State Superintendent Visits CVESD

State Superintendent Visits Casillas, Castle Park schools to Highlight In-Person Safety Measures and Social-Emotional Supports
Posted on 05/13/2021
State Superintendent  Tony Thurmond Speaks to the Press

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond visited Castle Park and Joseph Casillas elementary schools on Thursday, calling attention to in-person learning and the comprehensive safety measures and supports for students and families that have enabled the schools to stay open.

The Chula Vista Elementary School District campuses that the state superintendent visited are located in a region among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Thurmond viewed first-hand how schools are supporting student mental health and implementing learning acceleration strategies. In response to parent needs, CVESD developed a virtual workshop series for parents on how to support their children’s social-emotional wellness at home, as well as resources to enhance classroom practices such as restorative circles, social-emotional lessons, and mindfulness.

Tony Thurmond speaks to CVESD staff“These schools are a model for the state and nation in how we support students while recovering from this pandemic and prepare for a full return to in-person learning,” Thurmond said. “Through inspiring investments in school-based mental health support, comprehensive safety measures such as rapid COVID testing, and engaging instruction individualized to student needs, families should feel confident that schools like these are the safest, best place for their children.”

Throughout the day, Thurmond witnessed examples of whole-child support, with layers of physical safety measures combined with on-site mental health support, learning acceleration, and proactive family engagement strategies put in place to serve students and families. In addition, Thurmond spoke with teachers, school staff, and administrators about the impact the pandemic has had on students and the efforts taken to ensure effective teaching and learning.

“These are the kinds of investments in whole-child support that can make the difference,” Thurmond remarked. “You can see and feel the joy among students and teachers. Nothing can replace the relationships, connections, and environment of in-person school.”

CVESD has 53 school psychologists who support District schools, including Charters. Every site has access to a school psychologist. In addition, as part of its reopening plan, CVESD is funding part-time mental health support professionals at each of its 41 non-charter school sites from April 12 - June 15, 2021. Highlights include:

  • A minimum of 2 days of counseling support will be provided at each of the non-charter District schools.
  • Key support responsibilities: High visibility at ingress/egress, readily available for crisis intervention (triage), 1:1 counseling.
  • Site-based social workers/counselors will provide support at 11 sites.
  • District social workers (DSWs) will provide support at nine sites.
  • Partner organization South Bay Community Services (SBCS) will provide mental health support providers at the remaining 21 sites.
  • SBCS’s Community Assessment Team (CAT) will provide an additional 1-2 days of case management support to CVESD’s 10 highest unduplicated student sites to connect families with case management and wrap-around services (e.g., family counseling, outside therapy, etc.).

CVESD Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D., said it is more important than ever to attend to students’ social and emotional needs.

Tony Thurmond speaks to students“We believe in educating the whole-child through rigorous academic instruction, but also with behavioral and social-emotional learning and support,” Dr. Escobedo said. “It was amazing to share with the state superintendent how our schools are implementing safety measures, dealing with learning loss, dealing with the trauma that our students experienced—and how we are mitigating the effects. We are deploying what we call a strengths-based focus on trauma, where our counselors, social workers, principals, and teachers are utilizing social-emotional constructs and teaching emotional self-regulation to empower students and parents to overcome the rigors and challenges they had to go through during the pandemic.”

The District’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) also funds a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Director and four District Social Workers—vitally needed resources to assist students and families.

More support is on the way, thanks to additional funding via the state’s Expanded Learning Opportunities Grant. With these added resources, CVESD is proposing to build out is MTSS supports to include hiring site-based counselor/social workers as well as strengthening a daily mindfulness program for every campus in the new 2021-22 school year!

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