News

Palo Alto schools to close for one month starting Monday

School district will not be providing online courses for its 12,000 students

Santa Clara County ordered all public schools in the county to close for three weeks beginning Monday, March 16 through Friday, April 3, to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Since Palo Alto Unified School District's weeklong spring break begins on April 4, all Palo Alto public schools will be closed for a minimum of four weeks.

Friday's announcement came amidst a cascade of school closures throughout the region, state and nationally — and less than 24 hours after Palo Alto school officials backed a plan to keep campuses open but offer limited online learning alternatives to students who choose to stay home. San Mateo County's health officer also ordered all public schools to close from March 16 through April 3 and offer at-home learning "if feasible."

Palo Alto students and staff should expect school to resume on Monday, April 13, Superintendent Don Austin told the Palo Alto Weekly, though the district will reassess at that time.

The plan to shut down schools countywide was made after "extensive consultation" with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, county Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan said in a press conference.

"The decision to close schools to student attendance is a serious matter," she said. "Schools play an essential role in our society and returning to normal operations promotes continuity. The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff are our top priority."

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The "tipping point," Austin told the Weekly, was the implications for schools of the direction from California public health officials that non-essential gatherings of 250 or more people should be postponed or canceled until the end of March. The state released that guidance on Wednesday. During's Friday press conference, the county announced a legal order banning public and private gatherings of more than 100 people.

"I agree that the gathering guidelines don't make sense when we're canceling certain events and not other settings where students are clearly together," he said Friday. (The district has suspended all athletic events, field trips, school dances and any non-essential extracurricular activities.)

Palo Alto Unified will not be providing online courses for its 12,000 students, Austin said. However, principals and teacher leaders started working this week to develop "flexible learning options" for all grade levels, including study guidelines and links to free online resources for the elementary schools.

Secondary school coursework, though, particularly at the high schools, is more difficult to translate to online. Teachers will be expected at the beginning of the shut down to figure out what they can offer their students remotely, he said.

"We still don't think we're going to be able to ramp it up in any way that replicates classroom instruction," he said. "We've tried to be exceedingly clear about that from the start."

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At an emergency school board meeting late Thursday afternoon, Austin and board members supported keeping schools open — "coming to school is still the first, best option," the superintendent said — and reiterated that they are following the public health department's lead on this question. District communications have described closing schools as a disruptive last resort that would have personal and potential health consequences for students, families and staff. The county has also cautioned that closing schools could pull parents from the work force, including those who provide health care.

"I still believe all those things but at the core, we said we're going to follow the guidance of the experts in the field with the authority to provide us that direction," Austin said Friday. "I still believe it's going to be a significant disruption, that people will have family hardships when it comes to child care and other pieces of this. ... I think the students that need us the most are going to miss us the most. None of that has changed."

The district plans to release additional information about "availability of critical services and educational continuity options" for the next few weeks by the end of Monday.

The county-wide closure is "designed to provide schools with the time needed to create long-term plans to operate in ways that facilitate social distancing, provide all necessary hygiene and cleaning supplies, ensure adequate staff time and resources to follow public health guidance, and create plans to address the possibility that a significant portion of their staff will need to stay home sick if they contract COVID-19," Santa Clara County Public Health said.

The county expects districts to "do all they can" to continue to provide services to students and families, including academic instruction to students at home, free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch for those eligible and resources for parents.

Palo Alto Community Child Care, which provides after-school programs at the district's elementary schools, said Friday that it will close March 16 through April 10.

Starting on Monday, March 16, the district will provide free lunch to all students at three schools designated as pick-up sites, beginning March 16 and ending on April 3. Families can pick up lunch at JLS Middle School, Greene Middle School and Gunn High School from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. throughout the closure. Staff will hand the meals to families in their cars, like at a drive-thru. Children must be present in order for meals to be picked up; each family is eligible for the quantity of meals equal to the number of children in the car, the district said.

Voluntary Transfer Program (VTP) students who live in East Palo Alto can pick up breakfast and lunch at Ravenswood City School District schools from March 16 through March 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ravenswood is also offering home delivery if families cannot pick meals up. The East Palo Alto school district is also closed from March 16 through April 3. More information on meals pick-up in East Palo Alto is available here.

Both districts are discouraging families from congregating at the campuses while picking up food.

All Palo Alto Unified staff are expected to report to work on Monday, March 16, Austin said in a message to the community, and then will be on call to work remotely from March 17 through March 20, with the exception of "critical staff."

"This approach guarantees our ability to continue normal compensation processes and requirements for all employees," Austin wrote.

Austin urged students to practice social distancing while school is out by staying home and avoiding large public gatherings such as shopping malls, movie theaters and other spaces, particularly ones that are indoors. The city has informed the district that library access will be limited due to high demand.

"Keep students at home or we have accomplished little," Austin tweeted on Friday.

In his message to the school community, he wrote: "We understand that implementing these changes with such limited notice is challenging and may be disruptive; we appreciate your patience and cooperation," Austin wrote. "We are grateful to community members throughout our county for their tremendous efforts during these unprecedented times."

Public Health Officer Sara Cody said that the county's more "aggressive" restrictions reflect an effort to balance "the public health need to slow the spread of infection with a significant impact we know these actions will have on the lives of our residents.

"We believe these actions are necessary to protect the wellbeing of our community during one of the most historic public health challenges of our time," she said.

Santa Clara County now has 79 confirmed cases of COVID-19 -- an increase of more than threefold within the last week. Cody said she expects this number to grow in the days and weeks to come.

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to ensure California public school districts retain state funding even if they close, directing schools to use the state dollars to support distance learning, provide school meals and "as practicable," arrange for supervision of students during school hours.

"Closing schools has a massive, cascading effect for our kids and their families – especially those least equipped financially to deal with them. The needs of California kids must be met regardless of whether their school is open or closed," Newsom said.

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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Palo Alto schools to close for one month starting Monday

School district will not be providing online courses for its 12,000 students

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Mar 13, 2020, 11:25 am
Updated: Sun, Mar 15, 2020, 9:10 pm

Santa Clara County ordered all public schools in the county to close for three weeks beginning Monday, March 16 through Friday, April 3, to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Since Palo Alto Unified School District's weeklong spring break begins on April 4, all Palo Alto public schools will be closed for a minimum of four weeks.

Friday's announcement came amidst a cascade of school closures throughout the region, state and nationally — and less than 24 hours after Palo Alto school officials backed a plan to keep campuses open but offer limited online learning alternatives to students who choose to stay home. San Mateo County's health officer also ordered all public schools to close from March 16 through April 3 and offer at-home learning "if feasible."

Palo Alto students and staff should expect school to resume on Monday, April 13, Superintendent Don Austin told the Palo Alto Weekly, though the district will reassess at that time.

The plan to shut down schools countywide was made after "extensive consultation" with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, county Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan said in a press conference.

"The decision to close schools to student attendance is a serious matter," she said. "Schools play an essential role in our society and returning to normal operations promotes continuity. The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff are our top priority."

The "tipping point," Austin told the Weekly, was the implications for schools of the direction from California public health officials that non-essential gatherings of 250 or more people should be postponed or canceled until the end of March. The state released that guidance on Wednesday. During's Friday press conference, the county announced a legal order banning public and private gatherings of more than 100 people.

