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Community Message: Coronavirus (COVID-19) School Closure
Public Information Officer
Thursday, March 12, 2020


Sunday, March 15th

Hello OUSD Family,

We know that school is a crucial part of your child's life and that school closure can be a major disruption.  In order to support our families, we have created several Student Care teams at all school sites, services which can be accessed on our 

School Closure Support page, here.

As we continue to bring our community and families updates on school closures, we are adding each communication to this page, visible below by most recent update first.

The silver lining of every crisis is the opportunity for us to come together as a community, and for our innate human kindness, compassion and courage to shine. Despite our physical distance, we are here for you and your children. Teachers and staff will be checking in with students next week and our district staff will continue to seek ways to serve our families through this emergency. The great thing about Ojai is that we embody this quote by the beloved Mr. Rogers, “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.’”

Dr. Tiffany Morse,

Superintendent

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Friday, March 20th 7:45 p.m.

Dear OUSD Family, 

As we look back on our first week of school closures, we want to thank you for your patience as we have dealt with these unprecedented events. Our goal this week has been to take care of the most basic needs for our students: food, shelter and mental health. We are proud of our staff who have worked tirelessly this week to make this happen, and we are grateful to see our families and students as they visit our school sites to pick up meals, devices and books.

Meals and Devices We will be continuing with our food service next week, modified to provide additional social distancing. All sites will be open from 11-1 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Families can pick up two lunches per student, as well as devices and learning packets. 

Mental Health and Wellness These can be stressful times, and we want to make sure our students have help understanding their feelings. We have set up a site where students can schedule a time to talk to a counselor in a friendly video chat. All meetings are confidential and provided by our District Mental Health Clinician, school psychologists,  and high school counselors. To schedule a session, just click here to get started.    All meetings are confidential and provided by our school psychologists, our district mental health clinician, and our high school counselorsFor materials to help you and your children focus on emotional wellness during this time, please visit our resource page here.

Distance Learning As we shared in Thursday's message, we are developing a phased plan to ensure a smooth transition to Distance Learning for students, families and staff. The first two weeks of the school closure, Phase 1, will provide educational opportunities for students without the stress required of assignments. This allows Ojai Unified to help families get devices and internet access. It also allows time for our staff to be trained on distance learning platforms and for us to develop a plan for non-online work.   Over the last two days, teams of Teachers and Administrators have been collaborating on Phase I: Enrichment.  You can access enrichment activities by grade level on our website here. The objective of this phase is to provide students with optional activities, not specific assignments.  

Finally, we are here for you. If you need anything, please let us know using this Help form and we will reach out to you.

We are truly appreciative of our community in times like this, and the support that we give each other. Please know that we are doing everything in our power to continue to serve our students. We are in this together. 

Dr. Tiffany Morse

Superintendent of Schools

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Thursday, March 19th at 10:00 p.m

*FREE STUDENT MEAL SERVICE CONTINUES, WITH ADDITION OF MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES*

Dear OUSD families,

We understand the Governor's recent stay at home order may cause anxiety and a sense of helplessness for our students and families. We want you to know you're not alone in this, and have put together resources for you, including materials on how to discuss COVID-19 virus with your children, as well as free online mental health counseling appointments. Please visit our page here https://bit.ly/OUSDmentalhealth for more information.

Additionally, as exemptions are made for critical infrastructure needs including food service, we want to assure you that we are here for our families. Our Student Care Teams will continue to serve more than 500 meals daily and provide computer device check out for our students and families, as we know these are critical needs in a critical time for many in our community.

For Friday the 20th, you may visit any campus from 11am-1pm to pick up a brown bag lunch, breakfast for the following day, and a computer device. Your children do not need to be present to receive a meal. All meals are free for all children, even if they do not attend OUSD schools. Meal services will be closely monitored to ensure compliance with sanitation and social distancing protocols, just like in the restaurants that are continuing to serve our community.

OUSD will continue to do our best to serve our students and families and while protecting health and safety. We are in this together and will make it through together.

