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Dear GUSD staff and families:

It looks like the sun will be out just in time for the weekend.  I am always grateful for the rain, because we need it, but I’m grateful for the sunshine so that I can get outside and move.  I hope that you are also able to enjoy the crisp winter weather this weekend.  I have a number of GUSD updates to share with you today.  I hope this week’s letter can answer questions that you may have regarding end of the year celebrations; recommendations that I provided to the Board of Education regarding reopening the district to in-person learning; new food service schedules in the district; updates on high school athletics, and upcoming events for our families and students.  

Recommendation to the Board of Education regarding returning to in-person learning
At last night’s Board meeting, I gave a presentation to the Board about the topic of reopening schools.  You can view video from last night’s meeting and the entire presentation on the GUSD website.  As part of the presentation to the Board of Education, I shared COVID-19 data for Gilroy, reviewed the recently released guidance from the California Public Health Department, discussed steps the district is taking to prepare for an eventual reopening, and shared the Reopening Planning Committee’s recommendation for next steps.  

The Reopening Planning Committee recommended that all GUSD schools remain in distance learning and that the decision about if and when to reopen schools be reconsidered when:

  • Santa Clara County has been in the Red Tier for five consecutive days, and,
  •  When the COVID19 case rate in Gilroy is below 25 per 100,000 for five consecutive days

When these conditions have been met, the Reopening Planning Committee will develop additional recommendations related to if and when schools should reopen this school year and in what model.  This 30+ person committee has been meeting since May and has discussed many topics related to the reopening including those outlined in the State’s recent guidance; mandatory face coverings, physical distancing of 6 feet, maximizing ventilation, handwashing protocols, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, symptoms and close contact screening, surveillance and screening testing, and training for everyone.  

At this time, the district is unable to certify to the SCC Public Health Department that all the conditions spelled out in the State’s Public Health Department report can be met and therefore, we cannot resume in-person learning.  For instance, the district has hired an expert team to assess all 1200 HVAC units in the district and to make repairs as necessary.  Testing of students and staff and vaccinating staff have recently become major issues that need to be resolved by the State.  Districts simply cannot afford to take on these tasks without a major influx of funding from the State to cover the costs.

High School Graduation Celebrations

In order to provide the Class of 2021 with a celebratory send-off as they complete high school, we have begun planning for graduation. Each high school and our Adult Education program will have a virtual ceremony available on their official graduation day that will include many of the traditional elements of a graduation ceremony. In addition to the virtual ceremony, we will be planning for multiple scenarios for all students to receive their diploma, have a cap and gown photo opportunity and celebrate their achievements. Senior awards nights will also be held virtually this year.  All details about end-of-year celebrations will be based upon State and County Public Health guidelines in order to keep our community safe. More information will be provided by each site principal as we approach graduation.

In the meantime, I invite families of the Class of 2021 to begin reviewing what is needed for the end of the year.  Our high schools have informational pages on their websites to help in the planning process.

Eighth Grade End of Year Celebrations

As a District, we are creating new traditions for our middle schools. Beginning this year we will move away from the Promotion Ceremonies that were held at our high schools and moving toward more personalized celebrations.  Each school will hold eighth grade celebrations as well as other activities to congratulate students for their accomplishments during their middle school years. These celebrations will be held virtually for the 2020-21 school year and at individual school sites in subsequent years. We are excited about the personal touch these celebrations will bring by having students at their own school site with the community that has encouraged and supported them throughout their middle school experience.

Return  to High School Athletics

Gilroy Unified School District is excited to announce that athletic conditioning will begin soon at our comprehensive high schools. You will be receiving specific information from each high school next week regarding start dates and requirements for each sport.  Practices will also begin for Season 1 sports which will be permitted to conduct either “normal” or “limited” activities, coinciding with the county’s color tiered system developed by the California Department of Public Health. Visit The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Sports Covid-19 Guidelines for more information on sports and the tiered system. 

Health and Safety Are Priorities

Our athletic programs have successfully offered conditioning cohorts since June 2020. Our coaching staff and student-athletes have done a fantastic job of following established district guidelines and protocols to ensure that safety is our top priority while participating in our conditioning cohorts and this will continue as we begin the first season of fall sports. Gilroy Unified School District is dedicated to offering a safe environment to reconnect our student-athletes to our campus, providing athletic conditioning and skill development, and positive mentorship through their participation. 

New Food Service Schedule

This week, the Gilroy Unified School District began a new food distribution schedule.  Beginning Tuesday, January 26, FREE meals for all Gilroy children ages 0-18, will be served from noon-2 p.m. on TUESDAYS and FRIDAYS only at the following schools:

  • Eliot Elementary
  • Glen View Elementary
  • Luigi Aprea Elementary
  • Rod Kelley Elementary
  • South Valley Middle 
  • Solorsano Middle

In addition, FREE meals will be served from 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. TUESDAY and FRIDAY at Rucker Elementary.

Meals will no longer be distributed Monday through Friday.  Instead, Tuesday meal bags will have meals through Friday morning and Friday meal bags will have meals through Tuesday morning. Children are still receiving meals for all seven days of the week (breakfast, lunch and supper).

A parent or guardian can pick up bags for children in their household.  No identification is necessary.  For more information, please visit our website or call 669-205-4044.

Upcoming District-wide events

I am pleased to share with you that two events that are long standing traditions in our District, will happen virtually this year.  Our elementary school communities will celebrate Read Across America the week of March 1.  Details are still being finalized, but we are excited to see how this virtual event will unfold in our elementary school classrooms.

Finally, my favorite tradition in our District, the annual Run for Fitness, will also happen this year, but as a virtual “Move for Fitness” event!  On March 13, students and families from throughout the District are invited to move their bodies in whatever ways they are able to do.  We will have more information on this event soon as well, so mark your calendars and stay tuned!

In closing:

I was so moved by the Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, who delivered “The Hill We Climb” at the Presidential Inauguration on January 20, and the way her words so powerfully captured the gravity of the moment.  However, her poem also beautifully conveyed a message of hope to us beyond politics in our country.  These words struck me most specifically:

...Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried…
...For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us…
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be…
...For there is always light,
if only we're brave enough to see it
If only we're brave enough to be it…

While the many challenges we face sometimes seem to drown out our collective successes, I continue to be inspired by the bravery of our students, the commitment of our staff, and the steadfast dedication of the community that surrounds us.

Take care of each other,

Dr. Deborah Flores
Superintendent
Gilroy Unified School District

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