OUSD board reviews COVID-19 protocols


Grant Phillips, Ojai Valley News reporter

Ojai Unified school board members got an update on COVID-19 safety protocols at their Aug. 25 meeting. They also voted to allow the public to continue to write public comments to them, instead of requiring everyone who wants to make a comment to appear in the board room on a Wednesday evening and deliver their comments verbally.

The “public comment” agenda item came near the end of a meeting that lasted approximately four hours.

District Nurse Haley Hernandez joined the school board for a presentation regarding COVID-19 procedures.

Current safety protocols include:

• Free weekly optional COVID testing for staff and students

  Required COVID testing for classroom volunteers

  Masks required indoors

• Daily disinfecting

• Compliance with the California Department of Public Health guidelines for staff vaccination or testing by Oct. 15 deadline

  Added healthcare assistant positions

• Continuation of the school district’s “COVID concerns” email

Any COVID-19 concerns or questions are asked to be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

There are also a variety of athletic guidelines specific for each sport on campus. Regulations will be determined on a case-by-case basis and in partnership with CIF guidance and other school districts. There is currently no requirement for student athletes to be tested, but students in OUSD are encouraged to get tested. Because athletics are often multi-county, different districts may have different guidelines. CIF guidelines would create a more widespread regulation among different districts.

COVID-19 testing is available on all OUSD campuses throughout the week. The schedule for testing can be found at

Any students with symptoms or who have had a recent exposure are asked to refer to the district’s “decision tree” on the OUSD website on whether or not they return to campus. The decision tree can be found at

The use of spreadsheets to keep track of case numbers and students are also being overseen by District Nurse Haley Hernandez.

“We do have spreadsheets for each campus that I stay on top of each day with our school office managers,” said Hernandez. “I touch base with parent or guardian and we see what the best way to get back to school is.”

Another point of focus was in regard to public comments to the entire school board.

The board opted not to read aloud written public comments at their meetings, but will continue to accept them.

School board member Jane Weil made a motion that the school board continue to take written public comments that will be available at 5 p.m. the Tuesday before a school board meeting for any member of the public who requests to view them. Those collected comments would then be updated at 4 p.m. the day of the meeting for any member of the public who requests to view them.

Public comments will also be added to the agenda the day after the meeting.

The motion was approved 4-1 with Trustee Kevin Ruf dissenting because he said he wants public comments to be available to the school board and the public when they are submitted by a member of the public.

“I feel like we should be as transparent as we can be,” he said. “I believe that we could auto-populate a folder” as public comments are submitted.

California Government Code 54957.5 states that public comments “shall be made available upon request without delay.”

Public comments can be accessed via the OUSD website at

The creation of a Parent Advisory Committee was also requested by Ruf, but the agenda item was tabled for further discussion.

Disagreement arose over the selection process of the Parent Advisory Committee members as well as how the PAC would differ from the current Local Control and Accountability Plan. An earlier Parent Advisory Committee was disbanded in April.

New designs and renovations of several OUSD campuses were also highlighted. These include seven new parking stalls in the Chaparral High School parking lot, a roofing update for both San Antonio Elementary and Nordhoff High School, an electrical upgrade for Topa Topa Elementary, a campus-wide painting for Matilija Middle School, and field restoration for Mira Monte Elementary School, which includes erosion control elements, irrigation trenching, and new sod.

The full agenda, along with the video of the meeting, can be viewed on the district’s website at:


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