News

Palo Alto Unified's youngest students return to school with a new set of norms

District begins serving small cohorts of children alternating in mornings, afternoons

Teacher Victoria Chavez speaks to her first grade students as they line up after recess at Herbert Hoover Elementary School in Palo Alto on Oct. 12. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Hoover Elementary School teacher Victoria Chavez spent the "first" day of school with a small class of first-grade students talking through new norms for in-person learning: no sharing of supplies, how to walk through the classroom while staying 6 feet apart, why hugging is no longer OK. She showed them the designated area where they're allowed to play outside during recess and reminded them to wash their hands after touching their faces.

Chavez had mixed feelings about being back at work in person on Monday. She said she felt nervous about her and her students' safety, but also excited.

"It's been a long seven months," she said. "At the same time, we're still in the middle of a pandemic. I don't think anyone feels completely safe right now."

Chavez and her class were among the first Palo Alto Unified elementary students and teachers to return to their campuses in a hybrid model on Monday, following weeks of heated debate among teachers, parents, administrators and school board members divided over the pace and safety of reopening. The teachers union had pressed the district to keep schools closed until January. But the Board of Education unanimously approved a phased reopening of elementary schools, starting this week with the district's youngest students and adding the higher grades in the coming weeks.

The parents of a little more than half of all transitional kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade students opted to send their children to school (about 700) and about half chose to stay with remote learning, according to the district. Classrooms across the 12 elementary schools opened on Monday to serve small cohorts of these students alternating in the mornings and afternoons. Parents were asked to drop their children off from their cars and are not allowed to come onto the campuses.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

At Hoover, just four classrooms have reopened — three kindergarten classes and Chavez's first-grade class. Chavez said most of her morning cohort of eight students seemed excited to be back and have so far adjusted well to a school day that looks vastly different than they're used to. She said she was "impressed with how they're taking it all in, realizing that this year is not going to be the same."

After socially distanced snack and recess, her students lined up 6 feet apart and filed inside one by one to wash their hands before returning to their desks, separated by clear plastic barriers.

Because of the staffing necessary to make the hybrid model work, not all students were able to stay with their teachers — a chief concern among some parents who opposed reopening. Chavez herself is getting to know new students. She's now only teaching four students from when the school year started remotely, and they're spread out across two cohorts.

In some cases, there were also too few students to form a fully remote class at one school, so the district combined students from two schools to create a full distance learning class with a single teacher from one site.

"Our teachers and principals worked together to determine who was going into each assignment," Superintendent Don Austin wrote in his weekly update on Friday. "It doesn't mean people aren't anxious. It means the team worked together in the interests of all students."

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Nearby at Fairmeadow Elementary School, just one kindergarten classroom and one first-grade classroom reopened on Monday. Students entered on the opposite sides of the campus using separate gates, each decorated with balloons. For kindergarteners, Monday marked their first time coming to school.

The district is using an app to push out daily health screenings to parents the night before school. Any students whose parents didn't fill out the form in advance were kept out of their classroom until the school's secretary called their parents and completed the screening over the phone. (This reporter completed an online health screening using a QR code posted at the front office.)

Inside the first-grade classroom, masked students sat at desks under a large, colorful "welcome" banner. At the front of the classroom, a screen showed the faces of their classmates who are still learning from home. As students talked about their favorite foods, an industrial air purifier whirred loudly in the background. The district purchased $400,000 worth of air purifiers from Georgia, according to Board President Todd Collins, for classrooms whose HVAC systems aren't yet up to airflow standards.

In April, Palo Alto Unified also ordered 500 portable hand-washing stations for rooms that don't have sinks, Collins said, but after learning they won't be delivered until November, sent an employee to Los Angeles to pick up a smaller number of stations to have ready for the early phase of reopening.

