Santa Barbara Unified families, We wanted to send a quick note to let you know that a pair of campuses, La Colina Junior HIgh and Santa Barbara High, went into lock-in and lockout out of an abundance of caution after consultation with the Santa Barbara Police Department. We have confirmed with the SBPD that everything has been deemed safe and we have returned to normal activity.
Staff and families,
We hope that this note finds you well.
With our recent heat wave, we thought it necessary to take a long look at our current protocols and update them where necessary.
Before we get started, we wanted to acknowledge that the conditions brought on by the heat wave were far less than ideal, and we are incredibly grateful to our staff, students and families for working with us to get through it.
It’s not a situation we want to repeat, which is why we are focused on being prepared as we continue to experience more hot days.
So we took a step back and identified two items we had to address immediately:
When is it not safe for our staff and students to be in school?
Is air conditioning throughout the district feasible?
Here’s a look at where we stand now:
Minimum days or school release due to heat
First, let’s address the concept of instituting minimum days during a heat wave — which are now distinctly in play moving forward.
Last week, the district’s cabinet and select administrators gathered to provide guidance on when to implement a minimum day for staff and students based on weather events in the area.
Board policy authorizes the superintendent or designee to declare a minimum day in emergency weather conditions, including extreme heat.
Such determination will be based upon information and guidelines from the National Weather Service (NWS), where the superintendent or designee analyzes the weather situation, consults with cabinet and school administrators, and determines actions based on guidance from the NWS.The use of multiple measures from the National Weather Service (NWS) will be used to determine the category and actions to be taken by school and district administrators. The measures include temperature, humidity, and the NWS HeatRisk.
A minimum day due to excessive heat will be declared if the following collective conditions
The heat wave is forecasted beyond two days. If the heat wave is expected beyond the first day, schools will be notified by noon that a minimum day will be called for the following day(s) of the heat wave.
The forecasted temperature for the second or subsequent days is 96 degrees or higher and combined with a Red or Magenta NWS HeatRisk Level. This combination of weather factors is considered “dangerous” by the National Weather Service (NWS).
Here is a chart to explain the different scenarios: While heat waves such as this one are rare, we felt it was important to set clear guidelines for our staff and families moving forward.
Installing air conditioning into our schools
We’ve been recently contacted by parents and staff about installing air conditioning in all
classrooms across the district — and the requests are reasonable and ones we do believe need to happen.
In order to understand where we need to go, we had to research what had been discussed prior and what the fiscal impact would be.
In an effort to provide transparency, here is what we found:
Installing air conditioning into existing classrooms was part of the discussion prior to
identifying construction projects during the 2016 bond campaigns but it was not incorporated into the bonds. Currently, Roosevelt Elementary is the only school that has air conditioning in all classrooms.
2. Estimate of cost of installation
Est. cost per school = $1,835,296
Total est. cost for all schools (8 Total) = $12,847,072
Junior High Schools
Est. cost per school = $3,104,672
Total est. cost for all schools (4 Total) = $12,418,688
Est. cost per school = $5,976,426
Total est. cost for all schools (3 Total) = $17,929,278
Total estimated cost: $43,195,038
3. Installation costs include:
Replacing and installing electrical grid at schools including switchgears, panels, transformers, etc.
4. Costs not included:
Maintenance of equipment (hiring more technicians to service)
Repairs and replacing Freon
Annual electricity cost
While the logistics and costs are significant, providing safe and healthy classrooms and schools is our priority, and we are actively pursuing different avenues to allow us to have this critical work move forward.
If you have any ideas or questions, we are open to creative solutions — this community has proven time and time again that if there is a will, there is a way. Please message email@example.com if you’d like to help.
In the meantime, we will keep you informed as possible next steps occur.
Again, we are grateful for the resilience of our staff, students and families, it wasn’t an easy week to get through.
