State Superintendent Welcomes Back Students

State Superintendent Celebrates CVESD Students’ Return to School
Posted on 07/21/2021
Tony Thurmond Speaks to the Press

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond welcomed back students and staff to in-person instruction at Enrique S. Camarena Elementary School on the first day of school Wednesday in the Chula Vista Elementary School District. It was the first time in 16 months that all CVESD schools provided in-person learning full time. “There were lines of cars stretching around the corner because students have come back and families have come back,” Thurmond said. “Families who wanted the option for in-person learning have it. Families who want an option for online-learning also have that.”

Parent takes photo of children The overwhelming majority of students have returned to in-person instruction in CVESD, which operates on a modified year-round school calendar. It was Thurmond’s second visit to CVESD since May, and as with his first visit, the state’s highest education official came away impressed.

”This is an incredible place to visit,” Thurmond said of CVESD. “We’ve been so impressed with the manner in which you’ve welcomed students back, and the safety protocols that are in place. It’s important for me to be here on the first day of school to commend you and to send a message to the rest of the schools in our state that we can get open and that these are the things we can do to keep safe while learning. Great job to everyone in this District.”

The start of the new school year comes as guidance from state health officials encourages implementation of comprehensive, multi-layered safety measures for students and staff members. This includes requiring students and staff to continue to mask while indoors. Thurmond heard from CVESD leaders about safety efforts, Chula Vista’s “Virtual Academy,” and how to welcome all students back to campus.

Camarena Principal Debra McLaren, Ed.D., said it was “exhilarating” to see students and families filing into school. “We’re so excited to have the students back, to hear laughter on the playground again, to see them playing again on the play structures,” Dr. McLaren said. “You don’t realize how much you appreciate those things until you don’t see them anymore.”

Staff holds sign that reads "Go Robo"Many of this year’s first grade students will be enjoying a true “first” First Day of School, as last year they began the school year as kindergarten students in a distance learning format.

State officials, District and school leaders emphasized that campuses and operating procedures will not look quite the same as pre-pandemic. Masks are still required when indoors in K-12 schools, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). That means that while students are in the room, masking indoors is required for everyone—including for vaccinated individuals. When students are NOT present, fully vaccinated people are not required to mask indoors. Students will be able to remove their masks outdoors.

CVESD Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D., said schools have gone to great lengths to implement multi-layered COVID-19 prevention strategies. Schools have upgraded ventilation systems and/or added purifiers to each classroom; received hand sanitizer and other safety supplies, and adapted to continuously evolving safety guidance.

“We are confident schools are the best and safest places for students to learn and succeed,” Dr. Escobedo said.

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