District Updates

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Back to School Update – July 27, 2021


Dear LMSV Families

As we look forward to the upcoming school year, you may have questions about California’s newly released school health requirements and what they will mean for our students. Since there has been so much conflicting information in the news, we wanted to get an update out to our families sooner than later. 

In order to ensure that schools can fully reopen, the two most restrictive prevention measures included in last year’s guidance, physical distancing and universal cohort groups, are no longer required. The elimination of these measures will allow our schools to open for full-time, in-person instruction on August 11 as planned.

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 because of state quarantine requirements. This quarantine exception is dependent on indoor mask requirements.

Finally, as mentioned above, masks are required indoors at school for all students and adults regardless of vaccination status (unless there is a valid medical exemption). However, masks are now optional outdoors. 

We understand that some feel the mask requirement is unnecessary, while some feel the guidance does not go far enough. Despite the fact that news reports have implied that districts have the discretion to make masks optional, this is not the case. Specifically, the State of California has issued the following mask requirements in schools:

  • All students and adults are required to wear masks in classrooms, regardless of vaccination status (unless there is a valid medical exemption).
  • Masks are optional outdoors for all in K-12 school settings.
  • ​Schools must enforce the mask requirement.

County and state health officials have confirmed that all school districts must comply with the guidance for schools included in the State Public Health Officer Order of June 11, 2021, which derives its authority from Health and Safety Codes 120125, 120140, 120175,120195 and 131080 and other applicable laws. As a public entity, the San Diego County public health order includes a similar requirement.

It is important to understand that the state has not given schools the discretion to make masks optional or to create their own standard for enforcement. We are required to enforce the state mandate, as we would with any other state law, regulation, or policy. 

If you have reservations about 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 hybrid independent study program, Trust Blended Learning. You can learn more about Trust here: https://www.lmsvschools.org/trust/

Despite the confusion and public debate over the new health rules, we are grateful the state has prioritized in-person instruction for children once again. We can’t wait to welcome all of our students back on campus. Thank you for your continued support and partnership.

Gratefully,

David Feliciano
Superintendent, La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools 
#LMSVHeart


Parent Update – March 10

Dear LMSV Families,

While we are busy planning for our return to in-person instruction in April, we are also working on our plans for the 2021-22 school year.  We wanted to provide you with some important information and updates regarding summer learning opportunities, and our plans for the upcoming school year.  

Update on Vaccines for Staff

In addition to our eligible staff who received the vaccine in the first phase of distribution, and thanks to an incredible partnership with Alvarado Hospital, all of our teachers and staff have now had the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Last week, Alvarado Hospital distributed over 900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine exclusively to La Mesa-Spring Valley and have reserved second doses for distribution in the coming weeks. We are so grateful for their support. 

LMSV Summer Academy

We are so excited to share with you that the district will be offering a summer academy program for our students this summer.  This program will be held in-person, with students attending 4 hours each day in assigned small cohorts.  

Here is some basic information about the program:

When: June 28 – July 23, 2021 (excluding July 5 – holiday)

Time:  8:00 AM to 12:00 P.M. M-F

Where: Various school campuses throughout the district 

Who: All students are eligible to register. We will prioritize enrollment based on student need, but expect to have capacity to serve a large portion of our student population.  

Register:  Interested families can fill out the application here. We will confirm registration once we have determined capacity and availability of space.  

Questions: If you have additional questions, please contact Maissha Stewart at maissha.stewart@lmsvsd.net or by phone at (619)668-5700.

2021-2022 School Year 

Our goal is to open for the 2021-2022 school year in a full return for students.  As you know, the rules and guidance for schools have been dependent on health guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health. The current health guidance that has been issued is for the 2020-2021 school year; we have yet to receive any additional guidance for next year.  However, what we have learned this year is to expect that guidance will change frequently. In anticipation of this, we are doing some very intentional planning for the upcoming school year so that we are able to respond to whatever guidance is issued and provide maximum time on campus for our students.  This planning includes investing in additional staffing to ensure smaller class sizes that would easier accomplish any distancing requirements if a hybrid schedule were required, and the enrollment of online learners to our Trust program prior to the start of school to avoid reorganization. While we cannot predict what the health orders will be, we can plan for a full reopening and prepare to pivot to whatever the health orders require of us as seamlessly as possible.    

Online Learning Options for 2021-2022 School Year

As referenced above, families that choose to remain in a virtual or blended learning environment for the 2021-2022 school year will need to enroll through our Trust Blended Learning program.  The Trust program offers traditional homeschool, online only, or blended learning options for families who prefer a less traditional or more home-based learning model.  We are pleased to be able to scale our program to accommodate our families who want to remain learning virtually into our Trust Program for the upcoming school year.  Families who want to choose this learning option can enroll in the Trust program by clicking this link.  Additional information on the Trust program can be found here:  https://www.lmsvschools.org/trust/. The 2021-2022 enrollment window for the Trust program is open until April 30.  

