The Atascadero Unified School District Board of Trustees came together on Tuesday night for the first meeting of the new year and were informed on all COVID-19 updates since the group has been on their break.

The meeting began with each board member giving a brief report on how their holidays went before diving into the night’s only item. The update began with Superintendent Tom Butler, who passed it off to Assistant Superintendent’s EJ Rossi and Curt Eichperger, who finished the presentation.

Butler opened the presentation assuring each person listening that students who choose distance learning or the hybrid in-person model are each getting the best education that the District can provide.

“I can tell the community that you are getting our best,” Butler said to the Board. “If you choose distance learning, you are getting a dedicated effort from the teacher. If you choose in-person elementary or independent study, you are getting the same effort every day to do the most we can to advance your children.”

Following Butler’s report, Rossi joined the zoom to briefly discuss some technological updates and schedule changes that have been made during the break. The District’s new schedule is set up so that if in-person education does return this year for secondary schools, the students will already have a schedule compatible with returning to class without making any changes.

Assistant Superintendent Eichperger addressed the Board next with COVID-19 updates starting with the District’s first round of COVID surveillance testing. The District administered between 625 and 650 tests to its employees and had two come back as asymptomatic positive test results.

“We did complete the AB-685 notification for all of the staff members at those sites,” Eichperger said. “As well as any relevant student notifications if they were also tied to a potential student contact which is outlined in education code.”

The District is beginning its second round of surveillance testing on Wednesday, starting with San Benito and Monterey Road.

Eichperger also notified the Board that the District is getting close to a Memorandum of Understanding with the CSEA. The tentative MOU has passed, and the District is waiting for just a few more signatures and will be presented in the coming weeks.

The next topic of discussion was surrounding vaccines for the COVID-19 virus. The District has confirmed that employees who wish to be vaccinated will have the cost covered by their insurance. The District has no further information on when vaccines might be available at this time.

“We understand that there are people that are really excited about the potential to get the vaccine and want to be signed up first, and there are some individuals who are concerned and maybe don’t want to get the vaccine whether that’s because they have allergies or different health conditions that might prohibit them from getting a vaccine,” Eichperger said regarding the new hot button issue surrounding COVID-19. “We do want to respect employee and parent choice, and unless it is something that becomes mandated by statute, we will continue to work with our labor partners to see how it will be provided.”

Lastly, the District has created a spreadsheet that is available on their website, in an effort for transparency, that tracks and reports all positive cases within the District. Since Dec. 28, the most recent update, the District has had three positive cases (one student and two staff).

To access the spreadsheet, go to the District website at Atasusd.org and click the link titled “AUSD COVID-19 Positive Notification Data.”

To watch this or any school board meeting, subscribe to the Districts Youtube page.

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