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By Collin Breaux

The Capistrano Unified School District will be asking students in grades 5, 7, 9 and 11 to participate in a voluntary student health and well-being survey.

The CUSD Board of Trustees approved a memorandum of understanding with WestEd, a public nonprofit educational institution that developed the surveys for the 2019-2020 school year, during a meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 20. The survey is sponsored by the California Department of Education. It aims to promote better youth health and well-being, improve the school environment, and better equip schools to handle drug abuse and violence, according to a parent letter from the district.

The survey gathers information on developmental support, school safety, student health, and other topics. Children are not required to take the survey. Students who don’t participate will not be penalized or discriminated against. Parents can sign forms authorizing or not authorizing their child to take the survey.

The survey has been administered in the past several school years.

“I think we’re being much more careful about making sure parents are fully informed about this, are not concerned about opting out if that’s what they choose to do, and will be certain that their children do not take the survey if that’s what they want,” Board President Gila Jones said. “I just feel like we really owed that to our community, because there was some confusion about that last year.”

Trustee Jim Reardon said he would appreciate it if, over the ensuing year, statistics would be developed about opting out as the district continues using parent letters to inform the community.

The survey is anonymous, with no names recorded or attached to the forms or data. The survey will be administered between Jan. 21 and Feb. 13 during class time.

For parents who want more information about the survey and how the information is used, the district will conduct presentations on January 14 at 9-10 a.m. and on Jan. 16 at 6-7 p.m. at the District Office, 33122 Valle Road in San Juan Capistrano.

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