Poway Unified School District (PUSD)

School Reopening

Governor Vaccine Mandate (October 1, 2021)

Dear PUSD Families,

We appreciate your ongoing partnership in ensuring the health and safety of our students and staff. As we continue to navigate the latest State public health orders, we have received many questions around the topic of the Governor’s newest vaccine mandate, upcoming vaccine clinics, and staff vaccination status. Here are the latest  health and safety updates from the State:

 

Governor’s Vaccine Mandate

This morning, the Governor announced that he will mandate COVID vaccines for all students attending any public or private school in-person, once the vaccine is fully authorized by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The mandate would take effect for 7th through 12th graders following the FDA’s full approval of the vaccine for children ages 12 and over. The mandate could take effect for students 12 and older by January 2022 or July 2022, depending on the timing for full federal approval for a COVID-19 vaccine for that age range. COVID vaccine requirements for students in kindergarten through 6th grade would be phased in after the vaccine is formally approved by the FDA for younger children. This means that the COVID vaccine would be added to the list of existing vaccine requirements for all children attending school in California. Exemptions for medical and personal beliefs would apply. As more details emerge, we will share them with you. Our priority is to continue to keep our staff and students healthy and safe, and as such, we will continue to follow any CDPH guidelines and public health orders, as mandated by the State.

 

Upcoming Vaccination Clinics

SharpHealthcare will be hosting additional Pfizer vaccination clinics at PUSD schools later this month for anyone in our PUSD community ages 12 and older. The next locations will be at Abraxas High School and Westview High School. Look for a separate email next week containing that information and a link to sign up for an appointment.

 

Staff Vaccination Status

Per the State’s health order, we have surveyed our staff for vaccination status and proof of vaccination. We are pleased to report that based on school staff who were surveyed, PUSD school sites have an average of 90% vaccination rate. The next step in following the State’s order will be ensuring those staff members who are unvaccinated or declined to state their status are testing weekly, which we will be implementing starting October 15. With the Governor's announcement today, testing weekly will eventually be removed as an option, and all school staff will be required to be vaccinated no later than when the requirement takes effect for students.

 

Thank you for your partnership as we all work together to ensure a successful school year. As a reminder, the health and safety guidelines are mandated by the State of California. Districts must comply with public health orders, otherwise we could face consequences which include loss of funding, loss of insurance, fines to school districts, and/or disciplinary action to staff. Therefore, we appreciate your understanding and continued support.

 

The Poway Unified School District


COVID Testing and Safety Reminders (August 27, 2021)

Dear PUSD Families,
Protecting the health, safety, and wellbeing of our school community remains our top priority as we welcome students back to full-time, in-person learning. We have implemented COVID-19 safety protocols in alignment with CDPH mitigation strategies to keep our students and staff safe while on campus. At this time, however, we are seeing an increase in positive cases affecting our community. (You can track positive confirmed cases per school site on the District dashboard.)
 
Symptom Screening
It is our expectation to keep our schools open and students participating in on-campus instruction. This will take a collaborative effort between home and school to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 on our campuses so that we can keep our schools open and students safe. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our school community, it is critical to screen  your child(ren) before school each day. PLEASE, do not send your child(ren) to school if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100 degrees or higher
  • (Persistent) cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal pain
  • Runny nose, congestions, itchy or red eyes, or chills

 
Quarantining & Testing
If your child is experiencing any of the above symptoms, they must stay home. Please contact your school site Attendance Clerk to excuse your child’s absence and see a healthcare professional for a COVID test. With a negative COVID test, your child can return to school after symptoms improve and they are fever-free. Without a negative test, your child should remain at home for 10 days, and return to school on day 11 if symptoms have improved and they are fever-free.
 
PUSD has partnered with Phamatech to offer testing appointments for any Poway Unified students and staff exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or for those who have had possible exposure to a positive COVID-19 case. You can make appointments at this link, and appointments are available 7 days a week. Phamatech is conveniently located in Carmel Mountain at: 15175 Innovation Dr, San Diego, CA 92128. Again, appointments are required via this unique link for the safety of Phamatech staff and patients. Both rapid antigen and PCR tests are available. We are continuing to explore additional testing solutions with CDPH and private vendors to ensure access to testing and timely results. Thank you for your patience.
 
COVID-19 testing is also available at multiple locations throughout San Diego County. In addition to your medical provider and local drug stores, visit this website to schedule an appointment at a testing facility near you.
 