Take Care and Stay Safe, Dr. Tiffany Morse Superintendent of Schools

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Wednesday, March 18th at 4:45 p.m.

Dear OUSD Families, The impacts of the coronavirus are touching every aspect of our lives and forcing all of us to find creative ways to adapt to this unprecedented situation. We know the disruption in normal school operations has created many issues and uncertainties – from childcare and meals to graduation plans and college preparation. We want to answer some of your most pressing questions as best we can. When will school reopen? In coordination with the Ventura County Office of Education and most of the other Ventura County school districts, OUSD will be keeping our schools closed at least through Friday, May 1. Our new target date to reopen is Monday, May 4. As you know, things are changing daily, so there is the potential that the closures could be extended beyond May 1. Yesterday, California Governor Gavin Newsom advised parents to prepare for the possibility that schools may be closed through the summer break. While that could indeed happen, we remain hopeful that conditions will improve enough to allow us to reopen before the end of the school year. Will graduation and promotion ceremonies be held? Like all of you, we want nothing more than to honor our students for their accomplishments. The thought of graduation ceremonies being cancelled is heartbreaking, and we will do all we can to make them happen. In the event that in-person ceremonies are not possible due to public health concerns, we will explore alternative ways to recognize our students for their achievements. Will remote learning be provided for students at home? Yes.  As you can imagine, this is no small endeavor. It involves issues with technology, training and equitable access for all students, including those with special needs and those who do not have internet service or computers at home. District Administrators have developed the following phased plan to ensure a smooth transition to Distance Learning for students, families and staff. The first two weeks of the school closure, Phase 1, will allow for educational opportunities for students without the stress required of assignments. This allows Ojai Unified to help families get devices and internet access. It also allows time for our staff to be trained on distance learning platforms and for us to develop a plan for non-online work.  

During Phase 2, students will begin to work on assignments that are directly related to grade level content but may be an extension of what they have already been taught. As we have more clarity from the State, we will have more guidance on Phase 3 in the coming weeks. 

During each phase, there will be both an online option and the ability to pick up the same work in a “packet” from school sites. 

Are students required to participate in remote learning? Once Phase 3 of our distance learning plan is in place, students will be expected to participate. We understand some families may have situations that make participation difficult or impossible and we will be working over the next few weeks to help all students be ready to participate remotely.  Will state CAASPP testing take place? The state CAASPP testing in math and English language arts has been canceled for the current school year and will not take place. What’s happening with SAT and ACT testing? The College Board, which administers the SAT, has canceled the March 28 makeup and May 2 SAT test dates. The next SAT test date is June 6 with a registration deadline of May 27. The College Board is also working on remote learning for AP students and a plan to allow AP tests to be taken at home. The situation is changing frequently, so please see their latest updates at pages.collegeboard.org/collegeboard-covid-19-updates. The April 4 ACT test date has been rescheduled to June 13. Please see the latest information at www.act.org/content/act/en/covid-19.html. Although this may seem alarming, and you may feel as if your students will be penalized by missing these tests, please remember this is happening all over the nation. Every Sophomore, Junior and Senior in every state is grappling with these issues.  Will school meals continue to be provided? Yes. OUSD will continue to provide school meals, which are a vital source of nutrition for many students. Our Student Care Teams will be available on each site.  Will schools provide childcare? We’re aware that school closures present serious childcare challenges for many families. However, the point of closing the schools is to protect students from exposure to the coronavirus and to slow its spread. This social distancing is for the greater good of our communities. Using schools as childcare locations would defeat the purpose of the closures, so we will not be offering childcare at our school sites at this time. Please know there are dedicated teachers, administrators and support staff working hard to provide for our students’ academic needs and overall wellbeing during these challenging times. This situation is evolving rapidly and we will continue to share new information with you as we have it.  Sincerely, Dr. Tiffany Morse

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Monday, March 16th at 8 p.m.

