School district changing plans for in-person events, seeing rise in positive COVID cases

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Winters Joint Unified School District announced on Monday that school sites districtwide would be switching the Back to School Night events to a virtual format in an effort to limit COVID transmissions. Each school site will notify families of any changes in the date of the upcoming Back to School Night virtual events. “These changes will help us continue to keep students and staff safe while our schools remain open for the full day, every school day,” said John Barsotti, Winters High School Principal. In a message to the community, Superintendent Diana Jiménez further said other traditional family in-person events like parent-teacher conferences would flip to a virtual model, and student activities like dances and movie nights would be postponed. “To this point and as the COVID situation continues to evolve, we will monitor closely the situation in our District and we will take any steps necessary to help suppress the spread and keep our schools open,” said Jiménez. “Depending on changing conditions, it may become necessary to impose other mitigations such as outdoor masking.” In the messaging to WHS families, Barsotti noted that currently extra-curricular events like athletics and co-curricular events like FFA and music performances will continue as planned. The Express had not received an update from Winters Middle School regarding these types of events by the print deadline. The districtwide communications came as a rise in positive COVID tests were identified among multiple Winters school sites. Robocalls went out to families who had students on a campus with an identified positive case. Families who had a student directly impacted by a positive case were notified with a phone call and and email with details on next steps. If a family did not receive a direct contact notification from one of the school nurses it means their student was identified as not being exposed to the positive case. Testing All Winters JUSD students, staff, families and community members who are asymptomatic are eligible for free saliva-based testing via Healthy Yolo Together on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:15 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. The testing opportunity is voluntary and minors may only participate if a parent or guardian has given consent by registering them. Details about locations and how to register for testing is available on the Winters JUSD website at https://www.wintersjusd.org/hyt/. Questions regarding Healthy Yolo Together testing through Winters JUSD should be directed to Administrative Assistance Veronica Hernandez at vhernandez@wintersjusd.org or 530-795-6100. Jiménez requested families to keep students home if they show any signs of illness. Rapid symptomatic testing can also be scheduled locally at Winters Healthcare by calling 530-795-4377. Jiménez also asked the school community to not engage in community chatter regarding who may have tested positive. “We must all work together to respect privacy rights and not discuss names of individuals who may have or have tested positive; thank you for helping me honor this privacy right,” Jiménez said. Josh Harris, Special Education and Student Services Director, presented the Board of Trustees with the updated plan of action for positive COVID tests at the Aug. 3 school board meeting. The school nurses sent updated letters home to families at the beginning of the school year with the Student Daily Health Screening Questionnaire. The information included a protocol that families should follow if a student (vaccinated or unvaccinated) shows any COVID symptoms. Notable actions are for families to get documentation from healthcare providers confirming any underlying chronic conditions that have associated symptoms (like allergies or asthma) to include in their child’s file at the school office. Questions regarding the process can be sent to the school district nurses at nurse@wintersjusd.org or called in to 530-795-6130 x2203.

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