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September 24, 2021 update from Superintendent Flores: congrats GECA, increase in sub pay, job openings, behavior expectations for students, and more
GUSD Communications

Dear GUSD Families and Staff,

The first five and half weeks of school have flown by!  Returning to in-person instruction has been a major transition for everyone.  Things are going well but we are realizing that our staff and students need more time than expected to reestablish routines, review classroom procedures, reinforce behavior expectations,   and review prior years’ learning.  While the unknown impacts of the pandemic continue to unfold, I am grateful to our teaching staff because they reassure me that our students are making great strides in their daily learning; and that their collective goal is continued progress and not instant perfection.  

I understand that some families might be feeling anxious about the academic progress, or lack of, that their students are experiencing, and I want to reassure you that students are learning in our classrooms, and that even the smallest victories are meaningful.  I encourage you to keep checking in with your children, and to reinforce those expectations for effort and behavior, while at school, and also to tell them that you’re proud of them for doing their best in the classroom and during school activities.  I also want to ask you to remember that our staff members are also doing their best to provide support for students, while delivering instruction, and navigating what continues to be a challenging situation for all of us.

Congratulations GECA Griffins!
Congratulations to the Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy for being named to the  2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools Program by the U.S. Department of Education! GECA is one of 325 schools in the nation to be honored with this prestigious award, and one of only four high schools in California to receive this honor this year.  For a school to receive a recognition of this caliber is similar to an actor winning an Academy Award.  It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime honor, and we are so proud! Read the full release online.

Increase in Substitute Pay & Job Openings
If you have been thinking about becoming a substitute teacher in GUSD, now is the time!  At the September 16 board meeting, the GUSD Board of Education approved a temporary increase in certificated substitute teacher rates.  Visit the Human Resources page on the GUSD website for more information on how to apply, and to review the requirements for substitute teaching in the Gilroy Unified School District.  Click here to learn more about the increase in sub pay, visit or call (669) 205-4013.
The Gilroy Unified School District also has a number of job openings that we are actively recruiting for, including paraeducators, clerical, custodial, and maintenance staff.  View current employment opportunities online to see how you can fit in with Team GUSD.

Fall School Site Visits
During the first week of school, I was able to visit all of our schools and observe how the return to in-person learning was going.  In late August, I started visiting school sites as I do every fall.  I visit all 14 GUSD school sites three times per year for a morning: fall, winter and spring.  I started my fall visits at the middle school level and then moved on to the elementary schools.  In mid-late October, I will visit our four high schools.   I continue to be impressed with the teaching and learning that is happening in classrooms and am so grateful to our teachers and staff for all their hard work.  Teachers are using the adopted textbooks and materials and are following the California educational standards, while incorporating many technology tools to enhance their instructional programs.
 
Technology
Our I.T. Dept. and staff at the school sites have worked hard since the start of school to distribute 6,000 new Chromebooks and to redistribute existing Chromebooks so that every school has what they need.   Our long-term goal is to assign a Chromebook to each student.  
 
The District ordered interactive display boards, which look like giant television screens, for middle and high school classrooms to enhance instruction.  The displays have been delivered to school sites, and the I.T. Dept. is currently assembling the displays while our teaching staff is trained on how best to use these new instructional tools.

Vaccination Clinics 
GUSD continues to host mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics at school sites in partnership with the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health.  Clinics have happened at seven schools: Christopher High School, Gilroy High School, Mt. Madonna High School, South Valley Middle School, Brownell Middle School, Eliot Elementary School, Glen View Elementary School, and Rucker Elementary School.  Upcoming clinics are scheduled for next week:

Location Date Time
Solorsano Middle School Monday, September 27 3-7:30 pm
Glen View Elementary School Wednesday, September 29 2-7 pm
Christopher High School Thursday, September 30 4-7:30 pm

 No appointment is necessary and insurance is not required to receive the vaccine at any SCCPHD vaccine clinic. The County is currently administering vaccines to anyone age 12 and older.   Visit sccfreevax.org to schedule an appointment or for more information about COVID-19 vaccines.   We hope to host more clinics in the future, particularly, when vaccines become available for 5-11 year olds.
 
Alternate Income Form
I want to remind you again of the importance for all GUSD families to complete the Alternate Income Application by September 25, 2021, regardless of income status.  A link to the form can be accessed onlinein English and Spanish, and completing the application takes just a few moments.  This information helps our district receive crucial funding to support a number of services for our students and staff members, including counseling, intervention, academic support, professional development and support for English Learners.   Please take just a moment to complete and submit on behalf of all of our students.
 