*FREE STUDENT MEALS, AND CARE SERVICES, BEGIN TUESDAY MARCH 17TH*

As area schools close to address the spread of Coronavirus, we want you to know we are here to support our local families. Beginning Tuesday, March 17th and for the duration of our closures, Student Care teams will be available at all OUSD school sites to ensure each and every student's basic needs are met.

During this time, you or your children can visit any OUSD school campus from 11am-1pm to pick up a brown bag lunch, and breakfast for the following day. All meals are free for all children, even if they do not attend OUSD schools. Additionally, meal services will be closely monitored to ensure compliance with social distancing and sanitation protocols.

This week's meals include: BREAKFAST: Cereal, fruit, juice,milk (optional) LUNCH: deli sandwich (PB&J OR turkey ham OR tuna), fruit, vegetable and milk (optional)

More on OUSD Nutrition Services: A team of food service professionals dedicated to improving students' health, well-being, and academic performance by developing and supporting healthy dietary habits. We offer our students a wide variety of nutritious foods for both breakfast and lunch. Our meals meet the high nutrient standards outlined in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Read more at http://bit.ly/OUSDNutritionServices

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Sunday, March 15th at 5:10 p.m.

Dear OUSD families, I know it seems like every hour there is new information coming out about how each of us should adapt to this unprecedented event in our lives. I appreciate your patience, as we are also constantly adapting to updates from public health agencies, the Governor's office, and other state agencies. I want to share a few key pieces of information about where we are as a district today, with the understanding that every day will likely bring new information. 1. School closure decisions are made based on recommendations from Ventura County Public Health (VCPH)  in consultation with the Ventura County Office of Education, our School Board, and other districts. At this time, most districts in Ventura County are closed for one week unless they already had spring break the week after next.  We will be meeting as a group early next week to reassess the situation, including evolving CDC guidelines. We will provide an update to you as soon as possible. 2. Last week our guidance from state education agencies was that there are significant barriers to providing distance learning in the event of closure. However, over the weekend Governor Newsom signed a resolution specifically asking school districts to develop distance learning programs. It is our understanding that there will be additional guidance coming out on Tuesday, March 17 that we will use to guide educational activities for our students. 3. We are deeply concerned about the well-being of your children during this time. More important than distance learning this week is making sure that each and every student's basic needs are met. Beginning Tuesday, March 17th, our Student Care Teams will be on every school campus from 11-1. You or your children can stop by to pick up brown bag lunch and breakfast for the following day, or check out freshly-sanitized computers or library books. All meals are free for all children, even if they do not yet attend OUSD. We will also have crisis counseling available for our students who may be having a hard time processing this event. If you have children in multiple schools, please know you can visit the closest campus for these services. You can simply come to campus from 11-1, or you can fill out the form below if you can't make it to a campus and we will contact you. All Student Care Team services will be closely monitored to ensure compliance with social distancing and sanitation protocols. Take Care and Stay Tuned, Dr. Tiffany Morse Superintendent Ojai Unified School District

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Friday, March 13th at 5 p.m.

*STUDENT CARE TEAMS DEPLOYED AT CAMPUSES

Message from Dr. Tiffany Morse, Superintendent of Schools

Dear OUSD families,

We know that school is a crucial part of your child's life and that school closure can be a major disruption. In order to support our families, we asked our Leadership Team to meet this morning to begin the process of deploying Student Care Teams. Starting on Tuesday, each campus will be open for a limited time during which your child or family can come for the following services between 11 and 1:

*Boxed lunch and a shelf-stable breakfast for the following morning 

*Library book check-out *Crisis counseling 

*Device check-out, including computers and/or a limited number of internet hotspots

In order to prepare the right amount of food, we ask that parents help us by filling out the form they received in ParentSquare messaging. All services will be provided with social distancing protocols in place, and limited contact.

If parents or students are not able to attend a site but would like access to the Student Care Team services, parents should let us know using the form available in ParentSquare. If there is anything else that we can do to support you during this time, we encourage you to reach out using the form on ParentSquare or by contacting your school site.