We hope these solutions will help ease some fears about the next time
Santa Barbara Unified families, What a few weeks it has been here in Santa Barbara, and yet I’m not surprised by the resilience of this area. A record heat wave followed by a tropical storm? Yep, we see it all here. And I’m definitely seeing questions from families, which is fantastic — just remind yourself that if you have a question, someone else likely does, too. Here are a trio from this week’s mailbag: With rising temperatures in Santa Barbara County and longer and more frequent heat waves each year, what plans does the district have to install air conditioning in classrooms so that students can comfortably learn (and teachers comfortably teach)? Last week I mentioned that we were examining all of our protocols surrounding excess heat in our schools, and we will have an updated plan out to our staff and families in the next 24 hours that will: Address the history, costs and plans for air conditioning in all classrooms/schools How minimum days will be determined for excess heat As with any natural emergency, our plans could call for further changes in the future, but we appreciate the feedback we received that prompted us to examine the protocols now. Where can we locate the breakfast, snack, and lunch menu? It is critical that our students are being fed, which we are committed to by providing both breakfast and lunch to everyone, free of charge. Those menus can be found on each school’s website, or via our Food Services portal here. I see that the solar panels are installed and switched on, but I don't see the vehicle chargers. Any plans to make this valuable infrastructure available to staff? Santa Barbara Unified is committed to the preserving environment, from the solar panels to how we dispose of waste. As we look to complete the solar panels by the end of the year, we are looking into additional projects such as vehicle chargers to further encourage being environmentally responsible. Great questions! Message me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got one of your own. Here are a few more updates to get the week started: Combating Anti-Blackness Working Group In advance of our next working group meeting on Sept. 21 at the District Office — which you are always invited to — here are the results of a survey that we did with the current members of the group: More representation in staff, curriculum, visuals, books in libraries, references used in class, etc.; Multicultural/anti-racist program/curriculum for all schools to implement with accountability; More student engagement talking about race, stories and experiences; In the face of adversity, stand behind anti-racist transformation We will continue to solicit ideas and feedback from the working group, as it is invaluable as we continue to hold ourselves accountable for this transformational work. Literacy Task Force As we continue to focus on providing instructors with the right tools and our children with the right platforms to learn, our Literacy Task Force is scheduled to meet for the first time on September 29 at 4:30 p.m. in the District Office board room. I will share with you any key updates as we work our way through these meetings, as literacy impacts everyone. We appreciate the time, dedication and passion from those on the task force. Off & Away webinars conclude Thank you to all of those staff members that have been able to participate in our trio of Off & Away webinars, we hope that they’ve been helpful in explaining the strategy behind this initiative. If you were unable to attend, please watch our first webinar here. We again appreciate your partnership on helping us limit the use of smartphones, headphones and smartwatches in the classroom. Monroe celebration Any time that we can improve our facilities in the district, it is important to stop and celebrate those moments. We will be doing so on Friday at 10 a.m. when we cut the ribbon on Monroe Elementary’s five new classrooms, made possible by Measure J funds and the tireless efforts from the Monroe staff and community. If you can’t make it, we’ll make sure to share plenty of images from the celebration. Go Mustangs! Heroes of the Heart Make sure to tune in to Tuesday night’s board meeting ( link here ), as we will recognize the next round of Heroes of the Heart, based on nominations from staff, students and community members. We are streamlining the process of submitting these messages, so simply fill out this Google Form moving forward. To have received many nominations from community members over the past few weeks truly warmed my heart, as that shows me the incredible bonds that are created between staff and community — that #WeAreUnified. Have an outstanding week. With gratitude, Dr. Hilda Maldonado email@example.com Nominate a Hero
