Dear GUSD staff and families,
September 11 is a day of remembrance and reflection in America, as we honor the heroes and victims who lost their lives when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the White House. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, our country came together in collective grief and renewed solidarity. Over the past six months, I am often reminded of the connection we felt as Americans in 2001, and I have felt that connection again as our community continues to work through the challenges we face.
School Site Visits
Board members and I have visited schools over the past few weeks and have talked with principals, teachers and staff members about how things are going in this new teaching environment. We have also been visiting classrooms virtually. Principals, teachers and staff share that at this point most things are going well with fewer and fewer technology issues each week. We are so grateful for the tremendous efforts of our staff to provide the best learning opportunities possible for our students.
Internet and Hotspots
The district has distributed over 5,000 computers and by the end of this month, over 1,000 hotspots to families. Principals and site staff are continuing to work with families to address technology issues. There are two geographic regions of our district where the hotspots do not work or do not work well: the northeast and southeast corners of the district. We are working hard to identify and implement solutions for these areas of Gilroy. In addition, we have had multiple staff members visit families who have had challenges with connectivity and internet access to provide assistance and training for students to access distance learning. Tech support is available five days a week between 9 am and 5 pm. Please call 669.205.4060 if you need help.
Public Health Department Guidance for Schools Reopening
Several weeks ago, the Governor of California released information about a new four-tiered system for counties based on COVID19 test positivity and case rate, for loosening and tightening restrictions. This tiered system can be accessed here. Initially, Santa Clara County was in Tier 1 (purple) which is the most restrictive. On Sept. 8, Santa Clara County moved into Tier 2 (red). After 14 days in this tier, schools may reopen. However, school districts must still meet the guidelines issued by the Santa Clara Public Health Dept. on June 30, 2020 and our district is not able to meet those guidelines at this time.
Many steps must be taken before the district can consider reopening at any level. We will begin implementing the following steps:
The Reopening Planning Committee will meet this next week to review and discuss the guidelines. This committee is comprised of over 40 members including GUSD staff from all bargaining units, administrators, staff members and parents. The charge of the committee remains to address three core principles: health and wellness, school operations and teaching and learning. The committee will continue meeting until recommendations are solidified;
District staff will continue to assess readiness for opening schools based on the Public Health guidelines;
District leaders will meet with representatives of the three unions for their input and feedback from their union members;
Staff will meet with parent groups to discuss the readiness for reopening, and
Staff, students and parents will be surveyed to determine their preferences and level of comfort with proposed guidelines.
It is critical that we take a cautious approach and address all safety concerns before considering reopening. This is especially true in Gilroy as our city has one of the highest coronavirus rates in the County and health experts are warning that there may be an increase in COVID19 cases in the winter months. The safety of our staff, students and families has always been and will continue to be a top priority in our district.
Meals for Gilroy children
GUSD is serving FREE meals for all Gilroy children, ages 0-18, at five school sites: Eliot Elementary, Glen View Elementary, Rod Kelley Elementary, South Valley Middle and Solorsano Middle, Monday-Friday, from 12 pm-2 pm. Rucker Elementary is also serving FREE meals to all children in Gilroy, ages 0-18, from 10:30 am-11:30 am, Monday through Friday.
Meals can be picked up by any adult caregiver for all children in a home, and no identification is required. The first time a family visits a school site to pick up meals, they will be asked to complete an application to determine eligibility for free or reduced meals. Completing this application helps our district and schools receive much needed funding to be able to provide food to all children, regardless of financial status. Only one application needs to be completed per family, regardless of the number of children in the home and schools of attendance.
In addition to the above six schools serving free meals, Luigi Aprea Elementary also continues to serve breakfast and lunch to GUSD students only, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-2 pm. Meals at Luigi will be charged according to payment status (regular price, reduced pricing and free).
I hope that you continue finding joy in the small things that you experience. This season feels long and wearing for so many. I found peace from this quote that I read earlier today, from Sandy Dahl, the wife of one of the United Airlines Flight 93 pilots Jason Dahl, who died on September 11, “If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” I hope that you and your families are well and focusing on the positives as it can help deal with the challenges we are facing.
Take care of each other,
Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent, Gilroy Unified School District
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