Messages From IUSD

This page is an archive of IUSD messages related to COVID-19.

October 1, 2021: state vaccine mandate update

Today, Governor Newsom announced new COVID-19 vaccine mandates for all school staff and for eligible students that will go into effect once the vaccine is fully authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Pending this approval the mandates may go into effect either January 1, 2022 or July 1, 2022.  The state will provide more information about this timing when available.  The Governor reiterated that exemptions for medical and/or religious and personal beliefs will still apply. The mandates have been divided into two phases:

  • Phase 1 – Students 12 and older, in grades 7-12 must be fully vaccinated to attend school in-person upon full FDA approval of the COVID-19 vaccine.  At that time, all school staff must also be vaccinated and will no longer be able to test weekly instead of receiving the vaccine.  Anticipated timing for Phase 1 is January 1, 2022 or July 1, 2022.  More information from the state, regarding timing, will follow when available. 
  • Phase 2 – Once the COVID-19 vaccine receives full FDA approval for students in grades K-6, they will also be required to be fully vaccinated to attend school in-person. More information regarding this timeframe will be provided.      

As we have more information, we will provide updates to our community. 

SEPTEMBER 22, 2021: TEST KITS AVAILABLE FOR IUSD STUDENTS AND STAFF

As communicated in the September 9 message from the District, free COVID-19 test kits are now available at all IUSD school sites for students and staff as part of our commitment to provide easy access to testing in support of the health and safety of our school community.  Test kits (saliva or nasal swab) are available at your student's school during regular hours. Those who need a test kit should take it home and follow the attached directions, which include one-time registration instructions.  Return the collected saliva or nasal swab samples to the provided red containers.  Samples are picked up daily (Monday-Friday) by 12:00 p.m. Samples turned in after 12 p.m. will be processed on the following business day.  Generally, results will be emailed within 24 hours of collection.       

Please take advantage of these kits or other testing options if your student has been in close contact with a COVID-19 case or as part of the requirement under state guidelines for participation in sports or other school activities. Test kits are also available for staff as part of the state guidelines for weekly surveillance testing or if they have had a close contact with a COVID-19 case.  Staff will receive additional information regarding the weekly surveillance testing in a separate communication.   

Please also continue daily home screenings with your student prior to coming to school.  If your student is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, follow IUSD reporting instructions. Individuals who are positive for COVID-19 may not come to school. Students with a fever of 100.4 or higher or with COVID-19 symptoms including chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle or body aches, new loss of smell/taste, vomiting, nausea or diarrhea must stay home. 

As a reminder, please see the following close contact exposure guidance from the California Department of Public Health.

  • Students who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to continue to attend school, as long as they remain asymptomatic, continue to wear a mask, and screen for symptoms daily.
  • Students who are wearing masks and are not vaccinated will be allowed to continue to attend school as long as they remain asymptomatic, undergo at least twice weekly testing during the 10-day period, continue to wear a mask both indoors and outside, and screen for symptoms daily.
  • Students who are not wearing a mask and are unvaccinated are required to quarantine from school until after day 10 of last exposure without testing or after day 7 if a diagnostic specimen collected after day 5 from the date of last exposure and tests negative. Students must be symptom free and mask indoors and outside until 14 days from the last exposure.

SEPTEMBER 9, 2021: COVID-19 UPDATES

Dear IUSD Community,

Now that the 2021-2022 school year is underway, we wanted to take a moment to thank our students, staff and the entire IUSD community for working together to ensure such a positive and successful opening.  We were excited to see the majority of our 36,000 students return to daily, in-person instruction and proud that many families have chosen to enroll and re-enroll in our IUSD Virtual Academy.   Your trust, support, and continued partnership have been invaluable as we navigate these challenging times.

IUSD Remains Vigilant and Will Adapt As Needed

The District is focused on our mission to educate our students and will remain vigilant and adaptive in managing school health and safety conditions. As part of our efforts to continually improve how we serve and meet the needs of our IUSD community, below are updates about IUSD actions:

  • Starting this month, IUSD will provide free COVID-19 test kits for students and staff at IUSD school sites. Kits will be provided to students who may have been in close contact with a COVID-19 case or as part of the requirement under state guidelines for participation in sports or other school activities. Kits will also be provided to staff as part of the state guidelines for weekly surveillance testing or if they have had a close contact with a COVID-19 case. More information will be coming from your school in the days ahead.  
  • Schools are investigating ways to better support physical distancing and alternative seating options during lunch and snack periods.
  • To streamline contact tracing efforts, the District’s Health Services team launched a voluntary COVID-19 vaccination attestation process for students ages 12 and above.  Click here for more information.
  • Per the recent health order from the California Department of Public Health, IUSD is implementing a process whereby all school employees must either provide proof of full vaccination status or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.  

