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Palo Alto school district leaders: Online options to be rolled out

School board holds emergency meeting to discuss value of school closures

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During an emergency school board meeting on the coronavirus on March 12, Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Don Austin said no district schools will close. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Update: After Thursday's school board meeting, Superintendent Don Austin indicated that the situation is still fluid. "Working phones and talking with people into the night. Our plan is temporary and can change," he said on Twitter at 11:44 p.m. "Uncharted territory for everyone with conflicting advice. ... Asking for a tiny bit if(sic) space to continue evaluation." Meanwhile, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department has announced a press conference at 11:30 a.m. to declare new orders to help spread the virus, which may involve schools.

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Palo Alto Unified School District leaders are not electing to close schools in the face of the coronavirus but instead offering online and other educational alternatives to students who choose to stay home -- alternatives school officials warned are not substitutes for in-person classroom learning.

"Coming to school is still the first, best option," Superintendent Don Austin said at an emergency school board meeting on Thursday afternoon — the same day the city of Palo Alto declared a state of emergency. "We are going to be the first district in the county to allow for flexible options, meaning if you stay home that will be allowable — not recommended, but allowable."

Austin and school board members emphasized that the district is following the Santa Clara County Public Health Department's recommendation to not close schools at this point. There has not been a confirmed case of coronavirus in the school district.

The "flexible learning options" will begin on Monday, March 16, and be "reassessed" by April 3, before the start of spring break, Austin wrote in a message to families and staff on Thursday. All students are expected to return to school after break on Monday, April 13.

Parents who choose to keep their children out of school must provide written notification to their school indicating the start and expected return dates of their absence. Absences will be excused for a maximum of 10 days, at which point parents will need to provide another written notification.

"The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has been extremely clear that closing schools ... is not as much of a mitigation strategy as people might think it is," Assistant Superintendent of Strategic Initiatives and Operations Lana Conaway said. "Within the space of a school's walls we're able to establish some conditions that would mitigate the risk of infection."

The district's decision is part of a mixed, rapidly evolving response to the coronavirus from schools throughout the region and across the country. An increasing number of private schools in Santa Clara County (which has about a quarter of the state's coronavirus cases) and throughout the Bay Area are closing proactively -- without any confirmed cases in their school communities -- to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The San Francisco Unified School District, the seventh largest district in the state, announced Thursday that all of its 113 schools will close for three weeks starting Monday after four students and their family members at one campus showed signs of respiratory illness, according to media reports. Berkeley Unified announced Thursday evening that it would close all of its schools through spring break, spurred partly by four new coronavirus cases in Alameda County, two of which are the county's first cases of community transmission, the district said in an announcement. The San Mateo Union High School District is moving to online learning through at least March 27. In Marin, the Tamalpais Union High School District decided to close temporarily despite no known cases of the coronavirus among staff or students, stating: "it has become clear that the most responsible action, at this moment, is for us to take a proactive versus reactive approach to social distancing and other containment measures."

In Ohio, Maryland, Michigan and New Mexico, K-12 public schools are closing statewide.

"How are we different?" Dharap asked on Thursday. "There's been a lot of discussion how organizations like the CDC and other health organizations in other states may have been behind the curve in dealing with the outbreak. How are we making sure that we're not behind the curve, approaching with a critical eye the advice that we're getting from all the different agencies — federal, state and county?" he said.

By Friday morning, however, Dharap became the sole board member to change his tune on possible school closures.

"Since last night, schools districts across California have announced closures," he wrote in an email to the Weekly. "I think the county needs to rapidly re-evaluate its recommendation for us to remain open."

Austin — and other board members — said that they're putting their trust in the public health experts tasked with responding to the coronavirus.

"The coronavirus is going to spread. Will it hit our schools? It would be silly for us to say it's not," Austin said. "We're going to do everything we can on our end but controlling the spread is not even a goal for the health department. It's slowing the spread.

"In their opinion, our best role in that is to stay open as long as possible and do exactly what we're doing."

What will 'flexible learning options' entail?

Principals and teacher leaders gathered on Thursday afternoon at Palo Alto High School to develop resources and activities for students who choose to stay home. For elementary school students, the district will provide "home study guidelines" and links to free online resources, all focused on reading, writing, math and enrichment, Austin said. The district is aiming to provide five to seven hours of schoolwork for a week for elementary school students.

The secondary schools will use existing technology, such as Schoology, though details on what exactly the instruction for the middle and high schools will look like were scant on Thursday.

"It will not be as comprehensive and it will not be the same," Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Sharon Ofek said of the learning alternatives. "There is no way to replicate what's happening in the classroom. I can't say that enough: It will not be the same, especially for secondary students."

Many questions remain unanswered at this point, particularly for high school students wondering how choosing to stay home could impact their transcripts, graduation requirements or if they'll be required to make up missed classwork or exams. The district will release more information on Friday, Austin said.

For special-education students, the district is planning to document in their individualized education plans (IEPs) that any distance learning is not same as what will be provided at the school site.

"This is a choice that the families have made, and by missing school, it's not the same as being in school so the services being provided are different," Ofek said.

The district is "really poorly positioned for school closures as a whole," Austin said, and does not have the capacity to offer instruction fully online.

Austin said the county contacted him early Thursday morning to ask if the district would be interested in rolling out the flexible learning options.

In a statement, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan said that "school districts in Santa Clara County are working to ensure that they are making the right decisions for their communities in accordance with the recommendations from the Department of Public Health. I support the collaborative solutions that keep schools open."

Board members were supportive of the district's plan and expressed confidence in the advice they're receiving from public health officials. The county public health department has "the training, background, depth of experience and bar none the best information on what's actually going on in our local environment," Board President Todd Collins said.

"When you have a complicated situation that requires a technical understanding, you have to rely on experts," Collins said in an interview after the meeting. "For me as a board volunteer, for the staff as professional educators to arrive at judgments about what's the right thing to do -- not for kids in school but for the public health of the community -- that's way outside our lane. I feel qualified to exercise my judgment based on the advice of experts, but I don't feel qualified to substitute my judgment for that of experts."

Board members questioned whether students would stay at home if school is canceled and if that could cause further exposure or risk to themselves and the community.

"The idea of doing social distancing is to reduce these touchpoints and interactions," said board member Jennifer DiBrienza. "It's important if parents are going to keep their kids out of school that they actually keep them home. We don't have the ability to tell everyone that they have to hunker down in their home and not leave."

Both of the school board's student representatives described their peers as not taking the coronavirus seriously and seeing potential school closures as "how can I get away with having the most fun and doing the least amount of work and not in, 'What is the most safe?'" said Claire Cheng, Gunn High School's representative.

"The majority of our high school students at Paly are using this coronavirus almost as a scapegoat for not having to be on campus," said Ben Gordon, Palo Alto High School's representative.

At Gunn, students have wondered, "'If they're canceling prom, why aren't they canceling school? If they're canceling all these events, why aren't they canceling school?'" Cheng said. "If school was to close, I think it would not be a situation where students would decide to stay home and do nothing."

Jade Chao, president of the Palo Alto Council of PTAs, offered the parent group's support to the district's efforts on Thursday, although other parents have taken to online forums to express dismay with the district's decision to keep schools open.

"We are supporting you, our school district, for any and all of the containment or mitigation strategies that the school district shall take in response to the spread of COVID-19," Chao said. "We are looking to you as our leaders."

As of Thursday, all district athletic events have been suspended, as well as field trips, school dances — including, now, high school prom, Austin confirmed — and any non-essential extracurricular activities. California public health officials are recommending that non-essential gatherings of 250 or more people should be postponed or canceled until the end of March.

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department and Office of Education are exploring the possibility of a countywide, two-week spring break, Austin said Thursday.

The district is at about 90% attendance overall and is seeing more decline at the elementary schools than the middle and high schools -- a trend Austin said he expects to continue with the at-home learning options.

Meb Steiner, the president of the district's classified employees union, urged school leadership to keep front of mind the professional and personal impacts for staff. Staff and teachers might have children whose schools cancel class, might live with people who are at risk for contracting the coronavirus or might have their own health issues that put them at risk, she said. The district is encouraging teachers and staff to contact the human resources department for help navigating different kinds of leave and what they're entitled to.

Steiner said classified staff, particularly custodians and school nurses, are overwhelmed right now. She described nurses "triaging" more than a dozen coughing Paly students in the hallway outside the school's wellness center this week. When asked, Austin did not know if the students had been tested or if the district was coordinating with county health officials about these students.

Austin said that if a student, staff member or parent tests positive for the coronavirus, the district would immediately notify, consult with and take guidance from the county public health department. But closing a school is not a "predetermined" response.

Collins told the Weekly that it's not if but when the district will be faced with that situation.

"The real challenge is going to come when that happens to us. When it does happen, then we've crossed a Rubicon," he said. "At that time, I'm wide open to doing whatever's necessary."

On Thursday evening, the Ravenswood City School District announced that its schools will be closed on Monday and Tuesday to allow teachers to prepare for distance learning.

Ravenswood is in San Mateo County, where the public health department has said that "school closures (with continuity of education and operations) may be warranted in the future, but are not recommended at this time."

Watch a video of the emergency March 12 Palo Alto Unified school board meeting here.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and Almanac here.

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Comments

107 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 12, 2020 at 3:38 pm

Yeah, this issue really came out of nowhere. I mean, no one on Monday could have imagined that we needed to address this dire situation.

For that reason, it makes total sense that the Board and School District would act in a manner that minimizes transparency and public input, invoking the emergency clause.

I mean, no one saw this coming! Certainly not the > 1,500 community members who petitioned the board and the district about the seriousness of this issue over a week ago.


30 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 12, 2020 at 3:44 pm

It's great to see some action by our PAUSD Board. I hope the result is an action plan. I wish a Zoom conference call would have been set-up so parents can participate to ask questions via chat. You can watch the meeting on Channel 28.
Web Link


103 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 3:47 pm

Ohio, Maryland and Kentucky announced statewide school closures to slow the rate of infections.

Confirmed cases as of March 12, 2020:
Ohio State: 5
Maryland: 12
Kentucky: 8
Santa Clara county: 48 confirmed and 1 death


68 people like this
Posted by district parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 3:53 pm

No more hesitation and handwringing! Please take decisive action now to protect this from exploding out of control!


121 people like this
Posted by Anon123456
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 3:54 pm

Santa Clara County and California will go down in history as an area that acted too slowly and caused significant more deaths compared to more proactive and informed areas.


77 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 12, 2020 at 3:56 pm

@PAUSD Parent -- Respectfully, the district and board have made a mess of this. I do agree that this turn positive, but we should have had a full action plan, with contingency plans for likely scenario types, hammered out IN PUBLIC by now. In fact, a LONG TIME AGO.

We should not be for a moment grateful at PAUSD's handling of this issue. Announcements, revocations, reactive instead of proactive, overly self-assured, back-room deals to folks for sub-groups applying back-room pressure, inconsistent application of supposed standards, poor transparency, poor rationale and communication.

It's the PAUSD we've all come to know and love.

Hopefully everyone stays safe and healthy.


23 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:05 pm

This is earthquake country. There should be guidelines in place for if there is a major earthquake in the area with buildings, etc. damaged. This should be a fairly easy protocol but do we have an earthquake disaster protocol?


84 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:16 pm

SORRY AUSTIN SAN MATEO COUNTY OFFERED DISTANCE LEARNING FIRST AS OF YESTERDAY SO YOU CAN'T CLAIM THAT. The Arrogance of this district is SURREAL. Why doesn't Caswell show her face?


95 people like this
Posted by June
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:17 pm

Act before the bay area become the next Italy. Save lives. Students can adapt and learn online. Teacher can adapt and teach online.


119 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:18 pm

Funny that PAUSD is meeting today after SF public schools are cancelled. So sad that they are not leaders, but followers. SF has 14 cases—Santa Clara has 48. I’ve lost respect for PAUSD based on how they handled this. The longer you wait with closing schools, the more it spreads, the more the ICUs get overloaded and the longer schools have to remain closed. I would have expected public institutions caring for our kids to be ahead of money-making commercial enterprises, but I guess in times of crisis, you can see who gives lip service and who really cares. They are also not allowing parents to discuss things and share resources in their Facebook group. Instead, they set up a controlled FAQ. They seem to be afraid that their (lack of) actions are scrutinized. I do think our Governor inspires confidence and seems more transparent.


59 people like this
Posted by Julia
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:19 pm

They need to act fast, public school in Seattle Boston San Francisco all closed. We are in the middle of a huge crisis!!


62 people like this
Posted by District parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:20 pm

scores of kids have been sent home sick with the. “Flu” and testing negative for the influenza A and B tests. This makes me furious that better steps have not been taken to protect vulnerable parents and grandparents. This has been HORRIBLY HANDLED. SHUT EVERYTHING DOWN NOW.


27 people like this
Posted by localmom46
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:21 pm

I can't seem to get the web link connection to work in order to watch the meeting remotely. Anyone else having this issue?