Open Enrollment for the 2021-2022 School Year

The open enrollment window for submitting inter-district and intra-district transfer requests (to allow you to attend a school other than your school of residence) is open through March 31, 2021 for elementary schools and traditional middle schools (the transfer window for middle school academies closed in December).  More information on that process can be found at this link:  https://www.lmsvschools.org/student-support/

If you have any questions about the upcoming school year, please reach out to your child’s principal.  They are the best source of information as we begin to plan and prepare for both our summer program and our upcoming school year.  We are excited about the continued opportunities to serve and support our students. 

Warm Regards,


Deann Ragsdale, Assistant Superintendent

Educational Services

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Parent Update – February 24


Dear LMSV Families,

As promised, a special board meeting was held on Tuesday night, February 23, where the school board considered a timeline and next steps for reopening our schools.  We are pleased to share that the board approved the reopening of La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools for in-person hybrid instruction on April 19, 2021.  I want to emphasize that this is not a projected timeline, this is a commitment that as long as we are permitted to reopen on April 19 (as it seems clear we will be), we will welcome our students back on campus on that date. Assuming that COVID rates continue to decline, we expect that we will be able to have all grade levels return to campus on April 19, including our middle school and academy students.  We are excited to be able to share this news with you.   

What will school look like when we “reopen” this year?
We are committed to a reopening that maintains a continuity of learning for our students.  In a year that has been anything but normal, there are many concerns with a massive reorganization of students and classrooms this late in the year.  In order to retain our students’ connections to their teachers and their classmates, elementary students will learn virtually in the morning (on Zoom), and be invited to a hybrid in-person cohort in the afternoon at least two days per week.  Middle school/academy students will attend on a modified schedule specific to their school site that allows them to retain their current schedules and electives. Your child’s principal will be sharing more specifics about the times for in-person learning and the schedules for your school.

What will happen between now and the reopening date?
This week, for elementary schools, and next week, for middle schools/academies, you will begin receiving information from your principal about your school’s specific schedule. Linked in that letter will also be a survey to determine if you might need additional support with transportation or Extended School Services access when school reopens.  Our support departments are diligently working on schedules and support options that might provide additional service to our families during this time. Your child’s principal will also begin communicating with you in coming weeks about your in-person cohort assignments and how that will work for your child’s class and campus.  Our school staff have already been hard at work ensuring that our campuses are prepared for students’ return, and we are eager for the April 19 return of our students back to our school sites. 

Concerns with Trustee’s Behavior
As you may have heard, at Tuesday’s board meeting, Trustee, Charda Bell-Fontenot, behaved in a manner the Board does not condone, nor did her behavior represent our values and our commitments to our students, community, and to each other. We have received many emails and calls of great concern from our families and community members. Please note that school board trustees are not district employees; they are elected officials. The school district does not have the authority to release duly elected trustees from their positions. While we were also disappointed and offended by Trustee Fontenot’s behavior, we were saddened to learn that she has received hateful, racist, and threatening communications as a result. The district will continue to forward all hate mail and threatening communications to law enforcement. We want to make it very clear that La Mesa-Spring Valley does not condone any behavior that disparages or bullies anyone. We strongly condemn behavior that is racist, discriminatory or threatens violence of any kind.  We must embody our commitment to value and love our students, and our neighbors. In fact, last June, the Board of Trustees released the following equity statement to reaffirm our stand against discrimination and racism in all forms, most especially in our schools:

As affirmed in our equity policy (BP 0415), the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District is committed to the realization of equity and social justice within our schools.  We stand together with those that have suffered violence at the hands of racism and oppression, and we are committed to ensuring that each and every one of our students is valued and loved. As we move through these devastating times in our community, we reaffirm our ongoing commitment to ensuring equity in our schools. We are actively engaged in this ongoing work, to affirm the unbounded worth and potential of all children. We continue to partner with San Diego State University and the San Diego County Office of Education in an effort to examine and implement best practices in our schools. We are committed to ending the inequities that exist because of the history of exclusion, discrimination, segregation, and systemic racism in our nation’s educational system.


Even during what has proven to be the most difficult school year any of us have faced, (staff, students, and parents alike), we have remained committed to making decisions that balance the interests of our students, our families, our staff, and our community. Together, we exist to serve the children of this community. As difficult as things have been (as exemplified in Tuesday’s meeting), we want to assure you that we are committed to treating each other with dignity and respect (as outlined in our equity statement above) in a spirit of compassion and love. As your superintendent, I want to assure you that this remains our focus. We are accountable to you, the community for which we serve, and through it all we remain grateful for the support you have provided to all of us and to your children. We are so excited for April 19 when we can welcome our students back to campus once again. 

