Dear GUSD families and staff:
I hope you and your family had a good winter break. It was great to have downtime with family and receive some much-needed rain!
COVID-19 Updates & District Safety Measures
I am sure you have been following the news reports about the recent surge of COVID19 cases. I have been checking the Public Health Departments COVID19 dashboard regularly and listening to the daily news reports as I am sure you have. On January 3, 2022, in a single day, 5,460 people tested positive for COVID in Santa Clara County, which is a pandemic high. The next highest point in time was in January 2021 (2,252 in one day). The current 7-day rolling average is 2,123 cases. Fortunately, the number of people in the hospital is lower than during last winter's surge. Most of those hospitalized are unvaccinated and/or have other health issues. The good news is that the County's vaccination rate is still high -over 87% - even with the recent addition of the 5-12 age group, where about 40% are vaccinated. Public health officials are citing the Omicron variant as the main cause of this surge. If there is any relief in all of this, the Omicron variant causes mild symptoms for most people.
I want to thank everyone for following my December 17 plea before the winter break that students and staff stay home if they have tested positive for COVID19 or have symptoms. About 15% of our parents kept their children home from school this week and some staff stayed home, both citing COVID as the reason. Because they stayed home, thankfully, we continue to have no outbreaks of COVID in our classrooms and schools. So far, our schools are one of the safest places to be in the midst of another major surge of COVID19 in our community. We are doing everything we can to keep our schools safe which includes:
- All HVAC systems on our campuses have been professionally serviced and filters are changed every three months. They are on all day, starting two hours before staff and students arrive, and stay on until two hours after they leave.
- Frequent hand washing for staff and students is emphasized and scheduled throughout the day.
- While on our campuses, everyone is required to wear masks indoors. We recommend that masks also be worn outdoors, which many students are doing.
- Custodians are cleaning frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Several vaccination clinics were held in conjunction with the Public Health Department for the Gilroy community. More are planned for 2022.
CDC Masking Recommendations
On the subject of masks, at a meeting this week with Public Health Department officials and superintendents, there was an emphasis on wearing masks recommended by the CDC and the CDPH. The CDC’s current guidelines regarding mask wearing can be read in its entirety here. In effect, CDE recommends that people wear either a surgical mask or an N95 mask and not a cloth mask. We are asking that everyone wear one or the other. The district has provided school sites with surgical masks for those staff and students that request them.
New District Safety Conditions
We are taking additional proactive steps to try to reduce the spread of the virus in our schools. I understand these may not be popular decisions in our school communities but they are necessary as the health and safety of our students and staff must always come first. Until the end of January, the following measures have been implemented and are effective immediately:
- Athletic events are closed to spectators and cheerleaders.
- Band, choir and drama events will be rescheduled to later dates.
- All professional development activities, as well as, district, parent and Board of Education meetings will be held virtually.
All of the above conditions will be reevaluated in late January to determine if any or all of these restrictions can be lifted.
Rapid Test Kit Distribution Events
On January 3 and 4, district staff distributed over 9,600 COVID19 antigen test kits to families. I want to thank everyone that picked up a test kit and tested your child(ren) for COVID19 and if there was a positive result, kept your child(ren) home. As a reminder to you, our staff will be distributing the remaining 1,300 test kits to GUSD students only tomorrow, Saturday, January 8, from 10-11:30 am at Gilroy High School. If you have already picked up test kits for your GUSD student, please do the right thing and do not come to Gilroy High School tomorrow. Individuals who come to GHS on Saturday and do not have a student in our district will be turned away. Test kits were provided by the Governor’s office for students in our district and will not be distributed to non-GUSD students. When all the test kits have been distributed, the gates to the parking lot will be closed. In order to receive a test kit for a GUSD student(s), parents must answer the following questions:
- Which school(s) in GUSD do your child/ren attend?
- What grade levels of your GUSD students?
- Who is their teacher(s)?
- What is your child’s student ID number? Note: a GUSD student ID number is also a child’s lunch number. Showing our staff your child’s physical ID card or a photo of their ID card on your phone is preferred.
Upcoming COVID19 Vaccine Clinic
A reminder to you that Bay Area Community Health is hosting a COVID19 vaccine clinic at Glen View Elementary School on Wednesday, January 12, from 2:30-6:00 pm. The clinic is located in the MPR, which is can be accessed at W. Ninth Street between Princevalle and Hanna Streets. Vaccines are available for any eligible person 5 and older, and boosters are available for eligible people 12 and older. Children under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent. Walk-ups are accepted but appointments are highly recommended. You can register online: https://bit.ly/GlenviewES. More information is attached to this message.
I know things are really tough right now for all of us due to this latest COVID surge. I wanted to end on a positive note with this quote from an unknown source:
“Yes, life is tough, but you are tougher. Find the strength to laugh every day. Find the courage to feel different, but beautiful. Find it in your heart to make others smile too. Don’t stress over things you can’t change. Live simply. Love generously. Speak truthfully. Work diligently. And even if you fall short, keep going.”
Take care of each other,
Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Gilroy Unified School District
- Reopening GUSD