62 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:23 pm

The number of patients that were tested is ridiculously low. So we can’t trust the number of confirmed cases they posted. Parents need to act to protect their own kids.


60 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:29 pm

Santa Clara county cases just jumped from 48 to 66. This is only going to get worse. Given what we are seeing around the nation and world, the lack of aggressive action by local and state authorities is astonishing. We are going to be a case study of how not to do things. Close schools, stop the spread. We all have family members and neighbors at risk.


79 people like this
Posted by BR
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:30 pm

CLOSE. THE. SCHOOLS.

NOW.


55 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:31 pm

Sally's comment wins the day. They're holding the emergency meeting after most of the parents unilaterally decided to keep their kids home. Thanks for nothing, PAUSD.


21 people like this
Posted by PAUSD
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:44 pm

...here is what I expect of administrators..."Wash your hands and be careful"
They are too concerned with looking scared, only thing they care about.

Web Link


78 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:45 pm

This is beyond ridiculous.
Teachers have lesson plans.
High School Students have chrome books- utilize them!
How are we, "poorly positioned to go offer virtual instruction?"
Simply scan the lesson plans, and use distance learning.
This was an opportunity to prioritize our students' health and use 21st-century tools and common sense to continue their education safely, off-site.
Minimally, they could use our high schools as a pilot program to continue their learning.
Covid-19 did not occur yesterday, why are they so slow to have a plan.
What is the plan in case of a natural disaster like an earthquake?
How are there no contingency plans?
And what is the point of protecting the kids from a gathering like prom? If you have them sitting together for the next 6 weeks, are they magically going to be more contagious on April 18th, the prom date?
Who is the district seeking to protect, it does not seem to be our kids.


15 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:45 pm

Or, you can stay home and work online, but we can say you are working at a lower level. will they be holding grades and credit over a sick kids head that needs to stay home.


6 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:46 pm

[Post removed.]


19 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:47 pm

They have no emergency plans and if they do , they have not ever practiced them. No working radios, kits,. Look... it took them 2 weeks to get soap and water.


9 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:49 pm

Forgot to mention I have a kid at Paly so please don't heap abuse on me assuming I'm not impacted.


36 people like this
Posted by alum
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:50 pm

Jeez, is it such a big deal if they close for a week or 2-3?! Will that KILL anyone. Spring break is 2 weeks away anyway?!

in the mean time FIGURE out online teaching its THIER JOB


31 people like this
Posted by Anonymous6
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:52 pm

Can they stop thanking eachother for 5 minutes? TEACHER'S UNION DO YOUR THING!!


13 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:55 pm

@alum

do you really think anyone at PAUSD will have the guts to reopen the schools in 2-3 weeks. Let's be serious this means no more in person classes the rest of the year. Even though the fatality rate for teenagers is less than 1%. [Portion removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Guy
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:58 pm

They have to close the school dow until they can figure lut remote learning


54 people like this
Posted by Wake up
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 4:58 pm

@YP It's not primarily about the safety of the kids. There is plenty of evidence suggesting that the risk to health kids is quite low. The whole purpose of shutting down the schools (see Maryland, Ohio) is to help reduce the transmission rate so that our health care system doesn't get overwhelmed. That could result in a lot of bad outcomes for a lot of people in our community


15 people like this
Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 5:01 pm

I think the big factor is the CDC recommendations specifically for Santa Clara County. The other two locations to receive mitigation strategies is Seattle, WA and New Rochelle, NY. We are in some exclusive company. For Santa Clara County schools, the CDC recommended that schools (1) should arrange for distance learning for at-risk students; (2) consider regular health checks (temperature and respiratory system screening on arrival) of students and staff. (3) extend upcoming spring breaks (start early or extend by one week); and (4) consider implementing distance learning if feasible. It also recommended other social distancing measures which I believe PAUSD has already adopted.

If school must implement distance learning for at-risk students, it pretty much scales for the rest of the school. I don't think the schools are ready to perform health checks for all students each day. Changing spring break is a no-brainer at this point.


10 people like this
Posted by Anon123456
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 5:10 pm

Anyone watching the meeting and can provide updates?


36 people like this
Posted by Just Close the Schools
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 5:11 pm

It's time to step up and make sacrifices. It could be a lot worse and could very well be if decisive action is not taken.

"Our grandfathers were drafted to go to war; we're being asked to stay at home," said Mr Di Maio Italian Foreign Minister


71 people like this
Posted by Parents of two PAUSD students
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 12, 2020 at 5:14 pm

Consider our risk as a typical Palo Alto family, having one child in PAUSD elementary school and another child in a PAUSD middle school.

Anyone with minimal knowledge of COVID-19 knows it doesn't kill children. That's not the issue.

As parents we're both 50+ years old and have grandma & grandpa in our home who are both late 70's age
So a deadly risk is PAUSD being a major source of community transmission and our kids unknowingly get infected and bring this into our home putting elders at deadly risk !!

The hidden politics of PAUSD?

I called up Santa Clara County Health Dept yesterday and a low-level staffer actually answered the call. She shared informally:

"The Santa Clara public schools such as PAUSD are all under a lot of pressure from the low-income families who need to use the public schools as all-day Nanny for their kids and free meal for their kids. If their kids cannot go to school then some of those parents may lose their jobs if they stay home from work to watch kids"

I asked:

"Those low-income parents keeping their kids in school will be putting their elderly family members in deadly risk of this virus ! Some of their children WILL unknowingly get infected in public school and vector this virus into their family home infecting their loved elderly family members. Isn't the COVID-19 death risk for those elderly family members orders-of-magnitude greater concern compared to those families expectations that highly educated public school teachers should function as day care providers (and put themselves at risk of COVID-19 at same time) ??? How do you think the public school system in Italy now views their similar decision, in retrospect ?"


5 people like this
Posted by VS
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 5:22 pm

Meeting's over. What did they decide?


2 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2020 at 5:26 pm

According to PA Weekly writer, Web Link

Not closing schools. Offering flexible learning to those who choose to stay home


21 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 5:31 pm

Good for the school board!! This is similar to all the cancellations of sporting events, I say continue having them, if you don't want to show-up don't go!!! Let people decide what risks they want to take.


38 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 5:42 pm

Oh Yeah! An emergency meeting to make sure people wash hands... Problems solved!


6 people like this
Posted by Email from Don Austin
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 5:42 pm

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Staff,

Since our March 9 update, the guidance from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD) and the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) regarding school closures remains unchanged. SCCPHD currently is not recommending closing schools. This update provides some slight changes to previous guidance on educational continuity options available to families.

Santa Clara County Public Health Department is working closely to provide guidance to districts and schools. Broadly closing schools is a decision that is not taken lightly and is a last resort as it causes significant community disruption. Many families also rely on schools and staff for basic needs for their children, including regular meals, healthcare and childcare. At present time, the Public Health Department is not recommending closing schools in an effort to slow COVID-19 transmission.

We believe our schools provide a clean, safe learning environment to provide a high-quality education for all students. However, we understand some families may choose to keep their healthy children at home. Our dedicated staff is working to create flexible learning options for students to use while away from school. These resources are not intended to replicate the in-class learning experience, but simply provide a small degree of educational continuity during the current public health situation. If you choose to exercise a flexible learning option, for public health purposes, the expectation is that your children will be at home and not gathering for social or community activities.

Options for flexible learning will begin March 16th and be reassessed by April 3rd. Spring break will directly follow, April 6th -10th. All students will return to school on Monday, April 13th. More information will be shared regarding how to access these resources by each school site on Monday.

Parents opting to keep their child out of school for COVID-19 concerns/fears must provide notice to the school indicating the start date of the intended absence and the date in which the student is expected to return. Absences will be excused for up to 10 school days at a time. Notification must be sent again after the 10th day to request an extension.

Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools, commented, “School districts in Santa Clara County are working to ensure that they are making the right decisions for their communities in accordance with the recommendations from the Department of Public Health. I support the collaborative solutions that keep schools open.”

As a reminder, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department encourages preventative measures such as good hygiene practices to slow the spread of COVID-19. These practices include washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, being at arm’s length distance from others in public places, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Custodial staff at every PAUSD school continues to follow the recommended cleaning procedures daily, with extra effort on areas considered high-risk (e.g., bathrooms, athletic areas, cafeteria/kitchen, health room/nurse's office) and high-touch points (e.g., door handles, hand railings, lockers, and shared desks).

These flexible learning options are not being offered as a result of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in our schools. We are simply working to identify solutions that keep schools open while encouraging social distancing, providing a safe space for children, and addressing the needs and best judgement of families.

I know that information is changing at a fast pace and I will continue to keep you updated. Thank you for your patience and partnership.


Sincerely,

Don Austin, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Palo Alto Unified School District


40 people like this
Posted by BR
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 5:51 pm

YP, re your comment on each doing what we want - in this, we all depend on each other. The decisions you make today can have a life-death impact on somebody you don't know next week.

The schools need to be closed to prevent exponential spread within the community - not just to protect the individual parents and children.


85 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 5:52 pm

Keeping the PAUSD schools open in any capacity is egregiously irresponsible given the spread of COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County.


68 people like this
Posted by JLS Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 5:55 pm

What a stupid show of bravado!

Discarding abundant data and precedences nation-wide, the district decides to keep its business going. All you must be waiting for a few confirmed cases in one or more schools. Unfortunately, it is a matter of time.


56 people like this
Posted by Shut it down
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 5:56 pm

The decision not to shut down schools is pretty ridiculous. Apart from Seattle, the Bay Area has one of the largest coronavirus clusters in the country. I know that 10-day absences are allowed, but this puts kids who don't attend school at a disadvantage. I really hope PAUSD reconsiders their decision.


53 people like this
Posted by NoSchool
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:01 pm

The decision not to shut down schools is a terrible one. Aside from Seattle, the Bay Area has the highest amount of coronavirus cases in the nation. Jeopardizing the lives of kids is not the way to go. I get that there is a choice to remain absent for 10 days, but this puts kids behind in classwork. I really hope PAUSD will reconsider.


65 people like this
Posted by Uh Huh
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:05 pm

So the city declares a coronavirus "emergency" while the school district says business as usual. Gotta love it. Pure stupidity.


61 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:06 pm

The pressure needs to be also applied to Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools and Santa Clara County Public Health Department. They are the ones implementing these recommendations that PAUSD is following. Also, have you ever tried to keep six - ten years olds at arms length from each other? Looking a recess today all I saw was a mass gathering of way over 100 all touching balls, playground equipment, playing tag etc. These safeguards are not realistic at all.


71 people like this
Posted by Anon123456
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:07 pm

Parents, vote with your actions. Already 20% of students are staying home in order to help the community reduce the rate of transmission, and flatten the curve to minimize overwhelm of our medical facilities. If you believe the district should focus on online instruction, while keeping the schools open for those who don't have the option of keeping their kids home, keep your kids home if you can. Once 40%, 60%, 80% of the students are home, the district will need to shift their focus on serving those learning remotely.


58 people like this
Posted by school
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:23 pm

I guess there is no emergency after all, so PAUSD needs to fulfill its role as a day care center, lunch service and COVID vector

"Bay Area coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases jump to 66 in Santa Clara County"

Web Link

Very poor leadership


44 people like this
Posted by Of Course
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:29 pm

Typical Palo Alto "leadership" slow as snails, need to talk things over and over before arriving at a decision, socialist mentality. Too scared to take action, business as usual is easier.

I heard that a woman who attends the church near Addison Elementary has COVID-19. It's already in our city.





36 people like this
Posted by Voter
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:42 pm

Remember these names: Shounak Dharap, Ken Dauber, Melissa Baten Caswell, Todd Collins and Jennifer DiBrienza. Vote for any candidate but these. Or was one of these responsible at the meeting?


30 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:44 pm

I can see that there is no good option here. No matter what Don Austin chooses, people will be mad. There are times when you appreciate the freedom of not being the leader. However, I would have handled this differently. Yes, not every student has access to internet. Yes, it is hard to move quickly in response to problems when you are a large organization. Yes, I won't know what it is like to be in his position.
With that said, I do know what it is like to deal with bureaucracy, and have found that persistence, determination, and quick adaption to new information works well. Please push to make class attendance optional for students who are thinking about staying home. Online learning can easily be accomplished by setting up a computer in each classroom set to broadcast the lecture to any students who don't come to class. We have an abundance of unused computers in lab carts in the English building. If there are not enough free computers in these lab carts to provide each classroom with a computer, we can ask students who brought their own computer to lend it for a class period. Or just use someone's phone and wipe it down before and after other people touch it. We have H2O2 and paper towels or tissues available throughout campus. One student told me PAUSD already paid for Zoom on student computers. Great! We can use that. Students who don't have wifi access can come safely to school once most students stay home. What about turning in homework you say? Schoology is already set up, and most teachers use it for the majority of class assignments. Running through a list of class subjects, we can see that most classes can easily provide an online option:

Math: Lecture format with textbook homework questions. Record the lecture and have students submit pictures of their math homework via Schoology. Borrowing a textbook is free and each student should already have one.

