The tentative date of April 12, 2021, will remain the same for the reopening of schools at the high school level, but guidelines have changed slightly with the possibility of teachers receiving vaccines as early as March and the change in COVID-19 case levels.
The Ventura Unified School District (Ventura Unified) School Board met on Jan. 26, 2021 to discuss the possibility of returning students to campus. In their meeting, they discussed the current state and local guidelines concerning the reopening of schools, vaccines for teachers and how schools are currently moving forward.
High schools cannot have many students on campus while Ventura County is in the purple tier by law. If high schools were to open in the red tier, testing would be required of staff and students every two weeks, which is costly and would be difficult for Ventura Unified to implement. Based on the information stated, the Ventura Unified School Board has decided that it would be best to reopen high schools in the orange tier due to financial and logistical reasons.
Katie Tedford, assistant principal at Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech), explained how Foothill Tech has created a, “site-specific plan to address the extensive logistics to reopen safely.”
Foothill Tech’s, “plan involves classroom spacing, PPE materials, ingress and egress maps, A-C group schedules, meeting student health needs on campus, meeting student and staff safety needs on campus, and meeting student social emotional needs,” Tedford explained.
Foothill Tech is also, “training staff in regards to health and safety procedures, instruction techniques in this distanced and digital hybrid environment,” and will relay this information to families when it is complete, Tedford continued.
While waiting for schools to reopen, Foothill Tech is still moving forward with the small groups program and will continue to look for, “strategies that will help in the re-opening of,” schools by, “supporting elementary school sites,” according to Tedford.
With the return of students to campus quickly approaching, most Ventura Unified teachers and staff and the VUEA (Ventura Unified teacher’s union) are concerned for their safety and others, and wish to be vaccinated before they return to school.
Ventura Unified teachers and staff are supposed to be in the next tier for their vaccinations, which will be distributed as early as late Feb. to early March, but depending on the availability of the vaccine, this priority could change.
“With the pressure on schools to open I wish teachers had been prioritized earlier,” Cherie Eulau stated.
Cherie Eulau, teacher at Foothill Tech, stated that she is “excited about teachers getting vaccinated,” and that Ventura Unified will, “facilitate us [teachers] in getting appointments.
Eulau continued that it has been very difficult to get appointments for the vaccine with the availability of the vaccine but, “many Foothill teachers have an appointment or even their first shot.”