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Update Letter #3 About Coronavirus
Posted 3/11/20

Dear Simi Valley Schools Community,

As Spring Break approaches (March 23 to 27) and more news about COVID-19 (coronavirus) is reported, we wish to provide an update with additional information and the steps we are taking to prepare for coronavirus in our area.

 

Each day, our staff members, our school board members and I continue to work closely with our county public health officials, the California Department of Education (CDE), the Ventura County Office of Education, our partner organizations (Rancho Simi Recreation & Parks District, City of Simi Valley, YMCA, etc…) and our neighboring school districts. All of these organizations and more share our mission to ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff as we find our way through a scenario none of us has seen before. For this situation, our primary guidance comes from the county and state public health officials, who work in conjunction with our county and state education offices.

 

The CDE recommends that school districts create contingency plans for potential school closures. As of right now, our schools are open, but we know that this situation is fluid and can change quickly in the coming days and weeks with very little notice. At some point, the coronavirus will most certainly touch our community and our schools, and we are preparing for every possible scenario if and when that happens. 

 

Some decisions made in the last few days include:

  • New cleaning protocols for our classrooms, bathrooms and buses.
  • No new field trips or student/staff travel will be approved until further notice. Unless otherwise advised, prior-approved field trips and travel will continue. (Please make sure that you check directly with your child’s school/teacher if you have an upcoming trip, especially over Spring Break.)
  • Optional activities will continue but parents have the discretion to decide on their child’s participation. This would include any non-school sponsored trips and non-academic events.
  • Already scheduled on-campus and district activities will continue until further notice.

We will continue daily to monitor student activities. Depending on the logistics and any changes in our community’s health status, more cancellations could occur. Cancellations of specific activities will be quickly communicated by your principals through our normal channels (email, app notifications, website, social media, all-calls). Please make sure that your contact information is up-to-date and please make sure that you mark the district’s email and your school’s email addresses as “approved” senders in whatever manner your email system requires.

 

During over the next few weeks and especially during Spring Break, we strongly urge families to avoid any non-essential travel and re-evaluate all travel plans. (Many airlines and hotels are accommodating cancellations due to coronavirus concerns.) If your family plans to travel during Spring Break, please pay attention to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) travel advisories, alerts and guidelines for your destination. The CDC publishes a list of foreign travel advisories for coronavirus (you can find it here).

 

For families who are traveling, please know this situation is changing daily and you may be asked to self-quarantine when you return. Additionally, please be aware that since this is a very dynamic and fluid situation, we do not know what travel restrictions may be enacted by the U.S. government over the next few weeks. It is entirely possible that you may end up traveling through a region (or an airport) that is added to the CDC watch list, which would place you and your children in a 14-day mandatory isolation period upon your return.  

 

Right now, there are no cases (presumed or confirmed) of COVID-19 among any Simi Valley students or staff members. If a student or staff member were to test positive and expose others at a school, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommends that we meet with local public health officials to determine the risk level and to consider if a school or district closures is warranted. The Simi Valley Unified School District has established protocols for managing school site health and safety should an exposure be identified. The CDPH has published the School Guidance on Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 document to clarify their recommendations, which you can read here.

 

We understand what an incredible hardship it will be for most of our families if our schools or district have to close for any length of time and it is the very last thing we want to see happen. But, this situation is shifting rapidly. We have to acknowledge that for the safety of our students and staff, closures may become a reality. Please try to make contingency plans for childcare in case this happens.

 

In the event of a school or districtwide closure, we will do our best to provide enrichment activities for our students to work on at home.

 

Also, if your family depends on the Free-and-Reduced Lunch Program, we will make every attempt to provide meals to all students who are in need. Locations for food pick-up will be shared with parents should a closure happen.

 

Lastly, please remember that Friday, March 13, is a no-student day at all of our schools.

 

The health and safety of our students and staff are our number one priority. We will continue to monitor this situation and to provide regular updates. I am very proud of all of our staff as they continue to work in the best interests of our students. I want to thank our community for continuing to support our efforts with patience and flexibility as we maneuver through this stressful time together.

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Jason Peplinski
Superintendent
Simi Valley Unified School District