"I agree that the gathering guidelines don't make sense when we're canceling certain events and not other settings where students are clearly together," he said Friday. (The district has suspended all athletic events, field trips, school dances and any non-essential extracurricular activities.)

Palo Alto Unified will not be providing online courses for its 12,000 students, Austin said. However, principals and teacher leaders started working this week to develop "flexible learning options" for all grade levels, including study guidelines and links to free online resources for the elementary schools.

Secondary school coursework, though, particularly at the high schools, is more difficult to translate to online. Teachers will be expected at the beginning of the shut down to figure out what they can offer their students remotely, he said.

"We still don't think we're going to be able to ramp it up in any way that replicates classroom instruction," he said. "We've tried to be exceedingly clear about that from the start."

At an emergency school board meeting late Thursday afternoon, Austin and board members supported keeping schools open — "coming to school is still the first, best option," the superintendent said — and reiterated that they are following the public health department's lead on this question. District communications have described closing schools as a disruptive last resort that would have personal and potential health consequences for students, families and staff. The county has also cautioned that closing schools could pull parents from the work force, including those who provide health care.

"I still believe all those things but at the core, we said we're going to follow the guidance of the experts in the field with the authority to provide us that direction," Austin said Friday. "I still believe it's going to be a significant disruption, that people will have family hardships when it comes to child care and other pieces of this. ... I think the students that need us the most are going to miss us the most. None of that has changed."

The district plans to release additional information about "availability of critical services and educational continuity options" for the next few weeks by the end of Monday.

The county-wide closure is "designed to provide schools with the time needed to create long-term plans to operate in ways that facilitate social distancing, provide all necessary hygiene and cleaning supplies, ensure adequate staff time and resources to follow public health guidance, and create plans to address the possibility that a significant portion of their staff will need to stay home sick if they contract COVID-19," Santa Clara County Public Health said.

The county expects districts to "do all they can" to continue to provide services to students and families, including academic instruction to students at home, free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch for those eligible and resources for parents.

Palo Alto Community Child Care, which provides after-school programs at the district's elementary schools, said Friday that it will close March 16 through April 10.

Starting on Monday, March 16, the district will provide free lunch to all students at three schools designated as pick-up sites, beginning March 16 and ending on April 3. Families can pick up lunch at JLS Middle School, Greene Middle School and Gunn High School from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. throughout the closure. Staff will hand the meals to families in their cars, like at a drive-thru. Children must be present in order for meals to be picked up; each family is eligible for the quantity of meals equal to the number of children in the car, the district said.

Voluntary Transfer Program (VTP) students who live in East Palo Alto can pick up breakfast and lunch at Ravenswood City School District schools from March 16 through March 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ravenswood is also offering home delivery if families cannot pick meals up. The East Palo Alto school district is also closed from March 16 through April 3. More information on meals pick-up in East Palo Alto is available here.

Both districts are discouraging families from congregating at the campuses while picking up food.

All Palo Alto Unified staff are expected to report to work on Monday, March 16, Austin said in a message to the community, and then will be on call to work remotely from March 17 through March 20, with the exception of "critical staff."

"This approach guarantees our ability to continue normal compensation processes and requirements for all employees," Austin wrote.

Austin urged students to practice social distancing while school is out by staying home and avoiding large public gatherings such as shopping malls, movie theaters and other spaces, particularly ones that are indoors. The city has informed the district that library access will be limited due to high demand.

"Keep students at home or we have accomplished little," Austin tweeted on Friday.

In his message to the school community, he wrote: "We understand that implementing these changes with such limited notice is challenging and may be disruptive; we appreciate your patience and cooperation," Austin wrote. "We are grateful to community members throughout our county for their tremendous efforts during these unprecedented times."

Public Health Officer Sara Cody said that the county's more "aggressive" restrictions reflect an effort to balance "the public health need to slow the spread of infection with a significant impact we know these actions will have on the lives of our residents.

"We believe these actions are necessary to protect the wellbeing of our community during one of the most historic public health challenges of our time," she said.

Santa Clara County now has 79 confirmed cases of COVID-19 -- an increase of more than threefold within the last week. Cody said she expects this number to grow in the days and weeks to come.

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to ensure California public school districts retain state funding even if they close, directing schools to use the state dollars to support distance learning, provide school meals and "as practicable," arrange for supervision of students during school hours.

"Closing schools has a massive, cascading effect for our kids and their families – especially those least equipped financially to deal with them. The needs of California kids must be met regardless of whether their school is open or closed," Newsom said.

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

Comments

Lauren
Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:29 am
Lauren , Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:29 am
62 people like this

FINALLY.... smh smh smh


PAUSD parent
Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:38 am
PAUSD parent, Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:38 am
29 people like this

The right decision and not too late. Thank you PAUSD!


S_mom
Community Center
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:38 am
S_mom, Community Center
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:38 am
23 people like this

Finally for sure. Thanks for making the right decision.


Concerned parent
Professorville
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:41 am
Concerned parent, Professorville
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:41 am
37 people like this

Better late than never! Should have been done 2 weeks ago to slow the spread. Hope it still has an impact in our community!


Coronavirus
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:44 am
Coronavirus, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:44 am
21 people like this

Gg PAUSD you stayed in this fight for a while and didn’t back down until the end!!


Resident
Fairmeadow
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:44 am
Resident , Fairmeadow
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:44 am
65 people like this

Should have been done 2 weeks ago. Very poor non-scientific leadership. They exposed thousands of students, staff, residents by delaying this by 2 weeks. Shame on you!


Finally
Evergreen Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:45 am
Finally, Evergreen Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:45 am
54 people like this

Right decision at long last... does not give me much confidence in the PAUSD though... given they had an emergency meeting yesterday and decided not to close... obviously followers not leaders


French
Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:48 am
French, Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:48 am
30 people like this

MY FRENCH GRADE NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO


Sally
Downtown North
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:48 am
Sally, Downtown North
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:48 am
42 people like this

Bumbling as the school district is, the right call has finally been forced on them.

Let's stay healthy and take care of each other.

Trying to find a bright spot in this, we all get a one-month pause from trying to help PAUSD past its many inadequacies.


Parent
Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:48 am
Parent, Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:48 am
36 people like this

FINALLY

Ohio closes it's schools before Palo Alto...
Smells of leadership who didn't want to cave to public opinion vs making the right decision for the community


Concerned Citizen
Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:49 am
Concerned Citizen, Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:49 am
54 people like this

Thank you to the county for doing the smart thing! Shame, shame, shame on you PAUSD for failing to lead.

And get with it California! NY has drive up virus testing ready to roll.


Student Preparing for College
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:49 am
Student Preparing for College, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:49 am
44 people like this

We should be making classes digital with Hangouts, Zoom, etc. There are plenty of classes that this works for. They shouldn't be interrupting education without trying to reduce the consequences! Is this coming out of summer? What about AP classes and testing?


Samuel L.
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:52 am
Samuel L., Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:52 am
44 people like this

Closure of MVLA earlier today forced their hand.
What relevant information changed from yesterday's emergency meeting to today? Nothing.


Gunn Student
Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:53 am
Gunn Student, Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:53 am
20 people like this

Finally, we are actually taking action.
Just hope that the rest of the country does the same, and testing becomes more common.
As for us, we should also stay inside during closing of schools, and not go outside too much.

Thanks to all the health officials for taking steps (even if a bit late).


