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Schools seek waiver so kids can return to campus

Amid pressure from parents, local private elementary schools are asking county for permission to reopen in person

The Silicon Valley International School Cohn campus on Laura Lane in Palo Alto on July 28. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

More than 80 local schools have contacted the Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Operations about filing a waiver to reopen their elementary campuses in person in the fall, including several on the Midpeninsula.

The waiver option — mentioned briefly in a press release sent by Gov. Gavin Newsom's office following his July 17 announcement that schools in counties being monitored by the state cannot not physically reopen, throwing many schools' plans into disarray — allows schools to seek an exception from their local county health officer.

Several local private elementary schools moved quickly to apply for a waiver, saying they felt confident that with more resources, smaller student populations and already detailed plans for how to safely reopen that they can and should bring their youngest students back for face-to-face instruction. They also have spent ample time — and money — to prepare their campuses for students' safe return to school.

According to a statement posted to the Office of Emergency Operations website, the Public Health Department "strongly encourages elementary schools to follow this process so that they can safely resume in-person instruction this fall," based on the growing evidence that COVID-19 risks appear lower for younger children and that in-person instruction is academically and socially critical for younger students.

Local schools that have confirmed they are seeking a waiver include Bowman School, Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, Emerson School and Silicon Valley International School in Palo Alto, Pinewood School in Los Altos and the German International School of Silicon Valley in Mountain View.

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"Our size allows flexibility in keeping staff and students safe using the guidelines provided by local and state authorities," Bowman Head of School MaryBeth Ricks said. "It's important to stress that we're going to be extremely responsible … but we're going to try every avenue to get especially the younger ones in person and not give up hope that we can be granted the waiver."

Before Newsom's announcement, Bowman had already brought some students back to school for a summer session with numerous precautions. Students were in stable cohorts of 12; students and staff had their temperatures and symptoms checked daily; all students older than first grade were required to wear masks all day; and all staff gathering areas were closed. A new volunteer task force, made up of Bowman parents who work in the medical field, advised Ricks on best practices for reopening.

"Everybody's been positive about" reopening schools in person, Ricks said of the parent-advisers, "based on our very, very strict plans."

Bowman is now developing three different contingency plans for the first day of school on Sept. 1: full distance learning, a hybrid model if the waiver is approved and a third plan if the waiver is approved but not for all elementary grade levels.

In the spring, Bowman teachers were available in online classrooms to work with students from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days. Virtual learning proved especially difficult for younger students, who are less tech-savvy and thus required more parent supervision, Ricks said.

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Other private schools are applying for the waiver to keep their options open — especially as concrete details about how the waiver will work remain scarce — but are not sure that they would use it if approved.

"We do not know if we want to open at all," said Angie Bergeson, Silicon Valley International School's head of school. "We want to stay as safe as possible. We wouldn't want to go against county health guidelines even if we could with a waiver."

But the majority of the private bilingual school's families want face-to-face instruction, Bergeson said. In June, only 10% of families said they prefer online learning. Parents have been urging the school to apply for a waiver, Bergeson said.

"Independent schools have parent communities that are really pressuring schools to reopen. It's putting independent schools in a particular bind knowing that they can apply for a waiver," Bergeson said.

Parent Raphael Michel, co-chair of Silicon Valley International School's board of directors, hopes his children, a rising third-grader and rising sixth-grader, will be able to safely attend school in person in the fall — more for their emotional development than academic, he said.

"You can get a good knowledge transfer in some conversation moderated by a well-trained educator on a video session but … all of that learning through playing they get when they're in the same classroom, when they have those in-person interactions, when they're on the playground — that social emotional development is at risk of being diminished," Michel said.

(The county Public Health Department noted in its online statement about the reopening waiver that "the health-related risks for elementary age children who are not provided in-person instruction are significant, including lower rates of immunizations, higher rates of undetected child abuse and neglect, and risk to social/emotional wellbeing.")

Michel said parents would "scratch their heads" if Silicon Valley International School obtained a waiver and decided not to use it, but they are placing their trust in the school's leadership to make the safest decision for students.

Silicon Valley International also created an advisory council, including parents and outside experts, to whom Bergeson said she'll turn if the school obtains a reopening waiver.

For now, the school has decided to offer only online learning for the first six weeks of school, regardless if its waiver is granted or if Santa Clara County gets off the state watchlist. The school pushed the start of school later by two weeks to allow time for students to come to campus to pick up supplies, safely meet their teachers and prepare for distance learning.

"We need to now control the situation and be able to say we know what we're doing. One of the hardest things about this for schools is this not knowing," Bergeson said. "Actually making the decision to do distance learning is the most effective and efficient for us to start school, but of course it's really crushing for independent schools to say that to their communities … They're paying tuition and they're wondering when their kindergartner starts distance learning, what is that going to look like?"

'We wouldn't want to go against county health guidelines even if we could with a waiver.'

-Angie Bergeson, head of school, Silicon Valley International School

Kathrin Röschel, principal of the German International School of Silicon Valley in Mountain View, said she plans to apply for the waiver but "only will use it when safety measures allow."

"We miss our students. We strongly believe in in-person instruction and the social component in learning, but we were also extremely successful with our distance-learning program in spring and will not put the health of our students, teachers and community in jeopardy," she wrote in an email.

The waivers, if granted, could further exacerbate inequities between public and private schools during the pandemic. Public schools must make the request "in consultation" with their labor unions, parents and community-based organizations, according to Newsom's office, while private schools can be more nimble.

Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Don Austin said at a school board meeting this week that the district does not plan to apply for a waiver to reopen its elementary schools, despite the urging of several parent speakers.

"If waivers were the preferred path to reopen schools, we wouldn't have needed waivers. They would have just said, 'It's fine to go open your elementary schools.' They didn't," Austin said. "The idea of going around that process, through all the reasons that led to us being closed ... did not make sense for our district."

Private school leaders said they have heard little about how the waiver process will work or how long it will take. Some have been or are waiting to be assigned a liaison from the county's Office of Emergency Operations.

'If waivers were the preferred path to reopen schools, we wouldn't have needed waivers.'

-Don Austin, superintendent, Palo Alto school district

The office, meanwhile, has received little guidance from the state on how to evaluate waivers — only the publicly available Cal OSHA and California Department of Public Health guidelines for reopening schools, according to a county public information officer. Newsom's office said local health officials reviewing applications must "consider local data and consult with the California Department of Public Health."

"The county is still in the planning stages about how next to proceed about reviewing applications," the spokesperson said.

The Public Health Department's assessment of waivers will include review of local community epidemiological data and other public health interventions, as well as consultation with the state Department of Public Health, according to the county Emergency Operations Center.

At Silicon Valley International School, which offers Mandarin Chinese-English and French-English programs, teachers are trying to think creatively about how to offer effective language instruction in this new era. Ideas have included virtual dinners with teachers in Mandarin or French and asking older students to play online games with younger students in the language they're studying. Even in person, masks will make it difficult to teach language, Bergeson said.

The reopening dilemma feels like "you're choosing between being punched in the stomach and punched in the face," Bergeson said. "The situation is really quite difficult for schools to make everybody happy."

On Monday, Aug. 3, the California Department of Public Health released its process for the reopening waivers, including that the waiver is applicable for transitional kindergarten through sixth grades and a recommendation that schools in counties with 14-day case rates more than two times the threshold to be on the county monitoring List (more than 200 cases/100,000 population) should not be considered for a waiver.

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

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Schools seek waiver so kids can return to campus

Amid pressure from parents, local private elementary schools are asking county for permission to reopen in person

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Jul 30, 2020, 9:00 am
Updated: Thu, Jul 30, 2020, 4:15 pm

More than 80 local schools have contacted the Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Operations about filing a waiver to reopen their elementary campuses in person in the fall, including several on the Midpeninsula.

