Credit: CDC

The Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Education announced Tuesday that all students and staff will be sent home with an at-home COVID-19 testing kit for the winter break, provided by the County Public Health Department. 

Students and staff are not required to use the at-home tests, but the district does recommend it, especially during these next few weeks where students, teachers, and families will be traveling and interacting with many other people. Since the school year began, 133 students and 35 staff have tested positive for COVID. Among staff, more than 96 percent of regular employees have been fully vaccinated. Among students, more than 50 percent of high school students and 49 percent of junior high students are fully vaccinated.

The California Public Department of Health has also awarded the district a grant to contract seven nurses to assist with contact tracing and facilitate onsite testing. “We just want to make sure we do those steps to mitigate the virus from coming into the schools and impacting our students as well as our staff,” said Steven Venz, director of school performance and student outcomes for the district. 

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The board provided an update on finding alternatives for the School Resource Deputy (SRD) position at San Marcos High School, including the approval of a licensed clinical social worker, and two additional campus safety assistants. 

Board members Wendy Sims-Moten and Virginia Alvarez also presented a progress report for reimagining the position at San Marcos, Santa Barbara, and Dos Pueblos high schools. The report included a long list of questions needing to be answered in order to understand the future of SRDs in the district. Among the long list of questions, the assessment process includes determining what the job description of an SRD is and who creates that description, if there is any review process for the activity of SRDs, and what training and protocols are in place for SRDs. Once completed, this assessment is meant to guide future conversations and policies regarding armed officers on campuses. “The common goal here is for student safety,” said Sims-Moten. “We’re looking to clarify roles and expectations, so when we happen to have law enforcement on our campuses, it’s really clear what their roles are there.”

The board’s new leadership roles were also decided for the upcoming year. Rose Munoz was elected president of the board, Sims-Moten was elected vice president, Laura Capps was elected clerk, and Hilda Maldonado was elected secretary.

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