Santa Barbara Unified families, I hope that this note finds you well after our hot Labor Day Weekend. As we navigate this heat wave, we want to assure you that we are in constant communication with each campus to assure that our students and staff are staying safe from the heat. Late last Friday, we sent the following memo to all staff to address items such as how to keep classrooms comfortable, as well as protocols when it comes to physical activity, including athletics. We will continue to evaluate and address the temperatures and heat illness preventative measures in our schools. Thankfully, the forecast is calling for cooler temperatures in the coming days. If you should have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to your school-site administration or send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org . Here are a couple more questions we got this week from our families for our first Monday Morning Mailbag: ••• Can kids work online away from class if they feel anxious just for a few days. COVID has caused anxiety in so many children. Also what are options for kids if they have to be gone for 3-4 days due to family emergencies, sibling graduation from college, etc. Can they do school online or get assignments ahead of time? Some teachers don’t give assignments a few days ahead of time so then the child is doing back work trying to catch up. First, in its simplest form, the mental wellness of our students is top priority, so any anxiousness should be addressed on an individual level. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to a situation when it comes to mental wellness. We encourage you to visit with your child’s teachers, counselor or principal to come up with a plan that works best for your child. As for being away from the classroom for emergencies, it is best to work with your child’s teachers so that there is a clear line of communication. In many cases, advance work may not be available, but there should be time for the student to make up any missed work. There are unexcused absences as well, so please visit with your child’s administration to determine if the absence will indeed be excused. ••• I’ve always had issues finding the information I need for school. There’s ParentSquare, the school website, Aeries, Neo and now Canvas?!? Why are there so many different platforms and where can I find the info I need? Most importantly, what is the best way to monitor my child’s progress in school? We understand that there are a lot of communication options, especially when you factor in e-mail and social media as well. Here is a way to understand the matrix of communication: ParentSquare: This is used as a news feed, of sorts, that allows the district and school-site administration to provide timely updates. This platform is a priority to check regularly. School website: This should be used as a platform to visit for procedures, policies and to find school schedules and contact information. Aeries: This is the place where you can track your child’s progress in school. If you have a need for more information, please utilize email with your child’s teacher. Canvas: This platform is primarily used by students and staff. Social media: Most of our schools utilize Instagram to showcase what their students are doing on a daily basis, as does the district. This is a great place to connect with other parents. Thank you for these great questions and opportunities to explain further. We did receive additional questions that were more personal in nature that will be addressed individually. If you have a question, please send it to email@example.com and I’ll make sure to answer it in a future newsletter. “Off and Away” webinars We want to thank all of the families that have been able to participate in our “Off and Away” webinars that have gone into more detail on the initiative to limit smartphones, smartwatches and headphones in the classroom. We will be hosting one more webinar on September 8 at 6 p.m. You can join via this link. In case you can’t make it, here is a video from our first webinar . Thank you for your continued partnership, and questions, as we roll this initiative out. A pair of teachers honored Please join me in congratulating two of our teachers who have been named Santa Barbara County Education Office Teachers of the Year: Elsy Mora of La Colina Junior High and Kendall Stevens of La Cumbre Junior High. Ms. Mora was called a “unicorn” by one of her colleagues because she is a fully credentialed, bilingual Latinx math teacher who also has a degree in Chicano Studies. Ms. Stevens teaches 8th grade Social Studies, with one of her colleagues saying, “She is always refining her lessons and plans to meet the needs of her students. Kendall also helps students see the importance of personal reflection in their own growth and educational journey.” We have incredible talent within Santa Barbara Unified, and it is great to see both of these teachers get the recognition they deserve! “Heroes of the Heart” The nominations for our “Heroes of the Heart” have been rolling in, and it is great to see both colleagues prop each other up, as well as community members recognizing SBUSD staffers for their exemplary work. It speaks to our needed connection. We’ll have another round of recognitions next week, so feel free to send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit it via this form here. Here’s to a great week ahead. Humbly yours, Dr. Hilda Maldonado Superintendent
Santa Barbara Unified families, We hope that this note finds you well and that the school year has gotten off to a splendid start for each of your children. We’ve received some feedback and questions surrounding COVID-19 testing, as well as the age in which a child can receive a booster vaccination, so we thought we’d send out some clarification to clear up any confusion. Let’s start with booster vaccinations, as those are now available to anyone 5 and above. Last school year, this was 12 and above, but progress in the efficacy allowed for the eligibility to lower to 5 years old and above. We strongly recommend booster vaccinations for all of our children. As for COVID-19 testing on campus, we wanted to provide the background on why those 13-17 can provide their own consent, as well as the process for those 12 and under. Here is some important