Science: Lecture format with labs and worksheets. Lectures are usually more interactive, but a recording will still do. Worksheets can be turned in with pictures and written on binder paper. Missing labs will be sad, but we already analyze the data at home anyway, and lab reports can be typed and shared.

English: There are so many different classes with a variety of styles. Class meetings can be recorded and sent out and students can get essay feedback through comments on a Google doc. Teachers could ask students to pick books already available in free Palo Alto online libraries.

Social Studies: Record those lectures, send in pictures of homework! Discussions can occur with mass zoom meetings (I have tried this, and it works for the most part) Or we could have typed conversations, already a common class activity.

Elective: Whether it is Spanish, journalism, or computer science, I would say "when there is a will, there is a way". For example, in my print journalism class, we are cancelling production nights and doing a digital issue instead.

Art: Sorry. Instead of making art, we can analyze other works of art and think about how we will make artwork we will start when COVID-19 is less of a problem. However, artwork is all about creativity. Let's get creative with what we have around the house!

PE: No PE!! Do jumping jacks and push-ups indoors.

Before entering the MAC building, students are required to wash their hands. Put soap in the other bathrooms and direct students there too! Hand sanitizer is a distant memory from grocery store shelves, but it is not the only way to clean things. Grab soap, water, rubbing alcohol, and aloe! I am sure there will be lots of demand for mixtures of aloe and rubbing alcohol for students to use as hand sanitizer. By offering it on the quad, more students will walk around with clean hands. With more soap and water solutions floating around, we can clean doorknobs throughout the day. Propping open more doors would also reduce doorknob touching. Don't worry, the weather is great in the California Bay Area!


37 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:44 pm

Come on palo alto school district and child care centers in the city, Close Close close!! children and staff need to be safe and healthy. Why are you waiting?????? Other districts are closed. Other day care centers are closed! is it a money issue? Why does palo alto have to meet over and over to decide?


19 people like this
Posted by parent of PAUSD student - not a proud moment
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:46 pm

[Post removed.]


108 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:47 pm

There are unconfirmed cases at our schools...100%. Kids handle this disease apparently well but they will spread it amongst each other at an alarming rate and then bring it home to the adults in their families.

I work with teenagers and they are frankly not equipped to handle these recommendations. I can only imagine how much worse it is for the younger kids.

(1) Social Distancing - you've got to be kidding. I saw kids basically shouting in each other's faces today while cramming multiple faces near a single cellphone to watch a Tik-Tok video.

(2) Wash Your Hands - just this week I had students share a bag of chips and not even blink an eye while doing it. Another teacher witness a kid lick all 10 of their fingers after crushing a snack and then touch their desk with no regard to cleanliness. I witness students touching their faces every minute...they don't get it. Teenagers frankly have one thing in mind 99% of the time...themselves. If they aren't directly affected by it right now they won't change much, if at all.

There are dozens of examples of proactive measures (NBA, March Madness, Disneyland, etc.) yet we as teachers in PAUSD (or apparently in Santa Clara County) are expected to expose ourselves this madness...for what? To deliver a 30 to 40-minute lecture in a 90-minute period where kids may or may not be paying attention and waiting for the next opportunity to dive into their phone. Do some kids use this time wisely? Of course, but that time isn't so valuable right now given the circumstances. The press release that was sent out just now feels a bit like a middle finger to the staff.

We can start to use scanned lessons and "YouTube University" to keep the kids learning as much as possible while we try to wait this thing out. Frankly it's what a lot of the kids do anyway. Nobody is going to look back in 20 years and feel like these next few weeks will have changed the course of their life from an education standpoint. We can make it up later.

I don't have the greatest health and am not exactly thrilled about being packed in a small space with 25+ people that are having a hard time adapting to this new reality.

City of PA - State Of Emergency
PAUSD - State of Inconvenience


26 people like this
Posted by Of Course
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:48 pm

I wish we could have leaders with experience in the military instead of Ivy League graduates. When will people realize that academic success does not guarantee success in life? All these parents forcing their children to go to elite colleges for the sake of the name instead of where the student would enjoy, mature, and evolve, tsk! People skills and work ethic are more important in life. No one cares about the diploma after the first job. I've worked with and met so many Ivy League grads in town who are disappointments.


53 people like this
Posted by Clara Drivers
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:51 pm

I have two kids in PAUSD. I'm not worried about them, I'm worried about my community, friends, and neighbors who will pay the price for all of these infected students creating a bolus of disease among the adult population that overwhelms our healthcare system and causes many unnecessary deaths. I don't understand why the number one reason that schools are remaining open is "students are at low risk for COVID-19". Yes, they are low risk to get seriously ill after getting infected. No, they are not at any lower risk of getting infected or infecting others based on what the science tells us. This will be a public health disaster of epic proportions, and Don Austin and PAUSD board will be responsible for being completely irresponsible and shortsighted. Look at our neighboring school district in Menlo Park as a responsible, thoughtful model of how to do this. If PAUSD doesn't change their minds quickly, I like the idea of a school boycott - if there are few students coming to school, PAUSD will be forced to follow a more sensible path.


72 people like this
Posted by Gunn Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:56 pm

From the superintendent’s update:

“Custodial staff at every PAUSD school continues to follow the recommended cleaning procedures daily, with extra effort on areas considered high-risk (e.g., bathrooms, athletic areas, cafeteria/kitchen, health room/nurse's office) and high-touch points (e.g., door handles, hand railings, lockers, and shared desks)”

I’m at school for 7 hours a day. For the past 2 weeks I haven’t seen anybody cleaning anything. In addition, there is no hand sanitizer in the any classrooms that I can see.


57 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:56 pm

Dr. Austin -
As usual, you obfuscate and tap-dance and gaslight. Why are your using 'equity' families to cover for you? Why would one group of families be valued over another at this time? Your reasons are nonsensical. No, students would not be socializing.

What is the real reason to keep Pausd in session? Is the teacher's union throwing roadblocks in the way? Want more $$ to adjust to distance learning? Yet teachers and staff are at risk also.

Pausd had better accommodate students staying home, as that's what we'll do, keep our student home given Pausd is so lame.


41 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:57 pm

San Francisco have closed schools for 3 weeks. They have 4.5x more students than PAUSD.

Social distancing, keeping our kids safe? So many examples of how this is not possible when schools are still open. Go to any elementary school campus at lunch time, there is NO Social Distancing.

Don Austin and PAUSD Board we will not forget how you handled this situation.

This is insane that PAUSD is not closing.


13 people like this
Posted by Meat
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2020 at 7:04 pm

No update on the meeting.

I get a sense that PAUSD has made some sort of deal with the PA Weekly so that PAW doesn't write anymore negative articles on them.

There's a lot of weird stuff that's been going on at the district and at the schools, yet the PAW is just letting them slide so most people believe that things are getting better.

Very sad, if true.


87 people like this
Posted by teacherteacher1
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 7:06 pm

I am a teacher in the District. Please understand that many, many teachers favor closing our schools based on the reports about how quickly and easily this virus spreads. Please do not blame "the teachers' union" for the decisions of the school board and the superintendent. I care deeply about my students' welfare, as well as the well-being of their families, and EVERYONE in our community. For reference: the state of New Mexico has 6 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the entire state as of today, and they closed all schools in the state for 3 weeks. We should do the same.


21 people like this
Posted by Localadmin
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 12, 2020 at 7:12 pm

I’m an administrator at a school in a neighboring district. The collective hatred towards our PAUSD superintendent is wasted. These decisions are made in concert with neighboring districts and the county department of health. The school board members are volunteers. No one has anything to gain personally from keeping schools open. Palo Alto schools are OURS. Keep calling and emailing, everybody. I think schools should close, too, but give credit to the complexity of the situation in order to be taken seriously. Low-income families do have a lot at stake if they have to stay home from work to care for their kids, so offer a solution to that —that would be helpful. As an educator AND a parent AND a person with sick and elderly parents, I say this isn’t black and white and it’s not easy


14 people like this
Posted by Chris C.
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 12, 2020 at 7:17 pm

I read elsewhere that the decision to close public schools or not is made by the Santa Clara County Office of Education -- which means that it isn't actually in PAUSD's hands.

So when you read explanations about working parents, consider the context: they are talking about all families in Santa Clara County, not just the lucky folks in Palo Alto.


37 people like this
Posted by Insider/Outsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2020 at 7:19 pm

The reason to close schools is so the adults also known as the teachers and staff do not get infected. It is clear that the District does not value the well-being of teachers, and staff.

Regarding the needs of students on free and reduced lunches, why not set up some spots in PA where students can get their meals. And why can't the city offer free internet access while we are dealing with this crisis.

It's important to remember not only the names of the School Board along with all those in the District Office including the Superintendent, but those responsible for making public health policies such as the Santa Clara Department of Public Health.


39 people like this
Posted by Very concerned parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 7:21 pm

Who do we need to reach out to for PAUSD to close schools?? This is completely irresponsible and putting our community at risk. Does this mean we need to donate to make sure those families Don Austin seems to be sacrificing the rest of the community for has adequate daycare and meals to get through the closure? I’m ready to donate if that’s what it will take to close the schools.


13 people like this
Posted by talk
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 7:22 pm

[Post removed.]


38 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2020 at 7:44 pm

Austin says, "controlling the spread is not even a goal for the health department. It's slowing the spread."

Does he not realize that these are exactly the same thing? That is exactly the goal of the Department of Health. Limiting contact controls (and slows) the spread of the virus.

When Austin hits the brakes on his car, does he not believe that he is controlling the speed of his car??? He's very good at speaking nonsense and having people nod their heads in agreement.


11 people like this
Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 7:45 pm

From the California Department of Education:

School Closures and Funding

School closure decisions should be approached cautiously. Student and staff safety are the priority.

LEAs that close schools or remain open but have a material decrease in attendance due to an epidemic or pandemic are eligible to seek emergency average daily attendance (ADA) credit through the CDE Form J-13A waiver process.

California law authorizes the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) to provide credit for instructional time in the case of a schoolwide closure based on a declaration of an epidemic made by a local public health officer. However, closing a school simply as a precaution may result in a LEA not qualifying for a J-13A waiver and a penalty for failure to offer the statutorily required instructional days and/or minutes.

In the case of a Governor’s declaration of emergency unaccompanied by a pandemic, a letter from the local public health officer is still needed to substantiate a closure and not needed to substantiate a material decrease as long as the LEA can substantiate each absence being caused by illness due to coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms as we did with H1N1 flu.

Information regarding material decrease in attendance and school closure can be found on the CDE Form J-13A web page.

Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2020 at 7:48 pm

When will there be details as to what this alternative will look like? All it says is Schoology. If all they're doing is making teachers post assignments on Schoology, that's essentially not doing anything.


40 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 7:48 pm

Nonsense. Will get rid of Palo Alto Unified leaders once this settles God Willing. It is the height of arrogance combined with ignorance. No my kids will not be coming to school and will encourage all others to do the same. Encourage all not to send kids to school and arrange for teaching over internet. Those who cannot can come to school and with fewer students can practice social distancing.


24 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 7:51 pm

thank you PAUSD for having clear thinking in the face of hysteria. Parents if you don't like the decision keep your kids at home, it's that simple


39 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 7:58 pm

@YP [Portion removed.] Many students will continue to go to school if school is open - otherwise we risk falling VERY behind. Even without COVID-19 - if I'm sick for one day, I may have to spend a week catching up. Close the schools completely. They do nothing to stop mass congregation of students during the school day. They don't provide us with sanitizing materials. No soap in bathrooms. Teachers are massively at risk - there are teachers with auto-immune disease and over 60 years old. Kids live with their grandparents. Leave a skeleton staff for a daycare, if needed - the schools need to close. There are probably dozens of cases - I've heard there's a confirmed case at Paly just today.


9 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:00 pm

@Casey - state has waived the 180 day requirement due to the coronavirus.


23 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:04 pm

See how Washington state is handling school closures:

Web Link

“ Inslee has asked superintendents to provide child care at no cost for families that work in the medical field or first responders. He also said he was confident schools would be able to continue administering social services, such as food assistance, through the closure.”

Why is this possible in Washington state but not possible in PA?


5 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:05 pm

[Post removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:13 pm

Not closing the schools is a very wise decision. If you choose to stay home - STAY HOME. It doesn't mean everyone else has to panic. If the kids aren't in school, they'll be out in public somewhere else while their parents are at work. The schools need the funding. and speaking of funds, if both parents are working, should they have to pay more in daycare because the schools are shut down? Kids aren't exactly at the same risk as the elderly, and closing the schools would benefit the teachers more than the kids.


6 people like this
Posted by Bureaucracy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:15 pm

@Casey

Thanks for posting that. Very interesting that without Health Department Concurrent, schools can face penalties by closing. PAUSD should be very transparent with that, if indeed that is part of their consideration. This is a time of crisis. Our city and state have declared states of emergency. We see what is going on around the world, and just up north in Washington. If there are constraints that we, the public, need to know about, that are hamstringing PAUSD from doing the right thing, then let's get it out there in the open.