The waiver option — mentioned briefly in a press release sent by Gov. Gavin Newsom's office following his July 17 announcement that schools in counties being monitored by the state cannot not physically reopen, throwing many schools' plans into disarray — allows schools to seek an exception from their local county health officer.

Several local private elementary schools moved quickly to apply for a waiver, saying they felt confident that with more resources, smaller student populations and already detailed plans for how to safely reopen that they can and should bring their youngest students back for face-to-face instruction. They also have spent ample time — and money — to prepare their campuses for students' safe return to school.

According to a statement posted to the Office of Emergency Operations website, the Public Health Department "strongly encourages elementary schools to follow this process so that they can safely resume in-person instruction this fall," based on the growing evidence that COVID-19 risks appear lower for younger children and that in-person instruction is academically and socially critical for younger students.

Local schools that have confirmed they are seeking a waiver include Bowman School, Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, Emerson School and Silicon Valley International School in Palo Alto, Pinewood School in Los Altos and the German International School of Silicon Valley in Mountain View.

"Our size allows flexibility in keeping staff and students safe using the guidelines provided by local and state authorities," Bowman Head of School MaryBeth Ricks said. "It's important to stress that we're going to be extremely responsible … but we're going to try every avenue to get especially the younger ones in person and not give up hope that we can be granted the waiver."

Before Newsom's announcement, Bowman had already brought some students back to school for a summer session with numerous precautions. Students were in stable cohorts of 12; students and staff had their temperatures and symptoms checked daily; all students older than first grade were required to wear masks all day; and all staff gathering areas were closed. A new volunteer task force, made up of Bowman parents who work in the medical field, advised Ricks on best practices for reopening.

"Everybody's been positive about" reopening schools in person, Ricks said of the parent-advisers, "based on our very, very strict plans."

Bowman is now developing three different contingency plans for the first day of school on Sept. 1: full distance learning, a hybrid model if the waiver is approved and a third plan if the waiver is approved but not for all elementary grade levels.

In the spring, Bowman teachers were available in online classrooms to work with students from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days. Virtual learning proved especially difficult for younger students, who are less tech-savvy and thus required more parent supervision, Ricks said.

Other private schools are applying for the waiver to keep their options open — especially as concrete details about how the waiver will work remain scarce — but are not sure that they would use it if approved.

"We do not know if we want to open at all," said Angie Bergeson, Silicon Valley International School's head of school. "We want to stay as safe as possible. We wouldn't want to go against county health guidelines even if we could with a waiver."

But the majority of the private bilingual school's families want face-to-face instruction, Bergeson said. In June, only 10% of families said they prefer online learning. Parents have been urging the school to apply for a waiver, Bergeson said.

"Independent schools have parent communities that are really pressuring schools to reopen. It's putting independent schools in a particular bind knowing that they can apply for a waiver," Bergeson said.

Parent Raphael Michel, co-chair of Silicon Valley International School's board of directors, hopes his children, a rising third-grader and rising sixth-grader, will be able to safely attend school in person in the fall — more for their emotional development than academic, he said.

"You can get a good knowledge transfer in some conversation moderated by a well-trained educator on a video session but … all of that learning through playing they get when they're in the same classroom, when they have those in-person interactions, when they're on the playground — that social emotional development is at risk of being diminished," Michel said.

(The county Public Health Department noted in its online statement about the reopening waiver that "the health-related risks for elementary age children who are not provided in-person instruction are significant, including lower rates of immunizations, higher rates of undetected child abuse and neglect, and risk to social/emotional wellbeing.")

Michel said parents would "scratch their heads" if Silicon Valley International School obtained a waiver and decided not to use it, but they are placing their trust in the school's leadership to make the safest decision for students.

Silicon Valley International also created an advisory council, including parents and outside experts, to whom Bergeson said she'll turn if the school obtains a reopening waiver.

For now, the school has decided to offer only online learning for the first six weeks of school, regardless if its waiver is granted or if Santa Clara County gets off the state watchlist. The school pushed the start of school later by two weeks to allow time for students to come to campus to pick up supplies, safely meet their teachers and prepare for distance learning.

"We need to now control the situation and be able to say we know what we're doing. One of the hardest things about this for schools is this not knowing," Bergeson said. "Actually making the decision to do distance learning is the most effective and efficient for us to start school, but of course it's really crushing for independent schools to say that to their communities … They're paying tuition and they're wondering when their kindergartner starts distance learning, what is that going to look like?"

Kathrin Röschel, principal of the German International School of Silicon Valley in Mountain View, said she plans to apply for the waiver but "only will use it when safety measures allow."

"We miss our students. We strongly believe in in-person instruction and the social component in learning, but we were also extremely successful with our distance-learning program in spring and will not put the health of our students, teachers and community in jeopardy," she wrote in an email.

The waivers, if granted, could further exacerbate inequities between public and private schools during the pandemic. Public schools must make the request "in consultation" with their labor unions, parents and community-based organizations, according to Newsom's office, while private schools can be more nimble.

Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Don Austin said at a school board meeting this week that the district does not plan to apply for a waiver to reopen its elementary schools, despite the urging of several parent speakers.

"If waivers were the preferred path to reopen schools, we wouldn't have needed waivers. They would have just said, 'It's fine to go open your elementary schools.' They didn't," Austin said. "The idea of going around that process, through all the reasons that led to us being closed ... did not make sense for our district."

Private school leaders said they have heard little about how the waiver process will work or how long it will take. Some have been or are waiting to be assigned a liaison from the county's Office of Emergency Operations.

The office, meanwhile, has received little guidance from the state on how to evaluate waivers — only the publicly available Cal OSHA and California Department of Public Health guidelines for reopening schools, according to a county public information officer. Newsom's office said local health officials reviewing applications must "consider local data and consult with the California Department of Public Health."

"The county is still in the planning stages about how next to proceed about reviewing applications," the spokesperson said.

The Public Health Department's assessment of waivers will include review of local community epidemiological data and other public health interventions, as well as consultation with the state Department of Public Health, according to the county Emergency Operations Center.

At Silicon Valley International School, which offers Mandarin Chinese-English and French-English programs, teachers are trying to think creatively about how to offer effective language instruction in this new era. Ideas have included virtual dinners with teachers in Mandarin or French and asking older students to play online games with younger students in the language they're studying. Even in person, masks will make it difficult to teach language, Bergeson said.

The reopening dilemma feels like "you're choosing between being punched in the stomach and punched in the face," Bergeson said. "The situation is really quite difficult for schools to make everybody happy."

On Monday, Aug. 3, the California Department of Public Health released its process for the reopening waivers, including that the waiver is applicable for transitional kindergarten through sixth grades and a recommendation that schools in counties with 14-day case rates more than two times the threshold to be on the county monitoring List (more than 200 cases/100,000 population) should not be considered for a waiver.

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

Comments

Palo Alto dad
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2020 at 9:49 am
Palo Alto dad, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2020 at 9:49 am
23 people like this

Why, WHY can't the PAUSD ask for waivers for elementary schools? Do we seriously think Kindergartners will learn to read on Zoom? Disease severity is significantly less in children, though a small subset become quite sick: We know children of all ages can indeed be infected with coronavirus but the evidence at this point is quite clear that overall, children who become infected experience a milder disease course than adults. The risk of death and of severe illness from COVID-19 in children is extremely low. An expert panel organized by the National Academies of Medicine reported that “compared with adults, children who contract COVID-19 are more likely to experience asymptomatic infection or mild upper respiratory symptoms”, and that over 90 percent of children testing positive will have no or mild symptoms. While the infection has been known to cause an inflammatory condition (MIS-C) in some children, and these cases are serious (342 have been reported to date), so far such cases are very rare and most children who do experience the condition eventually recover. We could ask for waivers, ask Teachers to wear masks, have small pods, and everyone would be fine. (source: What Do We Know About Children and Coronavirus Transmission?, Kaiser Family Foundation, Web Link)


Roy M
Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2020 at 10:22 am
Roy M, Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2020 at 10:22 am
5 people like this

Elena, please clarify if the private schools are requesting waivers for all of K-8, K-5, or K-6. My understanding is that elementary schools only could apply for waivers. Is Santa Clara County encouraging this for K-8 private schools?