background based on California law, which Santa Barbara Unified has used as guidance since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic: California Department of Public Health (CDPH) provides COVID-19 testing guidance on student and parental consent. Students 13 and older may consent to being tested. Under the California Family Code there are limited situations where a minor has capacity to consent to medical treatment. (Fam. Code, § 6920, et seq.) Section 6926, permits “[a] minor who is 12 years of age or older and who may have come into contact with an infectious, contagious, or communicable disease [to] consent to medical care related to the diagnosis or treatment of the disease, if the disease or condition is one that is required by law or regulation adopted pursuant to law to be reported to the local health officer … as may be determined by the State Public Health Officer.” (Fam. Code, § 6926 (a).) A minor cannot disaffirm a consent given under Family Code Section 6926 because of his or her minority. (Fam. Code, § 6921.) The CDPH indicates that “[b]ecause SARS-CoV2 is recognized as a communicable disease, which is required to be reported, California state law provides that minors 13 years and older can consent to diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.”  The CDPH notes that schools must receive parental consent before requiring students under the age of 13 to undergo COVID-19 testing; while schools may, but are not required to, receive parental consent before requiring students ages 13 to 17 to undergo COVID-19 testing. Further, the CDPH indicates that COVID-19 results should be reported to parents only for students under the age of 13, and to the student by default and to the parents as an option for students ages 13 to 17. Therefore, students 13 or above may provide consent and directly receive the results of COVID-19 testing. After a student’s parent/guardian (or the student who is 13 or above) consents to testing, testing may proceed at school without the parent being present. When the student’s parent consents to testing, the test results should be provided to the parent. For a student who is 13 or above, the test results should be provided to the student. In addition, we will encourage students to allow that the results be provided to the student’s parent/guardian as well. In addition, we are not conducting surveillance testing at this point, as the state is not requiring it. The consent for testing would only be used if someone is symptomatic and consent is provided. We also have plenty of take-home tests if families feel more comfortable with doing it at home. If your child is exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms including stuffy nose, congestion, cough or a fever it is recommended that you get your child tested for COVID-19 (we can provide the test, as we have plenty on hand). If the results are negative your child may return when symptoms begin to improve as early as the next day. If your child has a fever they must be fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medications. If you’d like more tests beyond what SBUSD can provide, the U.S. Government is also allowing families to order free tests through September 2, 2022. Please follow the link here to order. If you should have any further questions, please reach out to your school-site administration and they will relay any overarching concerns back to the District Office for consideration. We greatly appreciate your partnership in continuing to help us navigate the still changing pandemic and the rules/protocols that are in place
Santa Barbara Unified families, “I cannot wait to go to school!” That was Landon at Roosevelt Elementary, a welcomed change in perspective according to his mom. And as I’ve had the fortune of visiting schools throughout the week, the vibe is decidedly different than the past two years. It’s positive. It’s proactive. It’s fun. We all need this. From administrators to teachers to staff to students, we needed the energy boost. And I believe that’s happening because cumulatively we are committing to the connection we have with one another. It won’t always be a smooth ride, but we are all taking the same journey. My messages to you will be a Monday morning staple, consider this to be my “Monday Morning Mailbag,” where I encourage families, staff and students to send me questions that they need answers to — don’t forget, if you have a question, someone else likely does too. Please send those inquiries to email@example.com and I’ll make sure to answer as many as I can. In the absence of questions for this week, here are a few updates from events we had over the past week: Off & Away Campaign On Thursday, August 25, our Student Services team led by Kenya Edison hosted the first of three webinars to further explain the district-wide initiative that we have called, “Off and Away,” which limits the use of smartphones, smartwatches and headphones in the classroom. We appreciate the participation from our families. If you couldn’t make it, we are hosting two more on September 1 (3:30 p.m.) and September 8 (6 p.m.). We will be sending the webinar links within 24 hours of each webinar. To watch the first webinar, please click here. We also met with the Tech Use Committee, which is composed of teachers, administrators and community members, and they will be providing recommendations on actions to take when students do not comply with the “Off and Away” rules in the classroom. Board of Trustees meeting So often as a leader, it’s tough to see the takeaways