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May 21 update from Dr. Flores: vaccines, end of year schedule, technology updates, yellow tier criteria, and community service updates
GUSD Communications

Dear Families and Staff,

Happy Friday!  Can you believe there are only two weeks left in the school year? This is one of my favorite times of the year with end-of-the-year celebrations, high school graduations, senior awards night and reflection on the accomplishments and achievements of the school year.  As for most of you, I will never forget this school year, because in spite of its challenges, our school communities continued to persevere and triumph.

New Public Health Orders

All of the COVID-19 indicators are moving in the right direction with the lowest positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths in a year throughout the state, Santa Clara County and in Gilroy.  The County has one of the highest vaccinations rates in the state which has contributed to the significant decrease in COVID-19 case counts.

On Wednesday, May 19, Santa Clara County moved into the State’s Yellow Tier and new health orders were issued.  Although there were changes in the health order regarding masks for the general public, for school districts, everyone must still wear masks until the end of the school year. 

The most significant and immediate change for the district is the new requirement that employees must certify they have been fully or partially vaccinated with their employer.  The Gilroy Unified School District has been asking for this information on a voluntary basis from our employees, but now it is required under the order. 

Under the new health order, individuals that are unvaccinated or decline to certify their vaccination status will be required to wear masks.

Governor Newsom is planning to return the State to normal operations on June 15, 2021.  We are anxiously awaiting guidance from the California Public Health Department for schools as the result of this move back to normal operations.

Elementary Reopening 

The elementary schools have been open for over a month and things are going very well, thanks to the incredible work of our staff and principals.  It’s so great to have students and staff back on our elementary campuses. The teachers are doing a great job of providing instruction to both populations of students – in-person and distance learning.  The students seem to be genuinely happy to be back.

We really appreciate the cooperation of parents regarding drop-off and pick-up procedures.  These procedures were challenging for the first few days of the return to campuses, but are now working very well.

There has been only one confirmed case of COVID19 since reopening, which was acquired outside of school.  Following protocols, the impacted classroom was closed for about a week and there have been no other cases.  Attendance has been good both in person and in the distance learning program.

End of Year schedule

There is no school for elementary school students on Monday, May 24, because it is Teacher Records Day.  All elementary school students will participate in distance learning on Friday, May 28 and Friday, June 4, from 8:00-11:15 am. 

There is no school for all GUSD students on Monday, May 31 in observance of Memorial Day.  Classes resume on Tuesday, June 1.

Fall 2021 GUSD Reopening

The GUSD Reopening Planning Committee met again on May 19 and provided valuable input regarding our fall reopening.  From that meeting, we have gathered a list of suggestions, questions and concerns that we will be addressing through our planning process.

Staff are in full planning mode not just for the fall 2021 return to in-person learning, but for the summer program which will be in-person beginning June 14.  We are going to have a very busy summer preparing for the full reopening for all grades on August 18.

Professional development for staff will be offered during the summer and the days before school begins.

At last night’s Board of Education meeting, staff presented a recommendation to purchase the technology needed to offer a contingency plan at the secondary level if there is another surge of COVID-19 and schools must implement a hybrid learning model.  The Board approved the purchase of 388 interactive displays for our secondary campuses.  These interactive displays will be used in classrooms as soon as they are installed.

At last night’s meeting, the Board of Education also voted to allow high school students to resume in-person community service activities for volunteer hours that will fulfill their graduation requirement. Students may resume in-person community service activities on June 7, 2021.

Vaccinations

To date, the Gilroy High School vaccination clinic has vaccinated over 53,000 people.

The focus over the last few weeks has been on vaccinating teens and more recently, children ages 12 and up.  As of May 20, about 2,000 children in this age group have been vaccinated.  For details about how to vaccinate your child, or to schedule an appointment, visit: sccfreevax.org or call 2-1-1.

Individuals wishing to be vaccinated can either make an appointment or walk-in between 8:30-3:30 pm at the Gilroy High School clinic.  Walk-ins are best in the afternoon.  The County is holding a special vaccination event for students, age 12 and older, on Thursday, May 27, from 2-6:30 pm.  Students being vaccinated during this special clinic can receive a free boba tea. Students ages 12-17 must have their parent or guardian’s permission to be vaccinated.  

Almost 70% of GUSD staff have been vaccinated at this point and we expect more employees will get vaccinated before the start of the school year.  I am proud of their willingness to help ensure the health and safety of their colleagues and our students and families.

I believe vaccines are the key to our District and community returning to normal and hopefully, not having to close again.

As we wrap up the 2020-21 school year, I want to again, share with you how proud I am of each of you, and all we have achieved collectively this year.  We have learned many lessons that extend beyond the classroom and will continue to serve us and our community for years to come.

Take care of each other,

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

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