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:15 pm

[Post removed.]


27 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:22 pm

I must echo many in the community when I say, "stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid." The PAUSD is endangering the community, and these actions are irresponsible, don't reflect the best advice of public health professionals, and are definitely going to get the PAUSD sued.

We have 2 kids in Ohlone, and the parents are unilaterally making the decision that the administration will not make. But the price we are going to pay in deaths among our elderly population is too high.


11 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:29 pm


More than 120 UC Davis health care staff in self-quarantine after possible exposure to coronavirus

Web Link

(CNN)About 124 health care workers -- including at least 36 nurses -- are under self-quarantine after possible exposure to the coronavirus patient admitted to UC Davis Medical Center last week, a nurse union said.

The patient was transferred to UC Davis on February 19 from a Northern California hospital. Officials from both hospitals said the patient wasn't initially tested for the virus because she didn't meet the existing CDC criteria.
The patient didn't have any relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient, said Dr. Sara Cody, director of the county's public health department.
----
124 people were quarantined because of one person. If healthcare workers can be sidelined because of only one person who is coronavirus-positive, what’s the possible that 124 school employees (or more) could suffer the same fate. Kids under fifteen might not be susceptible, but are they possible carriers? And what about their parents, or care-givers, who will likely be on the school grounds? Or the classified staff?


4 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:31 pm

[Post removed.]


69 people like this
Posted by Local physician
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:34 pm

I am a physician, and I work in hospitals in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. We should close schools now. The number of actual cases is greater than reported currently for a variety of reasons - lack of available testing options until recently, delays in confirmatory testing, etc. This virus is further along than our local/state/national government realizes, and we need to take note of what has happened in other countries. Closing schools is one of the first things we should do, as our youth are potentially the best spreaders of this disease. The sooner we take these actions, the greater effect they will have in lessening the devastating effects of this virus.


38 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:35 pm

PAUSD, you are putting my kids in danger!!! They refuse to stay at home when schools are still open for the fear of being left behind. They were taught at school that kids are not going to get the virus. What kind of education is this? It's called brain wash by ignorant! You will be held accountable should anything happen to the school kids!


12 people like this
Posted by Eyal Hochdorf
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:37 pm

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:37 pm

The panic and fear-mongering here is irresponsible and shameful. PAUSD's decision to leave schools open is completely in-line with recommendations from the Santa Clara County CDC. Lives may be saved by this decision since first-responder parents will still be able to go to work.

[Portion removed.] Listen to the experts.


19 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:42 pm

Given Pausd has not been forthright in the past, it's hard to listen to a word any of them says. Including all the board members.

Each man for himself.


13 people like this
Posted by palo alto sucks
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:43 pm

@JR,

If that's the case SF, San Jose, numerous other school districts (some states) are fool. They close the k-12 for no reason and have no brain. Sometime people think narrow and don't consider anything for community (that term died long ago)


23 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Monroe Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:43 pm

leadership has only practiced how to say no and act confused. Saying a problem is complicated gets them off the hook from doing their job. They dont know any other way.

It is easy. Close the school, go online. Offer a large room at the school for any kids who do not have a place to work and keep them at a distance from each other. They have everything they need but are so used to being confused as a tactic, now they just are. They want to be smarter than everyone but are not. The memos from all leadership has been an embarrassment and a very poor example for kids for how to communicate as a leader. They look a mess, confused and disoriented and unwilling to lead or take any responsibility.

They have no plans in place for any othe emergencies and were supposed to . I guess it was too confusing. Other schools are online. Paly just got soap today in some places, not all places.


30 people like this
Posted by Irresponsible
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:46 pm

We are on the exact same trajectory as China and Italy re case numbers in Santa Clara - we need to protect our medical workers and elderly - kids are transmitting this. Don’t make parents choose between falling behind and community safety!
Local doctors want school closed : Web Link

I’m sure you’ve seen this:
Web Link


42 people like this
Posted by Former PAUSD Teacher
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:46 pm

Santa Clara County has the highest infection rate in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, PAUSD has chosen to be uninformed of the imminent threat to our health care system, services, and providers, not to mention those most vulnerable to the effects of the virus in our communities. It really is important to get ahead of this - Close the Schools! And, to those of you who think this is hysteria - learn the lessons of Italy -
Web Link


22 people like this
Posted by CYA
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:47 pm

They don’t want to make a tough decision so they’re waiting for CA governor to override them


32 people like this
Posted by JLS Student
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:52 pm

This is lose-lose situation for students. If we attend school, we put ourselves and our families at a higher risk of catching the virus. On the other hand, not going to school puts students behind on assignments and tests that may take at least a week to make up. Please close down the schools!


18 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:53 pm

thank you again PAUSD for having the courage to stand up to hysteria, much appreciated. And for those parents that don't like it keep your kids at home,. I read where parents say well "my kids are fearful of getting behind", then make a choice . Don't impose your anxiety on others. thank you


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:53 pm

Whichever way you think, [portion removed] the vitriol on this thread is evident. Name calling, blaming death on this decision, it is all a sign of the paranoia that this virus has caused. I can perfectly understand why so many people would be afraid to use their names. [Portion removed.]

It is about time this thread was shut down.


32 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:55 pm

Extremely disappointed in this spineless non-decision by PAUSD leadership. San Mateo Union just closed *ALL* schools. They managed to do this while respecting safety from the virus, providing for kids in need, and even planning thoughtfully that tomorrow (Friday) will be spent preparing *all* students to learn from home. Agreed with above posters, that my kids are afraid of "missing" school - but they are so young and have no idea of the risk here. Having them in school puts their parents and especially grandparents at risk, not to mention our entire community.


Here is the text of the letter from the San Mateo Union Superintendent:

Dear Families:

At tonight’s Board meeting, the decision was made to close the schools of the San Mateo Union High School District effective Monday, March 16 and enter a phase where we will deliver at-home learning to our students. After tomorrow’s minimum day, Friday March 13, all schools, including the San Mateo Adult School, will be closed to students through at least Friday, March 27. While it may not be possible to open on March 30, we want to hold out hope that health conditions are better by then. If the decision is made NOT to reopen on the 30th, then school will be closed through spring break (April 6 to 10). We will advise families of school reopening by Wednesday, March 25.

Our staff will help your students on Friday to prepare for this phase of at-home learning and will report to work on Monday, March 16 to further refine our plans to serve your students. Neither teachers nor students will be permitted to return to school sites after March 16 until we reopen, so that staff may sanitize our campuses.

All extracurricular activities will also be cancelled effective tomorrow.

While it is not possible to match the instructional conditions present in classrooms, our teachers and staff are dedicated to doing what they can to make sure learning continues. Teachers will be using Canvas, our learning management system, and other electronic methods to give students assignments and guide learning. Your student will be hearing directly from teachers about the expectations during this time. If your student needs a device and/or internet access, please let the school office know immediately, or email techrequest@smuhsd.org.

We are also working on ways we can provide breakfast and lunch to students who count on schools for food. At this point we plan to provide food at San Mateo and Mills High Schools. Stay tuned for specifics in an upcoming communication. In addition, if your student has an Individualized Educational Program (IEP), look for a separate communication.

I know I speak for the School Board and staff when I say that we are doing the best we can during these challenging times. Thank you for your support and flexibility as we navigate this uncharted territory.

If you have any questions, please email studenthealthservices@smuhsd.org.

Sincerely,

Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
Superintendent


5 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Monroe Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:56 pm

Seniors get college decisions in the next few weeks. would be nice to assure them rather than make them feel worse. Would be nice to hear from a leader, but there is silence. I am so glad this is our last year. I hope we get out sooner. close the schools so we do not have to see ridiculous emails and see what the leadership is. It is too painful to witness.


26 people like this
Posted by Reactionary Joke
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:58 pm

The position taken is an absolute joke. As Sharap said, how is Palo Alto different and more special than these other districts? For crying out loud Stanford mandated students leave!

So absurd. Then on top of it offering online instruction but saying essentially it is frowned upon. Well screw you, what about everyone’s health?

Spineless leadership.


30 people like this
Posted by So Many Questions
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:00 pm

Dr. Cody refuses to consider closing the schools. If she is the “expert” the school board is following, we’re doomed. She refuses to answer questions, She provides few updates and is out of step with other health departments around the nation.


16 people like this
Posted by Options
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:00 pm

@ pausd parents,

I feel duty bound to let you all know that you can take your kids out of PAUSD by filing a simple form with the state called a PSA "private school affidavit". You are then a private school of one. If your kids are middle school or younger, let them play, read books, do projects, and explore things they stopped exploring because of school, like the natural world outside. You can pull together small classes with their friends. It will not hurt them. My kid's test scores skyrocketed when we did this. Literally from advanced but not stellar to perfect without preparing. It was just one of many positive side effects. Have a real relationship with your kids again. They will not get behind, and next year you can enroll them in the district and may find they are ahead of their classmates, not behind.

The school will be able to ask the state to cover them for reduced temporary enrollment. Make it possible for the teachers to protect their families, too.

Another thing the schools can do is let you all do exactly what I said above under independent study rules, letting kids have a lot of freedom under those rules and also attending school for just short periods of time so that the campuses are always uncrowded but kids get some touchpoints with the campuses during the week. There is no state rule that says they have to make your kids do exactly the school's lesson plans if they let your kid do independent study, only unimaginative pedants like Sharon Ofek. I find it laughable that they would warn that independent study isn't the same as school -- if you parents are willing to seize the freedom by the horns, you may just find out that it's way better.

I think the grave warnings are because they don't want you to find out that your kids can educate themselves better and be happier without them, which leads to such difficult things as having to innovate in the district and actually care about everyone, not just the kids who find their gauntlet easiest.

Why doesn't the district let high school students withdraw from district classes and enroll in community college courses for the same subjects online instead? The CC courses will give them a GPA bump on their transcripts, and the spring semester hasn't started yet. They will be spending less time in actual classroom and can't get more work done with college courses, and they get a whole year's worth of high school credit for a quarter class. If the district really cared, they would ask the CC's help in setting up high school kids with appropriate online college courses for next term. The high schools may not be prepared, but the colleges do this all day long. They could even hire some of the high school teachers who are excellent at teaching those subjects!

Anyway, Inot going to school can end up being the best thing. There are districts around the Bay Area with hybrid programs in which the students only meet with a teacher every so many weeks. Our district could learn a thing or two from them, but no.

Anyway, I just want you all to know that you have options you don't even realize. There is something called the CHSPE which your kids can take in 10th grade that allow them to take college classes without having the last priority of dual enrollment. They could take online college classes as easily as online high school classes. This might be a good thing if this virus resurges next year the way SARS did. The cool thing about the CHSPE is that your kids can take community college classes online, get real UC transferrable college credit, and then next year, they are allowed to re-enroll in high school with no penalty as the law provides, if they wish to go back to someone controlling their lives 24/7 like that.


26 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:05 pm

Sorry to say the leaders of PAUDS have poor judgement. Parents, we have to do what’s right for our children. If most kids are staying at home, they will have to close the schools!


33 people like this
Posted by Gamler Vas
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:06 pm

Im sad that the district seems to think that their measures will help slow the spread the virus. They seem to forget that its literally impossible for that to happen. Children are spreaders as some have already stated. Its the risk to the elderly! Come on PAUSD. Its the kids spreading to parents and grandparents.
5 days before you even show signs... how many people in this city can be affected??? try and do the math people.
Sad to see that PAUSD also does not seem to think their teachers and staff are also humans and are at high risk. Even if they themselves get well, they might give this to other susceptible family...
Just close schools for a few weeks to slow the spread. This is a pandemic for crying out loud! Please PAUSD stand up to the County Superintendent and give compelling reasons to close schools! PAUSD be the voice of reason and fight for closing schools for student and staff health and community well being!!


24 people like this
Posted by Elementary School Teacher
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:08 pm

Close the schools.
The district is mistaken about something very basic. They seem to think that children do not get the virus and therefore the safest thing is to keep the schools open.

Actually, do we know?
There are many public health professionals who believe that children don't have symptoms, but they may be carriers.
Vectors.
The staff and teachers are at risk.
Grandparents are at risk.

If the issue is that many families have working parents, or that they count on the schools for meals. Fine. That's a different issue. But really, the health of the community is at stake here.


25 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:09 pm

San Mateo Union High School District is closing until March 27 and possibly longer if needed. I guess they consulted with different experts.


8 people like this
Posted by Options
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:10 pm

@Gunn parent,
If you all file PSA's, there's nothing the school can do, they face a sudden loss of students. They have to take your kid back, too, because you live in the district.

I do think the schools should keep some kind of touch point available -- PE, outdoor meetings, etc. And they can stagger the times so campuses have far fewer kids at one time and social distancing is far easier. If the health department thinks that would work, it's better than closing in my humble opinion. Not everyone is prepared for full independent study, especially in the eek horrible way it is being talked about by the superintendent.


