Behind the Headlines: Schools ordered to close because of COVID-19 | News | Palo Alto Online |

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Behind the Headlines: Schools ordered to close because of COVID-19

Board of Education's Todd Collins and Shounak Dharap discuss decision to shut schools for weeks

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The Palo Alto school district's decision to close schools for one month to slow the spread of the new coronavirus is the topic of this webcast discussion with school board President Todd Collins and Vice President Shounak Dharap.

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Comments

14 people like this
Posted by Panic City
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:29 pm

So far, the United States has seen 42 deaths from the infection. 22 of those deaths occurred in one poorly run nursing home outside of Seattle, the Life Care Center. Another 9 deaths occurred in the rest of Washington state, leaving 10 deaths (5 in California, 2 in Florida, and one in each of Georgia, Kansas, New Jersey, and South Dakota) spread throughout the rest of the approximately 329 million residents of the United States. This represents roughly .000012 percent of the U.S. population.

By comparison, there were 38,800 traffic fatalities in the United States in 2019, the National Safety Council estimates. That represents an average of over 100 traffic deaths every day; if the press catalogued these in as much painstaking detail as they have deaths from coronavirus, highways nationwide would be as empty as New York subways are now. Even assuming that coronavirus deaths in the United States increase by a factor of one thousand over the year, the resulting deaths would only outnumber annual traffic deaths by 2,200. Shutting down highways would have a much more positive effect on the U.S. mortality rate than shutting down the U.S. economy to try to prevent the spread of the virus.


13 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:10 pm

I totally agree with Panic City. You have a better chance of getting hit and killed in an accident on the way to the grocery store to get that over abundance of bottled water and toilet paper that a lot are hoarding. We all know who is driving this. Just use common sense and good judgment, and live your life.


69 people like this
Posted by Growth Rate
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:29 pm

@Panic City and @Jennifer,

I assume you are trolls. If not, you may want to see if you can join the new online versions of middle school math from PAUSD starting next week...sounds like you skipped the part of school math where they teach about growth rates. For extra credit, see if you can understand the section on exponential growth rates.


26 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 10:34 pm

Get ooofed panic city and Jennifer. Growth rate is kinda right. If you don’t like traffic, walk to work. :)


30 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 14, 2020 at 3:40 am

PAUSD closed because they were ordered to.
This is lack of leadership and it's time to vote the Board members out for hiring Don Austin. Vote for Board members who have kids in the system and actually are vested. People with a backbone. 3 board members are up for re-election. Todd Collins is President of the Board and his term expires in 2020. VOTE HIM OUT! ennifer DiBrienza's term expires this year too. If they don't have a kid in the PAUSD system, don't vote them in. Vote in people who care about our kids and teachers.


14 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 14, 2020 at 3:41 am

PAUSD closed because they were ordered to. This is lack of leadership and it's time to vote the Board members out for hiring Don Austin. Vote for Board members who have kids in the system and actually are vested. People with a backbone. 3 board members are up for re-election. Todd Collins is President of the Board and his term expires in 2020. VOTE HIM OUT! ennifer DiBrienza's term expires this year too. If they don't have a kid in the PAUSD system, don't vote them in. Vote in people who care about our kids and teachers.


13 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:13 am

I agree with panic city and Jennifer, and no, I'm not a troll. Cancelling every event and closing schools, etc. etc. etc. doesn't do any good when those same people will be out in public elsewhere else. Unless everyone stays in there house, and never leaves to go anywhere including work all this closing is just hysteria. You have a 0000001% chance of catching this. I'm entitled to my opinion whether others agree or not...


25 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:15 am

To Panic city and Jennifer,

Italy went from 100 cases to 15,000 in less than 2 weeks.

US is on the same trajectory, just a couple weeks later.

We have had non-stop travel to/from Italy, Spain, Germany, Iran, S Korea and many other countries that now have 1000s of cases and heading towards thousands of deaths. Our hospitals can't handle thousands of patients at the same time that all need respirators. Read about flattening the curve.


9 people like this
Posted by Reality
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:20 am

To panic city:
Though I have to say, shutting down highways (especially rural ones) is an interesting idea for reducing the traffic fatality rate.

Flying is certainly much safer, but 10X more expensive.

Alcohol and sleep deprivation are behind something like a third to a half of traffic fatalities, so perhaps mandatory breathalyzers and sleep recording devices would be more effective than removing highways for everyone.

however, it's entirely possible highways will be shut down to contain the virus spreading, so you get your wish.


11 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:42 am

We have nowhere near 15,000 cases, and it's been around longer than 2 weeks. I don't live in Palo Alto, and the county I live in has very few cases. The schools are open, but could shut down eventually. The place where most of us are around a lot of people is WORK, and some of us don't have professions that work at home. Quit panicking.