We are doing our best to create these Student Care Teams with the best information we have at this time. We thank you for being gracious and flexible as we do our best to adjust to changing dynamics.

The silver lining of every crisis is the opportunity for us to come together as a community, and for our innate human kindness, compassion and courage to shine. Despite our physical distance, we are here for you and your children. Teachers and staff will be checking in with students next week and our district staff will continue to seek ways to serve our families through this emergency. The great thing about Ojai is that we embody this quote by the beloved Mr. Rogers, “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.’”

Take care, 

Dr. Morse

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Thursday, March 12th 6 p.m.

Dear OUSD Community, 

Like you, we are all concerned about the spread of the novel coronavirus and the uncertainty it’s creating in our daily lives. This is changing so quickly that we already have an update from this afternoon's information. 

Minutes ago the Ventura County Public Health department declared a local health emergency, which will provide additional resources for coronavirus response. As a result of this declaration and in the interest of the health of our community, Ojai Unified School District will close all of our schools beginning Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20. We hope to reopen on Monday, March 23, but that decision will be based on recommendations from public health depending on the circumstances at the time. We will update families about our plans no later than Friday, March 20. This closure includes Adult Education classes as well as Ojai Independent  School. We understand that school closures have significant impacts on our students and families and we hope to resume normal operations as soon as possible.

Despite next week's preventative closure, all schools are open tomorrow March 13. We have had no confirmed cases in our community and no suspected infections on any campus. We know that some of you will keep your students home tomorrow as a precaution, but we also want to accommodate our working parents who do not have other arrangements. 

We are still working to evaluate events as they unfold on a case by case basis. At this time the musical is still scheduled through the weekend, but with social distancing protocols, including limiting tickets to 50% of theater capacity. We will have more information tomorrow regarding supports we can offer including lunch distribution. 

We do not make these decisions without enormous thought and input from county and state officials. We thank you for your understanding during this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Dr. Morse, Superintendent

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12 pm, Thursday March 12th

*Coronavirus Update from Superintendent Morse*

Dear OUSD Families,

As Spring Break approaches and more news about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is reported, we would like to share additional information and steps we are taking regarding our preparation and procedures to address the Coronavirus with our community.

Coronavirus will most certainly touch our community and our schools. We are ready and working through plans for possible scenarios and what we know will be a required change from our daily routines.

Effective immediately: *If your student is sick, please keep them at home. We are primarily concerned with these symptoms: FEVER, COUGH, or SHORTNESS of BREATH. *All field trips and activity planning for future events will be postponed or evaluated individually on a daily basis. *Already scheduled on-campus and within-district school activities will remain on the calendar for the time being as we monitor this evolving situation. *Inter-district sporting events will remain on the calendar for the time being as we review the evolving situation. *"Social distancing" protocols are in place for events that are continuing, including limited ticket sales and medical screening for performers/participants. *We are cancelling large group activities with students, such as rallies.

These restrictions will be monitored closely and evaluated daily as we work through this very fluid situation. If you have questions regarding a specific event, please contact your child’s school. Additionally, situations may change daily, so please ensure that you are monitoring ParentSquare communications.

Spring Break Travel We strongly urge parents to avoid any non-essential travel and reevaluate spring break travel plans. If your family is planning to travel during spring break, we encourage you to please pay attention to the CDC travel advisories and guidelines for any updates regarding your destination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes a list of foreign travel advisories for coronavirus, which you can find here https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices

If you do intend to travel internationally, we ask that let us know using this form http://bit.ly/OUSDTravel, and follow health department guidelines. You may be asked by Ventura County Public Health to self-quarantine upon your return from one of the countries on the CDC list, accessible https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices. In addition, if you are traveling, 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 US 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 your students into a 14-day mandatory isolation period upon your return.

