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March 12, 2021 update from Superintendent Flores: March 18 board meeting, decision form, HVAC repairs, and survey results
GUSD Communications

Dear GUSD Staff and Families,

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since Santa Clara County schools closed to in-person learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  What a challenging year it has been, but as Valerie Jarrett once said, “Overcoming adversity not only makes us stronger, it makes us more hopeful.”  As COVID-19 case counts drop and more and more people are vaccinated, I choose to feel hopeful and optimistic about the future and possibly returning to a more normal life.

Reopening Plans presented at the March 18, 2021 GUSD Board Meeting

The two indicators that were established at the January 28, 2021 GUSD Board meeting for determining when recommendations would be made to the Board about reopening schools were recently met.  Santa Clara County moved into the Red Tier on March 3 and COVID-19 case counts have been consistently below 25 in Gilroy for over a week.

The Reopening Planning Committee has met twice in the past two weeks and has prepared reopening recommendations that I will share with the Board at the March 18, 2021 Board Meeting.  The agenda for this meeting is posted online here: http://bit.ly/GUSDBOEMarch18agenda should you wish to preview the recommendations.  Detailed descriptions of the in-person, hybrid learning and revised distance learning models will be presented at this Board meeting along with specific schedules for the three levels (elementary, middle and high schools).

Informational Meetings

Pending Board approval of the proposed return to in-person learning model and revised distance learning model, the district is planning to hold informational meetings for families before the end of March.  These meetings will begin with presentations by staff about the in-person, hybrid models and the distance learning models that the district will be offering along with descriptions of safety protocols that will be implemented. 

A general informational meeting for all GUSD families is scheduled for March 22, and site-specific meetings for all elementary, middle and high schools will be held throughout the week.  Times and specific details will be announced pending board approval.  Families will have the opportunity to submit questions prior to the informational nights and during the webinars.  Please look for communication from your school sites and future communications from me with specific details.

Your decision for your student(s)

After the presentations and recommendations are presented to the Board on March 18, 2021, the district will distribute a Decision Form through ParentSquare for parents to select which program their child(ren) will attend for the remainder of the year – the hybrid, in-person learning model OR continuation of the distance learning model at home.  Your decision is critical for us to complete staff scheduling and classroom configurations for the rest of the year.  Please respond with your decision as soon as you are able. 

If you are not receiving ParentSquare communications from your child’s school site or the Gilroy Unified School District, please contact your child’s school to ensure we have correct contact information (cell and email) on file for your family. 

COVID19 Safety Plan (CSP)

At the March 18 Board meeting, staff will also present the district’s COVID-19 Safety Plan (CSP) which is required by the State and County before a district can reopen schools. Once the CSP is approved by the Board, it will be posted on the district’s webpage and each school’s webpage.

District’s Reopening Schools Webpage

Information on the return to in-person learning in GUSD is constantly evolving.  Please continue to visit our Reopening GUSD page on the District’s website: https://www.gilroyunified.org/reopening-gusd for the most current information.  The return to in-person learning information, including schedules and return dates for all grade levels will be posted here pending Board approval on March 18.

Survey Results

Over 48% of GUSD parents and guardians completed the recent survey indicating their desire for their child(ren) to return to in-person learning or remain in distance learning through the end of the 2020-21 school year. The survey closed on March 5.  Please see the breakdown of answers submitted through the ParentSquare app level below:

Preschool students: 60 responses

  • 26 respondents (43%) wish to remain in distance learning
  • 34 respondents (57%) wish to return to in-person learning

Elementary students: 2,283 responses

  • 902 respondents (40%) wish to remain in distance learning
  • 1,381 respondents (60%) wish to return to in-person learning

Secondary students: 2,617 responses

  • 1,134 respondents (43%) wish to remain in distance learning
  • 1,482 respondents (57%) wish to return to in-person learning

Total responses: 5,023

Ventilation Study and Repairs

As I have shared in previous Friday letters, in December, the District hired an expert team to assess, upgrade and repair all 1,200 HVAC units in Gilroy Unified.  This expert team has completed the assessments and repairs at the following schools:
 

  • Eliot, Glen View (including the preschool), Las Animas, Luigi, Rod Kelley and Rucker Elementary Schools
  • Christopher High and Gilroy High Schools

The remaining schools are scheduled as follows;

  • Week of March 15 - El Roble Elementary, GECA and Mt. Madonna High School
  • Week of March 22 – Brownell, Solorsano and South Valley Middle Schools, including the Adult Education facilities
  • Week of March 29 - remaining district buildings including Swanston Lane Preschool facilities

Vaccination Center at Gilroy High School

The school district is hosting a large-scale vaccination center at Gilroy High School.  The center is staffed by the County of Santa Clara and opened on February 24, 2021.  Many Gilroy residents and Gilroy Unified staff have already had their first, and in some cases, second shots at the vaccination center.   To date, over 400 GUSD staff have had at least one shot.  The County’s goal is to vaccinate 2,000 people per day with particular focus on residents and employees in the Gilroy community. Currently, the County as well as all health providers are waiting for the supply of vaccines to catch up with the demand for vaccines.   Despite the shortage of vaccines in the County, the center has vaccinated as many as 1,000 people in a day.  Other resources have also been made available to educators throughout the County.  We are optimistic that most of our staff will receive their vaccines by middle of April. 

I am excited to see that athletic competition has resumed at our two comprehensive school sites.  While high school sports, as well as most other components of our students’ educational experience look much different than we could have ever imagined a year ago, this is still an indication that progress continues to be made, in spite of the challenges we continue to face.  I welcome your comments and feedback about how a potential return to in-person learning will look for our students following the Board’s decision on March 18.  You can provide your input using this form: https://forms.gle/YGXuBWu8gQFhT9Am7, which has been shared with the Board, our reopening planning committee members and our leadership team.  Please be assured that we are working hard to answer your questions as we are able, and that our first priority continues to be the health and safety of our staff and students, and your family.

I look forward to our continued partnerships as we return to our campuses.  We are so ready to have your children back with us.

Take care of each other,

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

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