Positive COVID Cases
Under no circumstances should anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 come to school or work, regardless of vaccination status or whether symptoms are present. This puts others at risk and increases the number of close contacts at your child’s school that will have to quarantine. Even an asymptomatic, vaccinated person can contract/spread COVID-19.
 
Close Contacts
If your student has been identified as a close contact or has had possible exposure to a COVID-19 case at school, your school is required to follow one of the quarantine guidelines here.
 
Thank you for your continued partnership
The Poway Unified School District


School Reopening Update (August 6, 2021)

 

Dear PUSD Families,

PUSD is following the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance as we plan for the opening of the 2021-22 school year on Wednesday, August 18, 2021. As we explained in our previous email, California school districts are legally obligated to implement and enforce the CDPH’s health and safety mandates. We wanted to share with you how the updated guidance will affect our students and schools.

Our goal is to fully open our schools, and keep them open. Our parents and guardians are valued partners in accomplishing this, so we ask that you assist us in following the CDPH COVID-19 mitigation strategies. There is a lot of important information for you, so please read through this entire email. We will be addressing the following information: 

 
  • Parent/Guardian Health and Safety Agreement

  • Physical Distancing

  • Masking

  • Change in Learning Option Preference

  • Self Screening for Symptoms

  • Testing

  • Close Contact Quarantining

  • Additional Safety Measures

  • Volunteers/Visitors

  • School Meals

 

Parent/Guardian Health and Safety Agreement

Please click on this link: The Parent/Guardian Health and Safety Agreement (Spanish version) and print/sign a copy for each student to submit to their school at the beginning of the school year.  (Middle and high school students can turn in the form during registration week)

 

Physical Distancing and Cohorts No Longer Required

In order to ensure that schools can fully reopen, the two most restrictive prevention measures from last year’s guidance, physical distancing and universal cohort groups, are no longer required when other mitigation strategies, such as masking, are in place. The elimination of these measures will allow our schools to open for full-time, in-person instruction on August 18 as planned. Currently, 98% of our PUSD families have opted for full-time, in-person instruction.

 

Masking

When any students are present, masks are required indoors at school for all students and adults regardless of vaccination status (unless there is a valid medical exemption). Masks are optional for everyone outdoors. The CDPH will reevaluate its masking guidelines by November 1, 2021. Many of you provided your input around masking, which will be shared with state and local leaders. As of today, we received over 1,200 comments from staff and families, with 49% supporting CDPH’s current guidelines of universal masking indoors, 34% supporting mask choice regardless of vaccination status, 13% supporting mask choice for vaccinated individuals only, and 4% supporting no masks at all. 

 

You can read a helpful FAQ on masking requirements from the San Diego County Office of Education here.

 

Change in Learning Option Preference

If you have reservations about your child returning to school in-person, whether you have ongoing safety concerns about COVID-19 or whether you have concerns with the state mask requirement, please know that you have the option to enroll in the district’s homeschool (TK-5 grades), independent study (6-12 grades), or Connect Academy virtual school (K-8 grades). 

The deadline to contact one of the above programs to request this change is Friday, August 13. We will do our best to accommodate requests, pending available space and staffing. 

You can learn more about the different learning options here: https://www.powayusd.com/en-US/Departments/Learning-Support/Enrollment/Learning-Options 

 

Self Screening

All staff and students should screen daily for symptoms before arriving on campus. People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms include but are not limited to fever/chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue or aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If an individual exhibits COVID-19 symptoms during the school day or during after school activities, they will be sent home immediately and recommended to test. If your child tests positive, notify your school immediately. 

Close Contacts Quarantining

There are also new measures that will reduce, and in some cases eliminate required quarantines when masks are worn indoors. This will allow us to avoid sending full classrooms of healthy students home for 10-14 days for quarantine. Again, this quarantine exception is dependent on indoor mask wearing.

If you or your child are identified as a close contact to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please review the new guidelines:

Unvaccinated: Individual quarantines for 10 days during which they would receive asynchronous online assignments through Canvas, and can return on day 11 as long as they are symptom free; OR Individual can return to school immediately, (must be asymptomatic), wear a mask, and undergo testing at least twice weekly during the 10-day post-exposure period

Fully Vaccinated (at least 14 days after the final shot in the vaccine series): Individual does not need to quarantine and may return to school. However, individual should continue to monitor  for COVID-19 symptoms

 

Testing

Individuals can access COVID testing through San Diego County’s no-cost testing options, lab-based tests, or their personal medical provider. Home test kits are not an acceptable option at this time. If your child(ren) test positive, notify your school immediately.