Covid-19 ready
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2020 at 10:38 am
Covid-19 ready, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2020 at 10:38 am
11 people like this

@Roy M

On the Simitian town hall (these are worthwhile), the Santa Clara representative made it clear that it was strongly encouraging schools/ districts to apply for these waivers.

Web Link

Here's a quote from this County Waiver explanation:

"The County Public Health Department strongly encourages elementary schools to follow this process so that they can safely resume in-person instruction this fall.

This recommendation is based on the current best available scientific evidence, including that COVID-related risks in schools serving elementary age students appear lower than and different from the risks to staff and students in schools serving older students. In particular, there appears to be lower risk of child-to-child or child-to-adult transmission in children under 12, and the risk of infection and serious illness in elementary school children is particularly low. By contrast, the health-related risks for elementary age children who are not provided in-person instruction are significant, including lower rates of immunizations, higher rates of undetected child abuse and neglect, and risk to social/emotional wellbeing.

Moreover, in-person instruction is academically and socially critical for younger students, in alignment with State standards. Students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds are particularly harmed by a lack of access to in-person instruction. Schools serving elementary school students are also in a better position to put into place effective risk-reduction strategies to protect both teachers and students, including creation of small, stable classroom cohorts. Further, elementary school students without access to in-person school are far more likely than older students to require alternative group childcare arrangements when schools are closed, and as such, closure of elementary schools is less likely to significantly reduce transmission."


Roy M
Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2020 at 10:42 am
Roy M, Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2020 at 10:42 am
3 people like this

@Covid-19 Ready. Thanks. I should have been more clear in my question. Many of the schools named in the article are K-8. The state says that elementary schools can ask for a waiver and as you point out, the county is encouraging it. My specific question is whether or not the schools listed in the article are asking for waivers for K-8 or for just their elementary school (K-5 or K-6) students. The article doesn't state that anywhere.


Anon1
Atherton
on Jul 30, 2020 at 10:47 am
Anon1, Atherton
on Jul 30, 2020 at 10:47 am
40 people like this

Issue is with teacher’s unions. Public schools are at a disadvantage because of union teachers who do not want to return to class.
Private schools do not have this problem.
A shame for students in public school who want a safe solution for returning to class.


Teachers Unions
Midtown
on Jul 30, 2020 at 11:07 am
Teachers Unions, Midtown
on Jul 30, 2020 at 11:07 am
18 people like this

@ Palo Alto dad: 100% online = 100% the Palo Alto Teachers Union PAEA.

It is NOT the SCC Health Dept or SCC Health Director or SCC Superintendent of Schools who ENCOURAGED schools in SCC to apply for the waivers because in some parts of the county case rates are totally different than others. Austin is dishonestly using the Governors Orders as air cover to open 100% online, even though SCC encouraged schools in this county to apply for waivers for in person, and not just private schools. Go to the source on what's happening between PAUSD and the Union. Here is the link to the elementary Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and secondary MOU. You can see what the teachers unions have been asking for, starting with teaching all grades 100% online until January. At least PAUSD red lined that request and said it's not up to the union when schools open in person, it's up to the School Board.
Web Link


Anon123456
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 30, 2020 at 12:09 pm
Anon123456, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 30, 2020 at 12:09 pm
15 people like this

Prelim data on viral loads in young children:
Web Link

“ It has been a comforting refrain in the national conversation about reopening schools: Young children are mostly spared by the coronavirus and don’t seem to spread it to others, at least not very often.

But on Thursday, a study introduced an unwelcome wrinkle into this smooth narrative.

Infected children have at least as much of the coronavirus in their noses and throats as infected adults, according to the research. Indeed, children younger than age 5 may host up to 100 times as much of the virus in the upper respiratory tract as adults, the authors found.”


Neighbor
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2020 at 12:16 pm
Neighbor, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2020 at 12:16 pm
6 people like this

Hey Bowman, if you have in-person school can you please tell ALL of your employees to park in your own lots and not on neighborhood streets? It's hard for people to get exercise and remain distanced when school employees park up the streets the way they did last year. It's both Bowman and Fletcher employees, but they point fingers at the other. It was already bad enough befoe the pandemic that some neighbors are talking about asking the city to extend the zone where you get ticketed at 9am (and some already are on some streets), and that's a last resort for everyone. You were able to be good neighbors for many years, and then in the last few years, employees have been making the neighborhood a parking lot during the day/school year, even after various construction projects were over. Please remember that people may have to walk into streets in order to maintain distancing, and that supposedly both schools have enough employee parking. When employees park streets up, then drop off vehicles tend to do dangerous things, too.


Resident Parent
Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2020 at 12:22 pm
Resident Parent, Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2020 at 12:22 pm
26 people like this

Our leaders are ALL being irresponsible and dishonest. Newsom said on July 17 that "all school in Watch List counties will be closed until they are off the Watch List for 14 days." Period, clear as day - look up the newspaper articles. (Web Link , Web Link) Then, in a FOOTNOTE, the State Department of Public Health announced that waivers could be issued for elementary school. No additional information was provided.

Now we are back in the Wild West. The Los Angeles County health department is requiring signed support letters from local unions with waiver requests - that means no waivers will be issued for public schools in LA County, the largest in the state. Alameda County has told districts not to bother applying, since they won't be approving any (BTW, their COVID stats are about the same as Santa Clara). Meanwhile, before the ink is even dry on the state order, Santa Clara officials sent a memo STRONGLY ENCOURAGING districts to apply for waivers. The Orange County Board of Education is now suing Newsom over the orders (Web Link).

This is HORRIBLE leadership. No wonder people don't follow the rules - there are no rules. Across the state, whether your school opens or not doesn't depend on science or public health - it depends on the whim of politicians and union leaders. This is how you undermine confidence in government and keep a pandemic going, folks.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Crescent Park
on Jul 30, 2020 at 12:31 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
on Jul 30, 2020 at 12:31 pm
28 people like this

@Dad-Your post is exactly the problem with the reopening thought process. It’s the usual “citing the science” with 99% about the children and what you currently have “heard about” how effected they are by the virus. You make one tiny mention about “staff wearing masks.” It just almost totally disregards the health and safety of staff members and their families. You obviously have no idea about what it would take for the schools and districts to keep everyone safe during COVID. You didn’t even mention ventilation with an airborne virus. You just “assume” children spread it less. Even with the false presumption that children spread it less, teachers would have long exposure to multiple children and all of their contacts for a long period of time such as 4 hours each day. So even if they spread it “50% less” the long exposure time will make up for that difference. All other indoor settings(gyms/bars) are closed and meetings are being held on ZOOM, yet you think it is somehow safe for teachers to walk into an indoor gathering every day with a little cotton mask on and get to work?
Read these two links.
The first link shows the reality of the questions that need to be answered about running a school with COVID. Some of the questions are specific to that District but you can still see that it’s a lot. It’s not a case of just “swinging the doors back open.”
The second link shows new evidence that kids do spread it.
Web Link
Web Link
Key Statement:
I’ve heard lots of people saying, ‘Well, kids aren’t susceptible, kids don’t get infected.’ And this clearly shows that’s not true,” said Stacey Schultz-Cherry, a virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

@Teacher’s Union: I say good for the teachers union! There JOB is to protect the health and safety of their workers. It is beyond selfish to blame the teachers and the teachers union for the pandemic, or for those that decided to have a good time this summer and not follow the protocols of distancing and mask wearing. We are on the state’s watch list for a reason. No teachers want to be used as guinea pigs in an experiment of returning during a worsening pandemic because parents acting like they are epidemiologists “think it’s safe to return”, or the nonsense of “kids don’t spread it” so that you and others can “return to normal.”