8 people like this
Posted by Trump fired the Pandemic Team
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:54 am

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Confirmed vs. Actual Cases
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 14, 2020 at 10:51 am

Well considering the US is massively under testing we can extrapolate there are many more actual cases than confirmed. Also, since there is a larger than normal number of flu deaths this year from people who have not been tested for Coronavirus, its unclear how many of them may have had it. Once the testing ramps you will discover its much more wide spread. Schools are giant vector for disease spreading. Both the president of the US and Canada have already been exposed.


18 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 14, 2020 at 12:02 pm

@Steve and Panic
You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.
Every expert advises that this virus is far more contagious and has a much higher mortality rate than the flu. Those experts explain that, if we do not adopt aggressive measures now to restrict the spread, it will very likely become a massive epidemic with consequences far exceeding flu or highway fatalities.
The somewhat good news is that we stand a reasonable chance of preventing the worst scenarios if our leaders exert strong and comprehensive measures now and if we individually act responsibly in following best practices.


6 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2020 at 12:18 pm

The only way to stop the spread of this is to close every workforce, every store, gas station, church, post office, day care center, home - etc. And that's not going to happen. ANY place you close, those same people will be SOMEWHERE ELSE where you can spread or catch the virus. You don't really think everyone is going to stay home 24/7. And a lot of us have to work for a living.

How the hell am I supposed to practice "social distancing" at work? Or anyplace else I go with more than 50 people there.


5 people like this
Posted by Y Member
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 14, 2020 at 12:39 pm

Since Max Greenberg has closed his post for comments, I will post my disagreement with his post here.

Firstly, people can choose themselves whether to attend the Y or not. Many people are choosing not to go and that is their choice. They can be active at home or wherever.

Those of us who are attending the Y are very careful and it is apparent. People use their feet to open doors, wear gloves to exercise, use sprays on the machines and wash their hands well as soon as they arrive and before they leave.

For many of those of us who are now stuck at home, getting some daily exercise is very important. We do not all have weights and other machines at home. We do not even have stairs at home to climb. If it is wet people are not as likely to go hiking in the Baylands or even to walk to the local park. With all this lack of going out, people's bodies will soon get less healthy.

People without exercise will get grumpier than they are at present, they will stay at home snacking on unhealthy food, call out for pizza or drive through MacDonalds.

It is more important than ever to exercise and keep healthy. For those who have fears, have health issues, are elderly, or in any way can't mix with others, then please stay at home.

For the rest of us, please don't close the Y, we need it more than ever.


4 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 15, 2020 at 12:11 am

> By comparison, there were 38,800 traffic fatalities in the United States in 2019

Traffic fatalities and influenza are known factors. CoVid is presently an unknown one. Once we know enough about CoVid to mitigate its effects, such as through a vaccine, I expect it to become less of an issue.

We also had a traffic fatality recently with a middle school student killed in a traffic accident with a flatbed truck.


25 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 15, 2020 at 1:05 am

PAUSD district staff and the Board should have been developing plans for on-line classes since late January. Not to do so was very short sighted, and reinforces the "head in the sand" mentality that came across in the video from Todd Collins. There are plenty of other educational institutions that provide on-line education, and by contacting and getting their insights, and leveraging these other institution's experience, PAUSD could make the who experience much more productive for the students.


5 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 15, 2020 at 3:38 am

> By comparison, there were 38,800 traffic fatalities in the United States in 2019

I was just over a week ago when Palo Alto Online ran the article, "Greene Middle School student, riding a bicycle, killed in Friday night collision". The article has been updated to March 11th, only a few days ago. When I do see news about a traffic accident news, it's local. (I don't watch television, so maybe someone can comment on how much the local news reports traffic accidents.)

I do think taking traffic safety for granted is a mistake. The media DOES report traffic accidents, sometimes on an hourly basis. Except it's done as part of the morning's traffic report, as if getting in a collision is a minor traffic inconvenience. As someone who has a back injury possibly caused by a car collision, I will say it's not.

I do see a "grassroots" concern about traffic safety on Nextdoor.com. At least twice a week someone will post about a child cutting traffic or not wearing a helmet. I'll admit that I overlook these posts, even though a child cut in front of *me* when I was driving past JLS. My own concern about traffic safety is actually pedestrian. I take my dog out for walks in the evening, and see pedestrians taking no precautions against traffic. Maybe every other walk I'll find someone else in reflective clothing, but, otherwise, I'll inevitably see someone dressed in *black* or blue, including elderly people.

Two wrongs don't make a right, and this now pandemic should make us aware of risks that the media doesn't report. Certainly I've noticed that the preparation against the virus people are taking is also useful for preparing for that earthquake that's supposed to be coming. Although, I guess since we haven't had 38K of people die from earthquakes last year, we shouldn't be preparing for one, right??


4 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2020 at 11:10 pm

The board needs to use county and state resources instead of making new ones up that are nowhere near as goid. The state emergency plans are excellent. I bet paly is not in compliance


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2020 at 8:01 am

I will repost my comments on Diana Diamond's blog here, because I think it is a very important point.

