La Jolla public schools offer updates on COVID vaccinations, testing and more

Parents and students wait at Torrey Pines Elementary School's COVID-19 and flu vaccination clinic Dec. 6
Parents and students wait at Torrey Pines Elementary School’s COVID-19 and flu vaccination clinic Dec. 6.
(Tania Rivera)

Principals at the five public schools in La Jolla that make up the San Diego Unified School District’s La Jolla Cluster discussed COVID-19 vaccinations and testing among other issues during a virtual meeting of the La Jolla Cluster Association on Dec. 9.

Torrey Pines Elementary School Principal Nona Richard said the school, in conjunction with nonprofit Champions for Health, hosted its third vaccination clinic of the academic year Dec. 6. Nearly 240 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, boosters and flu vaccinations were administered, which Richard said supports “school staying open.”

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La Jolla Elementary School Principal Stephanie Hasselbrink said her school has not hosted clinics but has “a large number of students who have gone to get vaccinated” against COVID-19.

“We’re just also excited to get back to normal,” Hasselbrink said. She added that students have been making “great gains” academically.

Hasselbrink said La Jolla Elementary’s site modernization project is “making great progress and … is starting to take shape.”

The $48 million effort aims to upgrade the school’s existing permanent buildings and add a two-story administrative and classroom building, kindergarten classroom buildings, a lunch structure and an upper-field restroom building.

The restroom building will be finished in January, Hasselbrink said.

Trenching has begun on the lower campus for the two-story building, and over the winter break, some classes will be moved so their classrooms can be renovated for the new school year, she said.

Muirlands Middle School Principal Jeff Luna said about 220 of the school’s 730 students are tested each Tuesday morning for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

He cautioned against complacency in mask wearing and social distancing. “Our results have been phenomenal here at Muirlands, and I just want to keep that momentum going and have us not regress at all,” he said.

Luna said the school will host a food drive from Monday, Dec. 13, through Friday, Dec. 17, and is asking its families to donate canned food, peanut butter and infant formula at bins at the front of the school between 8:15 and 8:35 a.m. Items will be given to a local food bank.

To support social-emotional learning among Muirlands students, Luna said the school is hosting soccer tournaments at lunch, along with gingerbread house competitions this week.

“It’s a super-fun event,” he said.

Principal Chuck Podhorsky said La Jolla High School is offering a tutoring program with about 50 students participating so far.

Many students are preparing for a production of “West Side Story,” with performances beginning in late February, Podhorsky said. He reminded anyone planning to attend on-campus events to wear a face mask.

Bird Rock Elementary School Principal Andi Frost was unable to give updates because of time constraints.

Coronavirus testing kits

San Diego Unified Area 5 Superintendent Mitzi Merino said the state is providing coronavirus test kits to each district student. Each kit contains two tests.

Merino said SDUSD is asking each family to test each student once on Friday, Dec. 31, and again on Monday, Jan. 3, the day students return from a two-week holiday break that begins Saturday, Dec. 18.

“That way, we hope to be sure that when our kiddos come back after having their great experiences with you and with family that we’re making sure our schools stay safe,” Merino said.

Marisa Berumen, district communications liaison, said an advisory committee presented the SDUSD board with a list of candidates for superintendent Dec. 7.

Former Superintendent Cindy Marten resigned earlier this year after being appointed deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. Lamont Jackson is serving as interim superintendent.

Berumen said the board will announce three finalists from the list on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

SDUSD will then hold a community forum on Monday, Jan. 10, to collect feedback from parents. It may include a question-and-answer session with the candidates.

The format and location of the forum are to be determined, and multiple times may be offered, Berumen said. “We’re trying to reach as many families as possible.”

The district plans to announce the new superintendent at its State of the District address on Tuesday, Jan. 18. For more information, visit

Next cluster meeting: The La Jolla Cluster Association next meets at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, online. Learn more at ◆