You also see the link I posted above about children being infected. The union shouldn’t just fight to stay online through January, they should fight to stay online the entire school year. Any members being forced to return in this situation that don’t feel comfortable about working in person should just say “NO!” Thank you union for all of your hard work!

@Covid19-If you are so frustrated with PAUSD and want your children to return to school, if a private school opens up like this article states, please send your children to private school. Of course then you would have to pay tuition.

All of you complaining, it’s not a great time to complain about school closings when California now leads the United States in total cases and California had its highest death toll yesterday. Please stop “citing the science” about kids not getting COVID. The disease is only about 6 months old and much is still unknown. Much of the so called science and data is based on schools being CLOSED since March. Look at how many children have been effected by Covid this summer in day cares and summer camps. Complaining shows [portion removed] a total lack of caring and empathy for staff members and their families [portion removed.] You will likely be in distance learning for the foreseeable future so start making whatever adjustments that are necessary.

It will also be interesting to see what happens with schools currently opening in other states. My guess is that many will open and close quickly due to COVID outbreaks.

Just remember, no matter how angry or upset you are, or how much you want the PAUSD schools to reopen, the Union will NEVER agree to the waiver.


Concerned
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 30, 2020 at 1:05 pm
Concerned, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 30, 2020 at 1:05 pm
9 people like this

Seems like the sensible thing to do is distance learning for a month while observing precautions and results elsewhere then make a determination on what to do here.


Fairmeadow
Midtown
on Jul 30, 2020 at 1:30 pm
Fairmeadow, Midtown
on Jul 30, 2020 at 1:30 pm
24 people like this

Let’s be clear, PAUSD kids are falling behind their private school peers! For those that care about equal opportunity for kids to gain an education, it is obvious they must go back to in person schooling.


rsmithjr
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2020 at 1:58 pm
rsmithjr, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2020 at 1:58 pm
13 people like this

Before we rush to return students to classes, take a careful look at what is happening:
-- the pandemic is increasing by all measures across the country. CA is much harder hit this time than a few months ago.
-- the MLB is spending huge sums trying to have a baseball season and is failing. These are all adults (in theory) no little kids involved.


Sandy B
Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 30, 2020 at 2:18 pm
Sandy B, Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 30, 2020 at 2:18 pm
20 people like this

If the public schools are worried that private schools will out pace them then so be it. They don't get to decide, parents do. If my kids were attending a public school that was only going to be online I would sign up with an accredited home school program and say good bye to the public schools [portion removed.] Europe has not had one case of a student passing Covid to a teacher, let's look at the SCIENCE as Newsom keeps saying he is doing, while not actually doing it.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Crescent Park
on Jul 30, 2020 at 2:56 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
on Jul 30, 2020 at 2:56 pm
11 people like this

[Portion removed.]
Don’t compare schools in Europe reopening with reopening schools here in the U.S. with the virus currently circulating out of control.

Please do say goodbye to public schools! There are plenty of other families to service so you aren’t needed. Thank you teachers union and also thank you to Gavin Newsom for taking charge of this situation.


Silver Linings
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2020 at 5:39 pm
Silver Linings, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2020 at 5:39 pm
17 people like this

There is no way to use data from other countries who had far fewer deaths and got the virus under control much faster and to a greater degree than we have. Additionally, because we haven't gotten things under control, the virus could through natural selection become more virulent in younger people. Right now, the hospitalization average age is dropping in some places precipitously. Because we are an advanced nation comfortable with innovation, and we have a history of remote instruction and homeschooling from which to draw, I just don't see that this has to be so hard.

It will probably help for districts to create some criteria for smaller programs that give families some choices so that teachers and families can all meet their needs.

People who think their kids will get behind, though, are doing them a disservice by being so rigid about what education is, and by being so negative. I remember when our child was in elementary, a family from Finland or Denmark (one of those countries with better outcomes in their schools) complained that they don't teach the kids to read until age 7 and they come out just fine, they focus more on play early on.

My point is, the human brain is a marvel. Some kids will be better off on site, but most really don't have to in order to make the best of the situation or maybe even get a "sabbatical" from school that leaves them better off. It depends on the kids, their situations, and the needs of their families and teachers.

There are a lot of unknowns, and the school district is moving forward with something that errs on the side of safety in the face of all the unknowns. Good for them. They haven't always had to courage to do that in the past. Please, people, let them focus on how to do the best job they can within that constraint, and stop the histrionics. Most of the kids will be just fine learning online for another term, even another year, and can end up with unexpected benefits IF we work for it. Your kids could end up BETTER off than the kids at the private schools, more independent. It really is a choice, and will necessarily entail some amount of customization so that everyone's needs are met.

At some point waiting for more clarity and citing examples of countries with universal accessible healthcare (all the developed nations in the world except ours), countries that had decisive leadership and a sane response/far lower cases and deaths, countries with better benefits (so people take leaves when they get sick), etc, is just throwing a wrench in moving forward affirmatively and making the best of it.

We absolutely DO need public schools and public education. I say this as someone who had to homeschool here for high school. It's late July, people. A decision was made. Roll up your sleeves and help, find a private school or plan to homeschool, or just try not to be so obstructionist. So many people complained about teachers not doing a good job in the spring, and we are hearing from teachers who are spending all kinds of time trying to change that in the fall. Please give them a chance, try to help ensure things really will be good.

If it's still not working--assuming there aren't administrative forces/lawyers trying to do unholy things to relationships and communications--parents and teachers should be able to improve things as they go after school starts. If you give it a good try, and your kids are not doing well, it is possible to homeschool any time you wish. But please give the school and teachers a chance and remember that this is a new situation that no one expected last year.

I say this again, realizing that my own initial reaction to this advice was not positive. When we had to homeschool, it was not planned either. We had good reason to have sued the district (and despite their almost comitragic way of illegally not answering document requests, had plenty of evidence to). Homeschool families everywhere in our lives old us we could not do a good job if we focused on why we had to leave, that we needed to move forward as if we had chosen homeschooling. We never had great resources, and it was hard. But they were right, there were so many benefits we could never have expected, and our child could not have realized them if we had not simply moved forward as if it had been our choice.

This doesn't mean that you give up on trying to return to in person school or making our community and nation healthier, safer, and more responsive to this crisis. It just means you make a decision to move forward as if it had been your choice. That helps you and others be more open to being more constructive.

I was only willing to take this advice because I heard it from so many very successful homeschoolers, and I know from experience how hard it is to hear.

It's too late in the summer to be dithering so negatively. Everyone who reads my posts knows I have my criticisms of the district. But in this case, they have made a decision that is sound under the circumstances. Please try to help make this the best choice possible instead of being demoralizing, histrionic, and unhelpful. Teachers are trying to cope with the pandemic, too.

I can tell you not just from homeschooling but from really delving into education innovation, that this could be an opportunity that ends up putting the kids here ahead when this is all over, and forever improving the education and social-emotional environment here. Could. It only happens if everyone works for it.


chris
University South
on Jul 30, 2020 at 11:12 pm
chris, University South
on Jul 30, 2020 at 11:12 pm
17 people like this

The people who are putting pressure on the schools to reopen should be focusing their efforts on getting the pandemic under control. In much of the country, including California, we are in the middle of a surge in cases which is far behind what other countries were experiencing when their children went back to school.

This is a teaching moment for young children. In-person schooling is a reward for good behavior. Americans have been behaving badly. When Americans behave responsibly, children can go back to school. That is a message a first-graders should be able to understand.