DTN Paul
Downtown North
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:56 am
DTN Paul, Downtown North
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:56 am
64 people like this

This is the right decision, but it was forced on them, and that is something we should remember, as we consider who is qualified to lead the PAUSD moving forward. Judgement and leadership matter, and did they show any at all?


Paly student
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 12:10 pm
Paly student, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 12:10 pm
21 people like this

finally. should've been done weeks ago but the right choice was made at last.

I wonder what will happen to our grades during this one month period...


Insider/Outsider
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 12:39 pm
Insider/Outsider, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 12:39 pm
41 people like this

This health crisis has pointed out the crisis in leadership at the District level, the lack of proactive leadership at the schools, and at the County Department of Health.

We need leadership that is guided by science, because as @Samuel L pointed out, no new information has emerged since last night. We need leadership that has the courage to make difficult decisions, instead of playing politics with the lives of its ENTIRE community - students, staff, AND teachers!


Francie
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:00 pm
Francie, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:00 pm
11 people like this

Do I detect school official concern that online education will make traditional schools obsolete? As it absolutely will. Progress!


Paly Teacher
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:01 pm
Paly Teacher, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:01 pm
82 people like this

Stop blaming the school district. They followed the county's direction. When the county authorized closures, the district did so immediately. Aim your vitriol somewhere else.


Paly student body
Crescent Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:06 pm
Paly student body , Crescent Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:06 pm
22 people like this

Made PAUSD look like a whole circus... pay more attention to the universities across the country that are sending students home, to states that are closing all of their K-12 schools, and to Santa Clara county which has the most cases in the state. The health of the students and community are more important.


Paly Teacher
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:07 pm
Paly Teacher, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:07 pm
57 people like this

Sorry for the second post. Yes I know this will sound self-serving.

I want to comment about the idea online education can replace in-person instruction. It can't. How I am going to see if a student is completing an algebra problem correctly? Have them hold up their paper to their webcam? How am I going to get to know a student so I can write a knowledgeable, personal letter of recommendation for them? I know our culture here is more tech is better but it's simply not the case for schools and our kids. If this is what you want, then send your students to charter schools where students stare at screens all day.


Gunn Parent
Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:18 pm
Gunn Parent, Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:18 pm
54 people like this

They had a chance to show leadership. They fought the community and common sense until they were told their choice from yesterday was bad. Our teachers and students deserve better leadership.


Resident
College Terrace
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:20 pm
Resident, College Terrace
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:20 pm
106 people like this

PAUSD parents bug me, at least the ones in these forums. They are strident and overly dogmatic. My heart goes out to all the teachers and admins who have to deal with this set of parents. I don't think I could.


Anonymous
another community
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:26 pm
Anonymous, another community
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:26 pm
14 people like this

Paly teacher

Lol we’ll have you heard of latex? Matlab? Ptretty standard zoom.? You can be present and live and see kids work, interact with them and look at scores , real work . They can interact with you too! In the heart of technology and you do not know a bout any . Art of problem solving has incredible online math class offerings and kids that take them are highly successful and prepared. I can not say the same fi paly math. Generally NI homework is corrected and kids have to teach themselves or hire tutors. I would say almost any online Alf class will prepare kids for the next level.


Mom
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:28 pm
Mom, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:28 pm
53 people like this

Quit bashing PAUSD, they made the right call and not too late. Parents can always keep their children home for health, no one was forcing them to send them to school.

The media is making everyone hysterical. Influenza and other viruses are contagious prior to symptoms and influenza kills 60,000 each year. Why doesn't the media highlight influenza? If anything, at least now, perhaps people are educated to wash their hands all the time when they arrive home. And to those who call for a vaccine, that takes time, they need to do trials.

Having been in PAUSD for decades, I am more impressed with Don Austin than Skelly or McGee who were merely figureheads. Don has made as much progress as the system will allow and is not here merely for the paycheck. We do need a new School Board, however. No Ivy Leaguers, people with real life skills who can make reasonable decisions.


Anonymous
another community
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:28 pm
Anonymous, another community
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:28 pm
5 people like this

Hey!!

I think they did not go online for a reason. There will be no instruction?? This is required for AP accreditation. I bet the group wanting no grades will do pass and or fail to punish families.


Bob
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:30 pm
Bob, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:30 pm
12 people like this

>I want to comment about the idea online education can
> replace in-person instruction.

>It can't. How I am going to see if a student is
>completing an algebra problem correctly?

This comment demonstrates must how unprepared too many teachers are to teach in the world that has been largely invented here in the Silicon Valley.

She (presumably female) teacher has never looked at the wealth of already available on-line teaching tools that can be located on Youtube. There is a vast store of instructional math software to be found there. For years now, software has been available to allow students to do math problems on their computers. Having teachers be able to remotely monitor this work is a “no brainer”.

Sadly, teachers don’t seem to be adequately prepared to teach in the 21st Century.


Grandparent
Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:33 pm
Grandparent, Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:33 pm
8 people like this

So proud of the POWER TO THE PEOPLE. Of course it was always the right thing to do.


Staying Young Through Kids
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:40 pm
Staying Young Through Kids, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:40 pm
14 people like this

@PALY Teacher Your comment about online learning not being as effective as in person teaching is without merit.

Stanford runs an exceptionally successful online high school. Colleges all over the country are offering full degree programs totally online. This is a problem which has already been solved.

Now...I will completely agree that PAUSD is not ready to do this. I'm not sure how much of a problem that is. A break in the educational process can be a challenge for sure, bt I believe that you and the other teachers in our district will be able to overcome this challenge.

What I do see as a challenge is the PAUSD contract with the PAEA teachers as we look to extend the school year until the beginning of July. Along with online instruction this is a challenge we need to get under control right away.

My suggestion is that Governor Newsom and CA Superintendent Thurmond reduce the number of mandatory instructional days for the 2019-20 school year from 180 to perhaps 160 or some other reasonable reduction.

Yes, lost instructional time may represent a real challenge, but I believe it's a challenge our educators, students, and parents can work together to overcome.


Meanwhile
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:55 pm
Meanwhile, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:55 pm
21 people like this

So have the parent groups set up child care for kids whose parents have to work and can't stay home with them? SF teacher's unions have started a sign up on social media for teachers to deliver meals to students who receive breakfast and lunch from the school via meal programs. Will this start here as well? As for online instruction, I have no doubt we can outsource Algebra to computers, but what about the Social/Emotional Learning the parent community has outsourced to teachers that the district paid for via curriculum/advisory models? Can that be digitized?


PAUSD Teacher
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:55 pm
PAUSD Teacher, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:55 pm
17 people like this

To address the comments about Online/Distance Learning:

Online or distance learning is surely not as good as collaborative learning. This is especially true for younger students (ie MS and Elem students). Good teachers set up environments where students can thrive in multiple and diverse groupings. It is certainly better than no learning at all. That being said, it is imperative that parents, siblings, family friends, and other community members step in to fill this void while the schools are closed. Let's all work together to make sure that our kids are learning and challenging themselves in these unprecedented times.


DTN Paul
Downtown North
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:55 pm
DTN Paul, Downtown North
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:55 pm
50 people like this

The reason people are bashing the PAUSD, Don Austin and the Santa Clara county is because they've been slow, bumbling and irresponsible.

