A Message From all Superintendents and Charter Leaders of Santa Cruz County
Educators throughout the county continue to celebrate graduating students who overcame so many obstacles this year. Graduations took place outdoors in accordance with all COVID-19 safety protocols set forth by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), including required face coverings and physical distancing between families in attendance. Although graduations may look different from prior years, we could not be more proud of the powerful achievements our students have earned this year. Not only are we celebrating the culmination of effort over the years to earn their diploma, it is a tribute to their resilience and determination in the face of one of the most difficult years ever in education.
We are expecting new guidance from the CDPH be released soon to guide the protocols for all California schools. We anticipate that CDPH’s new guidance will continue to be more restrictive than CDC’s recommended guidance on the use of face coverings, for example. Under current guidance, students, staff, and all visitors are required to wear face coverings while on campus. Although we do not yet know what local public health restrictions will require this fall, schools intend to comply with all COVID-19 protocols set forth by CDPH and our local public health authorities.
This summer, some school districts will provide a range of social, health, and wellness opportunities for students. We know as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, new resources will be needed to help students heal and readjust to in-person learning this fall. Some districts will be offering summer opportunities to engage and reconnect with their peers, access to expanded mental health services, and continued support for parents to help their children receive the optional COVID-19 vaccine and required immunizations. Our districts and charter schools look forward to opening every school in Santa Cruz County full time and in-person in the Fall.
As we reflect on challenges our school community has faced and overcome throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we are extremely grateful and proud of the way we came together as a community to uplift, support, and protect students and families throughout this crisis. The graduations we celebrate also mark our entry into a new phase of the pandemic. We are thankful for the remarkable countywide collaboration of our school districts, charter schools, community organizations, public health authorities, and school personnel to keep the health and safety of our students, families, and staff top priority. We are grateful to all of our inspiring educators who worked diligently to develop innovative teaching methods for students through remote learning. We are thankful for our school counselors and student support services professionals who supported our student’s wellness in a time of extreme crisis.
We are especially grateful to our COVID-19 and Health teams who have worked tirelessly to keep schools across the county informed of constantly-evolving changes in COVID-19 guidance. Our School Nurses, COE Safety Director, Human Resource Officers, and administrators worked in partnership with Public Health to develop our contact tracing system for schools, provided high-quality professional development to school administrators to ensure schools are safe for our students’ return, and responded to countless inquiries from worried staff and parents. The dedication and compassion of our school community, especially in times of crisis, is truly special and the resilience of our community is something worth celebrating.
Santa Cruz County Superintendents and Charter School Leaders
Thanks to our partnership with Dignity Health, Dominican Hospital, Rite Aid, Safeway, and Kaiser Permanente, Santa Cruz County Public Health as of this week, we will have helped to vaccinate over 15,000 educators, families and students in Santa Cruz County.
The COE vaccinated over 40% of all vaccinated students in Santa Cruz County and approximately 8% of all vaccinated individuals of Santa Cruz County.
Graduation - Congratulations Class of 2021!
Between the Career Advancement Charter and Alternative Education, we graduated 360 students this May. Graduates participated in individual, small group, and whole school ceremonies across seven school sites, including Cypress High School, over the course of five days. Thank you to all Board Members and special guests who were able to attend and who helped to make each event so special.
Start of Summer School
We quickly followed graduations in both Alternative Education and the Career Advancement Charter with the start of summer school on June 7th. Our current students and students from local districts are showing up in high numbers to take advantage of the summer opportunity to catch up, or get ahead.
As we work this summer to prepare for a return to in-person learning in fall, we say goodbye to a few amazing administrators and educators and welcome others. Megan Tresham, after a number of years leading Cypress High School, building and sustaining school culture, as first a counselor, and then as the Principal, leaves us for another educational adventure. While she will most-certainly be missed, we welcome Matt Levy, previous Principal of PV High in her place. Matt’s experience and heart for students ensure that the Cypress mission and culture will be kept alive.
John Armstrong, longtime Director of Alternative Education, also retires this year. John’s wisdom, dedication, and support for Alt Ed students and staff will be missed. While we are sad to see him go, we welcome Jennifer Izant Gonzalez, as she steps into the role of Director of our Programs. We look forward, also, to the additional contributions provided, as Cristal Renteria becomes our new Assistant Director, focusing support on our south county school sites.
On the compliance front, Alternative Education and the COE just completed Federal Program Monitoring. Under the leadership of Jennifer Izant Gonzalez, and due to the extreme dedication of a number of other Alt. Ed. colleagues, we exited the monthslong review process with zero findings, a very rare outcome. According to the reviewers at the CDE:
SCCOE was reviewed by 5 programs. Between these 5 programs, there was a possibility of 47 total findings, of which you had zero. To get to the point of demonstrating minimum compliance for these 47 items, you have uploaded, linked AND certified at least 256 documents into CMT. This does not even take into account the fact that you were often in meetings with the CDE team, with your own team, and supplying drafts or soliciting clarifications throughout, going as far back as January.” “These numbers speak volumes and we are appreciative of your interaction in this process. It’s all about those kiddos, and you demonstrate that superbly! No further action is required of you for this year’s FPM process.
Finally, both Alternative Education and the CAC will complete their Local Control Accountability Plans and provide annual LCAP updates to the Board this month. The Consolidated Application for Federal funding for the 2021-2022 school year is underway, and we are beginning to plan for the return to complete, in-person learning beginning August 9th.