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Dear GUSD Families and Staff,

Board members and I have been visiting school classrooms both in person and virtually and have been so impressed with the good work of our staff.  It is clear from our conversations with teachers and principals and observations of lessons being taught that we have come a long way from the first day of school.   There are many best practices under way and I am so proud of what has been accomplished so far.  Thanks to everyone – staff, students and parents - for all your hard work to make distance learning work as best as possible.

Opening GUSD Schools

On September 8, Santa Clara County moved into Tier 2 or the red tier of the State’s monitoring program. After 14 days at this level, September 22, 2020, school districts have the option to open campuses to staff and students.  However, in order to open, districts must also follow the mandates and guidelines issued by the Santa Clara Public Health Department (PHD) and Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) which were first issued on June 30, 2020 and were revised and released again this past week on September 22, 2020.  Information about the criteria we are striving to meet can be found on our website.

Recently, I reconvened the district’s Reopening Planning committee comprised of about 30 members to review the revised PHD/SCCOE mandates and guidelines.  The Committee will develop recommendations that will be shared with the school board at a future board meeting.  I spoke about the process at the September 17 Board Meeting and the initial steps we are taking to explore all options.  You can see a video clip of my comments here.

The district will not be rushing into opening campuses for many reasons. Our top consideration in this process is how best to keep our students, staff and families safe.  Some of the factors under consideration relate to data and science.  Gilroy continues to have one of the highest rates of COVID19 in Santa Clara County and the number of cases of school-aged children testing positive for COVID19 nationally is steadily increasing.  Districts that have opened in other parts of the country have had to close due to outbreaks of the virus.  Additionally, health experts are predicting that there will be an increase, or surge, in the virus during the winter months when much of our time is spent indoors.  We don’t want to reopen and then have to close again. 

Over the next month or so, the Reopening Committee will consider these factors and many others including the amount of personal protective equipment that the district has, contact tracing protocols, COVID19 testing protocols, protocols throughout the day including how many students can be housed safely in a classroom, use of restrooms, cleaning frequency , transportation, meals, and so much more.  The Committee will also review the revised guidelines from the PHD/SCCOE and after doing so assess our readiness to reopen. 

We value feedback and input from our stakeholders and will survey parents, staff and students to assist us in our planning and deliberation process.  We will also meet with several parent groups, union leaders and principals to hear their input.  The survey should be available to complete early next week and stakeholder group meetings will take place in the upcoming weeks.

Elementary schools distribution of instructional materials

Elementary schools are distributing learning materials approximately every three weeks. Specific information about distribution at individual schools will be communicated to you by teachers and principals.  As we move further along in the school year, these distributions will happen less frequently.

Assistance with Technology or Connectivity Issues

Beginning Monday, September 28 through Wednesday, October 21, the Gilroy Library is offering digital learning "coach-ups" for all GUSD students and families for help on how to use Zoom, Google Classroom, and other digital learning programs.

To receive the best support please come prepared with your student's log-in information and a charged device. Drop-in hours are Mondays from 4:30-6:30pm and Wednesdays from 3:00-5:00 pm.

For more information, please call Ariana Orozco (669) 287-2739.

In addition, our IT Support Line continues to provide support for students and families via telephone or email weekdays from 8:00 am-4:00 pm.  Please contact them 669.205.4060 or ITSupport@GilroyUnified.org if you need technical support. 

Free 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).  More information on the application process and meals can be found here.

VOTE in the November 3rd election

Due to the pandemic, you may have concerns regarding the November 3rd election. Registering to vote and casting your vote may appear a bit overwhelming. However, during this upcoming election it is actually easier to do both. If you have not yet registered to vote or would like to verify the status of your registration, please visit the California Voter Registration. Please note the deadline to register to vote is Oct 19, 2020, 15 days before Election Day on Nov 3, 2020.  Anyone who is registered to vote will receive a ballot mailed to them automatically. Completed ballots can be returned in the free postage-paid envelope that is provided or can be placed in one of 98 conveniently located drop-boxes throughout the county. 

The Registrar of Voters Office will also be open for early voting beginning on October 5, 2020 through Election Day. Voters who prefer to vote in person can still do so at any of the more than 100 Vote Centers that will be open throughout Santa Clara County starting October 31, 2020. 

Adhering to COVID-19 protocols, the Vote Centers will offer sanitary, in-person options for a full spectrum of services including language and accessibility assistance. For more information visit sccvote.org/voterschoice or call 866-430-VOTE (8683).  A few dates to keep in mind: 

State Testing

GUSD is currently conducting ELPAC testing for new students.  At this point,the CAASPP test has not been waived, and we will provide more information for students and families as it becomes available.

Athletic Conditioning at the High Schools

Athletic conditioning will begin for our high school athletic teams starting next week. Please watch for an email from your coach or athletic director for specific information regarding your sport. The coaches and/or athletic directors will be meeting with athletes to review all health and safety protocols that must be followed. These protocols include but are not limited to daily temperature checks, social distancing, wearing of masks and staying home when ill. Per guidelines set forth by the Central Coast Section, we are allowing student-athletes to participate in conditioning only with no physical contact and in small cohorts of 12.  We have not begun official practices for any high school programs and will follow all guidelines set forth by CCS with a projected start of resuming competition in early 2021.

New Community Service requirements for high school students

The following information was sent to high school families and students earlier today regarding updated requirements for high school students.  The Board of Education has adjusted the requirements for graduation. 

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, Gilroy students are unable to complete the Community Service requirements as stated in Board Policy 6146.1.

  • At the September 17, 2020 GUSD Board Meeting, the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Education modified the existing policy to assist our students:

  • The Class of 2021 will not be required to complete the graduation requirement.

  • Seniors with 160+ hours will be recognized with green cords upon graduation.

  • The Senior from each school with the most hours will be recognized with their name on the perpetual plaque.

  • Using the prorated five hours per quarter philosophy:

  • The Class of 2022 will be required to complete 55 hours as part of the graduation requirements.

  • The Class of 2023 will need to complete 55 hours of community service.

  • The Class of 2024 will be required to complete 60 hours as part of the graduation requirements. 

  • No hours will be required for the 2020-2021 school year.

Until there is a full return of students to school the only community service hours accepted to fulfill this requirement will be those completed virtually.

In addition, beginning with the class of 2024 students will be required to complete 20 hours by May 1 of each school year in order to be eligible for school-sponsored activities (i.e. Prom, Winter Ball, Athletic team participation, etc). Students must turn in any hours completed within 30 days of completion in order to receive credit for those hours. 

Please direct any questions regarding Community Service to the Community Service Coordinator at your school.  Contact information and further guidance can be found online.

I am looking forward to the season changing from summer to fall and all the traditions autumn has to offer. Although many celebrations will look different this year, the memories that we will create will have a special place in our hearts.  I am grateful that in all of the uncertainty in 2020 we still have these special moments to look forward to.

 

Take care of each other,

Deborah A. Flores

Superintendent, Gilroy Unified School District

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