There are currently 8 WHOLE STATES whose schools are completely shut down (Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, New Mexico, Michigan, West Virginia, Virginia and Louisiana) and none of those whole states has more reported cases than just Santa Clara COUNTY. One county!

Meanwhile, our one county isn't saying who is sick, and where they have been, where they live and only today shut down the schools. Meanwhile, in Palo Alto the administration was passing the buck to Santa Clara even though other school districts like Menlo Park or San Francisco were able to make independent judgements about how to handle this crisis.

It's sad, but when I think about which was more timely - Donald Trump's grudging National Emergency or Santa Clara's school shutdown, I think they're equally derelict.


PAUSD teacher
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:57 pm
PAUSD teacher, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 1:57 pm
28 people like this

@Bob - it's awfully sexist to assume that the Paly teacher is female. Are you implying that female teachers are stuck in the 20th century and that male teachers are more capable of being up-to-date? Focus on the real problem - the lack of leadership at the federal level.


Too little too late
Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:15 pm
Too little too late, Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:15 pm
23 people like this

Wow, so disappointed with PAUSD's dragging of feet during this global pandemic. Weak leadership and lack of transparency just makes them seem even more untrustworthy than they did before.


Bob
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:25 pm
Bob, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:25 pm
4 people like this

>Online or distance learning is surely not as good as collaborative learning

This shift to “collaborative” learning has not demonstrated itself to be as positive for the individual who must read for himself, learn for himself, and generally produce work as an individual. While it’s true that as systems become more complicated (in the science and engineering world), that more collaboration is utilized to help facilitate the sharing of ideas. But those ideas more often than not are generated by individuals working alone. (Remember those little “light bulbs” that cartoonists use to signify that an idea has gone off in a person’s mind?)

While it might be easier for teachers to use “collaboration” .. it’s not at all clear that this approach is better for students who need to be prepared for lifetime learning.


Bob
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:30 pm
Bob, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:30 pm
6 people like this

> Claiming that teachers at the PAUSD are mostly female is “sexist”

Hmm .. not knowing the demographics of the American teacher base is not “sexist” .. it’s “ignorant”.

It’s common knowledge that 77% of American public school teachers are female:

Web Link

The percentage of public school teachers who were female increased from 75 percent in 1999–2000 to 77 percent in 2015–16.

So .. why would anyone not expect the male/female teacher ratio at the PAUSD to be markedly different than the national average?


Insider/Outsider
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:41 pm
Insider/Outsider, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:41 pm
6 people like this

@Mom

There's a vaccine for the flu, not yet for COVID19.


musical
Palo Verde
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:43 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:43 pm
3 people like this

^ Palo Alto has never been "average".


Y2k-TheSequel?
Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:45 pm
Y2k-TheSequel?, Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:45 pm
8 people like this

Are the internet and teleconferencing platforms like Zoom prepared to handle the volume of users transitioning to online learning next week? Colleges, universities and high schools across the country are making this move. Can any Silicon Valley tech gurus out there reassure me that this is going to be glitch-free and not cause widespread service interruptions or worse?


Teacher
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:53 pm
Teacher, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:53 pm
15 people like this

Teachers (even female ones, Bob!) are interested in and committed to continuing to educate our students. We are aware of many tools we can use to continue delivering our curriculum online. However, as of now, we are being told (at the same time as parents are told) that we are developing "flexible learning options" for the entire month, to be due on Monday. We are being given little to no direction on the pressing logistical questions like time expectations, assessments, grades, etc. I would love to continue to run my course, but the powers that be are currently not allowing it. Teachers are receiving the same information as parents, often later than parents. But who knows, maybe we will get an email contradicting this latest directive in a few hours, or Sunday night, or Monday after we've worked all day to create these "FLO's"....


parent
South of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:54 pm
parent, South of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:54 pm
4 people like this

They need to make sure that the kids are not sharing anything personal on any videos and the teachers do not have access unless it is during the meeting time. Kids need to be at a desk and not in jammies in bed for example. If identifying things are in the background, take them out. Do not assume everyone is nice and will be safe online.

Ok. truly it is sad that the math dept teaches no programming and no knowledge of what is our there for current math curriculum. There are amazing things happening in math! Fun stuff. They just go page by page in a math book and never correct, then give a test. blah. Stanford across the street and in the middle of tech wonderland and still a book that is out of print for 20 years for geom and alg. boring.


Samuel L.
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:54 pm
Samuel L., Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:54 pm
4 people like this

@Y2k-TheSequel? - If you have kids in PAUSD it's not an issue. They won't be doing any online learning.

For others, highly unlikely the increased traffic will be enough to cause issues given the already high use of the internet in day to day life.


student
Charleston Gardens
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:57 pm
student, Charleston Gardens
on Mar 13, 2020 at 2:57 pm
16 people like this

It was deliberate and mean to students to have no plan for grades, ap accreditations, ap tests and grades for classes. Kids are sick. I think if you take any decision , you can guess how the admin will respond. It will be the one that causes children the most stress and grief always. Closing with no assurance to juniors and seniors is so horrible. They had time and sat there. Certainly they were not getting soap.


Mr.Recycle
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 3:11 pm
Mr.Recycle, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 3:11 pm
28 people like this

@Mom "Quit bashing PAUSD, they made the right call and not too late. Parents can always keep their children home for health, no one was forcing them to send them to school."

No, PAUSD didn't make the right call, they made the wrong call and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention FORCED them to shut the schools. It is gross incompetence and negligence by PAUSD.


Bob
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 3:40 pm
Bob, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 3:40 pm
11 people like this

> Teachers (even female ones, Bob!) are interested in and
> committed to continuing to educate our students.

Several years ago, the PAUSD did a technology assessment of its teachers. It was clear at that time that few had much knowledge of the state of educational technology at the time. There was some claim by the Administration that more effort would be expended to help teachers' familiarization of technology -- but little has ever been said about the general capabilities of the current PAUSD teacher base since that time.

This sort of technology assessment should be performed every three years or so. There are so many advances/changes in the technical world that the District, parents and teachers need to know just where they stand relative to the capabilities that are on the market.

It's clear from the comments for "teachers" that they are not interested in seeing their roles in the classroom change. But that ship has sailed. As mentioned above--there is a vast wealth of math tutoring on Youtube alone. Students, and their parents, should be encouraged to start looking for online help should they find classroom instruction not fully engaging.

This week we're beginning to see a crack in the tele-education stonewall, where colleges are telling their teaching staff to provide instruction on line. It will be a while to see the results of that effort to reduce interpersonal contacts on the campuses of those schools concerned about reducing potential infection from this virus. There is no reason that public schools should not look to more tele-classes to reduce costs, if for no other reason.


Paly Student
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 4:01 pm
Paly Student, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 4:01 pm
28 people like this

I am so sad to see school close. Four weeks without seeing my friends, doing labs in Chemistry, and experiencing everything this amazing district has to offer. Being home is awful and I am already going stir-crazy. How are we all going to do this?! This is my last year in PAUSD. I am glad PAUSD was able to hold out for as long as it could, and I can't wait to get back to campus.


Seeking Online Learning Suggestions
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 4:18 pm
Seeking Online Learning Suggestions, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 4:18 pm
7 people like this

I've got 2 kids at Paly in grades 9 and 11. They are responsible and will do online learning if I can identify some good quality programs. Anyone have suggestions? Please share urls, videos, etc. I'd be interested in ideas for AP History, AP Bio, regular Bio, grade 9 History, AP Lang and grade 9 English.
Thank you-


casey
Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 4:29 pm
casey, Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 4:29 pm
19 people like this

"No, PAUSD didn't make the right call, they made the wrong call and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention FORCED them to shut the schools. It is gross incompetence and negligence by PAUSD."