What You Can Do to Help Keep Schools Safe

Below are some ways you can help us to keep our schools safe:

Local Health Conditions 

The Orange County Health Care Agency continues to remind school districts that local health conditions are important to consider when discussing COVID-19 in schools.  Orange County has higher vaccination rates with lower transmission and hospitalization rates than Los Angeles County or many other regions in the state or nation.  In Irvine, the evidence is even more encouraging:

  • More than 95 percent of Irvine senior citizens are vaccinated
  • More than 80 percent of Irvine residents ages 12 and older are vaccinated
  • A vast majority of school age children experience mild symptoms and rarely result in hospitalization

More information about local COVID-19 vaccine and testing resources, can be found by visiting IUSD’s Safety and Planning Guide at iusd.org/safetyandplanning

IUSD’s Layered Mitigation Strategies Help Prevent and Limit the Spread of COVID-19

Since the onset of the pandemic, IUSD has continued to follow state and local health and safety guidelines, which can be found by clicking here.  In addition to adhering to these important guidelines, which includes universal masking indoors for students and adults on our campuses, IUSD has gone even further in implementing additional layers of mitigation, including upgraded HVAC systems, dedicated HEPA air purification units throughout our campuses, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, access to hand washing and sanitizer stations, and the maximization of outdoor and flexible learning spaces. 

As a result of these layered mitigation strategies, scientifically proven to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19, Director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, Dr. Clayton Chau, and other medical professionals continue to state that schools remain a low source of transmission and are safer than most other community settings.  In fact, most COVID-19 transmissions are occurring off campus in settings that do not implement these robust mitigation strategies. 

Outdoor Face Covering Guidance Remains the Same

The California Department of Public Health and Orange County Health Care Agency continue to recommend that masking for students and staff should be optional when outdoors.  The guidelines for K-12 schools have not changed, but we will continue to work with these agencies to monitor and evaluate health and safety conditions. Please make the choice that you feel is appropriate for your family and be respectful of the preferences or needs of others.  

Thank You for Your Partnership

Our families continue to be valued partners as we navigate this challenge. We deeply appreciate your support and engagement as we strive to keep our promise to provide the highest quality educational experience we can envision.

Sincerely,
IUSD Communications 
 

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September 8, 2021: VOLUNTARY COVID-19 VACCINATION ATTESTATION-STUDENTS AGES 12 AND OLDER

IUSD is committed to following the guidance from state and local healthcare agencies.  As we implement this guidance, knowing our students’ vaccination status against COVID-19 will enable us to provide more specific direction to our families and can improve the efficiency of our contact tracing. COVID-19 vaccinations are not required for students, and self-attesting your student’s vaccination status is voluntary and not required. If you would like to provide information regarding your student’s vaccination status, please log on to your Aeries Parent Portal and complete the information in the Student COVID-19 Vaccination Attestation Form under the Student Information tab for each student.  

For the purposes of this guidance, people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19: two weeks or more after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or other vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization), or two weeks or more after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen).

Thank you

IUSD Health Services

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August 18, 2021: Welcome back to school

Dear IUSD Families,

On behalf of the IUSD Board of Education, leadership and staff, we are excited to welcome our students and families to the start of the 2021-22 school year, which begins tomorrow, Thursday, August 19 with full-time, in-person instruction and the IUSD Virtual Academy.  We have been working diligently throughout the summer to safely welcome students back to campus, while delivering on our promise to provide the highest quality educational experience we can envision for our more than 36,000 students.

As part of our preparations, IUSD has been focused on providing safe and healthy campuses, academic excellence, and access to a variety of supports and services for students and families.  Please take a moment to review the following information. 

Health and Safety Measures
As previously communicated, students and staff are required to wear masks while indoors at school, regardless of vaccination status.  Masks are no longer required outdoors.  In addition, IUSD will continue to implement health and safety mitigation measures, including upgraded HVAC systems, standalone HEPA air purification units in learning and office spaces, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, access to frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer stations, and the use of outdoor and flexible learning spaces to the extent possible.  