26 people like this
Posted by Hellen
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:10 pm

This is an exitaintial crisis not hysteria. We will get to italy's situation if we will keep on ignoring what's is happening. All those who applause to the "reasnobale" board/Dr. austin -you are in total denial of the REALITY!!! This poor desicion is immoral, irrisponsible and mostly political and stupid. Poor families don't want their kids to get the virus exactly like well off families. It doesn't make sense that the district is willing to KILL in order to keep someone's jobs. This is not the real reason for not closing the schools.


30 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:13 pm

People are going to die because of this short-sighted decision. Sometimes the hard decisions are the right ones. The schools must close if we are to contain this and prevent further community spread. Why is this even being debated? We are going to be the next Italy. In 2-4 weeks' time when the hospitals are overwhelmed and elderly people are being left to die because there are not enough ICUs to treat everyone, the decision not to close schools now will be deeply regretted. People are in denial about what is coming. Now is the time to be brave and to act.


14 people like this
Posted by Supportive of this
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:15 pm

As a parent of two in PAUSD, I am supportive of this decision, and I don't think the anger and vitriol on this thread are justified. I am familiar with many of the deliberations about COVID care at Stanford Hospital, and the situation is not as cut-and-dried as many of you seem to think it is, particularly when it comes to the rates of asymptomatic transmission. Given what I know, I am comfortable sending my kids to school, and I ask that they wash their hands at various points (at school, before they eat, when they come home). If they start to cough or have fever or sore throat, they must stay home. Teachers or students who feel particularly at risk -- immuno-suppressed, etc -- should opt to stay home. I expect that kids let loose from the strictures of school may be more likely, rather than less likely, to transmit the disease. There is no recommendation that these kids be quarantined while asymptomatic, and they won't be. My 2c.


19 people like this
Posted by Gamler Vas
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:16 pm

I also feel that essentially throwing the poor families under the bus as a reason to stay open has also targeted them unfairly. I found that reasoning to be weak and could potentially have a negative impact on students who are poor or who are perceived to be those that get free food, etc.
This is a PANDEMIC. We need to live folks. Its not about using one group to justify a decision that affects public health.
I also didnt care too much for the assumption that kids would somehow be taking advantage of not being in school- ex. not attending social events, etc.
It presumes that kids will exploit this and are naturally inclined to misbehave etc.
Parents want healthy children. We can manage and take care of our kids just fine. They are not running wild on the streets having a field day! SMH


16 people like this
Posted by Staying Young Through Kids
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:16 pm

It would make a ton of sense for the Governor to give the schools some MUCH NEEDED cover and simply reduce the required number of instructional days from 180 to 165 or something similar for this emergency year only?

If that happened the districts could cancel school for a few weeks (use Spring break to make 3 weeks) and implore our teachers to make the most of the educational time they have.

If it's a time of emergency then this would seem like a prudent emergency action.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:18 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Former 3rd grade teacher
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:18 pm

[Post removed.]



25 people like this
Posted by million dollar home bought to get in PAUSD school
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:26 pm

People bought million dollar homes to get into PAUSD and now face the music from pathetic administration...

every other neighbouring school district closing for 3 weeks....it seems PAUSD listening to russia hoax


18 people like this
Posted by Corona concerned
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:27 pm

Petition to close PAUSD schools-

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by What's going to happen with online education
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:28 pm

Whether the schools close now or close in a week or two, it seems almost certain that it's going to happen.

I was not able to see the school board meeting tonight, but was there any addressing of whether there will be online education provided for the next weeks or months ahead while our schools are closed? Is there emergency planning for online education taking place now, or will the district cross that bridge when they come to it?


17 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:28 pm

Another state closed all its schools to slow the spread. Michigan state just cancelled all schools. Michigan has 12 presumptive positive cases as of March 12.

Michigan Governor Whitmer said:
“ This is a necessary step to protect our kids, our families, and our overall public health.
I am working with partners across state government to ensure educators, parents, and students have the support they need during this time, and to ensure our children who rely on school for meals have access to food. I know this will be a tough time, but we’re doing this to keep the most people we can safe. I urge everyone to make smart choices during this time and to do everything they can to protect themselves and their families.”


27 people like this
Posted by Maya
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:29 pm

Poor teachers and aides and staff. No flexibility for them.


21 people like this
Posted by close the school not this thread
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:32 pm

[Post removed.]



75 people like this
Posted by Frustrated Teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:34 pm

Dear Board Members and Superintendent Don Austin,
After hearing the news today while at work that PAUSD Board Members and Superintendent Don Austin decided it was more prudent to keep our schools open instead of closing them, you have scores of staff and parents who are horrified by your decision.Simply by the act of remaining open guarantees an extended amount of time this illness WILL remain with us and in all likelihood, cause more deaths. Santa Clara County has more cases than the entire state of California. While county after county closes their school districts, you decide staying open is best. Did you confer with your troops? your district's families? The CDC, Senators, WHO and the like who are reported halting the runaway train of COVID-19 and recommending school closures? Give weeks of school closure to stop the community spread.
Have any of you ever been to an elementary school? Not only do I work at one, but my kids have all attended PAUSD schools and I would not be allowing them to be at school while we are only in the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, while we wash hands. Do we really want to be known as the state with the most inventive and creative tech in history, to also be the least transparent and urgent in our need to shut our schools? Right Now. Actually, several weeks ago might have put us in a better position than what Italy is surely regretting in their decision-making. Your decision is a delay that will surely come with regret and probably legal action by Palo Alto families. 
Back to the point of children, and what really happens on a campus. "Distancing" is not a "thing" with elementary children. In fact, not even with middle schoolers. We watch everyday our elementary aged kids touch each other constantly. They are also sneezing at alarming rates. Do we have a system set up to check each child everyday, several times, to make sure they aren't sick or getting sick? Do we have the means to keep our students "distanced" from each other or ourselves the minimum of 3 feet suggested? Have you ever seen young children at school? In the classroom? In the hallways, at lunch, lining up for PE, music or at recess? When are the children NOT touching??Do you realize our students are also terrified?  We have spent the last few days disinfecting tech, chairs and tables. We spend the entire school day reminding them to sneeze or cough in their elbow (the Vampire sneeze). Barely a single child sneezes into their arm. All day long now we are sending them to wash their hands. They now spend more time washing their hands than getting any academics learned.
And have you thought how we can accommodate Special Needs children at a distance of 3 feet? How exactly are we able to teach them from 3 feet away? How are we to help the needs of the hard of hearing and blind at 3 feet away? How are we to assist their eating from 3 feet away? I hope you are all understanding the picture I am describing. Distancing children is not possible. They sit too closely together at tables, even when we're no longer sitting on the carpet. They turn and sneeze in each other's faces as well as staff's. And in Special Ed, we cannot be 3 feet away. So we are being infected even if the children are mere "vectors". 
Many of us are immunocompromised. What happens to us in each classroom with children as the vectors and us accommodating as we need to for our jobs, and their IEP's and 504's? Yes, we run the risk of infections and illnesses as a part of our jobs, but we do it in good faith that you, the Board Members and Superintendent will have our backs and support us when a Pandemic rolls around to threaten our own existence. But alas, we hear you won't. What do we tell our own children when we come home and they're terrified for us being routinely exposed to the vectors of COVID-19?Do our lives and families matter? Do our elderly relatives we are in contact matter as we are now carriers of a germ warfare? [Portion removed.]
 
If you truly value your Staff, you will do as other Districts deem vitally important and close the schools. Extend the Spring Break. Don't punish your Staff for time needed away at home to stay well and safe, and in these times of emergency, keep them paid, so that when we can come back, we haven't lost our apartments, homes, etc. and can continue to pay bills and feed our families.
You need to prioritize your valuable Staff, and recognize this Emergency for what it truly is: a likely "plague" of the 21st century. These are dire times, to be dealt with intelligence, urgency, and loyalty to your District's Employees and Staff. We are the foot soldiers of this war! You are all not at ground level/ground zero fighting a battle we cannot win this way.
Palo Alto is not looking as savvy as most of the country thinks we are. Your delays will only increase the length of time this virus breeds and infects more, instead of getting us out of harm's way. We're breeding community through community. I thought we were cutting edge...not heartless and slow to respond. Look at the latest school closures. Nearly all the local private and religious schools are closing now through Spring Break. San Mateo, Sacramento, Menlo Park, just in: Michigan too. Watch all the districts and states who will follow suit. [Portion removed.]


41 people like this
Posted by AnotherConcernedParent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:43 pm

What is the process for recalling school board members? The grounds for the recall are putting the safety of our community at risk.


19 people like this
Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:46 pm

How can we circulate a petition to get the Governor to override PAUSD on this issue? Can we circulate it online?
Please someone step up.


29 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:49 pm

[Portion removed.] Once this blows over God willing will work hard to remove PAUSD leaders for having no leadership, displaying poor judgment and extreme arrogance.


22 people like this
Posted by Close the schools!
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:51 pm

Contact the governor’s office, CNN, etc- get this out in the public so everyone can see what’s going on in the county with the most cases.


27 people like this
Posted by Invested in PAUSD
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 9:59 pm

My eyes are tired after all the eye rolling from reading that article.

Stop ducking, will you (PAUSD Board & Admin)? Whether you’re a volunteer or not, you signed up for this job.

Yes, there are no great answers. But we can at least ask for some great leaders (who don’t simply use the “experts” as a shield).

How can neighboring schools and universities and companies and organizations and cities and states come up with a different conclusion than PAUSD? Maybe “expert” opinion varies? Or maybe leadership varies?


19 people like this
Posted by David Kuo
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:02 pm

Technical issue should not outweight public health issue. Please close campus right away


28 people like this
Posted by shoshanna
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:12 pm

I see that some of the posts are being removed and I find it extremely non democratic!
People have the right to express their opinions! even if others disagree with them or even if some people are personally criticized. Dr. Austin and the rest of the board are elected by us and are supposed to serve & represent us. We may have different views but the debate is absolutely legitimate and removing some messages is a cowardly act of people who are scared of a debate that needs to be fully acknowledge by all the professionals involved.
Let everyone voice their feeling & thoughts! This is critically important!


39 people like this
Posted by David Kuo
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:17 pm

If decision is not reversed in a day, I am for recall of school board members that make such a senseless decision to endanger the health of teachers and students


20 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:19 pm

Not closing the schools is an irresponsible decision.

They will be closed within a week and that lost week will cause hundreds of additional infections including some deaths.


81 people like this
Posted by PAUSD teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:19 pm

I’m gutted.
Never, in my 22 years with the district, have I ever felt so undervalued and disposable.
Never have I ever questioned the belief that my district truly had the best interest of my students in mind.
Never have I wondered that we were on the wrong side of history.
We are attempting to prevent the spread within our communities. We are attempting to give our health care system a leg-up.
We can ABSOLUTELY provide online learning opportunities for students until spring break.
It is evident that, for some perverse reason, PAUSD wishes to be last man standing, and for that, we shall all lose.
I’m so very sorry, parents.
We are with you.


10 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:20 pm

Kevin Skellly hmmm where have I heard that name! Wow what a great letter . Clear caring and reassuring to families and staff.


24 people like this
Posted by Paradise
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:22 pm

I have two kids in the PAUSD and they are not going to school starting tomorrow. BTW, my husband and I work full-time. We have no babysitter or nanny.


14 people like this
Posted by Completely fed up!!!!
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:24 pm

Stop removing posts! This is a violation of freedom of speech! Fools! Close the schools you puppets!


13 people like this
Posted by Concerned PA Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:25 pm

I don't understand why MP and PA are taking two very different approaches.

The MP approach - Web Link
(Schools remain open but DISTANCE LEARNING IS RECOMMENDED TO ALL FAMILIES WHO HAVE THE ABILITY TO KEEP CHILDREN HOME)

The PA approach - Web Link
(Schools remain open - and "we understand some families may choose to keep their healthy children at home" (underline SOME...i.e. don't think you should, but you can...and distance learning? It's just for "small degree of educational continuity...")

Seems like MPCSD has their act together a little bit better?


6 people like this
Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:27 pm

Can the county health department over ride the school district?


10 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:28 pm

Teacher

So many teachers are giving more homework and taking points off for missing labs it is perverse and seems like they want their seniors to be sick, worried and unsafe . College letters come out for many next week . They have lost many things and they have crap teachers who won’t let up . You seem nice . Make them stop before we lose kids wellness anyone ??? The ridiculous teachers forcing field trips and expanding exposure should be run out and held accountable by other trachers. I am betting there had not been any meetings for teachers .


26 people like this
Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:31 pm

Knowing that community spread in our area is among the highest in the country, and that our COVID-19 testing process is failing, this is a poor decision that unnecessarily puts our kids, families, and the general public at risk.

Our school board should observe what San Francisco and San Mateo have already done and the rationale behind those decisions.

If someone has already filed an intent to recall, please circulate it here or on Nextdoor. Thank you.


23 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:34 pm

CLOSE THE SCHOOL...