I don't believe that is the correct interpretation of the facts. The CDC recommends that decisions should be made in collaboration with local health officials. "Schools are not expected to make decisions about dismissal or canceling events on their own." Until noon today, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department had recommended keeping the schools open. They changed their stance today and ALL county public school districts followed.


BP
Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 4:35 pm
BP, Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 4:35 pm
32 people like this

Don't thank PAUSD for closing the schools, that was forced upon them by the county. Last night Austin and company wanted to keep going.

But what an embarrassment that the "best high schools" in America, in the heart of Silicon Valley, cannot do online teaching.

PAUSD is such a joke. Clearly shows that the school's reputation is due to the parents and students, clearly not the administrators or teachers, who act like children when confronted with something new. We don't know what to do, it is too hard for us to learn, we don't want to impose new requirements on the teachers, and other endless excuses.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:04 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:04 pm
13 people like this

This is earthquake country. Our schools should have all emergency procedures in place in case there is an earthquake which damages buildings and infrastructure.

The fact that there is no emergency preparedness is dreadful.

I have a contact overseas where school has already closed. The children there have to check in online at school start time and attendance is taken. They follow the regular schedule with time for recess and lunch and teachers know if the children are not active on their laptops.

We have nothing in place like this, but we invented it here in Silicon Valley.

Once again the Palo Alto infrastructure remains last century.


grateful parent
Professorville
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:10 pm
grateful parent, Professorville
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:10 pm
25 people like this

Thank you Paly teachers and staff. School is where my son needed to be these past few weeks and I appreciate that you took the advice of the CDC and SCC Public Health Department, not parents. There are some serious complainers on this forum. If you don't like the schools then why on earth do you send your children to them.


Paly mom
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:18 pm
Paly mom, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:18 pm
26 people like this

Thanks PAUSD for your hard works during this difficult time. Taking so much stress from parents and PA residents. They are not easy to deal with. I definitely not want to be in your shoes. I totally understand you want to follow Santa Clara County 's directions about the school closures. For online learning, it's easy for college kids but not for other younger kids. It's hard to them to focus on learning online for hours. It will be an interesting month.

Hope life can be back to normal soon.


David
Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:35 pm
David, Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:35 pm
32 people like this

I will God willing most certainly work to remove Austin. He has been a disaster in so many ways and it came to light with this unreal lack of leadership, responsibility, and judgement. He is a very poor fit for Palo Alto.


Brian Holtz
Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:47 pm
Brian Holtz, Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:47 pm
23 people like this

When the community expected leadership, all the PAUSD board could do was to wait for political cover from county bureaucrats. Why even have local control of schools if the most important decisions aren't going to be made locally?

Now they are even botching the belated class cancellations by closing the campuses to the working families who rely on the schools for meals and childcare.

Denial, passing the buck, and heartlessness [portion removed.]

We need to vote these people out. You don't get a Mulligan when the stakes are this high. Strike one, you're out.


Michael O.
Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:52 pm
Michael O., Gunn High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:52 pm
22 people like this

@David what are you talking about? Austin is the best superintendent at PAUSD in at least the last 10 years. Wise and prudent.

The MVLA closure had nothing to do with this. The COUNTY closed the schools. PAUSD would still be open had that not happened.

I'm all for social distancing and am not against the school closure, but I agree with the Superintendent that it is unclear that it will lessen the spread of COVID-19 in practice. And many students will suffer in a lot of ways by being forced to be home, especially those (few) who are not privileged.

Whether this was the right health decision or not aside, school by law will need to be made up, so whenever this end -- in a month, or three, or six -- the kids will need to finish their year out. So much time without learning will be a big loss.


Anneke
Professorville
on Mar 13, 2020 at 6:04 pm
Anneke, Professorville
on Mar 13, 2020 at 6:04 pm
9 people like this

In 1981 Daniel Koontz wrote a suspense novel. Here is a paragraph:

"in around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments. Almost more baffling than the illness itself will be the fact that it will suddenly vanish as quickly as it arrived, attack ten years later, and then disappear completely."

There is more information in the book, which I choose not to write about; however, He also wrote about the name of this illness: "Wuhan-400."

It is just bizarre.


Cindy Costell
South of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 6:08 pm
Cindy Costell, South of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 6:08 pm
3 people like this

[Post removed.]


Panic City
Professorville
on Mar 13, 2020 at 6:14 pm
Panic City, Professorville
on Mar 13, 2020 at 6:14 pm
13 people like this

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.


Paly student
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 6:18 pm
Paly student, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2020 at 6:18 pm
13 people like this

Wtf does “flexible learning options” mean? What is the reason why we cannot just do school online? There are so many great resources that allow students to learn from teachers out there. Sure, it is not going to be as good as being in a real classroom, but it is much better than optional “flexible learning options”. I don’t think any of us want school to extend into the summer...smh


Incompetent Board
Greenmeadow
on Mar 13, 2020 at 6:24 pm
Incompetent Board, Greenmeadow
on Mar 13, 2020 at 6:24 pm
29 people like this

I am still disgusted and angry at how terrible our board has handled this situation. To have voted to keep schools open when there are 50 known cases and a state of emergency in California for TWO weeks! This board should be ashamed of their incompetence. In fact Austin should reconsider his job in my opinion


Meanwhile
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:52 pm
Meanwhile, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:52 pm
15 people like this

@Paly student: because the district waited until required to close by the county, they don't have to apply for a waiver from the county board of ed. for the loss of instructional minutes. Had they preemptively closed, they would have to apply for the waiver and justify closing despite being told by the county it was ok to stay open. Summer appears to be safe...for now *fingers crossed*


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:57 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 7:57 pm
11 people like this

As mentioned earlier, I have a contact in a country where schools are already closed. The children have online schooling, checking in online with teachers, attendance being taken at the time school would normally start, time for recess and lunch, and the teacher knows child is online and paying attention with need for occasional refreshing feature.

Do our students have this?

Will they be hanging out with friends?

Will they be educated?


Liz Gardner
Community Center
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:26 pm
Liz Gardner, Community Center
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:26 pm
8 people like this

It took ten days for International recovery ships to reach the Deep Water Horizon blown up sunken platform in the Gulf of Mexico and three months after, to plug the 3 miles deep . This is a human mechanism and not an downloadable App, computer program or something a tap, a swipe, or an algorithm can solve.— although I am sure the BIG three are vying for the contract should one ever exist. Thank you to our alert, intuit, incredibly dedicated caring PAUSD for taking an early lead, acting fast and fortuitously for the safety of children and our whole community. And lime the Cuban Missile Crisis and 911. It a time to build unity, strength, community service not divide us.


David
Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:58 pm
David, Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:58 pm
19 people like this

@Michael O and @Panic City. Here is the issue you are having. You must go by empirical evidence not what seems reasonable to you. Your reasoning is way off. The same with Austin and his changing justifications on why schools should be open. Do you think the entire nation of Italy shut down because this is just a bad cold? No, because it will kill hundreds of thousands of them in short order if not dealt with. The evidence is clear. Close schools and take aggressive actions early then you manage the problem, think South Korea, and Hong Kong. And by the way both badly outperform even the best of the US, namely Palo Alto. Dont and you will have Italy.


adobe
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:56 pm
adobe, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 13, 2020 at 9:56 pm
18 people like this

Yes, yes, and yes, we need to remove Austin and to vote the PAUSD board member out!