from a meeting because you are so close to the material. So it warmed my heart to see our new student board member, Kavya Suresh, take to Instagram to provide our @SBUSDStudentBoardMember followers key takeaways from our bi-weekly meeting. Here is what she, as a student leader, wants you to know: MOU with Sheriff’s Office and City of Goleta approved: The Memorandum of Understanding between the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Goleta for the Community Resource Deputy at Dos Pueblos High School and Goleta Valley Junior High School was approved by the SBUSD Boad of Trustees. The MOU will next be presented to the Sheriff’s Office and Goleta City Council. New School Board Member to be selected by provisional appointment: To prepare for Trustee Laura Capps’ transition from the SBUSD board to Santa Barbara County’s Board of Supervisors, the board unanimously voted to fill the seat via provisional appointment. The other option, ordering a general election, would have cost $700,000 to $900,000. Independent Study: Updates to the board policy on independent study now make it voluntary for all students missing 15 or more school days. Because of decreasing participation numbers, independent study programs will now only be offered to students in grades 7-12 (no longer in Pre-K through 6th grade). Want to watch the meeting? We always host it live on YouTube, and it can be watched here . Combating Anti-Blackness Working Group The committee that was put together in the last quarter of the 2021-22 school year reconvened on Wednesday, August 24, 2022. It was announced and discussed that Insight Education Group will be conducting a district-wide racial climate assessment, as the company was chosen by a committee of students, teachers, administrators and community members to lead this critical work. We expect the assessment to begin in the fall and conclude at some point during the winter. Heroes of the Heart It has been absolutely incredible to read a number of notes sent to firstname.lastname@example.org that have nominated staff members for what we are calling, “Heroes of the Heart.” It’s a program that puts a focus on the incredible efforts from teachers, employees, students, administrators and community members. It’s just a small token of community-driven appreciation, while also showcasing the amazing people that make up our community. Our first round of honorees are: Darren Iacono (Santa Barbara Junior High), Ann Peak (Human Resources), Esperanza Villegas (District Office), Donna Nelson (Adams Elementary), Melissa Castle (San Marcos High), Kathy Solis (Cleveland Elementary) and Oscar Hernandez (District Office). Check out what their colleagues and community members had to say about each one here. These are the people that make sure that people like Landon can’t wait to get to school every morning. Thank you! Humbly yours, Dr. Hilda Maldonado Superintendent
Santa Barbara Unified families, While protocols surrounding COVID-19 have changed in recent weeks, Santa Barbara Unified will continue to have COVID testing available for symptomatic students. For those students 12 and under, parental consent is necessary for the student to be tested on campus. In order to facilitate easy access to testing, we are requesting that parents provide consent now for the entire school year. Students that are 13 and older can consent to be tested on their own. The testing will be conducted at your student’s school using a supervised, self-collection, nasal swab antigen test. The district is participating in an antigen (rapid) testing program developed by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Testing Task Force for K-12 schools. We will continue to use the software platform Primary.health to run the testing. A requirement of using this system is that each family verify their student’s details and provide consent via the Primary.health website. Consents that were provided last school year expired on June 30, 2022, so we are in need of new consents. CONSENT PROCESS Instructions: You will receive a separate message for each student in your family with a link to complete their registration and provide consent for them to be tested. Please click on each link and complete the process. Per CDPH guidelines, parents/guardians must provide consent for students age 12 and under to participate in testing. Consent is “possible, but not necessary” for those ages 13-17, and not required for students 18 or older. We understand that some families may have concerns about testing, and what it means for a student to complete the nasal swab, self collection, rapid test. Below is more information about this process to help ease your concern. TRAINED STAFF The testing will be coordinated by trained staff, and we are confident that we can support our students in a safe and caring manner. VIDEO OF TESTING PROTOCOL Families may also benefit from reviewing the following video with their child/children: Self-Collection/Nasal Swab Antigen Test . FAMILY SUPPORT If you need support or have questions, please contact your school office or the Family Engagement Unit hotline: email@example.com Please review the attached form for additional information. Appendix E: Letter of Consent The testing option allowed us to mitigate times that the community saw spikes in cases, helping us keep our schools open and safe last school year. While our governing bodies have moved into endemic protocols, we wanted to make sure our families had all options at their fingertips in case they are needed. We are looking forward to a healthy school year!
