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Ventura County Schools Preparing to Reopen Campuses
June 8, 2020 – The California Department of Education (CDE) today released new guidelines for the safe reopening of the state’s public school campuses. The guidelines contain recommendations regarding a variety of measures to protect the safety of students and school employees. This includes advice on social distancing, temperature checks, contact tracing, hand washing, the use of face coverings and more. The CDE guidance, titled “Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safer Opening of California’s Public Schools,” can be viewed at this link.
CDE notes that there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will work for all schools. Local school districts will have the discretion to develop plans that best serve the unique needs of their communities. All schools – public and private – will need to operate in accordance with state and local public health regulations.
The Ventura County Office of Education (VCOE) is working closely with the leaders of all twenty local school districts to develop protocols for the safe reopening of school campuses for the 2020-2021 school year. VCOE has created a COVID-19 Re-entry Task Force that includes leaders in education and public health that is providing guidance and support at the local level. Currently, most Ventura County districts are planning to reopen their campuses in mid to late August according to their regular calendars. Many will continue offering distance learning as an option for families who prefer it.
“We know there is tremendous desire among students and parents for normal school operations to resume,” said Stan Mantooth, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools. “Nothing can duplicate the face-to-face learning and social interaction that takes place at our schools. We are committed to restoring those opportunities as quickly as possible while making safety a top priority.”
In addition to protecting students’ physical health, Ventura County educators are preparing to provide for their social and emotional needs. Students who will return to class this fall have been impacted, not only by the coronavirus crisis, but also by the growing awareness of racial injustice that followed the death of George Floyd. “Public schools have a critical role to play in helping young people make sense of events that are reshaping their lives and our world in real time,” Superintendent Mantooth said.
As districts begin to announce details on plans for the new school year, it’s important to remember they are subject to change. An increase in the severity of the pandemic or progress in developing treatments for COVID-19 could alter efforts to get schools back to normal for better or for worse.
When students do start returning to school, parents can help ensure everyone’s safety by encouraging good hygiene practices at home and by keeping kids home when they are sick. Additional information on preventing the spread of COVID-19 in children is available from the CDC in English and Spanish at this link.
New Car Graduation Protocol Issued by Ventura County Public Health
May 27, 2020 – Ventura County Public Health (VCPH) today released a revised protocol regarding vehicle celebrations for graduations and other special observances. The protocol has been modified to allow graduates to briefly exit their vehicles on a timed schedule to receive their diplomas. Diplomas may be distributed using a no-contact pick-up method, maintaining physical distancing of six feet or greater. The protocol allows school personnel to take photos of graduates outside of their vehicles. Family members will be permitted to take photos from inside their vehicles.
The car line must be organized by a designated host who is responsible for ensuring full compliance with the protocol and adherence to the State Health Officer’s Stay at Home Order, which precludes mass gatherings.
The new VCPH protocol may be downloaded at https://bit.ly/car-grad-2020.
All Ventura County School Districts to Close Campuses Through Remainder of School Year
April 1, 2020 - All Ventura County School Districts have jointly agreed to keep their campuses closed and continue distance learning through the end of the 2019-20 school year in support of the coronavirus mitigation effort. The decision was made on Wednesday, April 1 in consultation with Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin. It comes after recommendations from California Governor Gavin Newsom and California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond for schools to continue providing distance learning in lieu of in-class instruction for the remainder of the current semester.
“While we would like nothing more than to welcome students back to campus before the end of the year, the health and safety of our communities has to be the first priority,” said Ventura County Superintendent of Schools Stan Mantooth. “We realize the situation is fluid and schools are prepared to alter their plans as conditions warrant.”
Superintendent Mantooth emphasized that the closure of school facilities does not mean the current school year is over. Ventura County school districts are already providing distance learning opportunities for students and will continue making them more robust. Many have transitioned to online learning platforms and provided laptops and wi-fi hot spots to students who need them. Others are using paper-based materials when technological solutions are not practical.