PA parents.
Community Center
on Mar 14, 2020 at 5:41 am
PA parents., Community Center
on Mar 14, 2020 at 5:41 am
19 people like this

A poorly executed plan, for sure. Our son goes to a private school. They made the decision last week. But, a few weeks before that, the school was preparing the teachers and students for the closure. Software are loaded to every computer and video conferencing accounts and tools are set up and tested. Emergency schedules and guidelines were circulated before emergency happens.

Our second child is in PAUSD. It was a disaster. An email came Thursday night. Then, the school closed. Everyone including the principal was surprised.


PA parents.
Community Center
on Mar 14, 2020 at 5:41 am
PA parents., Community Center
on Mar 14, 2020 at 5:41 am
12 people like this

A poorly executed plan, for sure. Our son goes to a private school. They made the decision last week. But, a few weeks before that, the school was preparing the teachers and students for the closure. Software are loaded to every computer and video conferencing accounts and tools are set up and tested. Emergency schedules and guidelines were circulated before emergency happens. Our second child is in PAUSD. It was a disaster. An email came Thursday night. Then, the school closed. Everyone including the principal was surprised.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2020 at 8:05 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2020 at 8:05 am
6 people like this

So the earthquake has hit.

Our schools are not prepared!


JR
Palo Verde
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:02 am
JR, Palo Verde
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:02 am
14 people like this

PAUSD made the right calls from the beginning. It is never okay to listen to panic and fear over science, especially for an educational institution. PAUSD followed the county recommendation from the beginning, keeping schools open when it was recommended by health experts, and closing schools when the recommendations changed. I am proud of their actions and I will 100% stand up against any recall attempt or similar.

Prepare for more hysterics in 4-6 weeks when schools re-open.


Reality bites.
Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:02 am
Reality bites., Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:02 am
15 people like this

1) I truly feel for the administration and teachers who had to deal with the conflicting information and sometimes denials from our government leaders about the seriousness of the virus and appropriate steps to take. It really wasn't clear until the last few days that it was spreading in the community due to lack of testing from the beginning.

And switching to on-line learning is a monumental effort that few of our teachers or schools are prepared for in any community. This will be a giant experiment on all our kids. Kudos to a few of the schools that started this training and transition a week or two earlier, but it's going to be hard on everyone, and certainly not ideal. A week or two head start will all be a wash in the end...

I fully expect most of our teachers and kids will rise to the occasion, and we will all learn how to do this somewhat effectively over time. Nothing happens overnight (except for doubling of cases, apparently).

Please give everyone patience and compassion.

#2) Snopes: mostly False: 1981 Daniel Koontz wrote a suspense novel predicting "Wuhan-400." illness in 2020.
In the novel, it was a biological weapon with 100% fatality rate. Check your facts before posting.


redplanet
Professorville
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:23 am
redplanet, Professorville
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:23 am
5 people like this

@ Paly Teacher: This is a perfect time to change. Algebra is on the way out: "University of Chicago economist Steven Leavitt devoted a recent Freakonomics podcast to the question and essentially concluded that algebra should not be a requirement. He notes that the primary reason high schools offer algebra is because Harvard began requiring knowledge of the subject in 1820 in order to gain admittance. As a result, secondary schools began teaching algebra."

and over at Stanford: "Jo Boaler, a professor of mathematics at Stanford, has written a lot on the topic. On the podcast, she says that no other country requires this “geometry sandwich—a course of algebra for a whole year, followed by a course of geometry for a whole year, and then another course of algebra.” She contends that this historical legacy is reflected in the paltry mathematics results on tests of America’s students."

and more at Web Link


old
Midtown
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:24 am
old, Midtown
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:24 am
10 people like this

Like many old people in PA I use public transit to get to the stores where I buy food. Who is going to keep these kids from crowding onto the bus? Most riders currently are in the highest risk group. How are we going to be protected if school-at-home does not keep kids off the bus or shuttle?


Self-direction
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:27 am
Self-direction, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2020 at 9:27 am
15 people like this

@sally
“ Trying to find a bright spot in this, we all get a one-month pause from trying to help PAUSD past its many inadequacies.”

I’m glad someone still is. We used to tell ourselves, as we battled the institutional abuse of our child and family to no avail, that at least what we were doing was going to help others, but PAUSD culture among administrators ensured that it did not. You get treated like some kind of criminal if you’re motivated to help. When I met people who seemed to have been helped by our efforts, I felt such relief until I realized they were just the pet class that always got what they needed.

Good to know there are parents who haven’t had their altruistic optimism retaliated out of them.

Sad to see that even advocates for online education do not get how easily kids can collaborate online while not having their time wasted or feeling negatively compared to the other groups of collaborators in a physical space.

Speaking of which, also appalled by the idea of all that constant micromanaging (including the sink or swim kind, not to be confused with providing needed support) which is the worst and most infantilizing aspect of school here translating to home. A transition to distance learning and positive self direction cannot happen for most brick and mortar schooled kids in a month, but at least don’t make them waste their time or feel like failures by applying meaningless standards of comportment.

To the social emotional learning person. We are indeed social creatures. But the gathering of exact age-matched peers into groups divorced from adults with emotional ties for the entire development process has no evolutionary precedent and is only about 150 years old. For all of human history, youth learned by working with and watching adults in real-world effectiveness. This could be an opportunity for local youth to reestablish the caring ties and productive ties at home, if the schools don’t actively teach them the fallacy that having close knit family relationships is mutually exclusive with their independence. It could be an opportunity for them to get practice being in charge of themselves when there is no bell demanding they get up like some kind of maze rat. And learning to accept that it isn’t essential to their own lives or even their groups that they always do, that they were doing that for the sake of the specific construct of a 150-year-old school paradigm that has changed little since.


PAUSD community member
Crescent Park
on Mar 14, 2020 at 10:34 am
PAUSD community member , Crescent Park
on Mar 14, 2020 at 10:34 am
22 people like this

That one of the wealthiest districts in the world, in the heart of Silicon Valley, did not have a contingency plan in place for online learning represents an egregious failure in leadership.

The district sought to deflect responsibility to the county level over an admittedly tough call, so that it could point to others and claim its hands were tied. Meanwhile, Menlo Park took responsible and decisive action despite similar guidance from its county agencies.

In response to requests from the pausd community to the district to act swiftly upon scientific evidence of community spread within our own area, the superintendent’s response on 3/1/2020 included this especially flawed, circular, and irresponsible “logic”:

“As a Palo Alto resident, I see large crowds in supermarkets, parks, theaters, airports, restaurants, and public places. They are operating as usual with no call for closures. Closing schools at this point would not eliminate the infinite interactions our students would have beyond PAUSD.”

We weren’t asking to eliminate, but to significantly mitigate community spread.

Time for better-informed and science-driven leadership in pausd.


paren
Barron Park
on Mar 14, 2020 at 10:36 am
paren, Barron Park
on Mar 14, 2020 at 10:36 am
6 people like this

Online education is very simple.
Do not change a thing expect put a camera on yourself. You can have your class there or tape your class and still give instruction and check for understanding.