Private school parent
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:52 am
Private school parent, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:52 am
25 people like this

Public health officials and experts all saying kids should be back in school. Now teachers and other non-experts want to debate them based on articles they read from the internet. It's fascinating to see all the folks saying "listen to the science" when it comes to masks and testing until the science somehow contradicts their anecdotal (and likely political) opinion.


Private school parent
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 31, 2020 at 8:00 am
Private school parent, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 31, 2020 at 8:00 am
13 people like this

I trust Dr. Cody.

Web Link


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:51 am
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:51 am
14 people like this

With this move to 100% distance learning, we might actually learn how essential PAUSD is. We might finally have the hard data that shows that parental involvement is more important than the school district and its teachers in terms of learning and standardized test scores.

That wouldn't be good for the district. It also wouldn't be good for our property values. One of the reasons why Palo Alto is a desirable place is because of the district. If it turns out the district has no clothes, then expect a leveling of demand to live in Palo Alto.

Teachers should be afraid of their relevancy -- and their jobs -- if we find out that they aren't the reason why the school district has higher ratings.

Not very smart of them.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:49 am
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:49 am
6 people like this

“Teachers should be afraid of their relevancy -- and their jobs -- if we find out that they aren't the reason why the school district has higher ratings.
Not very smart of them.”

Teachers will not have to fear for their jobs. Teachers will continue to be paid for distance learning. I hope it actually goes for the whole year to keep everyone safe. There will be plenty of other families to serve if you don’t like it. This is a unique situation. You thinking that teachers will somehow become irrelevant is comical considering how badly you currently want the schools to open.

Teachers also don’t need to service Palo Alto specifically. You would lose out in the end by losing highly qualified teachers.

[Portion removed.]

“I trust Dr. Cody.”

We will see if Dr. Cody is right if those 80 schools open up in the fall. This happened last night and I don’t think any of these 80 schools will have COVID testing for children available. Good luck not shutting down in a week in my opinion.
Web Link


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:41 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:41 pm
8 people like this

"You thinking that teachers will somehow become irrelevant is comical considering how badly you currently want the schools to open."

No. Just a strategic look at how online learning has and continued to disrupt higher education, so perhaps will be local public -- and private -- education. The smart school districts and private schools -- the ones that have mastered online instruction -- will realize they are no longer tied by location and can service kids outside of their region. That's what we're finding - organizations in places as far way as the east coast are providing interesting learning opportunities for our kids over Zoom that we have found to be much more effective than the disastrous distance learning experiment this spring.

And I'm not confident that PAUSD has figured this out. I'm hearing of troubling signs of details not nailed down and school is supposed to start in a few weeks. Not looking good.

Will public schools have their newspaper moment? Maybe not -- in person instruction is still better than any form of Zoom -- but thanks to COVID-19, the idea is not so far fetched anymore and homeschooling is no longer seen as a weird subculture.

"Teachers also don’t need to service Palo Alto specifically. You would lose out in the end by losing highly qualified teachers. "

In a brave new world, maybe it doesn't matter.


PAUSD parent
Professorville
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:01 pm
PAUSD parent, Professorville
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:01 pm
11 people like this



The entity blocking in-person return to school (in the US, CA, and Palo Alto) are the teacher unions. The unions are not only resisting in-person return but also blocking synchronized online instruction.

See for example:

Web Link
Web Link

Back to Palo Alto. Our board of education is the entity that can instruct our district to seek a waiver and SCC indicated that it will support schools seeming to re-open (see points already made on this thread).

Here is an article published in the New England journal of medicine. The bottom line is that it suggests that with a community spread level we see in Palo Alto, schools should open in-person.

Web Link

"Children miss out on essential academic and social–emotional learning, formative relationships with peers and adults, opportunities for play, and other developmental necessities when they are kept at home. Children living in poverty, children of color, English language learners, children with diagnosed disabilities, and young children face especially severe losses"

The authors propose the following rule-of-thumb:
"
Even under conditions of moderate transmission (<10 cases per 100,000 people), however, we believe that primary schools should be recognized as essential services — and school personnel as essential workers — and that school reopening plans should be developed and financed accordingly.
"

Now lets look how that rule applies here in Palo Alto:

SCC reports CUMMULATIVE confirmed infections per city. For Palo Alto (7/31) it reports 154 cases total (for 67K people) which is 230 per 100K. This is total. If adjusted per day, even taking into account more testing and hence more confirmed cases the last two months, we have fewer than 4 a day.

Web Link

Rates vary across our county. Cupertino has half the Palo Alto rate, San Jose X2, and Gilroy X4. But since the teacher union is the entity blocking re-opening due to concerns on health of teachers, the relevant parameter is the infection rate at the community the children come from.

Now lets look at other important factors for in-person reopening such as physical space, availability of funds, and teacher to student ratio. These other factors are very favorable to Palo Alto public elementary schools.

Space:

We have spacious grounds, outdoor corridors, classrooms have windows that can be opened, and favorable weather. In contrast, some of the private schools seeking wavers operate the whole facility in one or two indoor buildings. East-coast schools seeking to re-open also have enclosed buildings.

Enough classrooms for small cohorts:


Number of students: PAUSD enrollment was decreasing last few years while staff numbers stayed put. According to 09/2019 enrollment report: K-5 enrollment was 4.8K students, across 12 main facilities. This is less than 400 students on average per facility with average K-3 class size below 20 students per class. (For reference, elementary enrollment was at 5.7K in 2014, 16% in 6 years while remaining in same staff levels)


Number of physical classrooms:
Per 2015 enrollment report: We have ~266 elementary classrooms spaces. With 2019 enrollment, there is enough for rooms (no tents needed) to accomodate cohorts of 18 students.

But another expected enrollment decrease was expected, 25% of families indicated preferance for online learning.
With this factores in, we have enough classrooms for cohorts of size 13.

The above does not take into account families that termporarily leave PAUSD.


Staffing:

Some teachers will engage in remote teaching/tracking of students of families that opt for remote learning. Additional staff will be needed to supervise small cohorts. But PAUSD was already in the process of contracting with organizations that provide child care. A combination of current teachers and child care givers can provide a full day in-person school in small cohorts for elementary students.


Private school parent
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:59 pm
Private school parent, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:59 pm
12 people like this

"Teachers will not have to fear for their jobs. Teachers will continue to be paid for distance learning."

This unfortunately is the crux of the problem. Our enlightened politicians have allowed teachers unions to negotiate contracts that effectively guarantee employment under almost any set of circumstances. Just look at the statistics on how many teachers are fired for cause. Given no fear of job loss, I don't blame the teachers for making unreasonable demands. I blame the politicians for signing contracts giving teachers all the power and the parents none at all.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:33 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:33 pm
4 people like this

“The entity blocking in-person return to school (in the US, CA, and Palo Alto) are the teacher unions.”
This is misinformation. It was Newsom’s order to close the schools. Here is the link:

Web Link

“Our board of education is the entity that can instruct our district to seek a waiver and SCC indicated that it will support schools seeming to re-open”/Additional staff will be needed to supervise small cohorts.

You are correct. The union will never agree to the waiver. Union, board, and parents all have to be in agreement. Most teachers do not want to come in for in person instruction this year. Thank you union for your hard work. Health and safety comes first.

“Children miss out on essential academic and social–emotional learning, formative relationships with peers and adults, opportunities for play, and other developmental necessities when they are kept at home. Children living in poverty, children of color, English language learners, children with diagnosed disabilities, and young children face especially severe losses"

How will students socialize and play this school year when they would be required to maintain social distancing protocols and follow other CDC guidelines for safety such as not sharing materials and mask wearing even if they did return to school? That argument shouldn’t apply this year.

