“Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, our community will continue to grapple with the tremendous effects of living with COVID-19.”

An El Toro Health Science Academy student at work in April 2021. Photo by Marty Cheek


By Dr. Carmen Garcia

Carmen Garcia

As we draw close to the first day of school with renewed hope and optimism for the year ahead, our plans remain steadfast to meet the needs of each and every student, every single day in order to prepare them for the future of their dreams.

The Morgan Hill Unified School District is  excited to open its doors Aug. 12 to our wonderful 8,400 students and exceptional 800 team members. The beginning of school brings with it an air of excitement, anticipation, a buzz only felt before the new school year. It’s a time for new beginnings, new friendships, and new opportunities to make a difference in the lives of students.

And, yet such a familiar feeling feels a bit different this year — it’s a combination of elation and eagerness to return to a more “normal”  schooling experience after an incredibly difficult year for students, educators, and parents alike. As a mother of three school-aged children, I understand how our parents and guardians are feeling.

During my brief tenure with our district, I’ve had the opportunity to present our plan to fully reopen our schools with full-time, in-person instruction five-days-a-week with accompanying safety protocols that align with the latest guidance from the California Department of Health to do our best to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our school community

Our plans include  several safety measures around universal mask use, ventilation, isolation and quarantine  protocols, COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, cleaning, and food service. Additionally, parents/guardians will assist with self-monitoring of students prior to sending them  to school.

We will maximize outdoor spaces and increase ventilation by keeping doors and windows open whenever possible, including initiating the circulation of fresh air in the buildings about two hours before students arrive. While there is no requirement for physical distancing, we plan to maximize the spacing between students as well as encourage lunch outdoors. As always, we will continue to stress healthy hand hygiene and will conduct daily  cleaning throughout the sites.

Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, our community will continue to grapple with the tremendous effects of living with COVID-19. We recognize our school system’s critical role in the social/emotional well-being of our students and, in response, have established school-based Wellness Centers at four schools that will be accessible to every MHUSD student who needs  support by connecting them to vital wellness resources in our community.

To meet the needs of students whose health would be at risk with in-person instruction, the district will be offering Independent Study at all grades levels in alignment with new legislation.

We have shared all back-to-school information with our parents, staff, and community. They can  also be found on our district website (www.mhusd.org). These include digital resources that  outline safety measures, overview of what students/staff can expect while on campus, Frequently Asked Questions, bell schedules, information on new legislation, and videos from our three  community forums, among others.

On the morning of Aug. 12, Nemo’s words (from Disney’s “Finding Nemo”) will be  beautifully echoed in homes across our district. “First day of school! Wake up! Come on, first  day of school!” We, too, are excited for the first day of school! We cannot wait to welcome our  students back to school.


Carmen Garcia

Dr. Carmen Garcia is the superintendent of Morgan Hill Unified School District. She wrote this for Morgan Hill Life.

 

Guest Column