Gratefully Yours,

David Feliciano
Superintendent, La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools


Parent Update – February 19


Dear LMSV Families,

I am happy to report that San Diego County’s COVID-19 case rate has fallen to 22.2 (as of Tuesday, February 18). Current health regulations state that schools, which have not previously reopened, will be eligible to reopen grades TK-6 once the county’s COVID-19 case rate is below 25 for five consecutive days. For grades 7-8, the case rate must be below 7.2. However, we recently learned that reopening grades TK-6 will still require approval from the county health department. The county is recommending a three-week window from the time the application to reopen is submitted to the planned reopening date. Though the county is not yet accepting applications to reopen, it is supposed to begin doing so later today. I’m sorry for all of the technical details, however, it is important to understand all that is required (by law) before schools are permitted to reopen. 

As shared in our last parent letter, now that the case rate has dropped below 25, our board of education will consider and determine the timeline for reopening at a special board meeting. The meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, February 23 at 6:00 PM. Information about how to participate and view the board meeting will be posted with the online board agenda here: LMSV BoardDocs. 

Once the board has determined the timeline for reopening, we will send another parent letter to share next steps. We are encouraged by the fact that COVID rates are falling so dramatically and are especially hopeful that health restrictions will be lifted in the coming months so that students can fully return to school. Thank you for your continued partnership and support.

Gratefully Yours,

David Feliciano
Superintendent, La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools


Parent Update – February 5


Dear LMSV Families,

At our board meeting this week, we were able to provide an update on our revised school reopening plans in response to the changes and new requirements included in the new state health regulations for schools.  As I shared in last week’s update, our revised reopening plan aims to keep students with their current teachers and classmates, provide daily instruction over Zoom, and provide the opportunity for our elementary students to attend school in-person, at least twice a week in the afternoon. We also shared how the plan differs for each of our academy/middle schools (LMAAC, Parkway, STEAM, SVA).

The revised reopen plan for each of the academy/middle schools is unique because of the varying schedules, electives, class sizes, and teacher credentialing requirements at each school. At each of the schools we will:

  • Provide in-person instruction to students 1 to 2 days a week (for as much time as can be provided while maintaining physical distancing requirements).
  • Provide additional in-person intervention time based on need and capacity.
  • Ensure students remain with their teachers and retain their electives.
  • Utilize concurrent instruction as appropriate (with students on Zoom and students on campus, learning with their teacher at the same time) so that students receive core instruction with their current classmates and teachers.


Transportation and Childcare
Because we know that transportation mid-day and support for all families and learners will be a challenge for many, we are exploring how to increase school bussing options for students.  We are also working to have ESS on each of our campuses and hope to provide increased access to families who may need additional support with childcare while their students are at school. Your school will share additional information on both of these options in the coming weeks.

When will my school reopen?
The timeline for reopening has not been established because health regulations do not permit schools to reopen until the county’s COVID-19 case rate is below 25 per 100,000 people (for five consecutive days) for grades TK-6, or until the case rate is below 7.2 for grades 7-8. The last thing we want to do is set a date and have to change it again. Additionally, there are still many unknowns in the governor’s yet-to-be-approved Safe Schools for All Plan (which continues to be a major source of concern in Sacramento). We will hold a special board meeting to finalize our plans and set a reopening date as soon as the county’s case rate falls below 25 and reopening eligibility is all but certain. The good news is that cases are continuing to decline and educators will soon be eligible for the vaccine (our school health service providers have already begun to receive it). 

Next Steps
Your principal will begin sharing reopening plan specifics for your school in the weeks to come.  You will also be receiving a transportation interest survey from your site administrator to help us gauge the need for transportation to in-person sessions.  This will assist us in planning additional bus routes to support our families.  We will continue to provide district updates as new information becomes available.  

Addressing the needs of our students, our families, and staff while adhering to the ever-changing requirements from the state, has been one of the greatest challenges over the past year.  Through it all, so many of you have been an incredible source of encouragement and support. As we move into this next stage of reopening, we enter with optimism and with a sense of joy for what is to come. We continue to be grateful for each of you and for your continued support.    

Gratefully yours,

David Feliciano
Superintendent, La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools


Parent Update – January 29


Dear LMSV Families,

I’d like to provide an update on the status of our school reopening plan in light of the new state health guidelines and the Safe Schools for All Plan, which was proposed by Governor Newsom several weeks ago. Because of these changes, we have re-engineered our original hybrid plan to limit the number of students in a class, to provide 6-feet of physical distancing (which is now required by law) and limit mixing of student cohorts (as required). We also revised the plan to avoid the reorganization of classes that would have been especially difficult this late in the year. We are still in the planning stages, as the governor’s plan has not yet been finalized, but we wanted to give you as much information as possible now. We are excited by the reports that COVID-19 rates are falling at the fastest pace since the pandemic began. We hope an end is finally in sight.

