Dear Lucerne Valley Unified School District Staff and Families,
The beginning of the 2021-22 school year is near. The first day of instruction for students is August 9th. The school year will begin in person and with our traditional, full day schedule. This includes the implementation of recess as usual at the Elementary level and the implementation of regular passing period protocols at the Secondary level. As we get closer to August 9th, we will continue to provide you relevant and updated information to assist you and our students to be prepared for a successful and safe start. Please make time to read the following important information.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently released mandates for all K-12 schools https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/K-12-Guidance-2021-22-School-Year.aspx, in order to return to in-person instruction in a safe manner. Under the legal authority of CDPH, this guidance mandates that all staff and all students wear face coverings in indoor settings when students are present, regardless of vaccination status (unless an individual meets the exemption criteria also outlined by CDPH in the guidance). If an individual has a documented exemption, they must submit documentation to the school site where they will be issued a non-restrictive alternative. The use of face coverings is optional in outdoor settings for students and staff members.
On Thursday, July 15, members of our district administrative team participated in a meeting with officials of the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health (SBDPH). It was made clear to us that the face-covering mandate stated above is indeed a requirement and school districts and/or Boards of Education do not have the authority to relax this.
Current CDPH guidelines require local school districts to establish protocols for educating students who willfully refuse to follow the face-covering mandate. Students will be offered masks to wear upon entering classrooms if they don’t have one. Students who repeatedly refuse the use of face coverings indoors must be excluded from campus and provided an alternative education option that does not include a normal daily in-person school schedule. In LVUSD, we offer the Lucerne Valley Virtual Academy as an alternative educational program. In this setting, face coverings will be required for any indoor in-person interaction although all work will be done virtually through an online platform called Acellus. If you are interested in learning more about our Virtual Academy you can reach out to our school offices.
Please be advised that employees are not required to get the vaccination in order to report to work. The decision to be vaccinated is completely the individual decision of staff members.
Also, please be advised that students are not required to have the COVID-19 vaccination in order to attend school. There is no process in place to require students to reveal if they have been vaccinated or not. The decision for a student to receive the vaccine is solely a parental decision.
With that said, the COVID vaccine is an effective way to prevent COVID-19. We will be having a free COVID vaccine clinic with the Pfizer vaccine for anyone over the age of 12 at our Middle/High School on August 5th from 3 to 5 pm with the second shot available on August 26th. Anyone under the age of 18 will need a parent/guardian with them to receive the vaccine. This event is open to the public.
The pandemic has created a lot of anxiety, frustration and at times, anger. We recognize that the mixed and ever-changing messages that have occurred at the Federal and State level, and the ensuing discussions in the media, and on social media over the past year have created a lot of confusion along the way. The District has experienced the same level of frustration as we are expected to be responsive to the changes as they occur. We successfully reopened under all of the guidelines last year and still have not been allowed to make local decisions in regards to the education of our students due to the Governor not releasing his emergency powers.
Neither the District nor the Board of Education has the authority to act in conflict of a law or health department directive. Failure to follow the law or public health mandate could result in liability issues for our school district. We are actively advocating and petitioning for a return to local control for schools with our local state elected officials and with state organizations and for an end to the Governor’s authority to issue mandates without the legislature acting.
Safety has and will continue to be the highest priority of the District and the Board of Education. We will work diligently to maintain a safe, healthy and orderly learning environment for staff and students. We will remain as flexible as possible so that we can act swiftly as guidance changes or relaxes in the near future.
What does this mean?
Students, staff, and visitors must wear a face covering (mask, shield) while indoors on any school building where students are present and while riding in a school bus or district van. No masks are required while outdoors at any time for students, staff, or visitors. Schools will be fully open, 5 days a week, returning to the schedules of 2019-20.
Peter Livingston, Superintendent
Lucerne Valley Unified School District