There is a very big problem with isolation. It is called loneliness. This can happen to an isolated couple as well as an individual.

Many seniors are not up to date with technology. They often don't have smart phones, or computers, many don't even have internet. There has been an article on Palo Alto Weekly about how young people are teaching older people to be more involved using technology. It is giving these older people a new lease on life.

Some of these older people are not necessarily housebound, but depend on getting out and about for social activities. For them, when their senior activities, when their church activities, when they don't see the children going by on their bikes when they look through the window, when they don't see any life, they become isolated to the extent that they are prisoners in their own homes.

I know that this is a very technologically astute part of the country, but this idea that those over 65 should just stay at home and isolate themselves from the rest of the world sounds very much like "let them rot at home" to those who are forced to do nothing but stare at a tv screen and wish for some human contact. Yes, some do have family they can call and yes some do have family who will visit occasionally, but then they feel even more like burdens on society.

The idea that seniors now have to lose their independence and force themselves to stay away from the rest of the world, if even for their own health, is nothing more than giving them a prison sentence without any date of release back into the real world. To some extent, I think some may wish to take their chances with the virus rather than turn into hermits.

For many, their activities are what gives them the will to get up each day, to shower, to dress, to pay attention to what time of the day it is or what day of the week it is. For some, they will lose this and perhaps lose their will to live. They may stop eating well or at all. They may remain in bed and unwashed for days.

The repercussions of prolonged inactivity for seniors is problematic, whether they have good health or bad.

I will add that in my family, after my grandfather died I saw this happened to my grandmother and after my father died, there were the beginnings of it in my mother and she spotted it and was able to make changes to prevent the same thing from happening. It is very important for seniors to feel independent and socialized to keep them healthy in body and in mind.


5 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2020 at 11:59 am

Resident - I totally agree. Telling people who are over 65 to "stay home" is asinine and offensive. Let mature adults decide for themselves whether they have compromised immune systems (regardless of age) and they want to stay home, or feel they'll be fine, and want to go out. It's a free country.

I'm in my 50s, in excellent health (all my life) but I realize things change as we age. I'll make my OWN decisions - thank you, and don't need any interference from others. Maybe my own wise decisions in life regarding my health have a lot to do with my healthy body.


18 people like this
Posted by Wally
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 16, 2020 at 5:38 pm

That’s great Jennifer.
Go spread the virus to others. Pretty soon the whole country will have it. I’m sure you’ll be fine. You should just take care of yourself, and not worry about all the vulnerable population that will see increased exposure as the infected population blossoms. As long as you make your own decisions, you’re never t responsible for the impact on others. Good for you.


17 people like this
Posted by Do you want to be patient 31?
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 16, 2020 at 5:51 pm

This article showing the impact that one person with the virus can make: Web Link

Do you want to be that person? It's not about how sick you get. It's about how sick everyone else gets as a result of your actions.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2020 at 6:15 pm

A part-time elementary teacher in Sacramento just died of Covid-19.

Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2020 at 10:38 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by AC
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:36 am

On another note PAUSD has no online classes for High Schoolers this is very poor on their part. Most other districts have online learning. In this day and age of technology how is this possible. We boast about our district but sad to say they cannot even get an online schooling system is place like Los Altos and San Mateo county


13 people like this
Posted by Late to the game
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 18, 2020 at 8:32 am

PAUSD is behind the times. Glad I send my kids to private school. They have been off already for a week, and started online courses Monday. Can’t believe anybody that can afford it even bother with the CA public school system. I’m sure PAUSD will soon be asking for more tax money to keep these teachers employed


7 people like this
Posted by Lazy schools
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 18, 2020 at 12:43 pm

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 18, 2020 at 1:13 pm

@Lazy Schools
a.Secondary teachers CANNOT assign mandated options per mandate.
b. Ask for more rigor for your kid through an email.
Per the DO as of yesterday. Write to him.


7 people like this
Posted by Physics teacher
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 18, 2020 at 1:24 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 18, 2020 at 1:39 pm

The UC-system offers fully accredited online courses directly from them, and they just made them FREE for all students due to the outbreak. It's called UC Scout Online.

There is a catch though. Your local public school needs to approve and allow you to do it. So to any high school kid who really wants to finish a class for your personal growth aspirations, feel free to look up UC Scout and ask PAUSD for approval.

Don't expect PAUSD to be helpful, though. They will likely say no, despite the state and UC's best efforts to help. They have said no to others. Saying yes slightly erodes the interests of their teachers' guild.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 20, 2020 at 8:27 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 22, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Again, schools have been virus central in communities as long as there have been schools. I must have gotten measles, mumps, and chicken pox that way years ago. It was considered more or less normal at the time. The effects on adults could be devastating.

It is surprising that the PA schools were so slow to close and to go online. PA was the city where Apple, HP, and Cisco started, the GUI+mouse was started at Xerox PARC, and PA was one of the centers that gave us the Internet.

What happened?


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