First, it will help to define a few terms: 

  • COVID-19 Case Rate
    The case rate refers to a county’s average daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, averaged over a 7-day period. The case rate is adjusted based on testing intervals in a specific region. A county’s COVID-19 risk level (or tier) is based on its case rate. Each county’s case rate and assigned risk level is available on the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy website here.
  • CDPH Health Guidelines 
    The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issues COVID-19 health guidelines for schools. CDPH guidelines serve as a “public health directive” (i.e. law) for all schools in the state. Adherence is not optional. The current version of the CDPH document, COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework and Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools (released January 14, 2021) dictates how and when schools may reopen and/or remain open.
  • Safe Schools for All Plan 
    Governor Newsom’s Safe Schools for All Plan is a proposal to provide additional funding for schools that reopen within a prescribed amount of time and implement specific testing measures. Included in the proposal is the requirement to reopen all eligible grades within 5 days of the time they become eligible to open for in-person instruction (for at least part of the school week) and implement COVID-19 testing requirements of both staff and students at required intervals (based on each county’s COVID-19 case rate). 
  • When is a school considered “open” (or reopened)?
    According to CDPH, schools are considered open when the school has “given all students in at least one grade the option to return for in-person instruction for at least part of the school week.” Technically, our schools have not reopened, however, we are serving students in small groups based on CDPH guidance related to serving small group cohorts in purple tier counties. Other school districts that have reopened must adhere to the new CDPH guidelines as well. 
  • Small-Group Cohorts
    Under the cohorting guidance, in-person instruction is limited to small groups of students who have the greatest need. It is generally focused on serving students with IEPs, English Learners, and those especially in need of academic or social-emotional support. The key difference between being open (or reopened) and serving small group cohorts is that in-person instruction is not offered to all students.  


Changes in Health Requirements and Other Factors
The health guidelines now include a separate set of eligibility criteria for reopening grades TK-6. Previously, schools could not reopen for in-person instruction while a county was in the purple tier (with a case rate above 7.1). This applied to all grade levels. Schools can now reopen grades TK-6 when the county’s case rate is below 25 for 5 consecutive days. Grades 7-8 can reopen when the case rate falls below 7.2 (i.e. when the county moves out of the purple tier). 

The other major change to the guidelines, and perhaps the most difficult to implement, is in the specific requirement for the physical distancing of students. The guidelines now require at least 6-feet of space between student chairs (i.e. where students sit in the classrooms) and allow for an absolute minimum of 4-feet in special circumstances (with approval from the county health official). These physical distancing requirements have forced some school districts that had reopened to close again. 

Another factor impacting our original hybrid plan has nothing to do with the guidelines themselves. It is simply a matter of timing. The original plan would have reorganized students into new classes (with new teachers) based on whether you chose hybrid or 100% online learning for your children. We believe this type of reorganization would be unacceptably disruptive for both students and their teachers, this late in the year.

Key Details of the Revised Reopening Plan
Our revised reopening plan adheres to current health guidelines, supports the safety of students and staff, ensures equity in the delivery of core instruction, provides continuity and consistency of class assignments and peer groups, and offers flexibility to families. Since the Safe Schools for All Plan remains a proposal and has yet to be signed into law, our plan remains tentative, as elements may change once the final version of Safe Schools for All is signed into law.

We will be sharing details at the board meeting on Tuesday (February 2 at 6 p.m.) but the following are the key principles of the plan for our elementary schools:

  • Ensure students remain with their current teacher (or teachers)
  • Ensure students continue to learn with their current class
  • Students will participate in core instruction together from home (over Zoom) every morning
  • At least twice a week, students will have the opportunity to attend school, in the afternoon, in-person, with their teacher and a limited cohort of students 
  • In-person cohorts of students will be limited in size based on classroom capacity (to provide 6-feet of distance between students)
  • In-person time will be supplemental to the learning provided to all students over Zoom
  • Students that do not attend school in-person will receive supplemental support as well
  • Time on campus will not involve whole-school activities (such as lunch and recess) to avoid cohort mixing which could result in the quarantine of larger groups of students when there is a case of COVID-19
  • Schools will provide additional in-person time for students based on need and capacity
  • Students will not be divided into hybrid and online-only groups. All students will have the opportunity to attend school in-person (or not) each week.