“We understand that these closures place a tremendous burden on families and we will do everything we can to expand distance learning and continue providing meal service to students in need,” Mantooth said. Grab-n-go school meals continue to be widely available throughout Ventura County. A list of pick-up locations is available at www.vcoe.org/meals.
One of the most difficult aspects of the closure is the disruption to traditional end-of-year activities including graduation ceremonies. Schools are already exploring alternative ways to celebrate the end of the year and recognize our students for their accomplishments.
The Ventura County school districts that jointly agreed to extend their campus closures are listed below. Most Ventura County charter schools are expected to follow suit.
- Briggs School District
- Conejo Valley Unified School District
- Fillmore Unified School District
- Hueneme Elementary School District
- Las Virgenes Unified School District*
- Mesa Union School District
- Moorpark Unified School District
- Mupu Elementary School District
- Oak Park Unified School District
- Ocean View School District
- Ojai Unified School District
- Oxnard School District (K-8)
- Oxnard Union High School District
- Pleasant Valley School District
- Rio School District
- Santa Clara Elementary School District
- Santa Paula Unified School District
- Simi Valley Unified School District
- Somis Union School District
- Ventura County Office of Education
- Ventura Unified School District
For the latest updates on the impact of the coronavirus on Ventura County public schools including closures, meal service and distance learning, please visit the Ventura County Office of Education website at www.vcoe.org.
* Las Virgenes Unified School District is based in Los Angeles County, but serves a portion of Ventura County.
Meal Service During School Closures
School meal service will still be widely available in Ventura County while schools are closed due to the coronavirus.
CLICK HERE FOR MEAL SERVICE LOCATIONS
Access VCOE distance learning resources and links to at-home enrichment information from school districts throughout Ventura County.
CLICK HERE FOR DISTANCE LEARNING RESOURCES
Answers to Common Questions
Get answers to questions about testing, graduation, childcare and more.
CLICK HERE FOR THE FAQ
Talking to Kids about Coronavirus
Giving kids accurate, age-appropriate information in a calm and reassuring way can help them cope with uncertainty created by the coronavirus. Click the links below for valuable advice about how to best talk to kids about coronavirus.
Preventing the Spread of the Coronavirus
Actively working to prevent the spread of disease remains the most important thing we can do at this point. Standard precautions to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as cold and flu apply to coronavirus. These include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid hugging and shaking hands.
- Try to stay at least six feet away from anyone who appears to be sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If no tissue is available, cough into the crook of your arm.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Individuals with chronic health issues and/or individuals experiencing severe symptoms should be evaluated by a medical professional.
- Get vaccinated for flu every year.
Social distancing involves measures that reduces opportunities for person-to-person virus transmission that can help delay the spread and slow the exponential growth of a pandemic during severe, very severe, or extreme pandemics while minimizing the secondary consequences of the measures. Social distancing measures can be implemented in a range of community settings, including educational facilities, workplaces, and public places where people gather (e.g., parks, religious institutions, theaters, and sports arenas). The choice of social distancing measure depends on the severity of the pandemic. Social distancing measures include the following:
- Closure of schools or work environments.
- Lessening the contact between individuals through cancelation of non-academic events.
- If schools remain open during a pandemic, divide school classes into smaller groups of students and rearrange desks so students are spaced at least 3 feet from each other in a classroom. This applies to apparently healthy persons without symptoms. In the event of a very severe or extreme pandemic, this recommended minimal distance between people might be increased.
- Persons in community settings who show symptoms consistent with cold or flu and who might be infected with pandemic illness should be separated from well persons as soon as practical, be sent home, and practice voluntary home isolation.
- Modify, postpone, or cancel mass gatherings.
- A video about social distancing with Dr. Robert Levin from VCPH can be viewed at this link.
Additional information about social distancing is available on page 5 of this document: VCOE School Action Steps for Pandemic Outbreak.