, May 23, 2022

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Vallejo school board plans lifting pandemic restrictions, return to in-person meetings

  •   3 min reads
Vallejo school board plans lifting pandemic restrictions, return to in-person meetings
The Vallejo City Unified School District offices.

VALLEJO – Beginning next month, the Vallejo school board intends to return to in-person meetings for the first time in two years.

Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent William Spalding announced during Wednesday's school board meeting a tentative plan for the five-person school board to return to in-person meetings starting on May 4.

The board typically would meet on the first and third Wednesdays of each month inside district offices on Mare Island. But it has met via teleconference for nearly two years following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m hopeful that we can live life a little more normally, more cautiously, but normally,” Spalding said.

Spalding further announced that as the number of COVID cases decreases, the district is looking to allow student field trips, hold prom, and invite parents to open house nights at schools.

“Now bear in mind that we remain cautious, we follow the pandemic numbers around the country and around the region,” Spalding said. “I always tell people to keep their masks handy because there is a very good chance that we may have to turn on a dime.”

According to data from Solano County Public Health dashboard, there are only about 250 active COVID cases in the county.

The board extended its use of teleconference meetings under AB 361, which was passed by the state legislature last September. The law allows a legislative body to hold remote meetings during a proclaimed state of emergency.

Spalding said the reauthorization is being used as a “backup plan” to allow the board to continue meeting remotely as the district prepares for in-person meetings.  

In March, the district lifted its mask mandate which required students, teachers and staff members to wear masks while on campus. Masks are still required for large gatherings like assemblies and meetings but Spalding said the district is looking to ease that requirement as well.

The district’s decision came as Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted a statewide mask mandate for schools starting on March 12.

The Vallejo school district joined other local municipalities which dropped similar mandates around the same time. The state rescinded its general mask mandate starting Feb. 15 and 11 regional counties – including Solano County – dropped their own mandates the same day.

The Vallejo City Council unanimously voted to rescind the city’s mask mandate on Feb. 22, joining the city of Benicia which lifted its face covering requirement a week prior.

“We do continue, in California, to be doing pretty well with the pandemic,” Spalding said.

The board also approved allowing outside groups to begin using district property – such as gymnasiums, auditoriums or conference rooms – and revised facilities use fees.

Use of district facilities by citizens was suspended by the board in August 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic wanes the district will once again allow the community to access the facilities.

“As a result of community and district actions that have significantly offset the ongoing risks of contracting COVID, and in recognition of the importance facility access plays in the needs and overall well-being of the greater Vallejo community, we believe that now is the time to reinstate the Civic Center Act,” said Rebecca Oraboni, the district’s director of operations.

Oraboni said the money collected will be deposited into a special fund which will be used for maintenance, repair, refurbishment, restoration of school facilities and grounds.

The board also approved a memorandum of understanding with the Vallejo Education Association (VEA) to increase the child development salary schedule effective Jan. 1, 2022. The VEA represents teachers in the district. The move will cost the district $49,505.

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