Instead they will close this thread...I am gonna vote in next election to throw all of the board members...promise


41 people like this
Posted by High School Student
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:37 pm

I am extremely infuriated by the district's negligence. I am tired of people saying that us students only want school cancelled so we can stay home. The majority of students have family that are at risk. I myself have a father and grandparents that are at risk. I dont care if they give us options, I want actual solutions. Why is it so hard for PAUSD to take this issue seriously. There are plenty of districts that are taking this virus seriously and have taken proper action by cancelling school. It is not that I am against teachers making money or that I want to skip school, I am worried about the people who could be harmed. For god sakes, it is not a matter of if schools will be closed but when they will be closed. When students start to have familys get sick and possibly die, the district will only be able to appologize.


19 people like this
Posted by Not Convinced
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:38 pm

The “freedom of choice” argument that some have made here has its limits.

When the good of the community is at stake, it’s not unreasonable to expect governments to govern and leaders to lead.

Don’t care if your kid wears a bike helmet? Don’t want to vaccinate? Given the choice, some people may indeed opt out. But, for good or for bad, these are not choices.

The NBA did not give fans freedom of choice in its related decision. And, in this instance, imho PAUSD should not give families freedom of choice either — for the sake of the community.


11 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:38 pm

@concerned parent

It is because Pali Alto does not want to do anything the same. They want to be “ special” There is no consideration for their stakeholders. There is no real understanding of science or interest in making kids lives calm . They seem to enjoy acting like the problem is new or difficult. Never mind San Mateo went online in a clear easy calm way that was fair to all students.


13 people like this
Posted by Petition to close PAUSD schools-
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:43 pm

Petition to close PAUSD schools-


Web Link


27 people like this
Posted by Goodbye Don
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:43 pm

Someone mentioned Kevin Skelly. The reason he closed San Mateo schools is that his mistakes in Palo Alto helped him grow, although closing PAUSD for the next two weeks is a no-brainer. Don Austin is fumbling. Normally, that would be okay, but we need a steady leader, or at least one who recognizes how serious this is. Donald Trump banning the continent of Europe and the NCAA shutting down March Madness pretty much signal that this is time for action. The school board. Yep, it's time to not re-elect them. Leadership is tough, and if you demonstrate that you cannot do it, you must go. No excuses on this one, please.


26 people like this
Posted by adobe
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:45 pm

I am for recall of school board members that make such a senseless decision to endanger the health of teachers and students


19 people like this
Posted by Concerned PA Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:45 pm

Wait a second - Don Austin's former school district closes schools immediately! - Web Link
I think they are in LA county, which as we all know has fewer cases than Santa Clara county...what gives?


48 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:46 pm

I work at an elementary school here in PAUSD. Kids are not being kept at arm's length distance. They are still running around during lunch and recess on the monkey bars, slides, and sharing balls. We try hard but not all of them are actually getting their hands washed as often as they should. Hands are constantly in mouths/noses and touching eyes. Kids still sit very close together at their desks (5 kids to a table), gather in large groups (about 200 eating snack and lunch together, and are still coming to school sick. PAUSD is also not taking into consideration its employees. Not that we matter anyways because we only spend ALL day with the kids, you're not. I think it's sad that we need to even be having this conversation. That they are ignoring the concerns of the families that trust them with their children everyday and their staff. Shame on you Don Austin!


22 people like this
Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:47 pm

Menlo Park has now closed schools: Web Link

I agree with everyone who has said they could keep school open for students who really need it for food/care -- it could be run like a study hall where each student works independently on whatever distance learning is offered, using school laptops/wifi. Or for the elementary schools they could continue to run the kids clubs as a daycare like they do on vacation days.

But large cities are closing schools, and cities have far more low-income families than we do in Palo Alto. Given that we are in the second largest COVID-19 hotspot in the country, it seems like we could also just close entirelt too. Low income families have older relatives at risk. I think risk of death trumps economic harm.


37 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:49 pm

My class had 10 kids in today. So tell me-what is the point of keeping those 10 going with my lesson plan when I have more than half of my students out? And the number will only increase once parent's who have half a brain (unlike you PAUSD) start taking advantage of this study at home options.

--UPSET


27 people like this
Posted by Get rid of don
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:55 pm

Time to get rid of this irresponsible leader. Kick the board out with him! Do not vote these ppl back in!!


21 people like this
Posted by Concerned PA Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2020 at 10:57 pm

MP School Board just "voted unanimously to dismiss all students (school closure) ...the community health risk posed by remaining open to students is too great."

Web Link

Wow - PA now completely out of step with MP but since both the school board and Don Austin went all the way out on a limb...how will they walk it back?


11 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:00 pm

@elementary parents,
Again, promise your teachers you'll be back when this blows over, and everyone get together and file PSA's en masse if the superintendent does close the schools to all but those who have no other alternative (but then distancing will be possible). Tomorrow. Look at what just happened in Italy. If hundreds of families from Palo Alto file PSA's in one day, at least it will get the governor's attention.


10 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:01 pm

correction:

@elementary parents,
Again, promise your teachers you'll be back when this blows over, and everyone get together and file PSA's en masse if the superintendent does NOT close the schools to all but those who have no other alternative (but then distancing will be possible). Tomorrow. Look at what just happened in Italy. If hundreds of families from Palo Alto file PSA's in one day, at least it will get the governor's attention.

Then when this blows over, make the school board create a board regulation that allows parents the power of referendum or initiative within the district (that can be adopted if so many thousand sign a petition).


20 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:03 pm

**************LET'S TAKE ACTION***********************

If the district and the county won't do what's right. We can!

Parents: Don't send your kids in tomorrow and let the office know why (Don't sugarcoat and say student is sick). Staff: Take the day off and let them know why. (Use a personal necessity day of possible)

They keep brushing us off but if we have no staff or kids show up they won't have a choice but to close the schools due to being understaffed and low attendance.

Let's continue to repeat this until they do the right thing and close the schools.

The safety of our kid's and family is at stake and they are doing nothing about it.

Please share this message and re-post if you are going to participate.


20 people like this
Posted by ConcernedCitizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:03 pm

This is ridiculous. It is irresponsible to keep schools open in this pandemic. See what Harvard epidemiologists are saying: Web Link


39 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:06 pm

I second the teacher with 10 students. But I'll do you one better--I had 7 kids in my class today... What are we even doing still debating over this?

CLOSE THE SCHOOLS

and FIRE DON AUSTIN! He cannot perform under pressure.


19 people like this
Posted by Scared
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:08 pm

States with fewer cases are closing schools statewide. This needs to be overruled by our governor now. How do we get his attention??


15 people like this
Posted by Logic
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:08 pm

Kids may have no or mild symptoms, which means kids wont be tested at all, but virus will still spread to other kids or their families. Do they know this?


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:10 pm

Obviously a contentious topic. Can't help recalling an Alice Cooper single
as I graduated from Cubberley in '72.
... School's out forever, School's out with fever, School's out completely ...


25 people like this
Posted by Pay parent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:10 pm

Which schools do school board kids go? I heard school board kids go to private school instead of PAUSD public schools. No wonder they do not care our kids! Why do not we have PAUSD parents as school board?


7 people like this
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:10 pm

Have you all watched the video of the board meeting? Is there a summary of who was against closing and why.


23 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:14 pm

The PAUSD leaning on the positions of the Santa Clara Public Health Department is a classic case of the blind leading the blind. There are now dozens of confirmed cases in Santa Clara County with no known transmission vector, and yet we have no information about who these people are, where the lived, who they worked with, what stores they visited, etc. There are likely thousands of undetected cases of infections in the county, and yet we know nothing. This is the county whose sage guidance our school board and superintendent leaned on when committing to this dangerous and reckless course of action. Brilliant.

And for those of you who feel fine sending your kids to school - good for you. Just know that the whole point of closing the schools is because of people like you - and the fact that you and your children will contract the disease and then go about spreading it until you end up in the hospital. Your apologies will be meaningless when other peoples' family members are dead.

Am I exaggerating? Here's NBA player Rudy Gobert violating NBA policies, making light of the virus, and literally touching every reporters recorders. Web Link

Now here is NBA Rudy Gobert, being diagnosed with the virus, singlehandedly shutting down the entire NBA season. Web Link

Now here is NBA Rudy Gobert apologizing. Web Link


18 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:41 pm

*****TAKE ACTION**********

Parents: Don't send your student in tomorrow (Let the office staff know why)
Staff: Don't go to work tomorrow (Let them know why!)

Let's organize and give them no choice but to close due to being understaffed and low attendance!

Repeat until they make they are forced right decision and keep our students and teachers out of danger!


16 people like this
Posted by Parent of 2
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 12, 2020 at 11:53 pm

Deer in headlights.
That is what this situation is with the superintendent and the majority of the board.

It is appalling that there is absolutely no preparation for distant teaching/learning.
Forget about COVID19; this also shows clearly that there was absolutely no prep, no policy, no contingency plan to follow when an earthquake hits the area.

Today, PAUSD proved that it is nothing but vaporware.


24 people like this
Posted by A parent of an elementary school student
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 13, 2020 at 12:05 am

Ridiculous logic.
Santa Clara School District, wake up!!!

If we won’t be closing a school UNTIL SOMEONE actually gets Covid-19, it’s too late!!! This will bring extra burden to our medical workers!

Low-income students should be fed and taken care with a different organization. Schools should be educating and protecting kids, but schools shouldn’t carry the responsibility of feeding and extra caregiving. I feel like this system is very broken especially during a pandemic like Covid-19. Our government should come out with other ways to safely give them help instead of throwing all these responsibilities back to schools! If any of the child from the low-income family gets infected and passes it to their family, how can these family survive?

I cannot believe we are living in this hi-tech community of Silicon Valley with such poor public school management.


19 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 13, 2020 at 12:08 am

A Message And A Warning From Bergamo, Italy About COVID-19:
I am writing to you from Bergamo, Italy, at the heart of the coronavirus crisis. The news media in the US has not captured the severity of what is happening here. I am writing this post because each of you, today, not the government, not the school district, not the mayor, each individual citizen has the chance, today to take actions that will deter the Italian situation from becoming your own country’s reality. The only way to stop this virus is to limit contagion. And the only way to limit contagion is for millions of people to change their behavior today.

If you are in Europe or the US you are weeks away from where we are today in Italy.

I can hear you now. “It’s just a flu. It only affects old people with preconditions”

There are 2 reasons why Coronavirus has brought Italy to it’s knees. First it is a flu is devastating when people get really sick they need weeks of ICU – and, second, because of how fast and effectively it spreads. There is 2 week incubation period and many who have it never show symptoms.

When Prime Minister Conte announced last night that the entire country, 60 million people, would go on lock down, the line that struck me most was “there is no more time.” Because to be clear, this national lock down, is a hail mary. What he means is that if the numbers of contagion do not start to go down, the system, Italy, will collapse.

Why? Today the ICUs in Lombardy are at capacity – more than capacity. They have begun to put ICU units in the hallways. If the numbers do not go down, the growth rate of contagion tells us that there will be thousands of people who in a matter of a week? two weeks? who will need care. What will happen when there are 100, or a 1000 people who need the hospital and only a few ICU places left?

On Monday a doctor wrote in the paper that they have begun to have to decide who lives and who dies when the patients show up in the emergency room, like what is done in war. This will only get worse.

There are a finite number of drs, nurses, medical staff and they are getting the virus. They have also been working non-stop, non-stop for days and days. What happens when the drs, nurses and medical staff are simply not able to care for the patients, when they are not there?

And finally for those who say that this is just something that happens to old people, starting yesterday the hospitals are reporting that younger and younger patients – 40, 45, 18, are coming in for treatment.

You have a chance to make a difference and stop the spread in your country. Push for the entire office to work at home today, cancel birthday parties, and other gatherings, stay home as much as you can. If you have a fever, any fever, stay home. Push for school closures, now. Anything you can do to stop the spread, because it is spreading in your communities – there is a two week incubation period – and if you do these things now you can buy your medical system time.

And for those who say it is not possible to close the schools, and do all these other things, locking down Italy was beyond anyone’s imagination a week ago.

Soon you will not have a choice, so do what you can now.

Please share.


18 people like this
Posted by Historian
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 12:22 am

The teachers union has tons of power, they rule. Teachers don't want to get sick. Some were telling classes that there will be an announcement this weekend that PAUSD will close.


25 people like this
Posted by Enraged Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 12:30 am

Don Austin and the Santa Clara health officials should resign immediately. You are an embarrassment to your positions, and have completely failed the public’s trust. Look at how many new cases are popping in Santa Clara County every day! Look at what other parts of the country and state are doing! Cut the bullshit, get your acts together, or RESIGN!


14 people like this
Posted by A parent
a resident of Nixon School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 12:36 am

Does the school district get law suit if out break come from school opening? I really hope that's the case, any affected families should sue the board member for ignore the real situation here.
We don't have enough cases to close school since we don't have enough tests, all the big companys wfh, why school is still open.


18 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:17 am

Look how the Board members are all sitting a few feet apart, spread out at 3 large tables - THEY are allowing themselves social distancing.
Our students in their cramped, poorly ventilated, dirty classroom get no such relief! What a picture!


