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October 22, 2021 update from Superitendent Flores: celebrating Team GUSD, South County Annex grand opening, and vaccine clinics are back on GUSD campuses
GUSD Communications

Dear GUSD staff and families:

Today I’m thankful for the wet weather that is expected through the weekend, which is something California and the western United States need so badly.  I hope your weekend is also shaping up to be just as you hope, whether you’re staying home or out and about.  As always, there is so much going on in the Gilroy Unified School District.  Here is some information for you:

Celebrating Team GUSD

This week we received word that a number of our staff members have been recognized for the amazing work they do on our campuses and in our classrooms.  Please join me in congratulating four GUSD teachers who will be honored on Thursday, October 28, at the annual Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) Teacher of the Year event: Amber Bruce (GECA), Yesenia Campuzano (SVMS), Eric Davis (MMHS) and David Salles (CHS).  They are all receiving awards from SCCOE for their innovative teaching in the areas of the arts, civics and STEM.  In addition, GUSD’s Teacher of the Year, Ana Benich (GECA), will also be celebrated.  I’m looking forward to congratulating them at the event.

On October 21, I was notified that GECA principal, Sonia Flores, is one of eight recipients of the Terrel H. Bell award for Outstanding School Leadership, from the U.S. Department of Education.  This award is a great honor for Sonia, and our District, and we are so proud of her.  Read more about that recognition in the press release that was distributed yesterday.

GECA Application Period open through November 19

As a reminder to parents of incoming high school freshmen (2026 graduation year), applications for the Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy are being accepted now through November 19.  The GECA team has visited eighth graders at all three of our middle schools and VLA students to talk about the program, and assistance for completing the application is available.  For more information on how to apply, and other important deadlines, please visit their website

GECA is a 9th-12th grade academic program, located on the Gavilan College campus, that is designed to foster academic and career success. The school operates as an educational partnership between GUSD and Gavilan College, and is one of the cutting-edge Early College High Schools that have been designed, implemented, and funded nationwide through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in cooperation with Jobs For the Future, local community colleges, and school districts.

GECA students graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, or two years of college credit (between 40 to 60 transferable college units), which allows them to enter a four-year college or university with sophomore or junior standing.

Great Shakeout Earthquake Drill

GUSD Staff and students participated in the Great Shakeout Drill on October 21, 2021 at 10:21 am.  Everyone at our school sites practiced protocols that are in place in the event of an earthquake during the school day, including “drop, cover and hold on,” and safe evacuations from classrooms when appropriate.  District Office staff and departments at other sites also practiced the same protocols.  Following the drill, our Communications Department conducted a test of our emergency communications system.  Parents and guardians should have received a ParentSquare message in the app, text message, email and phone call notifying them about the drill and the system test.  If you did not receive any of these forms of communication and think you should have, please contact your child’s school site, and staff there will be able to update your contact information. 

As part of the Great Shakeout drill, we encourage all of our families to practice what to do in the event of an earthquake while your family is home.  You can sign-up for emergency alerts from the County’s Emergency Operations Center to be sent directly to your phone, establish a reunification plan for all members of your family, and prepare an emergency supply kit so that your family is ready for any number of scenarios.

For more information, visit preparescc.org.

South County Annex Grand Opening

Congratulations to the Santa Clara County Office of Education for a successful grand opening of the South County Annex.  The Annex offers a plethora of resources for families, students and staff members in Gilroy.  The Annex will provide access and opportunities for many people through alternative educational opportunities, early learning, support for migrant students, professional development opportunities for staff members and enhanced health services for residents of South County. 

The Annex is housed at the former Antonio Del Buono Elementary School site which closed in June 2020 due to declining enrollment in our District.  I am thrilled that our mission to serve students and families will be carried on at one of our former school sites through the great capacity of the County Office of Education. 

As a reminder, COVID-19 vaccine testing is available by appointment only at the South County Annex, Monday through Friday, from 10 am-4 pm.  To make an appointment, visit: sccfreetest.org.

Upcoming COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics at GUSD schools

We continue to maintain a strong partnership with the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health to provide COVID-19 vaccine clinics at some of our school sites.  The upcoming vaccine clinic at Gilroy High School will offer first and second doses, as well as booster shots for any eligible person 12 and older.  Gilroy High School will offer vaccine clinics on October 29 and November 19, from 3:00 pm-7:30 pm on both dates.  More dates and times will be released as details are finalized.  Clinics will offer vaccines via walk-in or appointment.  To schedule a first, second, or booster vaccine, please visit: sccfreevax.org. 

School Resources Officers Return to GUSD Schools

At the October 21, 2021 regular board meeting, the GUSD Board of Education voted to reinstate two School Resource Officers (SROs) on our campuses for a one-year period.  These officers will work on the 14 campuses in our District and will provide enhanced safety measures at our schools as part of the team of providers who support student health and safety.  SROs who work on our campuses will participate in regular and mandatory restorative justice trainings with other GUSD staff members, and they are specifically trained to work with children and adolescents.  I look forward to their support for all members of our school communities.

As the weather cools and our holiday season approaches, I continue to look for bright spots in all that we do.  Last week, both of our high school choir programs were able to perform in-person, for an audience, for the first time in two years.  That news is literal music to my ears. 

We continue moving forward, albeit slowly, to a place of safety and a return to a new normal.  Please continue to be patient with yourselves, your children, our staff, and others.  I truly believe we are all doing the best we can every day. 

Take care of each other,

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

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