IUSD’s Safety and Planning Guide
Please visit our 2021-22 Safety and Planning Guide at iusd.org/SafetyandPlanning, where you will find detailed information and resources related to IUSD’s planning, mitigation strategies, protocols, links to expert health agencies and a variety of resources.  We have recently added a “Health Guidelines At-A-Glance” section with an infographichandout and video that summarize state and local health guidelines and provide an overview of the California Department of Public Health guidelines for positive COVID-19 cases, close contact exposures and quarantine procedures.

Teaching and Learning with a Focus on Social Emotional Learning
Our District has a deep appreciation for the unprecedented challenges our students have endured during the last 18 months.  We are now entering the third academic year in which COVID-19 has impacted teaching, learning and the student experience.  Now, more than ever, it is imperative that all of our students feel they are welcome, respected and supported.  Their diverse voices, perspectives and experiences matter and we are committed to empowering them as engaged and adaptive learners, who are prepared for college, career and life beyond IUSD.

To that end, we will continue to refine instruction, expand access to rigorous coursework, provide students targeted academic and social emotional learning supports, and harness the power of our Professional Learning Communities to ensure teachers can anticipate and respond to student needs.  Our teachers and staff have access to a range of on demand professional trainings and recently participated in districtwide professional learning days on their campuses in which they reflected on the many new teaching and learning strategies and programs implemented over the past year and best practices to bring forward this year. 

We know that academic excellence requires an ongoing commitment to fostering equitable educational outcomes for all of our students, while supporting their social emotional needs and wellness.  For more information about social emotional learning and wellness, please visit our Prevention and Intervention webpageClick here for additional mental health and wellness resources.   

Stay Connected to IUSD and Our Schools
For the most accurate, timely and relevant information related to our District, please stay connected to IUSD and our schools.  You can do this by regularly checking your email, voicemail and text messages for communications from your school and the District.  Visit iusd.org and iusd.org/SafetyandPlanning often for updates and important information, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter

Click here for more information about how you can stay connected to IUSD.

The “US” in IUSD
Together, we put the “US” in IUSD.  We all have an important role in helping to keep our campuses safe and students in school.  Please continue to follow all health and safety guidelines and established protocols at your school. 

As a community of learners, we must also strive to model and show compassion, empathy, and understanding for the impacts and challenges faced by our students, including those with medical conditions or disabilities.  We are in this together and together we are better.

Thank You
Finally, I would like to express a heartfelt thank you to our entire IUSD Community.  Thank you to our teachers and staff for their tireless work, care and commitment to serving students, families and our community. Thank you to our students and families who have demonstrated compassion, character, resiliency and adaptability during this unprecedented time. 

We appreciate your partnership and support and look forward to making this a year filled with success, confidence and optimism. 

Sincerely,

Terry L. Walker Signature

Terry L. Walker
Superintendent of Schools
Irvine Unified School District  

August 11, 2021: IUsd's 2021-22 Safety and planning guide

Dear IUSD Community,

On behalf of IUSD leadership, teachers and staff, we are excited to welcome our new and returning students to the 2021-22 school year, which starts on Thursday, August 19 with both in-person instruction and the IUSD Virtual Academy. IUSD’s priority continues to be the health and safety of our students, staff and families, while providing academic excellence that has come to define our District.   

This is the first in a series of communications to provide our families with important and helpful information related to the upcoming school year.  The information below is focused on IUSD’s 2021-22 Safety and Planning Guide and our efforts to safely welcome students back to our campuses. 

Important Health and Safety Reminders

IUSD’s planning is aligned to the California Department of Public Health’s guidelines for TK-12 schools which provide a pathway for students to return to full-time in-person instruction.  As previously communicated in our July 14 message, students and staff are required to wear masks while indoors at school, regardless of vaccination status.  Masks are no longer required outdoors.  These guidelines have also been affirmed by the Orange County Health Care Agency and the Orange County Department of Education in a joint statement.   

In addition, IUSD will continue to implement health and safety mitigation measures, including upgraded HVAC systems, standalone air purification units in learning and office spaces, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, access to frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer stations, and the use of outdoor and flexible learning spaces to the extent possible. For more information about these and other measures, please review our 2021-22 Safety and Planning Guide.    

IUSD’s 2021-22 Safety and Planning Guide 

The 2021-22 Safety and Planning Guide is a web resource that provides information about IUSD’s planning, protocols and mitigation efforts to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19.  The following information is included in the guide.