17 people like this
Posted by Fortune Teller
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:38 am

Superintendent Don Austin and Dr. Sara Cody (SCPHD) will step down from their current positions in less than six months.


13 people like this
Posted by Walter Hayes Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:02 am

The lives lost in Santa Clara County will be due to inaction by PAUSD. Sanitizing does not work if children come to school with symptoms and cough on each other. I wrote emails the superintendent doesn’t reply, only the teacher and principal at Walter Hayes reply. Address my concerns!!!


19 people like this
Posted by Walter Hayes Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:04 am

I would consider suing the school district and if possible the superintendent if one child or teacher dies in PAUSD.


19 people like this
Posted by Walter Hayes Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:11 am

Call the Santa Clara County Heath Department’s hotline for coronavirus to express your concerns for students and teachers in small classroom without social distancing. Some of these kids come to school with coughs and other ailments. ‭(408) 453-6819‬


14 people like this
Posted by Horrified
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:34 am

The petition was started 14 days ago: Web Link

The justification for the petition was further discussed on Nextdoor for 13 days: Web Link

Palo Alto Police Department was informed about the imminent threat to health and lives of Palo Alto inhabitants.

Multiple discussions popped up, including this one: Web Link

And yet, despite almost 4,000 signatures, PAUSD in-person instruction still isn't closed.

And I'm afraid I finally found out why:

Web Link

"A former Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity, however, said that members of the school community are reluctant to criticize Austin publicly. The employee described a culture of "intimidation" in the district.

"I feel very bad for your city that you are getting him, but I don't want the board members in Palo Alto to change their mind because I don't want anyone in the PVSD suffering anymore with him at the helm," the employee said.

Several anonymous posters on Town Square, Palo Alto Online's comment forum, claim to be Palos Verdes parents or district employees and have described allegations of mistreatment by Austin.

"We want Don Austin out of PV and his days are numbered regardless. But in good conscience we cannot say nothing and allow him to hurt more children and schools in Palo Alto," one poster wrote, alleging that top administrators and counselors resigned in part due to Austin."


17 people like this
Posted by Horrified
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 3:13 am

I started watching the video of the meeting, but just had to stop at 19:44 mark. "Nurses overwhelmed", multiple children coughing ?!? The board could stop the meeting right then and there, and pause in-person instruction until these children are tested for COVID-19.


15 people like this
Posted by Disgusting
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 4:03 am

Here’s Sara Cody Web Link
This is who is making the decisions for our community and kids safety? Shameful!!! Please resign!!!


9 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2020 at 4:22 am

If classes are all online teachers can focus on students and give them all equal time and care . If you spit it to two different formats. They will be split in half.

Earlier Paulson was promiting online learning and now it is somehow inferior.
Wait!! All their classes have about 30 minutes of direct instruction with little or no interaction. They are given work time in class and all homework is online already .
Teachers can lecture in person in real time with zoom , they can tape lectures and take roll. Kids can participate and ask questions, work in groups and teachers can check for understanding. Kids can watch lectures again because the mtg can be recorded. It is about 16 a month . A good teacher can use any platformif They have good content , a clear syllabus and can check for understanding.

Kids can use jot not to send written portfolio work which was also something g they touted a few weeks ago.


22 people like this
Posted by Unfortunate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 6:30 am

In a few weeks, PAUSD will become a case study of how the Covid exploded in Palo Alto. South Korea exploded because of 1 superspreader. Our district will become a superspreader x1000.

The board and the superintendent has different goals than basic health needs. We should have known when we were the only district around that didn’t close when the air quality was unhealthy.

Please keep kids home. Help minimize the spread. Little kids especially aren’t able to communicate and act when they are starting to feel sick.


37 people like this
Posted by Another PAUSD Teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 6:40 am

Our board members have the luxury of self isolating if they choose. They are not giving that choice to the staff and students they supposedly support. Thanks for not allowing me to be in charge of my own health and the health of my family.

I've been a teacher in PAUSD for 20 years. The morale with the new supe and board has been low for a few months, but I never imagined this. I never imagined the disregard for our safety, the safety of our students, the safety of all of our families, and the safety of our community would be sacrificed for their ego.

Shame on you. You now have close to an entire teaching staff that now doesn't trust you. And, you may be responsible for spreading COVID-19 even further. How is this a good decision?

Please start serving our community rather than not your own egos.


7 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:13 am

@ another teacher.

Other teachers are still in total disregard of state of emergency and are acting like they know more and are brats. The play is still going on? The logic of 100 guests is not good if the play is allowed to have several performances. I think the math education of some is very lacking. If you have one play with 600 that sit in each seat once is that the same as six performances with a different person in a seat 6 times with 100. Not sure. any math people out there?


Their future or their future? Teachers need to be reassuring kids that they will not give them less or mark them down. All teachers can work online and give their entire class the same instruction and also be available during tutorial for all student because it is the right thing to do and very easy. It would be much easier to present material one time online to all students in real time and be present online during the lecture for response and questions and to monitor group work. This is really not difficult at all with zoom or many other free or very cheap platforms.


13 people like this
Posted by not a fan of admin.
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:23 am

Holding kids hostage for grades and withholding instruction is against title nine and shows the total disregard for families or mental health of our juniors and seniors especially. College offers come out this month and they must maintain the same grades. They have to go to school because the Board and Don Austen and the principal decided that they will not host online classes. They will open up schoology for an hour once a week because that is the minimum they have to do. I think some kids might snap and it will be their fault for doing less than every other school in the country and caring less about their students.

It is embarrassing to kids to have adults abandon them in such a public, humiliating way. Ego and a desire to hurt children and to not do what is asked seems the motivation.

Every class can do online learning during the actual class time. OR kids can work from approved texts or online texts and send in scanned work. Every kid has a chromebook.

You can go to school, but we will not tell you what went on in class.you can see what I decide to post in schoology.... Some teachers are just really full of themselves and have such bad egos that they will not change one thing in their curriculum or do one extra thing out of their way.


14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:24 am

Worth reading:
From The Conversation -
"Why close schools if children do not get very sick with COVID-19?
While SARS-CoV-2 appears to rarely cause severe disease in children, it is still possible that children play an important role in transmission. It is important to note that people who have symptoms of respiratory diseases, such as coughing and sneezing, are generally considered to be more infectious than those who are not showing symptoms. That is because the virus spreads when a person coughs or sneezes.

COVID-19 transmits very efficiently, and people do not have pre-existing immunity. Without controls, a large proportion of the population will become infected in any area where the virus circulates. And because of the severity of this virus in older adults, this would cause substantial severe illness and death.

In areas where large outbreaks occur, the health system may become overwhelmed, leading to an increasing fatality rate for COVID-19 and an increase in deaths from all causes. The severity of the situation thus requires communities to do what they can to limit transmission."

Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:25 am

The lack of foresight and urgency is amazing. While whole states (New Mexico, Ohio, Maryland) have closed their schools pro-actively (far fewer cases than just in our county, and far more issues with poverty) and also cities like San Francisco, and Seattle), Palo Alto is lagging. Even Menlo Park is recommending students stay home. The rationale: no cases yet.

School board member Collins told the Weekly that it's not if but when the district will be faced with that situation of a student, staff member or parent testing positive for the coronavirus, they "we've crossed a Rubicon," and he is open to to doing whatever's necessary. Has he not read the news (Web Link) on why people have not tested positively? If you run for school board and have a meeting coming up on this topic, would it not be a reasonable expectation to read at least the headlines about the topic? They hard not that hard to find. This is not the definition of incompetence and lack of care, then I'm not sure what is.


7 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:26 am

@ goodbye don.

fumbling and dropped the ball. Funny except the ball is our kids.


19 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:31 am

According to a parent conversation with Zoom CEO, Zoom will be free for all K-12 schools in US starting today. My Maryland friend said Maryland governor will distribute food to low income families at designated locations due to whole state school closure. Everybody is making effort to stop spread of COVID19, but why not pausd?!


3 people like this
Posted by Bat Girl
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:32 am

Reading through these posts it is clear to see that the teachers and staff are frightened to death to go to work.
It would seem that if a teacher (or professor / doctor / dentist / etc) is scared - they are not going to be focused on the class they are teaching - and also the students are going to be thinking about this virus and will be able to sense fear from the frightened staff and community.
I think closing the schools would be the best thing to do, although perhaps several months too late.
I happened to be studying bat viral zoonoses, and this virus was already being studied at Wuhan Institute of Virology a long time ago. My colleague told me they were working hard to figure out this particular strain, and early in January he told me the hospital was getting a lot of cases which looked like SARS.
The transmission of this SARS-Cov2 is currently being investigated by many universities.

From Stanford in regards to students who are deciding to stay on their campus:

The University also asks students who choose to remain on campus to “very carefully consider” any decisions to go into the surrounding Bay Area.

“The choice to leave campus and then return not only puts yourself at risk, but others as well, including vulnerable populations,” the page reads.

My kid told me that some undergrads are actually thinking of going to Cabo. I told him to explain the dangers of that -contracting the virus, and potentially infecting other innocent people. Traveling domestically increases risk as well; since you come into contact with many people. So it is probably just best to stay home.


9 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:32 am

The student representatives do not represent their peers. Certainly most kids I talk to just want to be safe and have fair instruction if the school closes so they can post decent grades for college and be prepared for next year. They seem like the cool kids and they should be ashamed of speaking for students without talking to all the groups, not just their own little friends. What a horrible way to represent the student body. Such silly thoughtless, opinionated responses without facts or actual data about what the group they represent wants.


11 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:36 am

There is now a new petition to the State/ Gov Newsom to shutdown all schools : Web Link

Please sign it!


14 people like this
Posted by Epic Ignorance
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:36 am

There isn’t a “confirmed” case in the district as there aren’t available options for testing. The guidelines to get approval for testing is 1)traveled to one of the identified countries or in close contact with someone who did, 2)close contact with someone who’s positive 3)showing civic 19 symptoms aka all of the symptoms! Plus, your doc has to authorize the test. Testing isn’t available to the majority of us. Believe me, if we tested a sampling of 100 students and parents across the district, there WILL BE confirmed cases. My work mandated wfh 2 weeks ago yet I’m unsafe living in this community due to having 3 kids in school here, what are they bringing home to me and my family?? Close the schools please!!! Stop the spread!!!! Follow what the large and small companies are implementing in this area to protect everyone in the community.


10 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:37 am

There is now a new petition to the State/ Gov Newsom to shutdown all schools :

Web Link

Please sign it!


13 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:39 am

The teacher's union needs to step on behalf of its members, the students, the other employees of the district, and the community. For the health and safety of the teachers, get them out of those classrooms. I'm horrified at what is happening.


12 people like this
Posted by BjR
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:46 am

It's not about mortality rate so please stop mentioning that...rJHit's about reducing the burden on critical care facilities that are already stressed by the flu season. Duh!

Just grow some balls and close the schools already!


12 people like this
Posted by Erica
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:47 am

Please provide for kids in need and CLOSE SCHOOLS!


15 people like this
Posted by Bye bye bye Don
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:00 am

Parents- please don’t forget this! Help get this crazy man out of our district. Look closely at who in Santa Clara County is managing these decisions and get them out at the next election. Nobody needs this type of representation. Let’s not forget this moment in our lives and what it’s costing us all emotionally and physically. Only ones fighting here to close schools are the parents! Where are our representatives?? Wake up please!!! I would hope our governor who is a parent has more sense to override this and make it equitable across the state for all students. Go online and continue to educate our future and create programs to help care for and feed those in need. Do not make it punitive for the rest! Please listen someone!!!


16 people like this
Posted by bemused
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:07 am

I'm sure low income families are thrilled they are being made scapegoat for why schools aren't closing.


6 people like this
Posted by MiddleAges
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:11 am

Teacher and staff safety is important. They have to show up everyday.

I don’t know any young person who wants to be a teacher - because they don’t get the respect they deserve (e.g., low salaries relative to their education, difficulty, and contribution to society). Teaching is 1 of the most important jobs in our society. CLOSE THE SCHOOLS FOR THE SAKE OF OUR UNDERAPPRECIATED TEACHERS (... and kids, community, etc. of course).


11 people like this
Posted by Speechless
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:16 am

Our president is considering putting a travel ban on CA and WA yet our schools are still open? What am I missing here? [Portion removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:22 am

From New York Times
“ All public schools, and many if not all private schools, in Oregon, Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, Kentucky and New Mexico were told to close beginning next week, and the governor of Washington State ordered all schools shut in three counties near Seattle. The Houston Independent School District, the largest school district in Texas, also said it was closing for two weeks.”


11 people like this
Posted by PA parent
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:28 am

I can keep my elementary kid home but I can’t persuade my teenager not to go to his middle school.
My elementary kid has asthma history and I have a weak immune system. We don’t have any close relatives here. PAUSD, in case my older kid carries some viruses home and made us sick and I wouldn’t be able to care my kids, please keep my kids cared and fed !!just like you are doing the great things to those kids who can’t get lunch and care if they stay home today


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:34 am

I am seriously concerned about this thread. There is so much panic and so many errors that the editors are keeping and who knows what types of things are being deleted. It is a thread like this that spreads panic, causes people to buy toilet paper and hand sanitizer in quantities that last over a year, and spreads misinformation.