They PALY classes all use online to keep kids on computers for hours anyhow.

It will be less computer time to assign reading and homework, have the teacher correct and then the instruction is online.

NO QUIZLETS<NO GOOGLE PROJECTS NO LINKS TO KAHN ACADEMY PROBLEMS!!!!!

JUST TEACH and check for understanding while they are working and during on line lectures.

This is simple unless you are one of those teachers who wrote your syllabus in 1999 and are still wanting to use it.


casey
Midtown
on Mar 14, 2020 at 1:41 pm
casey, Midtown
on Mar 14, 2020 at 1:41 pm
4 people like this

From the CDC:

Available modeling data indicate that early, short to medium closures do not impact the epi curve of COVID-19 or available health care measures (e.g., hospitalizations). There may be some impact of much longer closures (8 weeks, 20 weeks) further into community spread, but that modelling also shows that other mitigation efforts (e.g., handwashing, home isolation) have more impact on both spread of disease and health care measures. In other countries, those places who closed school (e.g., Hong Kong) have not had more success in reducing spread than those that did not (e.g., Singapore).

[my comment: By short to medium closures, the CDC means 2-4 weeks. Including spring break, PAUSD is off for 4 weeks.]

In places where school closures are necessary, the anticipated academic and economic impacts and unintended impacts on disease outcomes must be planned for and mitigated. Provision of academic support (e.g., tele-ed), alternatives for school-based meals as well as other services (e.g., behavioral and mental health services) for economically and physically vulnerable children, support for families for whom telework and paid sick leave is not available, ensuring that high risk individuals continue to be protected must all be addressed. Special consideration must be given for health care workers so that school closures do not impact their ability to work.

[my comment: The schools are providing meals, but no tele-ed. I also have not heard about support for families who cannot work from home or who have no paid sick leave.]

While we have data that can contribute to decisions about when to dismiss schools, there is almost no available data on the right time to re-start schools. We would advise to plan for a length of time and then evaluate based on continued community spread.

[my comment: After the Santa Clara County Public Health Dept. and PAUSD announcement, I thought of this as a one month closure. However, the above statement made me realize that the Public Health Dept. and the school board will have to re-evaluate in April, and the situation then may dictate a long-term closure.]


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2020 at 4:11 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2020 at 4:11 pm
10 people like this

"Time for better-informed and science-driven leadership in pausd."

Is it science? Here's something to chew on.

Web Link

Family transmission has accounted for the vast majority of coronavirus (and SARS) transmissions in China. Breaking the chain requires focus on keeping people away from their families. Keeping kids that could be vectors potentially near their elderly grandparents (or older parents) is actually MORE dangerous.

It's not a simple thing.

"That one of the wealthiest districts in the world, in the heart of Silicon Valley, did not have a contingency plan in place for online learning represents an egregious failure in leadership."

Asking that PAUSD leadership to also be a bunch of epidemiologists is a bit of a stretch. No organization was prepared for this pandemic - the private sector, the government and, yes, our school district.

By the way, do you know where online learning is prevalent? It's where people *pay* for education out of their own pocket. Are you expecting Palo Alto residents to pay more in property tax to put in infrastructure for a 100-year event? Last time I checked, our elderly residentialists complain that they shouldn't pay for public education because it doesn't personally benefit them.

Ok, boomer.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2020 at 5:26 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2020 at 5:26 pm
15 people like this

This is earthquake country. Disaster preparedness should have been in place.

If the earthquake had caused half the school buildings to collapse and all the roads to collapse, the school district should have had a plan. That plan for emergencies should be invoked now, except that there was no plan.

Instead of forming plans, the administration over the last 10 years has been scared to act. Scared of parents. Scared of unions. Scared of losing their jobs. Other countries are managing much better on lockdown because they had a plan, they had been planning it for at least a month.

Instead of a plan they were too busy arguing with parents rather than formulating a plan. They were scared silly on Thursday because they knew they did not have a plan. Then on Friday they were forced into action. Now no plan, no idea of how to cope. They are more interested in getting free school lunches than sorting out online learning (they need to sort out free lunches too).

When will they formulate something about schoology, Infinite Campus, Zoom, Google study groups, etc. etc.

That announcement should be made before students go to bed Sunday night, otherwise they will be in bed until noon Monday,

Get your act together PAUSD and implement a learning strategy.


Grandparent with student in the house
Midtown
on Mar 15, 2020 at 12:15 pm
Grandparent with student in the house , Midtown
on Mar 15, 2020 at 12:15 pm
8 people like this

I honestly don’t understand why the district was so unprepared by this. There are private schools in the area who are using Zoom to have daily curriculum with attendance taken. This is not a snow day approach . For example, my niece works at Hausner Jewish Day School and they are holding classes daily from 8:30 am to noon. They planned for this. Oh and by the way it starts at grade 3 thru 8. Certainly the enrollment size is vastly different, but seriously?


Holding the Ball
Fairmeadow
on Mar 15, 2020 at 2:27 pm
Holding the Ball, Fairmeadow
on Mar 15, 2020 at 2:27 pm
10 people like this

PAUSD you can do better - you are like a student that only answered half the question.

There are many solutions to keep students and teachers connected. If teachers can deliver material in a classroom why can't they deliver it online?
Web Link


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 15, 2020 at 3:07 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 15, 2020 at 3:07 pm
19 people like this

"I honestly don’t understand why the district was so unprepared by this. "

Uh. You answered your own question.

"There are private schools..."

"Certainly the enrollment size is vastly different"

Yes, by an order of magnitude.

As anyone who has worked remotely can attest, Zoom, while probably the best of the lot, isn't the magical tool that can automatically replace in-place interactions. It requires revamping of how things are done and how you collaborate. What kind of documents you can use. And so on.

Even companies that have supported remote working are having problems. Just look at stories about Google and Apple that have come out recently. If those companies don't have it nailed down, you're expecting a school district to have everyone working? What is basically a government agency with unionized employees? An institution supported by the industrial complex of education content that is designed around physical attendance?

Seriously.

All this complaining about not being prepared for a 100 year event is just ridiculous. It's just another vehicle for people who are already unhappy with PAUSD in general.

Do I think PAUSD is doing the best job for our kids? Not necessarily. But this complaining about shutting down schools is ridiculous.


GraceBrown
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 15, 2020 at 8:48 pm
GraceBrown, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 15, 2020 at 8:48 pm
16 people like this

@Grandparent with student in the house

Private, parochial schools, operate with as their funders and Board direct- privilege is what it is. It will be a good thing when we can all do a mitzvah on behalf of our brethren, regardless.

Public schools take all students, regardless of family background; public schools feed all students regardless of family background (thank the voters for the continued support of free and reduced breakfast and lunches); public schools accept all comers; public schools prepare all learners. Can Gideon Hauser make a similar claim - legitimately? Can any parochial school do so? I hope so.

Moreover, I have faith that you and your extended family have, in turn, voted in such a way that all of the region's young people may access the options that your niece has - may all be blessed. We all of us seek to educate our young people in a manner that acknowledges family and cultural backgrounds - no argument there.