  • Links to the California Department of Public Health TK-12 guidelines for California schools
  • Information about IUSD’s health and safety mitigation efforts and health guidelines
  • IUSD’s COVID-19 Safety Plan
  • District and school notification processes, in the event of a positive COVID-19 case(s) or close contact exposure(s) on campus
  • The IUSD COVID-19 Dashboard
  • Links to IVA, Special Education, Nutrition Services, and mental health and wellness resources
  • An FAQ from the California Department of Public Health
  • Resources and supports for IUSD families and staff
  • An archive of IUSD 2021-22 COVID-19 related messages
  • A Latest News section, where we provide timely updates and links to communications and information.  Please check this section regularly throughout the year and as always, we will continue to directly communicate updates and information to the IUSD community as well   
  • Contact information by topic and/or department and information about how to stay connected to IUSD
  • Links to national, state and local expert health agencies 

Let’s Do Our Part

In addition to following state guidelines, please remember keep students home when they are sick, encourage frequent hand washing, and remind students to cover their noses and mouths when coughing or sneezing.  Please visit our Health and Safety page or our Health Services page for more information and resources. 

Thank You for Your Partnership

Thank you for taking the time to review this important information, including the state’s guidelines for schools.  Together, we can all do our part to help keep schools safe. 

Sincerely,
IUSD Communications

July 14, 2021: UPDATED GUIDANCE FOR CALIFORNIA K-12 SCHOOLS

Dear IUSD Community,

Earlier this week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued updated guidance for all California K-12 schools.  This guidance is a mandated public health directive, which all California K-12 schools must be in compliance with to provide a pathway for students to return to a traditional, five-days per week, in-person academic model of instruction.  Below is a brief summary of the updated state guidelines. 

California Department of Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools  

  • Physical Distancing – Physical distancing requirements have been modified for those wearing masks.  CDPH guidelines state that in-person instruction can occur without physical distancing when universal masking is in place.  This will enable students to return to a traditional academic model, which is positive news for learning and for our students, their families and staff, who want five-days per week of in-person instruction.  Without this guidance, K-12 schools would only be able to implement hybrid schedules, similar to the last school year.  In limited situations, where face coverings cannot be used for developmental or pedagogical reasons (assisting young children or for those with special needs), a face shield with a drape (per CDPH guidelines) can be used, as long as the individual maintains physical distance in accordance with CDPH guidelines.  Click here for the complete CDPH guidance.   
  • Masks Indoors –The CDPH stated that it will continue to assess conditions and will determine no later than November 1 whether to update or eliminate mask requirements or recommendations.  In the meantime, the mask guidance issued on June 9, requiring students and staff (when in the presence of students) to wear masks while indoors at school, regardless of vaccination status, will remain in effect.
    • By requiring masking indoors, the state was able to modify the physical distancing requirements to facilitate a return to full in-person instruction.    
    • Masking indoors also greatly reduces quarantine restrictions for anyone who may be exposed to COVID-19 as long as they remain asymptomatic, reducing interruptions to in-person instruction. 
    • Finally, the state believes that this masking guidance will reduce conflict and bullying between the masked and unmasked, vaccinated and unvaccinated. 
  • No Masks Outdoors – Students and staff will no longer be required to wear masks outdoors.  IUSD will continue to use outdoor spaces for learning environments to the extent possible on each school site.   

As a reminder, IUSD is offering both a traditional in-person academic model (universal masking required by the CDPH, see above) and the IUSD Virtual Academy (IVA) to meet our families’ needs.  For more information about IVA Middle and High school, click here and for IVA Elementary click here.

Keeping the IUSD Community Informed
IUSD will continue to collaborate with the Orange County Health Care Agency, the Orange County Department of Education, and other Orange County school districts to better understand how these guidelines will impact K-12 school and district operations for the 2021-22 school year.  Once we are able to clarify the details of this new guidance, we will provide an update to our community. 

Safety is our Priority  
Please know that the safety of our students, staff and families is our priority. IUSD remains committed to providing a safe learning environment for our nearly 36,000 students and we will continue to utilize stringent cleaning and disinfection procedures, promote frequent hand washing, encourage staff and students who are ill to stay home, and other proven COVID-19 prevention strategies.

Thank You for Your Partnership
Although we have made great strides toward normalcy, we continue to operate in an evolving environment.  Thank you for your partnership and support during this unprecedented time.  IUSD and our schools will continue to work with students and families to help meet their needs.  If you have IUSD specific questions, please email info@iusd.org.  For questions or concerns related to the mandated CDPH health directives, contact the CDPH directly.

Sincerely,
IUSD Communications

 

Click here to read a joint statement from the Orange County Health Care Agency and the Orange County Department of Education regarding the CDPH guidance and universal masking requirements for Orange County K-12 schools.