Palo Alto Online is familiar with closing threads when pandemonium sets in, but has not done so here.

Please can we all remain calm. We are all in this together and should be helping and supporting each other, not making outrageous statements about decisions leading to deaths.

Keep rational everyone. This is not the end of the world.


7 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:36 am

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:42 am

Proper decision was made given the factual situation [portion removed.] Agree with the person above who posted that closing the schools now likely means effectively no more school for the rest of the year unless the government puts the entire population under house arrest for 3+ weeks and doesn't allow any travel from outside the quarantine region. Its interesting how people on this thread feel they are experts with better assessment of the situation than county health officials.


4 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:50 am

Dan. You are the one not looking at facts. Do the math, read the actual reports. [Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:51 am

Dan- do you have kids in school in this district? Heard anything on @fllattening the curve”? Shocked at your response.


15 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:51 am

If you are worried enough to post on Palo Alto Online, please also call the following numbers to have your concerns heard:

SCCOE Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan: (408) 453-6511
Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Sara Cody: (408) 792-3798
California Department of Education: (916) 319-0800
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (916) 445-2841
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond: 916-319-0800

and of course email board@pasud.org & daustin@pausd.org


16 people like this
Posted by These people will not get my votes this year
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:00 am

PAUSD BOARD MEMBERS

Todd Collins
President

Shounak Dharap
Vice President

Melissa Baten Caswell
Ken Dauber
Jennifer DiBrienza
Board Member

You have lost my votes eternally.
Will remember how poorly you perform during a pandemic like this.



6 people like this
Posted by Priorities
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:00 am

The school’s priorities given the factual situation are ... what?

The country, state, county, city, and school community’s priority is to slow the spread of the virus. Leaving the schools open hastens the spread in a way that has no remedy and no effective mitigation. It might be the best way to rapidly spread the virus.

This board is simply too immature for its responsibility.


6 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:04 am

This is unacceptable. Many kids at PAUSD live with grandparents and at risk family members not to mention the staff and faculty at PAUSD that are also in at risk groups. I implore the district to reconsider.


5 people like this
Posted by Board Question
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:04 am

Who is the board member who spent 5 minutes praising Sara Cody at the end of the meeting?


16 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:06 am

What is the procedure to recall Don Austin? [Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Rei
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:09 am

medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca


7 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:11 am

Search for "Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now" and "Tomas Pueyo". Read the article and act. Every day counts.


13 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Is A Farce
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:12 am

The PAUSD board members & district superintendent SIMPLY DO NOT CARE.

They are receiving their bloated salaries + retirement benefits & have minimum concerns for the teachers & students during this global health issue.


6 people like this
Posted by Jay
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:19 am

I am ok in either side, school close or open. But one thing for sure is we need to take care of our community, not only kids but also groups in health risk. Some kids might live with elderly at their home. Palo Alto city declared emergency and all kid's afterschool's activities are cancelled. Palo Alto private schools will be closed. This is the good time to close PAUSD schools to pause at the same time with others to act together. If everyone act together at the same time, it will be more effective to slow down virus. IF PAUSD is still opening, other organization's effort become meaningless. Can we all plan and act together?


15 people like this
Posted by Another HS Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:36 am

It is just amazing to read that many school districts have made the call to close schools but not PAUSD. This begs the question: that is PAUSD trying to imply that they are the only ones who have thought through everything but not the other school districts...that other other school districts don’t care about education or lower income families and have just schools without thinking through?

It is NOT enough to say that you can keep your kids home if you wish without providing any means on an online education. How are these students going to study if nothing is set up? Parents cannot always ensure that their kids are studying online and not doing other stuff. There has to be some structure provided! How about labs? How is the school going to make up that difference between kids who go to school and the one who don’t?

If other schools and school districts have the infrastructure or the willingness to provide online learning, why does PAUSD not have that? What is stopping them?

Very frustrating to see this from PAUSD. Please make a decision that will offer every student a similar learning opportunity: don’t leave students and families on the lurch by being saying it’s your choice.


1 person likes this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:41 am

What happens with seniors if school ends up getting shut down and they don't return? Do they still graduate?


4 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:54 am

Sam l.

Seniors and juniors are being held almost hostage for grades because the staff will not go online or give kids that have to stay home equal education. They will grade them down for missed labs and without live-streaming classes which is free, they will not do well on tests iif they are not physically present


2 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:55 am

I am documenting this and calling colleges. Wait. They all care about kids and staff and are all closed!


3 people like this
Posted by See Sth Say Sth
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 13, 2020 at 10:01 am

Parents, our public library websites provide abundant great K-16 online learning resources. The Santa Clara County library system www.sccld.org has more resources than the Palo Alto city library. You may get an account from the Los Altos public library to access all the resources, including the following:

The Great Courses series have excellent English, history, math and science courses.
Lynda.com has awesome short courses on grammar, writing, and coding.
Universal Class offers many excellent math and science courses.
Abcmouse.com may satisfy the needs of K-6 kids.
Brainfuse, LearningExpress Library, and Universal Class all offer abundant test prep exercises for SAT, ACT, and other major tests.

From the library websites, you may get one-on-one live tutoring services on all grades and all major subjects daily through Brainfuse.

Please visit www dot studibee dot org for more details.


2 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 10:17 am

Anonymous,
I'm not talking about those that are or are not going. I'm saying that when schools get closed, and eventually they will, if it lasts say a month or more, will the seniors graduate even without truly finishing what's required?

And what are they going to do about the CPR class requirement?


9 people like this
Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 10:19 am

These "leaders" are exposing teachers, children and families to significant risks because they are not sure what to do. I suspect once there is a bad outcome, which is inevitable, lawsuits will be filed and they could be held personally and severally liable for their actions.


4 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 10:28 am

Los Angeles has suspended school attendance. What is wrong with PAUSD?


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 13, 2020 at 10:28 am

As previously posted, please sign this petition if you agree:

Web Link

Los Angeles just closed all schools.


1 person likes this
Posted by Parents
a resident of Hoover School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 10:40 am

MVLA school board voted to suspend all in-person classes!


12 people like this
Posted by Don & Sara, Go ---- Yourself
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 13, 2020 at 10:40 am

Shame on you. You now have close to an entire teaching staff that now doesn't trust you. And, you may be responsible for spreading COVID-19 even further. How is this a good decision? Please start serving our community rather than not your own egos.

Shame on you. You now have close to an entire teaching staff that now doesn't trust you. And, you may be responsible for spreading COVID-19 even further. How is this a good decision? Please start serving our community rather than not your own egos.

Shame on you. You now have close to an entire teaching staff that now doesn't trust you. And, you may be responsible for spreading COVID-19 even further. How is this a good decision? Please start serving our community rather than not your own egos.

The important message has to be repeated 3 times.


14 people like this
Posted by krobinson
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 10:40 am

Please do not say things like “ There has not been a confirmed case of coronavirus in the school district“ without adding that there has been a massive testing shortage. Experts are all saying that there may be 5-10x as many unknown cases out there as known cases. So “no confirmed cases in the schools” is not that meaningful anymore.


8 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 13, 2020 at 10:42 am

MVLA cancels in person classes this morning, they are Santa Clara County school district. What is wrong with PAUSD?!

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Concerned citizen1
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 10:43 am

Redwood City School District closing schools starting 3/16. I hope PAUSD changes it’s decision.


18 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 10:45 am

Close schools now.

Don Austin, you made the mistake of a lifetime. Waiting until there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in one of our schools is TOO LATE because we don't have testing capability! My child (who attends PAUSD) and I were both sick with fever and cough, went to PAMF, who can't test for the virus. They "think" we have the flu, but can't be sure. As you are well aware, if you have COVID-19 you are contagious well before you exhibit any symptoms - so if we had/have COVID-19, it's too late as we've already contributed to community spread. This is what you must stop by closing schools - community spread.

The rate of infection is likely much higher than reported because we simply don't have the capabilities to test for the virus.


12 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 10:56 am

For all of the money that goes into PAUSD, it continuously amazes me how little they are capable of doing.

Austin seems like a country bumpkin. "Well gee, we just aren't prepared for this, so we're not gonna change anything.". So get prepared. There's been plenty of warning that this might be happening. Figure it out.


7 people like this
Posted by Supe risks
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:06 am

Not closing schools two weeks ago - risk being shamed. One week ago - risk being fired. Yesterday - risk bring jailed. Is this exponential curve easier to understand?


2 people like this
Posted by Parents
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:19 am

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:25 am

This is a terribly unfortunate decision and clearly shows the district's inability to understand the scope of this crisis. Yes, students are less likely to capture it but they are just as likely to be carriers! There only isn't an outbreak until there is one, and as we have seen in other countries these things can evolve rather quickly. This district showing their true colours once again.


2 people like this
Posted by finally
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:31 am

BREAKING NEWS:Palo Alto schools to close for one month, starting Monday


6 people like this
Posted by call everyone possible
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:33 am

finally school close


4 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Closed
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:41 am

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Staff,

Since the update provided yesterday evening, guidance from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and Santa Clara County Office of Education has changed.

Schools will be closed to students beginning Monday, March 16, through the end of PAUSD’s regularly scheduled spring break (which ends Friday, April 10) to reconcile new gathering guidelines with the realities of daily school life.

We believe our schools provide a clean, safe learning environment to provide a high-quality education for all students. However, we are facing an unprecedented health crisis and new information is surfacing hourly. It is likely our community will be seeing many cases of COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months which will require a measured, sustained response.

Staff is expected to report to their normal work locations on Monday, March 16. If staff members have conditions that prevent attendance on March 16, appropriate sick or personal leave time may be used. With the exception of critical staff, all employees will remain on-call from Tuesday, March 17, through Friday, March 20, remotely from their homes. This approach guarantees our ability to continue normal compensation processes and requirements for all employees.

Additional communications with respect to the definition and availability of critical services and educational continuity options for the upcoming weeks will be distributed by the end of the day Monday. Staff should check their district email on a regular basis for future updates.

Protecting public health requires a community-wide response, and we need the help of families to help remain united in our response. Students should stay home and minimize social contact as much as possible to keep caregivers and adult family members safe. While children have not been shown to be a high-risk group for serious illness from COVID-19, they are still able to transmit the virus to populations who are most vulnerable to serious illness, such as older adults and those with compromised immune systems. Please encourage students to avoid large public gatherings such as malls, movie theaters, and other spaces, especially those that are indoors.

As parents and caregivers, you are your child’s first teacher, and you are your child’s most influential teacher. Ongoing developments regarding COVID-19 may be overwhelming, especially to younger children. Parents and caregivers can help children understand the situation better by discussing children’s questions and concerns.

The City of Palo Alto has informed us that in anticipation of high demand, library access will be limited. We understand that implementing these changes with such limited notice is challenging and may be disruptive; we appreciate your patience and cooperation. We are grateful to community members throughout our county for their tremendous efforts during these unprecedented times.

I know that information is changing at a rapid pace and I will continue to keep you updated. Thank you for your patience and partnership.

Sincerely,

Don Austin, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Palo Alto Unified School District


Like this comment
Posted by AnotherPossibility
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:59 am

Was money an issue?
If the schools closed w/o evidence of an infection *IN* one of the schools, would they continue to get ADA (average daily attendance) funding from the state? That is a big portion of the school budget. Without assurance of continued ADA funding would there be a significant budget shortfall? Would there be enough money to pay teacher/administrator/staff salaries? Would the teacher's union be OK with the teachers not getting paid because they are not teaching classes? Does anyone know if there was some state or county action regarding ADA taken recently? Or if there is some 'closing trigger' in the ADA funding regulations (such as a specific case, or declaration of state emergency, or ...)?


12 people like this
Posted by Historian
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 12:15 pm

I knew the teachers union would come through. Don Austin is still much better than Skelly and McGee were. Careful what you ask for, he is not that bad, he has actually been productive while the others were figureheads.

We have never had good School Board members. But who wants it when it's a 4-year term?! They told teachers to curb homework too much. Some homework does prepare them for college, they need to learn study skills. My kid had no homework at Jordan and hardly any now. Very few writing assignments in English, PAUSD kids won't learn to write like they did in the 70s-80s when PAUSD English departments were outstanding. And now middle schools will have no math laning. Students who don't have outside schooling will not be prepared for higher lanes in high school, so those who don't have involved parents or tutors will fall aside.

The Paly World Language program adopted last year is a disaster: no textbook, no homework, no way of studying for tests! And some vocabulary that is too advanced for their levels. They expect the students to pick it up through immersion in class 2-3x per week, they are not teaching grammar, how to form sentences. It's so stressful for the students! Straight immersion only works for toddlers with nannies. Parents are in a panic, looking for online credit or outside classes. My "A" student has only B's in Spanish, formerly "A"s when it was the traditional program at Jordan. Dauber is dumbing down PAUSD too much! I'm all for relieving stress but they still need some homework.


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