State superintendent calls open South Bay schools a national model


CHULA VISTA, Calif. — California’s top education official visited two schools offering in-person classes in the Chula Vista Elementary School District Thursday, praising them as models for the rest of the country.

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond went to Castle Park Elementary and Joseph Casillas Elementary to learn more about how the campuses are accelerating student learning and supporting student mental health.

“What I’ve observed here today is what I think California and, quite frankly, our nation needs in terms of how we help our students come back to school for in-person instruction,” Thurmond said.

The school district has around 30,000 students and opened up about a month ago for hybrid learning.

Throughout the day, Thurmond witnessed examples of the schools’ “whole- child support,” with layers of physical safety measures combined with onsite mental health support, learning acceleration and family engagement strategies.

In addition, he learned about CVESD’s series developed for parents to provide ways 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.

“I’ve seen really thoughtful programs that address the social and emotional needs of our students. I think that’s the number one thing our students need to be focused on right now,” Thurmond continued.

He also noted that, when the time comes, many parents may still feel hesitant about sending their kids back to school full-time, and that the state needs to be sensitive and should still offer remote learning options.

“The more families see all the safety measures in place, the more they will get comfortable with returning. Until then, I think it’s important for the state to think through how can there be some limited and flexible remote learning that will not contribute to the learning gaps many students experienced during the pandemic,” the superintendent said.

CVESD is one of 79 school districts in California that are offering free rapid antigen testing which can provide COVID-19 test results in as little as 15 minutes. This antigen testing is available to all staff and students throughout the school district. In addition, CVESD is hosting family vaccination clinics on a weekly basis.

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