What about the Academies?
We are working on a plan that would similarly avoid reorganization and provide in-person opportunities for all grade levels at our academies. The academies operate in a departmentalized manner and have unique circumstances based on credentialing issues that elementary schools do not face; it isn’t as easy to make adjustments for our 4-6 grade academy students because subject-specific teachers serve middle school students as well. We are working on a plan that upholds the key principles outlined above without negatively impacting instruction for our 7-8 grade students. 

Like 4-6 grade at the academies, we are working on a revised plan for 7-8 grade. Since 7-8 grade are not permitted to reopen until the county exits the purple tier, there is additional time to develop a plan that avoids reorganization. This plan may involve students attending school at least one day a week, but for a longer portion of the day.

The Challenge of Timing
One of the challenges with the new guidelines and the governor’s Safe Schools for All Plan is timing. Even though we are only weeks away from the first round of vaccinations for essential workers (including teachers and school employees), it is possible that our elementary schools will be eligible to reopen before staff have been vaccinated. In the original version of the governor’s plan, schools would have to reopen a week after our schools become eligible. It may seem counterintuitive, but the status of staff vaccinations is not a consideration in the CDPH guidelines or in the Safe Schools plan. This will be a major consideration for our district to weigh once the governor’s plan is finalized. This will be discussed in detail during Tuesday’s board meeting.

Next Steps
We will share more as things develop. Keep in mind that the governor’s Safe Schools for All Plan is still just a proposal. The final iteration could impact what I have outlined here. We will be sharing more at the board meeting on Tuesday. The agenda is available here: https://go.boarddocs.com/ca/lmsv/Board.nsf/public

Once the governor’s proposal is finalized, we will likely schedule a special board meeting to consider a final version of the plan and establish a clear timeline (that includes plans for the academies and middle schools). 

I hope you are as excited as we are about the prospect of welcoming our students back on campus this year. We can’t thank you enough for your support and dedication through all of this. There is truly a reason to believe we will see a better tomorrow soon. 

Gratefully,

David Feliciano
Superintendent, La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools


Parent Update – January 7

Dear LMSV Families,

Happy New Year!  We hope that you enjoyed a restful winter break and found joy and peace with your families.  Even in the midst of such a difficult time in our nation and our world, there is so much to be thankful for. We are entering the new year with a sense of optimism for what 2021 will bring for our students and our families.  

Over winter break, Governor Newsom announced a proposal to support the reopening of schools for all grade levels in some capacity by the spring.  At this time, the information we have is still vague, and there are many unanswered questions (please see this article for more information).  We anticipate receiving more clarity on the governor’s proposal and new health regulations from the California Department of Public Health in the coming week or so. We will update you as soon as we know more. 

In the meantime, San Diego County Public Health (HHSA) has reminded us that the current health orders and regulations are still in effect.  School districts that have not previously opened (including LMSV, Lemon Grove, Chula Vista, South Bay, San Diego Unified, and many others) are still not permitted to reopen until COVID-19 case rates decline and San Diego County moves out of the purple tier. Additionally, per HHSA, the TK-6th Grade Elementary School Waiver Application process is still suspended “due to COVID-19 impact in the County of San Diego.” 

We will continue to update you as we receive more information on the Governor’s proposal and its impacts on our schools. We wish you a wonderful start to the year.

Gratefully Yours,

David Feliciano, Superintendent
La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools


More Information
San Diego County HHSA – Schools FAQ Page
California Department of Public Health – Schools FAQ Page


Parent Letter – December 18

Dear LMSV Families,

The holidays are upon us.  It has seemed like both a very long year, and yet at the same time, it’s hard to believe that it’s come to an end.  2020 has not been the year that any of us imagined or planned for.  So while we enter this time of year with thankfulness and gratitude, we also grieve the loss of so many lives in our families and in our nation, and we grieve for the sense of normalcy we have lost.  Like so many of you, we are optimistic about entering 2021, the release of the vaccine, and the promise of better days ahead. 

As we enter the two-week holiday break, we hope that you take time to rest and enjoy your families.  We continue to be anxious to welcome our students back to school campuses and will do so as soon as we are legally permitted to open our campuses.  As a reminder, our schools are not permitted (by law) to open until the county is out of the purple tier. We are hopeful that the county’s COVID case rate will begin to decline very soon. Once the county demonstrates improved case rates that are in the “red tier” level for three weeks, we will officially move to the red tier.  When the county has been in the red tier for fourteen days, our schools can legally reopen.  

With the regional stay at home order in place, we know that many families may need assistance with food or other resources during this time. Our Student Supports department has prepared this resource of community agencies providing family assistance during this time:  San Diego County Community Resources. Although this pandemic has been so devastating for so many, I continue to be amazed by the number of people who have come alongside as helpers in our community.  As Mr. Rogers so wisely said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ’’

Thank you, also, for being a helper in your home and in our community. We love you, we appreciate you, and we wish you the happiest of holidays.