School Closure Protocols School closure recommendations will be directed by the Ventura County Public Health Department. Currently, we have no students or staff members who have been identified as having COVID-19. If a student or staff member were to test positive and expose others at a school, a discussion with the local public health officer takes place in order to determine the risk level and to consider if school closure is warranted. OUSD has established protocols for managing school site health and safety should an exposure be identified. CDPH has published the School Guidance document to clarify their recommendations, which you can read here http://bit.ly/OUSDschoolguidance

Please know that the health and safety of our students and staff is our paramount priority. We are in constant communication with County Health Officials and the Ventura County Office of Education and will continue to provide you with additional information in the coming days and weeks.

I want to close by sharing how grateful I am to each and every one of you as we navigate this challenging situation together.

Dr. Morse, Superintendent

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6 pm, Friday February 28th

Hello OUSD families and staff,

As we continue to follow updates from the California Public Health Department (CPHD) around coronavirus/COVID-19, we want to make you aware of our ongoing efforts to ensure that the health and wellness of our students, staff and community is maintained at the highest possible level.  As we shared in our message on February 5th, Ojai Unified School District is strictly following the recommendations set out by the CPHD (available here).  Additional efforts we are putting in place are:

  • revising our cleaning schedule to clean tables and doorknobs every day at all sites 
  • installing hand sanitizer dispensers in communal areas (cafeterias, gym, offices) at all sites
  • identifying grade-level curriculum teams to help plan alternative instruction methods, if school closure should become necessary

These precautionary measures are an extension of our commitment to wellness for our students, staff and community. Finally, if our families travel to mainland China or the Hubei province over the upcoming spring break, they will be subject to CDC guidelines available here and any new guidelines that may be implemented in future.  For a list of countries with COVID-19 travel advisories, visit travel.state.gov. We ask that if you travel to any affected countries that you follow all related guidelines to support the health and safety of our community. Thank you for your efforts at home, encouraging your children and other family members to remain vigilant in the following steps, especially as we are at the peak of flu season:

  • Wash hands with soap and water, often. This is our best defense against the spread of any virus.  
  • Cover coughs with a tissue or sleeve. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid sending students to school if they are sick with respiratory symptoms such as a cough, or a fever
  • Seek immediate medical care if symptoms become more severe, e.g., high fever or difficulty breathing. 

Thank you again for your partnership and support to ensure our community and schools remain healthy. Dr. Tiffany Morse Superintendent 

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12 pm, Monday February 3rd

Dear OUSD parents and staff,

You may have heard in the news that there are two people who have been tested for Coronavirus in Ventura County. One of the tests came back negative and the other test result is still pending. There are still no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the Central Coast region. Although there is no indication either of these cases live within our school district boundaries, out of an abundance of caution we feel it is best to share the following with you. 

On Tuesday, February 4, Ventura County Public Health issued an updated advisory for schools to appropriately respond to concerns about the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Ojai Unified School District is strictly following these recommendations.

  • Students who returned to the United States from mainland China, but who had NOT visited Hubei Province, on February 3 or later are now advised to remain at home for 14 days before returning to school.
  • If a student visited another country after leaving mainland China but before returning to the United States and has not shown any symptoms, the 14 day period should be reduced by the number of days spent in that other country.
  • If parents notice symptoms in their student who is staying home during the 14 day period, they should contact Ventura County Public Health at 805-981-5201. 
  • Any student who has been in China’s Hubei province (home of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus) within the last 14 days will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine. It is likely that these children are already being quarantined on a military base near their point of entry into the United States.
  • Any student returning from anywhere in China in the preceding 14 days who develops a fever and/or respiratory symptoms should be quarantined in their home until he or she has seen a physician and has been cleared by the Ventura County Health Department.

Please stay vigilant, always, in the prevention of viruses - especially since we are at the peak of flu season - by following these tips: · Wash your hands with soap and hot water · Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands · Avoid close contact with people who are sick · Avoid sending students to school if they are sick with respiratory symptoms such as a cough, or a fever Stay safe and healthy, Dr. Tiffany Morse, Superintendent