Dear San Diego Unified community,

This afternoon, I visited with our dedicated school nurses, administrators and partners from UC San Diego Health, who are providing free COVID-19 tests to eligible students and staff at Penn Elementary. I also took a COVID-19 test, and I am pleased to report the test was fast and painless.

We are working to open similar testing stations in all our schools, because we understand testing is critical to our ability to operate safely in the middle of a worsening global pandemic. Vaccines are also essential, and we continue working with our health care providers and state leaders to vaccinate our employees. This week, school health office staff began receiving vaccines.

Despite the progress being made and the best efforts of all our employees, we recognize the virus continues to spread out of control in our communities. The appearance of a new COVID-19 strain from the UK in California is troubling, and the fact we are losing 4,000 of our fellow Americans to the disease every day is shocking. This is not the time to let up in our efforts to defeat this deadly virus.

This evening, I will be sharing with the Board of Education that we will maintain our current status regarding reopening classrooms. That is, we will continue to serve as many students of those students who are most in need of support of in-person instruction, as we are able to safely accommodate. We will also continue to monitor the spread of the disease and the latest scientific research with a commitment to provide the next public update on status at the end of this month.

Our efforts to help our students continue their education, even under these difficult circumstances, have the full support of our state leaders, and I met with officials from the Governor’s Office yesterday on a call with the leaders of California’s largest districts. We urged the Governor to prioritize testing and vaccinations to help schools reopen safely. We also shared the urgency of creating a shared plan to help our students enjoy the academic recovery they deserve when the crisis has abated.

There are no shortcuts on this journey, and this is not the time to be careless about the health and safety of our community. Please continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and follow all social distancing guidelines. Together, we will defeat this disease and reopen our classrooms when it is safe and responsible to do so. In the meantime, we will continue to show our students that we value them, their education and the future we will all share together.

Sincerely,

Superintendent Cindy Marten
San Diego Unified School District

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