More information can be found on the CDPH website.
Here are some important points to remember:
- There is no statewide testing mandate for students returning to school. Testing kits are being offered to students free of charge, following winter break, to provide an extra layer of safety after holiday celebrations. While it is our hope that all of our students are tested prior to returning to school, this is not required. There is no need to submit a negative test result prior to returning to school on January 4 (for elementary students) or January 5 (for middle and high school students).
- There is no cost to families to receive testing kits. The tests have been purchased by the California Department of Public Health with funds provided by the federal government to support testing in schools.
- Test kits must be picked up by an adult 18 or over. At this time, kits will not be distributed to students who are under 18. Please plan accordingly.
- There are two tests per test kit. Each test should be taken by the same student 48 hours apart.
- Families are encouraged to submit their student’s test results to the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health. Submitting test results for students is not required, but it is encouraged, regardless of the result. Results can be submitted online: https://my.primary.health/l/caschools (preferred) or by calling: (650) 275-5419.
Vaccines are important!
Science shows that the best way to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus is the vaccine. If you or any eligible member of your family, 5 and older, have not yet begun the process, I encourage you to do so immediately. Similarly, boosters are available for people 16 and older who have received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine more than six months ago. South County has a number of locations for people to receive the vaccine, and GUSD will resume its partnership with the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health (SCCPHD) to provide vaccine clinics at our schools when we return from Winter Break. Vaccines can be scheduled through the SCCPHD website: vax.sccgov.org or a most pharmacies in Gilroy. Drop-in clinics are available in our community on a regular basis as well. Although the omicron variant has proven to have milder symptoms than earlier variants of the COVID-19 virus, it is still a threat to people who are immunocompromised. Please consider getting vaccinated, if you are able, for the health and safety of everyone in your family and in our community.
I will be at Gilroy High distributing test kits with members of our team tomorrow, and I look forward to seeing you there.
Take care of each other,
Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Gilroy Unified School District