Sonoma Valley School District prepares health and safety plans for 2022-2023

Optimism is high as Sonoma Valley staff members – including six new principals, three new vice-principals and 34 new teachers and education specialists – actively prepare for the opening of the 2022 school year. -23.

“The Sonoma Valley Unified School District [SVUSD] is very excited to welcome students back on Monday, August 15 for the 2022-23 school year,” said Superintendent Dr. Adrian Palazuelos. “As always, the health and safety of our students, staff and families is top of mind.”

Palazuelos said the district recently held leadership meetings with all administrators, where the importance of ensuring that each school’s comprehensive school safety plan is up to date and that the plans are reviewed with all employees in the school website.

He noted that COVID transmission remains high and is a focal point.

“We can’t take our foot off the gas pedal when it comes to slowing the transmission,” Palazuelos said. “While public health restrictions have eased somewhat in our county and California, we continue to closely monitor our numbers and maintain our COVID protocols in accordance with state public health protocols.”

He said SVUSD has a close and strong relationship with the local health jurisdiction, Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS), and will continue to take the lead from them to keep students and staff safe. personal.

The district informed families on August 8 that indoor masking continues to be optional and that, based on information received from the California Department of Public Health, there is no distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated. vaccinated in the state’s masking policy. Palazuelos said the county’s DHS does not plan to exercise any additional requirements beyond those guidelines.

“Our district team will continue to monitor communication from our national and local health professionals regarding updated health advice,” he said. “SVUSD will continue to provide masks to anyone who would prefer to continue wearing them.”

Unlike last fall, the county’s DHS has not imposed any health restrictions or requirements on schools offering athletic programs.

“However, the Sonoma Valley Unified School District continues to follow Sonoma County Department of Health Services protocols for referring individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and individuals who are determined to be close contacts,” said Palazuelos.

Sonoma Charter School (SCS) and Woodland Star Charter School (WSCS), which serve K-8 students, have been busy preparing for health and safety for the upcoming school year. Although they are part of SVUSD, they are independent in that they have a separate board of directors and their staff and teachers are not employed by the district.

The number of COVID-19 cases at both schools, as well as many other schools in the valley, increased earlier this year.

SCS updated its health and safety plans this summer. The school, which will welcome 227 students this fall, strongly encourages families to make sure their students are up to date with their vaccinations as they can limit the spread and severity of the disease.

Unvaccinated staff members are tested weekly. Temperatures of students and staff are taken each morning.

“We also try to space out children in classrooms and keep doors and windows open whenever possible,” said Catherine Stone, the school’s acting principal.

When students contract COVID, SCS initiates contact tracing.

“If the case was contracted at school, we notify all grade level families and staff who may have been in contact,” Stone said. “The sick staff member or student stays home for at least five days and must test negative to return to school.”

Woodland Star has been hit hard by COVID over the past school year.

“We came through the delta wave and the start of omicron relatively unscathed,” said Rebecca Traum, business operations manager and school COVID coordinator. “At the end of the school year, that changed quite drastically. We have had small outbreaks in many of our classrooms, often amplified by extracurricular activities such as sleepovers.

In accordance with state guidelines, the school has required indoor masking through the end of the 2021-22 school year. This year, masks will only be required when an individual is exposed. The school’s Charter Council will meet before the first day of school, August 23, to make final decisions.

“As a small school, we have the ability to be flexible and adapt based on the environment and guidelines,” said Caroline Hopewell, executive director of WSCS. “Clear and timely communication, access to free testing, maximizing ventilation and keeping high-risk activities outdoors are key points.”

Woodland Star strongly recommends that students receive COVID vaccines. Since most of the school’s 220 students are of very young age, many were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated at the end of the 2021-22 school year.

School staff guide families through isolation and testing protocols when a student contracts the disease. For exposures during morning duty or after school, the whole school is notified.

School Safety Plans

Comprehensive school safety plans for all SVUSD schools were approved by the board on January 18. Plans are updated annually to incorporate changes and additions to practices.

“We do our best to prepare for all types of scenarios and security situations, including potential power outages, air quality, and strangers on campus,” Palazuelos said. “And we have policies and procedures around sexual harassment and anti-bullying, as well as an anonymous reporting system where people can report potentially dangerous situations so we can respond appropriately.”

Spurred by numerous high-profile cases nationwide in which children have brought guns to school – often from home – SVUSD has emailed families regarding the protection of children from gun violence avoidable.

“These incidents can be easily avoided by storing firearms in a safe and secure manner, including keeping them locked up when not in use and storing them separately from ammunition,” Palazuelos wrote.

Contact the reporter, Dan Johnson, at [email protected].

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