“SCC reports CUMMULATIVE confirmed infections per city. For Palo Alto (7/31) it reports 154 cases total (for 67K people) which is 230 per 100K”

More stats. What about the children coming in from EPA? What are the rates of infection in EPA.

“No. Just a strategic look at how online learning has and continued to disrupt higher education, so perhaps will be local public -- and private -- education./Will public schools have their newspaper moment?”/That wouldn't be good for the district. It also wouldn't be good for our property values“

I am not sure if you are taking a strategic look or if you are worried about your property values based on your previous post. I am also not sure if you are just seeking some sort of long term form of punishment starting in the following school year for staff since they don’t feel comfortable with returning this school year. The “teachers will lose relevancy...not smart” statement.

I don’t understand how you would think schools would have a “newspaper moment” and lose relevancy when the entire other side of the reopening schools argument talks about the educational impact and social impact to students because of school closures, and the impact on food security and physical activity for children and families. So if schools are so important for reopening this year, how will schools not maintain the same amount of importance and relevance the following school year? Teachers will always be needed.

If PAUSD teachers do not deliver distance learning instruction as well as companies that specialize in this, it may upset parents but it won’t mean anything in the long run for staff as that is not the model that PAUSD teachers are used to. Obviously, they are used to delivering in person instruction as their speciality just as teachers who are pros at teaching online are used to that form of content delivery. The fact that PAUSD teachers will have to step out of their comfort zone this year is neither here nor there and won’t have any effect on their pay or job security for the future. I would even venture to say PAUSD teachers will do better than they did in the Spring with distance learning under emergency circumstances now that they have more preparation time but that remains to be seen.

If more parents end up choosing homeschooling because of this unique school year during a pandemic, then that is the right choice for their family and children. There will be plenty of families who want the convenience of having a school to drop their kids off to be educated in during the day. PAUSD will go back to normal the following year, staff will keep their jobs and paychecks, and there will be no consequences for staff or retribution for parents because staff and union fought for their health and safety this year.


Private school parent
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:41 pm
Private school parent, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:41 pm
9 people like this

"This is misinformation. It was Newsom’s order to close the schools."

Yes, the teachers union held the gun to our head, then Newsom pulled the trigger.


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:03 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:03 pm
3 people like this

"PAUSD will go back to normal the following year, staff will keep their jobs and paychecks, and there will be no consequences for staff or retribution for parents because staff and union fought for their health and safety this year."

There could be. The real reason why they're taking attendance is because funding is tied to that number. If more than a few families end up homeschooling their kids this year, that will result in less funding, blowing a hole in the budget that cannot be easily made up without increasing taxes. A losing proposition in this economy.

PAUSD student population even before COVID-19 was already trending downwards.

BTW, I'm not advocating of reopening schools, so you need to get over those reasons when responding to my posts. But I do know that COVID-19 has been accelerating a lot of transformational trends in industry and potentially sinking a number of Tier-3 universities. It is not hard to think of what this might do to PAUSD and Teachers Union with their pre-COVID-19 mindset. To pretend that things will immediately snap back to normal in the 2021-2022 school year could be pure folly.


Curious
another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:17 pm
Curious , another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:17 pm
10 people like this

Hi Me 2,

Just an FYI. Palo Alto is a basic aid district and does not receive funds from average daily attendance. Lower attendance does cause some issues but PA funding Is based on property taxes not ADA.


Another Resident
Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:26 pm
Another Resident, Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:26 pm
4 people like this

Does anyone know what is happening to PE teachers and other positions that make no sense with online learning? Is PAUSD furloughing these workers to help with its budget issues or are they trying to find to find different roles for them?


PAUSD parent
Professorville
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:37 pm
PAUSD parent, Professorville
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:37 pm
7 people like this

@Voice

Allow me to answer your questions/comments related to my post.

1. First, about combining COVID rates at Palo Alto and EPA (since PAUSD students are residents of both communities).

We established that daily case rate (confirmed COVID infections) at Palo Alto is about 4 per 100K. The article from New England Journal of Medicine suggests "10" as the re-opening threshold of elementary schools.

You correctly pointed out that the rate at EPA, stating it should be factored in. I do not have this information, but it is probably higher than Palo Alto. Gilroy is reporting a rate x4 higher. Lets make a worst-case assumption that the rate is 16 per 100K in EPA. But we only have 60 EPA students per year at PAUSD. About 7%. So taking a weighted average to obtain the relevant "community infection" rates for PAUSD students we have: 0.93*4 + 0.07*16 = 4.84. This is still well below "10" recommended as the threshold. The article does not discuss positivity rates, but both SCC and San Mateo report low-enough positivity rates to make these numbers meaningful.

2. You are asking "How will students socialize and play this school year when they would be required to maintain social distancing protocols and follow other CDC guidelines for safety such as not sharing materials and mask wearing even if they did return to school? That argument shouldn’t apply this year."

Just walk around our streets and parks and you can see children nicely, beautifully, socializing. Moreover, the article (and experts) recommend that distancing requirements are relaxed for small children to align with reason. Palo Alto young children are not substantially different from those in countries (and US essential workers) that socialized in small groups. Young children unmasked. Still, antibody surveys show that the rate of infection of teachers did not exceed rate in the community (their work did not increase their risk above background risk).

3. You are stating that the union will not allow us to re-open. I feel that the union is biting on the hand that feeds it. Other adults are being hired to do teacher's job, working parents spread thin doing teacher's work (75% want kids at school), children from less privileged backgrounds are denied their basic right for education and future and protection, families are leaving PAUSD despite paying taxes. If our board can not steer PAUSD to re-open then it is time to approve local charter schools. There must be a limit to disconnect and greed.


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:39 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:39 pm
Like this comment

Thanks for the clarification, Curious.


Silver Linings
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:47 pm
Silver Linings, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:47 pm
6 people like this

@Another Resident,
Why wouldn't PE teachers make sense? PE teachers are probably the first ones who will bring students back on campus, outdoors, to get safe physical activity. They can help students engage in physical activity (NOT through Zoom!) at home.

Interestingly, a lot of homeschoolers I know and read have been talking about wanting to help but how maybe we can't help right now, because so many people just seem to want to reproduce school at home, and that's not where you get the benefits of homeschooling.

Furthermore, as someone who has done both school and homeschool, with all due respect, you don't understand good homeschooling if you think teachers are irrelevant or not needed.

Lastly, nobody has to take attendance everyday or make kids engage in any specific amount of seat time, if they set up an independent study program for those who want it which is allowed under the state ed code. Not having daily attendance does NOT mean that you don't need teachers or even synchronous learning, it just allows people to fundamentally change the education model to enjoy a great deal more freedom and self-direction for students, their families, and in many respects, the independent study teachers.


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 6:48 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 6:48 pm
8 people like this

"with all due respect, you don't understand good homeschooling if you think teachers are irrelevant or not needed."

Don't put words in my mouth. I was specifically talking about PAUSD teachers who are tied to the pre-COVID-19 way of doing things. Of course teachers are important, but the monopoly of local education is showing cracks.


DTN Paul
Downtown North
on Aug 1, 2020 at 11:00 am
DTN Paul, Downtown North
on Aug 1, 2020 at 11:00 am
22 people like this

When my kids were toddlers, sometimes they wouldn't take a nap in the afternoon, and then they would be grumpy all evening. They couldn't make the connection between the two things, even though it was clearly there.

Here we are, and our country is a giant toddler - we won't take safety measures, we won't wear masks, we confidently assert that schools should open despite at best shaky information that they should, and then we wonder why our economy is tanking, we've lost 3 Vietnam Wars worth of people, and there is no end in sight.