My question is this - why trash the public schools?

respectfully,


GB


public school
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 15, 2020 at 9:51 pm
public school, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 15, 2020 at 9:51 pm
15 people like this

@ Grandparent with student in the House
Please do not exert privilege. Public schools are not only ensuring students are fed, they are also ensuring students have access to technology. It is not as simple as a zoom call! Our schools have rigorous curriculum and our teachers are committed to our students. As a society, we can do better to support the idea of ALL means EACH!
Private schools are not required to follow any of the mandates, only attract the ones who can afford the tuition- that is not an equitable comparison!


Unionized Teacher
College Terrace
on Mar 15, 2020 at 10:30 pm
Unionized Teacher, College Terrace
on Mar 15, 2020 at 10:30 pm
8 people like this

@public school

You write like a unionized teacher. From one unionized teacher to another crawl out of your comfy zone and push "enter meeting" on Zoom and everything will be ok tomorrow. We teach in Silicon Valley last time I checked.
Sincerely,
Luddite history teacher


Anonymous
another community
on Mar 15, 2020 at 10:59 pm
Anonymous, another community
on Mar 15, 2020 at 10:59 pm
2 people like this

There is some other reason for not going online

They like to say things are complicated instead of doing the simple things at every turn there has been no regard for students mental health or wellbess.

Paly ya a public school and often instead of following Ed code, they make it complicated and redo things that do not work. fLO is an example . Just do the classes during their teal times with zoom. It is free . Homework is all online in every class . Teachers can give instruction check for understanding and adapt for special Ed with zoom. Or they can assign portfolio work that can be monitored online and scanned in easily.


Anonymous
another community
on Mar 15, 2020 at 11:00 pm
Anonymous, another community
on Mar 15, 2020 at 11:00 pm
2 people like this

Maybe a teacher could fix my typos


Meanwhile
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 15, 2020 at 11:29 pm
Meanwhile, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 15, 2020 at 11:29 pm
14 people like this

And for students who do not have internet or computers? Who is working with them and their families to get/keep the necessary services if we required online learning during the next 4 weeks? This is why schools in San Francisco are also printing packets--not all students have reliable access to make Zoom even a possibility.


Parent
another community
on Mar 16, 2020 at 4:52 am
Parent, another community
on Mar 16, 2020 at 4:52 am
1 person likes this

Don't panic.
Students will do okay missing a bit of school.
Many students from refugee camps in SE Asia and other developing countries came to the US knowing almost no English and they did fine. Many of these students were middle school - 21 years old with no formal education from their homelands. They spent years doing nothing in camps waiting to get into the US.
They attended community colleges then transferred to 4 yr colleges.
I know of hundreds of these former students who are now in great jobs, have families, and own businesses all over the US.
Our students will do just fine missing a few months or even a year of school.
The rest of the world is in the same place (or worse), so everything is the same.
Count our blessings.


Grandparent with child in the house
Midtown
on Mar 16, 2020 at 8:49 am
Grandparent with child in the house, Midtown
on Mar 16, 2020 at 8:49 am
7 people like this

To all those who lambast me for suggesting that PAUSD should have been better prepared for this unprecedented emergency. First of all my own children attended PAUSD and now my young grandson is too. We have been very happy with the education they received and the great teachers.

However, nothing is perfect and to tell me that I am privileged because I shared what a private school is doing is nasty - an example of how civil dialogue has degraded. My suggestions were immediately shot down.

I still would like to see some plans from the district that addresses how we try to educate our children over the next month or longer. My 1st grade grandson was sent home with an IPAD , I hope that over the next several weeks his teacher or the district can send out some guidance of what do to. Is this really something I can’t suggest without getting criticized for?


Jennifer
another community
on Mar 16, 2020 at 9:21 am
Jennifer, another community
on Mar 16, 2020 at 9:21 am
5 people like this

From overcrowded schools to overcrowded daycare. Does that prevent the spread of a virus?


anonymous
Community Center
on Mar 16, 2020 at 10:33 am
anonymous, Community Center
on Mar 16, 2020 at 10:33 am
4 people like this

First grade student can be outside gardening, collecting bugs or reading. Painting, jump rope, downloading music mixes for running the track...

Santa Clara Library has online picture books that are read out loud online. I enjoy picture books. The text is also there. Kind of nice and easy. Have them make a book and tell you a story and you write it out for them.

Also, get painters tape and toilet paper rolls and some ping pong balls or marbles and let them tape the rolls on the walls and see how marbles fall. Kind of fun and weird. I am sure you have a deck of cards. This is great time to play.


Don't get worked up, get busy.
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2020 at 12:19 pm
Don't get worked up, get busy., Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2020 at 12:19 pm
5 people like this

Dear Neighbors,

Let's all do a little less complaining and little more cooperating. We are all in this together. People are making judgment calls that have big consequences of all kinds. It's easy to be an armchair quarterback when we are not the ones making these calls.

Instead, let's each do what we can to minimize contact with people outside our homes, maintain social distance when we must go out, keep hands washed and don't touch faces. These simple things will reduce exponential spread of the virus and will help to keep us all safe ...and shorten the duration of this emergency.

WE can each make a difference. If you are healthy, consider offering to buy groceries for neighbors who might be afraid to go to stores due to compromised immune systems or other reasons. You can take an order and leave it on their doorstep to minimize contact. Call people you know who live alone to give them social contact and make sure they are okay.

Kindness and cooperation will make all the difference.


Better together
Barron Park
on Mar 16, 2020 at 12:52 pm
Better together, Barron Park
on Mar 16, 2020 at 12:52 pm
2 people like this

We are all in this together, but I’ve been out there all since the beginning of this crisis, and it has been just a few steps below World War Z. I just don’t see the different financial classes working together beyond the superficial.


Science and Law
Gunn High School
on Mar 17, 2020 at 2:01 am
Science and Law, Gunn High School
on Mar 17, 2020 at 2:01 am
2 people like this

PAUSD was founded on March 20, 1893.

Inflection point of telephone use in California occurred around 1894 (Web Link). And the first mass-market American car, Ford Mode T, still was 15 years away (Web Link).

Back then, the district played an extraordinarily important role, because almost all decisions had to be made locally, and the district office had to be established in a proximity of a reasonable horse ride to schools. What is the role it is playing in the 21st century, when teleconferences spanning the globe are both common and inexpensive? What is the scientific proof that the school districts are even needed anymore. Private and Charter schools appear to work just fine without them.

As this story abundantly demonstrated, PAUSD is no longer capable of making timely local decisions critically affecting health and lives of schoolchildren and their families. They are, however, adept at avoiding any responsibility, and the punishment defined by the Criminal Negligence Laws, as applied to harm inflicted on children and elderly. So yet another thing the school districts will have to prove after this emergency is over is that their existence doesn't generate a dangerous to the public moral hazard.


maguro_01
Mountain View
on Mar 17, 2020 at 6:23 pm
maguro_01, Mountain View
on Mar 17, 2020 at 6:23 pm
4 people like this

Schools have always been virus central in communities. When a potentially lethal one comes along, schools are still virus central. Is that so obscure? For a while they were even virus central for computer viruses too.


Good idea
University South
on Mar 17, 2020 at 8:31 pm
Good idea, University South
on Mar 17, 2020 at 8:31 pm
3 people like this

I agree. We should reconsider the value and cost (financial and otherwise) of having a district.

Maybe the money saved can keep our schools and classrooms smaller, and we can begin to build respect and trust in education administrators again.


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