 

Contact Tracing and Notification of Cases

Close contact tracing will continue. (See section above about quarantine rules) Notifications about positive cases will be sent to staff, close contacts, and the school community, and positive cases will be recorded on the District COVID dashboard.  

 

Additional Safety Measures

For indoor spaces, ventilation will continue to be optimized. Hand hygiene (frequently washing hands, avoiding contact with one’s eyes, nose, and mouth, and covering coughs and sneezes) will be continued and reinforced among students and staff. In general, daily cleaning is sufficient to remove any potential virus that may be surfaces. Custodial staff will no longer use disinfecting spray on a daily basis, but will primarily clean with soap or detergent solutions, with specific focus remaining on high-touch surfaces such as door and sink handles and drinking fountains. Drinking fountains will be re-open.

 

Volunteers and Visitors

Per the CDPH, schools should limit nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations with people who are not fully vaccinated. We know family and community engagement is vital to the success of our schools. In light of this guidance, at its August 12 meeting, the PUSD Board of Education will review and update our rules for visitors and volunteers. More information will be forthcoming.

If you or your child would like to get vaccinated, it’s not too late. PUSD and Sharp have another clinic scheduled for Friday, August 13 at Bernardo Heights Middle School. Click here for more information.

 

School Meals

School meals for the 2021-22 school year will continue to be available and FREE to ALL students. Physical distance should be maximized as much as possible while eating (especially indoors), using additional spaces to facilitate distancing. Schools will arrange for eating outdoors as much as feasible.

 

We can’t wait to welcome our students back for the new school year! Thank you for your continued support and partnership. 

 

Gratefully,

The Poway Unified School District


School Reopening Update (July 19, 2021)

 

Dear PUSD Families,

Recently, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released updated guidance for K-12 schools for the upcoming school year. The California guidance is different from the updated Centers for Disease Control (CDC) K-12 schools’ guidance, and this has caused some confusion and much discussion among families and educators across the state. 

 

The updated CDPH guidance for the upcoming school year includes:

  • All K-12 students are required to mask indoors. 

  • All adults in K-12 school settings are required to mask when sharing indoor spaces with students. 

  • Masks are optional outdoors for all in K-12 school settings. 

  • Quarantine requirements following close contact/exposure have been reduced to cut down on absences. 

  • Physical distancing and cohort scheduling requirements have been removed.

 

California school districts are legally obligated to implement and enforce the CDPH’s health and safety mandates. Some media reports have implied that districts have the discretion to make masks optional or create their own standards for enforcement, which is not accurate. We do not have the authority or discretion to decide this matter ourselves. We are required to enforce this mandate, as we would with any law, regulation, or policy. If you have any concerns or comments, they should be directed here to the CDPH, the source of the mandate.

We have received many calls and emails, specifically in regards to how PUSD students and staff will be affected by all of this. We know this topic is of extremely high interest, and we are interested in continuing to hear input from you. You can provide comments on this or any topic by clicking on this link: https://bit.ly/PUSDListens

All comments specific to masking will be gathered from now through Friday, August 6, in order to be shared with Board members and state/county leaders. 

As we well know from this past year, public health guidelines are constantly changing during this pandemic, so we will continue to monitor the very latest and communicate directly with our staff and families if guidelines change, as we approach the start of the new year.

 

The Poway Unified School District

The Poway Unified School District (PUSD) is an equal opportunity employer/program and is committed to an active Nondiscrimination Program. PUSD prohibits discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying based on actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, national origin, nationality, immigration status, ethnicity, ethnic group identification, age, religion, marital or parental status, physical or mental ability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression or association with a person or a group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. For more information, please contact: Title IX/Equity Compliance Officer, James Jimenez, Associate Superintendent of Personnel Support Services, Poway Unified School District, 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128, 1-858-521-2800, extension 2121, jjimenez@powayusd.com. For students, you may contact Title IX Coordinator Jamie Dayhoff, Director of Attendance and Discipline, Poway Unified School District, 1-858-521-2840, jdayhoff@powayusd.com

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POWAY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT | 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128 | (858) 521-2800