A classroom checklist for room ventilation, personal protective equipment and COVID-19 safety protocols taped to the doorway of a first grade classroom Fairmeadow Elementary School in Palo Alto on Oct. 12. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Taped to the doorway of each classroom are new checklists, which the school board asked for, to show that the room's ventilation, personal protective equipment (PPE) stock and required COVID-19 protocols are being followed. The forms are updated every Wednesday to prepare for the next week. Another sheet documents each room's ventilation status, including filter type and cubic-feet-per-minute airflow rate. There's also a separate disinfection checklist, which the school custodians must check, sign, date and time stamp after cleaning all surfaces daily. (They're using new electrostatic spray devices, which charges antimicrobial liquid as it passes through a nozzle. The positively charged antimicrobial droplets are attracted and cling to negatively charged surfaces, allowing for more efficient cleaning, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.)

Fairmeadow Principal Iris Wong said she was thankful for the phased reopening plan, which will allow the schools to adjust and gain confidence as more students arrive. She, too, said her staff had "mixed emotions" about returning.

"I would be lying if (I said) staff weren't afraid or stressed out," she said, "but at the end of the day, everyone put their best foot forward."

Fairmeadow special education teacher Hyemin Cheung has been back in her classroom with students for two weeks. She said it took weeks of Zoom meetings and conversations to prepare and for her and her classroom aides to feel safe.

Cheung now works with four students full time in person and one who comes only in the afternoons. She said they seem happy and engaged being at school. While she's adjusted classroom activities to reduce contact as much as possible, some of the students can't wear masks due to their disabilities or need help washing their hands. Despite the safety concerns of close contact, Cheung said she knows distance learning wasn't working for these students. Zoom learning also left her feeling unsatisfied as a special education teacher.

The district has installed touchless water-bottle refill stations to use instead of water fountains at schools. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

"After all, we choose this profession because we love to work with the kids. We love to interact with the kids," she said.

For Cheung, communication is paramount to the success of reopening schools. She said she's constantly checking in with her classroom aides and keeping lines of communication open with administrators.

"It's not about PPE. It's about, 'How do you feel? How safe do you feel?'" she said. "Those comments or questions to ask each other, that will help open the school."

Second- and third-graders are set to return for in-person learning on Oct. 26 and fourth- and fifth-graders on Nov. 9. Under the current plan, middle and high schoolers will not go back to school until January.

For the first time since March, the school board will resume its work in person to coincide with the reopening of schools. The board members will meet at the district office on Tuesday evening to consider approving a partnership with Stanford Health Care to offer district employees biweekly COVID-19 testing, among other items.

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

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Palo Alto Unified's youngest students return to school with a new set of norms

District begins serving small cohorts of children alternating in mornings, afternoons

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 12, 2020, 5:47 pm

Hoover Elementary School teacher Victoria Chavez spent the "first" day of school with a small class of first-grade students talking through new norms for in-person learning: no sharing of supplies, how to walk through the classroom while staying 6 feet apart, why hugging is no longer OK. She showed them the designated area where they're allowed to play outside during recess and reminded them to wash their hands after touching their faces.

Chavez had mixed feelings about being back at work in person on Monday. She said she felt nervous about her and her students' safety, but also excited.

"It's been a long seven months," she said. "At the same time, we're still in the middle of a pandemic. I don't think anyone feels completely safe right now."

Chavez and her class were among the first Palo Alto Unified elementary students and teachers to return to their campuses in a hybrid model on Monday, following weeks of heated debate among teachers, parents, administrators and school board members divided over the pace and safety of reopening. The teachers union had pressed the district to keep schools closed until January. But the Board of Education unanimously approved a phased reopening of elementary schools, starting this week with the district's youngest students and adding the higher grades in the coming weeks.

The parents of a little more than half of all transitional kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade students opted to send their children to school (about 700) and about half chose to stay with remote learning, according to the district. Classrooms across the 12 elementary schools opened on Monday to serve small cohorts of these students alternating in the mornings and afternoons. Parents were asked to drop their children off from their cars and are not allowed to come onto the campuses.

At Hoover, just four classrooms have reopened — three kindergarten classes and Chavez's first-grade class. Chavez said most of her morning cohort of eight students seemed excited to be back and have so far adjusted well to a school day that looks vastly different than they're used to. She said she was "impressed with how they're taking it all in, realizing that this year is not going to be the same."

