AUSD looks at exempting the district from the late start 

ATASCADERO — Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) held a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. for an open session following their closed session.

The Board began with recognizing the donations, which began with a grant from Federal SESLOC Credit Union in the amount of $495.56 for the support of Atascadero Middle School 8th grade math. The Fine Arts Academy accepted a $100 donation from Warren and Shari Frace from the Frace Sister Memorial Fund for a garden project. The Wonderful Company foundation made a donation of $1000 for the support of Atascadero Middle School. And a $500 for support at Atascadero Middle school to the principal’s discretionary fund.

The Superintendent’s Report began with Superintendent Tom Butler expressing his gratitude for where the school is now and the academic progress that has been made in the beginning of this school year. Butler also expressed his excitement at celebrating the Boys’ Waterpolo team with their achievement of CIF championship and invited the community parade towards city hall to celebrate on Wednesday, Dec. 15 around 2:45 p.m.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Next was the COVID update, which was an item that had been requested from community members. Butler began with his recap of the case count; from Nov. 15 to Nov. 21, there were two positive students. From Nov. 22 to Nov. 28, there were zero students, which was the Thanksgiving break, but it’s equally reported if any students were to turn up positive, the school would be notified. From Nov. 29 to Dec. 5, there were four students, and from Dec. 6 to Dec. 15, there were three positive students.

“These are really encouraging numbers when you take the fact that we have over 4,300 students,” stated Butler. He then went on to talk about the current requirement for masks, which included the recent state public health department of the mandate for masks to be worn indoors, regardless of vaccination status, through Jan. 15. Within the school, all students, all staff, and all parent volunteers are required to wear a mask when indoors. At this time, there aren’t any requirements for vaccines for students. For employees, the school districts are required to know and have proof of their vaccination status, which does not mean they have to be vaccinated. Unvaccinated employees participate in weekly surveillance testing. Since the Governor’s vaccine announcement in October, there has been no Government order or law related to the COVID-19 vaccine in the K-12 student setting. The Superintendents in the county had discussed what to do if, by next fall, the vaccine order is made, in which they would have three sets of exemptions for religious, personal belief, and medical.

Butler thanked the staff who have worked hard to keep the school clean and safe and then opened the meeting to public comment from one community member regarding the history of polio vaccines. There were no further comments, so the trustees expressed their gratitude for Superintendent Butler and how he’s handled the pandemic and his reminder that they aren’t the health experts; they are here for the education of the community’s children, as well as stating their thanks to the public speaker and a reminder that all voices are welcome.

The Board then approved the meeting minutes and the consent agenda unanimously.

Item 12.3 was the school start time discussion which was a senate bill that was put in place with the hope that it would allow for more sleep time for students. Butler highlighted the roughly 35-40 kids who expressed challenges with a later start time which conflicted with extracurricular activities, part-time job conflicts, and more. The Senate bill does provide for a rural exemption with Superintendent Butler has been looking into and believes that the district could apply for that. This goes into effect in July and would affect the next school year unless the district applies to be exempt.

The next meeting of the Board will be Tuesday, Jan. 8. The meeting agenda can be found on the Board’s website: atascaderousd.cyberschool.com/District/Department/1-School-Board