Gratefully Yours,

David Feliciano
Superintendent, La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools


Parent Letter – December 4

Dear LMSV Families,

I hope you enjoyed a restful Thanksgiving break and found moments of joy with those you love most.  Over the past few weeks, there have been some changes and updates to the school protocols for responding to COVID-19 on campus.  Since we have small groups of students being served on campus we wanted to take a moment to share those changes with you. Given the latest restrictions announced by Governor Newsom yesterday, we expect you will be hearing more and more about these protocols and we want to keep you up-to-speed. 

Regional Stay-at-Home Order
Yesterday, Governor Newsom imposed a regional stay-at-home order that is expected to impact San Diego County in the coming weeks. The new order is based on hospital intensive care unit (ICU) bed capacity. The order will impose significant restrictions if the Southern California region falls below 15% ICU capacity. The restrictions are similar to those put in place in March of this year.  It’s important to note that the order does not modify existing COVID-19 regulations for California schools. Our schools are not permitted to transition to hybrid learning until the county is out of the purple tier. However, we are able to continue serving small groups students on campus under the state’s cohorting guidance. More information on school requirements when counties are in the purple tier can be found here:  https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Schools-FAQ.aspx.

San Diego County Waiver Process Suspended
San Diego County has suspended the elementary school waiver application process due to the increase of COVID-19 rates in the county. At this time, schools and districts that have not reopened (including La Mesa-Spring Valley, San Diego Unified, Chula Vista, Lemon Grove, National City, Sweetwater, Helix High School, Steele Canyon High, and many others), will only be permitted to reopen (i.e. transition to hybrid learning) once the county is out of the purple tier.  

Surveillance Testing for Staff
Per guidelines from the California Department of Public Health, our staff has begun participating in regular surveillance testing for COVID-19.  All staff members will be tested every other month on a rotating basis, beginning in November.  Aside from the daily symptom screening processes in place for all students and staff, the added layer of staff surveillance testing allows us to ensure that we are monitoring for asymptomatic individuals and responding accordingly.  

While we cannot require testing of students, we do strongly encourage our families to take advantage of the free testing that the County of San Diego offers.  Walk-in services are available at all of the county testing sites for adults and children (six months and older).  You can find a list of county testing locations here:  https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/community_epidemiology/dc/2019-nCoV/testing.html

Community Notification of Positive Cases on Campus
Families will now receive a notification letter from their school when a member of the school community (staff or student) tests positive for COVID-19. While we cannot provide information on the identity of the individual or any specific details due to privacy laws, if there is a positive case, the entire school community will be notified. 

It’s important to note that if a positive COVID-19 case is identified on a campus, our first response will be to work with the County of San Diego’s Epidemiology Department and identify any close contacts of the individual.  A “close contact” is defined as being closer than six feet of the individual for a cumulative 15 minutes (or more) within a 24 hour period during the two days prior to that person feeling sick or testing positive. If there are any close contacts, those individuals and families will be directly contacted with directions and next steps. The community notification letter is simply information to all of the other families that are members of that school community, as required by CDPH guidance and for the purpose of transparency.

Once on-campus learning resumes, we will be publishing a dashboard on our district website with information on any positive cases.  In the meantime, please know that we are diligently following all protocols and procedures provided to us by the county and the state.  If you receive a notification from your school and have questions, please contact your principal. While we cannot share specific information, we continue to be here to help and support in any way we are able.

Planning for Reopening
Even with this delay in our reopening due to purple tier restrictions, we continue to prepare for the return of students to our campuses in a fuller capacity.  In January, you should be hearing from your school site principals about hybrid cohort assignments and about any schedule or class placement adjustments that might need to be made once we transition to hybrid learning. Although we don’t yet know what the expected date of that change will be (it depends on when the county is out of the purple tier) we know that it’s important for parents to begin planning for that next phase of instruction.  We are eager to have our students back on campus, and looking forward to the day that we are able to welcome them back.

We know that this has been hard.  The changes and adjustments that our families and our staff have had to make on a regular basis this year have certainly taken a toll. As we enter this holiday season, we want you to know that we are here to support you.  Please reach out to your teacher or site principal if your child is struggling or needs additional support, and please contact your site’s social worker if your family needs to be connected to community resources for support. We value you and appreciate you, and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve your children each and every day.

Warm Regards,

Deann Ragsdale
Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services


Thanksgiving Letter – November 20

Dear LMSV Families,

One of my favorite books to read with my kids has been “How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids.” The message of the book is that we fill another’s bucket when we encourage, love, and support them. We empty another’s bucket when we judge, insult, and disregard them. As we all know, our buckets are also drained when we experience hardship and loss. We are all too familiar with the empty-bucket feelings of sadness, loneliness, and frustration. People desperately need the full-bucket feelings of love, support, and belonging. In this pandemic, I know that so many feel like their buckets are emptier than they’ve ever been. 