Alex M
Barron Park
on Aug 2, 2020 at 3:20 pm
Alex M, Barron Park
on Aug 2, 2020 at 3:20 pm
13 people like this

As resident and home owner here in Palo Alto seeing home prices go through the roof without relation to rise in income levels, there is no reason for me to continue paying property taxes that go towards funding schools if my kids are not able to get the same level of education as previous year. Either Santa Clara county cuts property taxes in recognition of reduced costs or teachers union suck it up and maintain the quality level of instruction - teachers are no different from all other front line workers (infection rates from data around the globe shows they are at same level of risk as grocery workers). Also most parents in PAUSD will tell you that effort in online instruction was spotty and inconsistent and no reason to believe this will improve if we have to endure a full scoop year of under performing teachers !


Facts and Figures
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 2, 2020 at 5:38 pm
Facts and Figures, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 2, 2020 at 5:38 pm
6 people like this

@Alex M

Consider running for school board. Only one of the current board members has children in K-12 in the District and that board member has a child in private school as well.

The rest do not have K-12 students in the District. MBC had a child in District when she ran last, and that child graduated. She had kids in public and private school during her tenure. KD had a child in a private high school when he ran last. SD did not have a child in the District when he ran and does not yet have a child even in Kindergarten. TC did not have a child in K-12 when he ran last and does not have a child in K-12 in Palo Alto schools.

We need the voices of in District parents.


Denise Johnsen
Fairmeadow
on Aug 2, 2020 at 10:24 pm
Denise Johnsen, Fairmeadow
on Aug 2, 2020 at 10:24 pm
12 people like this

I think that all the parents and people pushing for schools to re-open in person and for schools to request waivers should be ashamed of themselves. Especially those citing the science that "kids don't get that sick." What about the teachers and staff? What about the parents and grandparents and other caretakers at home. Are you saying it is ok for a certain number of people to get sick and die from COVID just so kids can be back at school doing in-person learning? I am so tired of hearing the general disregard for teachers and others' lives! A teacher in Arizona lost her life and she was only co-teaching virtual summer school with two other teachers! A YMCA camp in GA just was shut down with hundreds of cases in kids and staff! Entire MLB teams are sidelined/quarantined and it probably will be hitting the NBA and NFL soon too! With cases all over the country, especially in CA, surging, how on earth is it safe for kids and teachers to be in classrooms together? Yes, I know kids do need in-person teaching and socialization with peers and there is no way online learning can replace in-person learning. Nobody is saying that it is! It's likely going to be this way for one school year. Well plus last Spring. Grow up everyone! The kids are a lot more resilient than us adults are and they'll be fine. It will be challenging but fine. It will be A LOT worse if we force kids and teachers back into classrooms and many lives are lost because of that!


The Voice of Palo Alto
Crescent Park
on Aug 2, 2020 at 11:20 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
on Aug 2, 2020 at 11:20 pm
4 people like this

@AlexM-“teachers are no different from all other front line workers (infection rates from data around the globe shows they are at same level of risk as grocery workers)”
Where is the link to this data? That is just misinformation if you do not provide a link. Also, I’ve made this point numerous times, comparing other countries to the US is just comparing apples to oranges at this point with how widespread the virus is here.

Sorry. Teachers are not “frontline workers.” They are not doctors, or grocery store workers.
No. Teachers do not need to go into the classroom and risk their health because of your “sky high” property taxes. Sorry again. The job will be done online and you will continue to pay property taxes while teachers work at home. Everyone is going to stay nice and safe this year.
What are you doing for a living Alex and are you working on Zoom only?

Here is the list of essential workers:
Web Link

Spoiler alert, teachers aren’t on the list. Many essential workers received “hazard pay” for going into work. Are you saying you would like your taxes to go up even more so that teachers can receive hazard pay Alex?

Alex what is your plan for testing students and staff? Why do you think teachers should go into a daily indoor gathering when all other indoor gatherings are currently closed?

I think if one more parent comments about teachers and students needing to risk their lives
“because I pay property taxes” I am going to scream. It’s completely selfish. Your property taxes will not be cut for any reason. Enjoy.

@Facts and Figures-No one needs Alex M. on the school board considering he is currently advising a return against state health recommendations. Thankfully, the people in charge aren’t “the parent’s voice.” The parents would run the district into the ground if they had their special voices heard. The parents think they know “how to do it better” but they don’t. You are not Education experts, you are just the peanut gallery. There are great candidates running this year so choose one out of those that are running.

“A YMCA camp in GA just was shut down with hundreds of cases in kids and staff”
Exactly! So much for the whole “kids are immune” and “kids don’t spread it” nonsense. Schools are CLOSED. Thank you union.


Afraid of parents
Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Aug 3, 2020 at 10:40 am
Afraid of parents, Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Aug 3, 2020 at 10:40 am
9 people like this

Sounds like "Voice" is scared of what might happen if parents get on the school board. Parents actually KNOW how students are treated by the schools. Who on the board is an "education expert"? None of them are. There's a lawyer, a former teacher, a venture capitalist, an engineer and a marketing professional.
Why can't Alex M. run if he wants to?

What is your plan Voice? All you do is promote the union. Assuming you're either a teacher or the union president. Either way, you're making the profession look bad.

Yes, we will all continue to pay property taxes no matter how complacent and negligent the teachers are, that is correct. However, there's nothing forcing us to approve the upcoming bond measure or supporting Prop 15, both of which I'm sure the union would love to have pass so they can claim their stake on the money. [Portion removed.]


There's no link
Charleston Gardens
on Aug 3, 2020 at 10:46 am
There's no link, Charleston Gardens
on Aug 3, 2020 at 10:46 am
5 people like this

@Alex M. I'm confused as to your statement, "seeing home prices go through the roof without relation to rise in income levels, there is no reason for me to continue paying property taxes that go towards funding schools if my kids are not able to get the same level of education as previous year. Either Santa Clara county cuts property taxes in recognition of reduced costs..."

Being a homeowner, rising home prices only benefits you. Be thankful California has Prop 13 to keep your property taxes from being increased at the whim of the government. If that were the case, many people would find themselves taxed out of their homes.

The government will never lower taxes. Teacher salaries will not decrease and school costs will not go down.

But, there really isn't a link between school costs or quality for that matter and property taxes.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Crescent Park
on Aug 3, 2020 at 12:07 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
on Aug 3, 2020 at 12:07 pm
1 person likes this

“Yes, we will all continue to pay property taxes no matter how complacent and negligent the teachers are, that is correct.”

How are teachers possibly being “negligent?” Once again this is why I have said we don’t need a “parent’s voice” on the school board. There seems to always be anti-teacher rhetoric in one form or another from parents here. “Teachers are negligent.” “Teachers are complacent.” “I pay property taxes.” “Teachers need to go in person against current health recommendations.”

Meanwhile, why do you think YOU know better than a professional educator? You don’t have a college degree in education. Whatever you think of the teachers and their so called complacency and negligence is just a parent opinion based on your own feelings. You have no idea what it’s like to actually run a classroom and try to meet the needs of say, 25 children, on a daily basis. You also do not have the skills, expertise, or professional knowledge to actually judge teachers and the jobs they are doing. You are not working as an administrator.

Also, negligence is a term more commonly used for doctors who commit malpractice. Once again, it’s another parent subtly equating a teacher with being a doctor here to get their needs met, in other words, “go back into the classroom.”
For the last time, teachers are NOT doctors. Teachers have no medical training, aren’t trained in the use of PPE, nor do they have any special knowledge on how to handle the virus. Finally, they have not sworn upon the Hippocratic oath.

I would love to know how teachers are being “negligent” in your view. Although, teachers are considered non-essential employees, schools have an alternative that essential employees do not have. There can't be a virtual homeless shelter, or a virtual emergency room, or a virtual bus route. Teachers can have a virtual classroom. Since schools are now closed it is now the teachers fault or the unions fault according to you and they are being negligent. Again, Newsom made the order.