Santa Barbara Unified families, We hope that this note finds you well as we move through our first full week of school. Some of your children might have come home with a bit of news that Santa Barbara Unified has initiated an “Off & Away” campaign, one that limits or eliminates the use of smartphones, watches and headphones in the classroom. To better explain the campaign, what the district hopes to accomplish by doing it, and answer any lingering questions, we are hosting a trio of webinars that we encourage all families to attend. These will take place on the following dates: August 25, 2022, 6 p.m. ( Join here ) September 1, 2022, 3:30 p.m. September 8, 2022, 6 p.m. Our Language Access Unit will be available for live translation, and we will record these sessions for distribution following the webinar. Change can be uncomfortable for all, particularly since we have all become much more reliant upon digital connections throughout the pandemic. So we hope you will join us to create a #WeAreUnified approach to your child’s education, striving to use technology in a balanced and responsible way that is beneficial for all over the long-term. We look forward to seeing you in one (or all!) of the webinars.
To our incredible families, What an amazing opening day of school, not to mention a trio of victories by all three of our high school football teams to cap off the day! It truly does take a village to raise our children, and this community has so much to offer that we want to invite you to participate in a number of opportunities that will present themselves throughout the school year. Here are some ways you can get involved or stay informed immediately: Board of Trustees meeting: On August 23, our second board meeting of the 2022-23 school year will take place. It starts at 5:30 p.m. and we encourage the entire community to attend, either in-person or via YouTube . You can also make a comment via Zoom here . Please note that a ny individual wishing to address the Board remotely must register to speak using the Speaker Sign Up Form by 12pm on the day of the meeting. Attending or listening to board meetings is a great way to get an update on district happenings, as well as make your voice heard on topics that you care about. Combating Anti-Blackness Working Group: On August 24, we will reconvene our working group that is aiding the district in addressing anti-blackness in our community. This group is open to everyone and we welcome your attendance at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday night. Please RSVP here (by 5 p.m. on August 23) to let us know you’re coming! Technology Use in the Classroom: On August 25, we will be hosting a virtual town hall to talk about our new “Off & Away” campaign that will limit the use of cell phones in our classrooms, putting a renewed focus on the connection between educator and student. It’s here that we will also provide an update on the work being done by the Tech Use Committee. If you’d like to get involved in the committee, please fill out this form. Early Literacy Working Group: One of our major, ongoing initiatives is addressing early literacy throughout the district, and we will welcome your feedback as we assess our offerings. We are in the planning stages of reconvening this group, but please fill out this form if you are interested in learning more. School-site opportunities: There are many ways that you can get involved in your child’s education, from joining school site councils to participating in the Parent Teacher Association at your school. If the school doesn’t have one, we do encourage parents to start one — and can provide resources to help you in that process. Please connect with your child’s school administration to learn more. Heroes of the Heart nominations : Many times we witness our colleagues and employees go above and beyond for others, and while our profession is largely one of service, it is much appreciated when someone is recognized. Feel free to nominate someone that you encounter as a hero and send their name to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be sure to recognize them. In 2022-23 (and beyond), we are making a concerted effort to showcase a #WeAreUnified attitude in all that we do, as we need everyone to work together in order to help our district become the shining example of how children should be served by an educational system. And with that, we welcome your feedback in the form of our new platform, Heroes of the Heart, which will recognize staff, students and administration for efforts that exemplify our core values of community, respect, integrity and trust. If you see someone going above and beyond, we encourage you to submit a nomination with a short description of what you’ve observed to email@example.com . A little encouragement and recognition goes a long way — and is the ultimate form of unification. We look forward to your participation and as always, if you have a question, concern or idea, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . With gratitude, Dr. Hilda Maldonado Superintendent