South Valley Middle School Modernization Project
On August 26, GUSD held a groundbreaking ceremony at South Valley Middle School for a full modernization of the campus.  The project is well underway and moving at a brisk pace.  Several portable buildings have been moved and some buildings have been demolished.   The large field on Murray Avenue prepared for the classrooms that will be housed there in the future.  
 
TikTok “Devious Licks” Challenge
Last week, I sent a message to middle and high school families about a new challenge on TikTok, which encourages students to steal and/or vandalize school property. Please speak with your student about the serious consequences of participating in this trend, or participating in any other activity that involves theft or damaging school property, including being held responsible for the damages.
 
We also encourage monitoring of students’ social media activity, as these types of challenges tend to involve risky behaviors of which students do not typically realize the serious consequences of or threat to the safety of our schools and community until it’s too late. 
 
We have attractive facilities in our District, many newly renovated with your tax dollars, and hard-working staff who take pride in keeping them well-maintained for students, staff and the community’s benefit. Thank you for partnering with us to put a stop to this activity in our community. 
 
Student Behavior
The return of students to in-person schooling has led to some issues with student behavior.  Students are relearning how to interact with their peers in person (versus virtually) and this has led to some conflict and fights.  Some of the steps we are taking to address this issue are listed below;
 

  • Principals and Assistant Principals have talked to students about the school rules and behavior expectations. 
  • Schools are implementing strategies for reinforcing and recognizing appropriate behavior.
  • Restorative practices are being utilized to deal with conflict between students.
  • Mental health professionals are providing counseling services to students in need.
  • Social-emotional learning programs are being implemented. 
  • Training opportunities for staff members on how to support students’ social-emotional needs are ongoing.
  • Campus supervisors’ hours have been extended to provide support for students and staff before, during and after school.
  • Our District is partnering with the Gilroy Police Department, Santa Clara County’s Deputy District Attorney’s Office and the South County Youth Task Force to provide resources for students and families and immediate support as needed.
  • The District’s Emergency Preparedness and School Safety Coordinator is providing ongoing guidance and support to school leaders.
  • GUSD continues to use the STOPit mobile app for students to anonymously report threats or acts of violence or bullying. 


I want to assure you that all acts of violence or threats of violence on our campuses are taken very seriously by our staff members and our school district, and will be addressed appropriately.  The goal of the Gilroy Unified School District is to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all students on our campuses at all times.  
 
ESSER III Funding Family Input Survey
The Gilroy Unified School District is receiving one-time federal funds to support school opening, safe school operation, and student support.
 
Local Education Agencies (LEAs) that receive Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER III, funds are required to develop a plan for how they will use ESSER III funds to address students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs, as well as the opportunity gaps that existed before, and were exacerbated by, the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
We are asking for your input related to potential use of funds, in alignment with the funding requirements, and identified needs of students and our schools.  Please share your input by Wednesday, September 29.
 
Please note that some of these services may be included in other district plans such as the Local Control and Accountability (LCAP) and Expanded Learning Opportunities Plan.
 
 Examples of allowable uses include:                

  • providing mental health services and supports
  • implementing summer learning activities and afterschool programs
  • addressing learning loss, especially for targeted students
  • purchasing educational technology
  • purchasing sanitation supplies, implementing facility improvements
  • implementing preparedness and response efforts related to COVID-19

Please provide your input by Wednesday, September 29.  Thanks to those families who have provided feedback to our Educational Services team already. 
 
Deadline for Updating Emergency Contacts in Aeries is September 30
Parents and guardians should update their child’s emergency contact information in the Aeries platform before September 30.  It is important that each school year families update their contact and other information using the Aeries Parent Portal.  You can access this process through the Aeries App on your phone or on a desktop. 
 
Thank you for continuing to be a trusted partner with us for your child on their educational journey.   It makes me so happy to see your children’s smiling faces as I visit our campuses and to hear the excitement in their voices as they talk about their friends, teachers and school days.  I have missed this part of education most of all, and I am so grateful that we have the opportunity to be together on our campuses again. I ask for your patience and understanding as we work together to work through the challenges that the pandemic continues to present.
 
Take care of each other,
 
Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Gilroy Unified School District

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