Web Link

Please stop blaming staff members for a pandemic. If the U.S. brought down virus levels with more cooperation schools would have been allowed to reopen safely. A lot of people did not follow mask wearing and distancing and even continued to party this summer. This includes Palo Alto(and EPA) as no city is in a special COVID bubble even if transmission seems lower here. Don’t expect teachers to jump back into a high risk situation. Any teacher that would do that after witnessing the current trajectory of the pandemic, would be foolish to do so. That does not make teachers complacent or negligent. Finally, child care is parent responsibility and not that of the teachers.

“Why can't Alex M. run if he wants to?”

I never said Alex M. “can’t run.” I said he isn’t needed along with a “parent’s voice” on the school board not being needed. I also said there are plenty of great candidates running.
[Portion removed.]

The reasons given for why in-person school must reopen lay bare the societal rot endemic in our systems. Schools were never meant to act as a cure-all for the breakdown of society and family in this country but that is exactly what they have become. In addition to teaching children, schools may be their only source of reliable food and counseling, and possibly a refuge from abuse at home. More and more schools are just expected to pick up the slack from parental responsibility.

I am not saying this is “going to happen” in Palo Alto, but here is what happened in Georgia today with schools trying to reopen:

Web Link

“The government will never lower taxes. Teacher salaries will not decrease and school costs will not go down.”

Exactly my sentiments. There will also be no revenge or payback from parents the following year either because schools weren’t able to open this year. Schools will open back up and go right back to normal with the same set up and with the union in place.

[Portion removed.]


Anon1
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Atherton
8 hours ago
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8 hours ago
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Great editorial in the WSJ today about motivations for teachers unions to not return to teaching. Title is School Opening Extortion.
Hope this link works:
Web Link
Newsome has been pressured into not allowing private schools to reopen as well. Parents are becoming entrepreneurial to get education for their children in spite of government imposed restrictions.


Me 2
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Old Palo Alto
7 hours ago
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
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7 hours ago
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"The reasons given for why in-person school must reopen lay bare the societal rot endemic in our systems. Schools were never meant to act as a cure-all for the breakdown of society and family in this country but that is exactly what they have become. In addition to teaching children, schools may be their only source of reliable food and counseling, and possibly a refuge from abuse at home. More and more schools are just expected to pick up the slack from parental responsibility."

The bottom line is that our society is designed around children attending in-person teaching. Yes, there is an element of child care in it. That's the way it is. To try to deny that's part of what they do is to either have an privileged, elitist view of education or you're just blind to reality.

Regardless of whether or not they should address other issues is a moot point. It's complete *arrogance* to lay this on the feet on parental "responsibility," when other forms of contributing to society, such as having a productive job as a medical worker, shelf-stocker or a software engineer, are dependent on this system.

In this sense, teachers should be considered essential. If a grocery worker is considered essential for the functioning society, so should teachers. You keep harping on a technical point of whether they exist on some arbitrary list that the government put together. And as we know, our government, and that includes local, state and federal, is not known for thinking things through and subject to lobbying by special interest groups.

They should be considered essential employees. Otherwise, we're just saying that public education is not a worthwhile endeavor and should be eliminated if it's not essential.


The Voice of Palo Alto
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6 hours ago
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
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@Me2-“In this sense, teachers should be considered essential. If a grocery worker is considered essential for the functioning society, so should teachers.”

Wrong. Here is essential and here is the difference. You must eat to live so therefore grocery store workers are essential workers. You do not need education to live, you can live without it, therefore teachers are not essential workers. Please stop comparing teachers to grocery store workers. That’s not even including the fact that most teachers have four year degrees and some have Master’s degrees so they have likely reached a higher level of education than most, but maybe not all, grocery store workers. It is the logical fallacy of false comparison.

Also, as I stated earlier you can have a virtual classroom, but you can’t have a virtual grocery store(although there is more online ordering available nowadays). Teachers will be working, but just not in the MANNER you want them to, which is in person.

“To try to deny that's part of what they do is to either have an privileged, elitist view of education or you're just blind to reality./It's complete *arrogance* to lay this on the feet on parental "responsibility”

Of course there is a child care aspect to education. I never said there wasn’t. It is a fringe benefit of schools being open. What I did say was child care is ULTIMATELY the parent’s responsibility. That’s not the teacher’s child. Parents are legally responsible for their children until they turn 18, not the teachers.

You used a Straw Man’s fallacy to misrepresent and exaggerate what I actually said about child care and schools. It is not arrogance to lay responsibility for child care and parenting on parents no matter what job they have to perform or whether or not the schools are closed.

Teachers are not the parents of their students. Their job is to teach. What I argued is that schools have titled too much toward being the entire structure for kids and families(food sources/counseling etc.)and a cure-all for the further breakdown of society(not necessarily directly here in PA) when ultimately the school’s job is to educate students.

“You keep harping on a technical point of whether they exist on some arbitrary list that the government put together. And as we know, our government, and that includes local, state and federal, is not known for thinking things through and subject to lobbying by special interest groups.”

[Portion removed.]

I would argue in the case of COVID and schools, the CA government HAS thought things through and they have chosen to err on the side of caution by keeping schools closed because they likely have data that suggests an increased spread of coronavirus if schools open. Our state already now currently has the most Coronavirus cases in the United States so it is not a logical stretch to imagine schools reopening in August might cause an increased spread. Further evidence of this is when California moved from Phase 1 reopening through Phase 2 and Phase 3 and it caused increased cases. Finally, I’ve already explained why teachers aren’t on the so called “arbitrary” essential workers list so it’s very likely that list was well thought out also.

“The bottom line is that our society is designed around children attending in-person teaching”/
when other forms of contributing to society, such as having a productive job as a medical worker, shelf-stocker or a software engineer, are dependent on this system.

You argue here that are “entire society” and basically our economy is based on in-person teaching and we are all “dependent on this system,” but yet in one of your earlier posts you opined that schools will have a “newspaper moment” the following school year meaning they will suddenly become obsolete. How can that be if our entire society and system is based on and dependent on in-person instruction? Again, that will just change because of a likely 12 to 18 month pandemic that are causing temporary school closures? No. You just proved my earlier counter argument(that in person schools will never become obsolete and teachers will always be in demand) against your previous post correct. Thank you.


Me 2
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Old Palo Alto
6 hours ago
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"Wrong. Here is essential and here is the difference. You must eat to live so therefore grocery store workers are essential workers. You do not need education to live, you can live without it, therefore teachers are not essential workers. "

No, you're wrong. Educational opportunity is the foundation for social and economic mobility. Our society breaks down without it. Unless you're telling me that as a person of privilege living in Crescent Park that public education is optional.

"Yes. Of course there is a child care aspect to education. I never said there wasn’t. It is a fringe benefit of schools being open. What I did say was child care is ULTIMATELY the parent’s responsibility. That’s not the teacher’s child. Parents are legally responsible for their children until they turn 18, not the teachers. "

Wrong again. [Portion removed.] So basically, let's net out the child care aspect of the education from teachers salaries and let's call it even until we get back to school. But I don't see the teachers signing up to do that.

[Portion removed.]

"You argue here that are “entire society” and basically our economy is based on in-person teaching and we are all “dependent on this system,” but yet in one of your earlier posts you opined that schools will have a “newspaper moment” the following school year meaning they will suddenly become obsolete. "

I'm speaking more broadly here. My earlier point about a newspaper moment was specific to Palo Alto and PAUSD, which is filled with privileged people who could find alternatives to public schools. Distance learning in the spring was a disaster for many of us, and it doesn't give us high hopes that this fall will any better.

Will a juiced up homeschooling approach become mainstream here and in other areas of privilege? That's what I'm wondering.


Curious
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The Voice of Palo Alto
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Me 2
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The Voice of Palo Alto
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