When I was growing up, each year on Thanksgiving, my grandpa had a tradition of going around the table and asking all of us (cousins, aunts, uncles, moms, and dads), one-by-one, to share something we were thankful for. When I was a teenager I was “too cool” and couldn’t stand this part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition (I thought it was too cliche), but it stuck with me, and I grew to love it as I got older. Each year I find myself reflecting more and more on all that I have to be thankful for. My grandpa passed away last month (at 96 years old), and I am taking comfort in this memory of him. 

In the spirit of my grandpa’s tradition, we want to say how grateful we are for our school communities. These past few months, we have watched as so many of our educators, principals, and our parents have emptied themselves to fill the buckets of others. We are just blown away by the selflessness we have seen demonstrated by those who are in the midst of unthinkable loss and suffering, and yet, they continue to work tirelessly to fill the buckets of others. We are truly grateful for the love of the La Mesa-Spring Valley community and the unwavering commitment to encourage, serve, and support others despite the unprecedented nature of this time. The heart of this community fills our buckets again and again. 

We want to wish you a love-filled and peaceful Thanksgiving. If you are gathering with loved ones outside of your home, please be safe. We are anxiously awaiting the day when we can all be together again. 

Gratefully Yours,

David Feliciano
Superintendent, La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools

Parent Letter – November 10

Dear LMSV Families,

I’m sorry to report that we received official word that San Diego county has moved into the most restrictive tier on the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” weekly report of COVID-19 risk levels by county.  The new “purple tier” designation means La Mesa-Spring Valley School District will not be permitted to open our campuses for in-person instruction until the county returns to the red tier and remains there for at least 14 days.  If the county’s COVID-19 rates were to improve immediately, the soonest schools would be permitted to open is the middle of December. That would mean the first day of hybrid learning would likely be in early January.

Since early October, our schools have been serving students with the highest need in small groups, based on their capacity to do so; this move into the purple tier will not limit or restrict our ability to serve students in small groups. Though our schools are not permitted to transition to in-person learning until the county moves into the red tier, we will continue to serve students in small groups as we are now, as is permitted by the California Department of Public Health

We know this news is very disappointing. We have been working diligently to create and implement plans to reopen our campuses safely and we are disappointed as well. We know you have been planning for this return and that these new restrictions may have a ripple effect on jobs, child care arrangements, and more. We are closely monitoring the situation and will continue to work with state and county health officials as we move forward. We will also continue to share updates as they become available. Please know that we will transition to in-person/hybrid learning as soon as we are permitted to do so.

As we move into the holiday season, even in times of change and challenge, we are reminded how grateful we are for all of you. We continue to be in this together. Please know how much we miss our students.  We are looking forward to the day when we are able to welcome our students back on campus with open arms.

Gratefully Yours,

David Feliciano, Superintendent
La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools


Parent Letter – November 6

Dear LMSV Families,

The weekly “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” report of county COVID-19 risk levels was released yesterday.  San Diego County’s adjusted case rate for the week is 7.4. If next week’s case rate is above 7.0, the county will be placed in the purple tier and we will not be permitted to begin hybrid learning on November 30. This is because the county must remain in the purple tier for at least 3 weeks before it can move out of it. The county must then be in the red tier for an additional 14 days before schools would be permitted to reopen again. This means that the soonest restrictions could be lifted on schools is five weeks after the county moves into the purple tier (if it does). 

Nonetheless, we are continuing with our plans for hybrid learning with the hope that future case rates decline. Sadly, the county is reporting that COVID-19 cases have increased since the last report. However, if the county remains in the red tier, we will begin hybrid learning on November 30. We have been working on plans to meet our student’s academic needs in person with health and safety as our number one priority.  Below is an overview of the health and safety precautions and procedures we have put in place once schools reopen for hybrid learning. We are providing this information so you know what to expect once our schools reopen. 

Health and Safety Precautions

  • All students will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival. This will include, but is not limited to:
    • A temperature screening 
    • A visual wellness check of the child(ren)
    • A brief questionnaire: How are you feeling? Is anyone sick at home?

The screening allows us to identify what children will not be able to stay at school. If a student must go home and the parent has already left or the student has walked or been bussed to school, the student will be placed in a designated isolation area and parent or guardian will be contacted for immediate pickup. 

  • Should a child become ill during the school day, an authorized person will be contacted to pick-up the child(ren) immediately. The child will be placed in a designated and supervised isolation area while awaiting pick up. Please make sure that all contact information is current.
  • Adults are required to wear a face covering when picking up or dropping off your student(s), and any time you visit campus.
  • Face coverings are required for all staff and students unless they meet criteria for exemption as outlined in the CA Dept of Health’s Guidance for Face Coverings. Children can bring their own face covering from home or the school site will provide one for them. Personal cloth face coverings should be washed daily.
  • Staff and students will be practicing proper handwashing, hand sanitization, and physical distancing.
  • We ask that you limit the number of personal belongings your child brings to school. Their district-issued learning device should be brought to school each day and should be fully charged. If your student has used a personal device for distance learning, we will provide a device for them to use while at school; they should not bring their personal device to campus. 
  • High touch surfaces will be cleaned throughout the day, and any shared items will be cleaned between uses.  
  • Classrooms and restrooms will be disinfected daily. 

When to Keep Your Student Home and Notify the Health Office

  • If student has any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, fatigue, unexpected muscle pain, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose not due to a normal condition such as allergies, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell)
  • If student has a confirmed positive PCR COVID-19 viral test 
  • If, in the previous 14 days, student has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-9.

Guidelines for Return to School

Per County Health Guidelines, the length of time your student must remain out of school depends on several factors, including whether or not a COVID test is done, and the results of the COVID test. 

If your child does not get a COVID-19 testIf your child gets a COVID-19 test and the test result is NEGATIVEIf your child gets a COVID-19 test and the test result is POSITIVEIf your child is a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
Your child may return to school when: 
At least 10 days have passed since the day your child’s symptom(s) started
AND
All of the symptoms are gone or improving
AND
Your child has been free of fever without using fever-reducing medicines in the 24 hours prior to returning to school.
Your child may return to school:
With written proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 viral test
AND
When ALL symptoms have been completely gone for 72 hours. 

If symptoms are still present 10 days after they first appeared, the child may return as long as symptoms are improving and child has been free of fever without using fever-reducing medicines in the 24 hours prior to returning to school.
Your child may return to school:
When at least 10 days have passed since the day your child’s symptom(s) started
AND
All of the symptoms are gone or improving.
AND
Your child has been free of fever without using fever-reducing medicines in the 24 hours prior to returning to school.

**Contact your school’s health technician immediately if your child has a positive test. 
Your child may return to school 14 days after the last close contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19.
If symptoms develop during this time, your child may return when: 

At least 10 days have passed since the day your child’s symptom(s) started
AND
All of the symptoms are gone or improving 
AND
Your child has been free of fever without using fever-reducing medicines in the 24 hours prior to returning to school.

We anticipate that as each school implements its new procedures, they may find ways to change and streamline the process, so you should expect to hear from your school principal about changes along the way. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through these new procedures together in service of the health and safety of your students. Thank you in advance for your help in keeping our schools as safe as possible for all students and staff. We truly hope to see you soon!
Warm Regards,

Deann Ragsdale, Assistant Superintendent
Educational Services


Parent Letter – October 23


Dear LMSV Families,

A mainstay of our new reality in California is the weekly “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” report of COVID-19 risk levels by county. This week, as San Diego County’s case rate began to rise again, Dr. Wooten (the county’s public health officer) warned that we are in danger of moving into the purple tier if rates continue to rise. While we are watching this carefully and monitoring the county’s status, we also want to reassure you that we are continuing with our reopening plans and progress. At this time, there is no evidence that the current rise in COVID-19 rates is disproportionately impacting our community (unlike the SDSU outbreak). As long as the county remains in the red tier, we intend to open our schools for hybrid instruction on November 30 as planned. 

Last week, we finalized our reopening survey to ensure that each family committed to either continue to learn online or to return to school in a hybrid model. At this time, 60% of our families have selected hybrid learning, and 40% have chosen to remain online. Now that each school has this information, our principals are working with their staff to plan how classes will be arranged once school reopens.  Our schools and teachers have been working tirelessly on this next phase.

Each school has completed a COVID-19 prevention plan, and they have established site-specific procedures that align with the California Department of Public Health’s guidance for reopening schools. These procedures will help ensure that students are supported and safe as they return to our campuses. You will notice increased signage and reminders from your school about new health and safety protocols as you enter campuses.  You will also hear from your site principal about the procedure on your campus for screening to ensure that each child is healthy each day upon arrival to school. You can access COVID-19 prevention plans on your school’s website.

As we continue to plan for reopening, we want you to know that we can offer support if your child is struggling.  We have a team of counselors and social workers who can support with strategies for success, especially when children are disengaged from learning. Please reach out to your child’s principal if you need help.

We know how difficult this has been for everyone. Some of us have lost loved ones. Some have lost jobs and homes. All of our lives have been turned upside down by this crisis. We are living this with you. Please know that we are here to support you. 

Gratefully Yours, 

David Feliciano, Superintendent
La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools


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