After socially distanced snack and recess, her students lined up 6 feet apart and filed inside one by one to wash their hands before returning to their desks, separated by clear plastic barriers.

Because of the staffing necessary to make the hybrid model work, not all students were able to stay with their teachers — a chief concern among some parents who opposed reopening. Chavez herself is getting to know new students. She's now only teaching four students from when the school year started remotely, and they're spread out across two cohorts.

In some cases, there were also too few students to form a fully remote class at one school, so the district combined students from two schools to create a full distance learning class with a single teacher from one site.

"Our teachers and principals worked together to determine who was going into each assignment," Superintendent Don Austin wrote in his weekly update on Friday. "It doesn't mean people aren't anxious. It means the team worked together in the interests of all students."

Nearby at Fairmeadow Elementary School, just one kindergarten classroom and one first-grade classroom reopened on Monday. Students entered on the opposite sides of the campus using separate gates, each decorated with balloons. For kindergarteners, Monday marked their first time coming to school.

The district is using an app to push out daily health screenings to parents the night before school. Any students whose parents didn't fill out the form in advance were kept out of their classroom until the school's secretary called their parents and completed the screening over the phone. (This reporter completed an online health screening using a QR code posted at the front office.)

Inside the first-grade classroom, masked students sat at desks under a large, colorful "welcome" banner. At the front of the classroom, a screen showed the faces of their classmates who are still learning from home. As students talked about their favorite foods, an industrial air purifier whirred loudly in the background. The district purchased $400,000 worth of air purifiers from Georgia, according to Board President Todd Collins, for classrooms whose HVAC systems aren't yet up to airflow standards.

In April, Palo Alto Unified also ordered 500 portable hand-washing stations for rooms that don't have sinks, Collins said, but after learning they won't be delivered until November, sent an employee to Los Angeles to pick up a smaller number of stations to have ready for the early phase of reopening.

Taped to the doorway of each classroom are new checklists, which the school board asked for, to show that the room's ventilation, personal protective equipment (PPE) stock and required COVID-19 protocols are being followed. The forms are updated every Wednesday to prepare for the next week. Another sheet documents each room's ventilation status, including filter type and cubic-feet-per-minute airflow rate. There's also a separate disinfection checklist, which the school custodians must check, sign, date and time stamp after cleaning all surfaces daily. (They're using new electrostatic spray devices, which charges antimicrobial liquid as it passes through a nozzle. The positively charged antimicrobial droplets are attracted and cling to negatively charged surfaces, allowing for more efficient cleaning, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.)

Fairmeadow Principal Iris Wong said she was thankful for the phased reopening plan, which will allow the schools to adjust and gain confidence as more students arrive. She, too, said her staff had "mixed emotions" about returning.

"I would be lying if (I said) staff weren't afraid or stressed out," she said, "but at the end of the day, everyone put their best foot forward."

Fairmeadow special education teacher Hyemin Cheung has been back in her classroom with students for two weeks. She said it took weeks of Zoom meetings and conversations to prepare and for her and her classroom aides to feel safe.

Cheung now works with four students full time in person and one who comes only in the afternoons. She said they seem happy and engaged being at school. While she's adjusted classroom activities to reduce contact as much as possible, some of the students can't wear masks due to their disabilities or need help washing their hands. Despite the safety concerns of close contact, Cheung said she knows distance learning wasn't working for these students. Zoom learning also left her feeling unsatisfied as a special education teacher.

"After all, we choose this profession because we love to work with the kids. We love to interact with the kids," she said.

For Cheung, communication is paramount to the success of reopening schools. She said she's constantly checking in with her classroom aides and keeping lines of communication open with administrators.

"It's not about PPE. It's about, 'How do you feel? How safe do you feel?'" she said. "Those comments or questions to ask each other, that will help open the school."

Second- and third-graders are set to return for in-person learning on Oct. 26 and fourth- and fifth-graders on Nov. 9. Under the current plan, middle and high schoolers will not go back to school until January.

For the first time since March, the school board will resume its work in person to coincide with the reopening of schools. The board members will meet at the district office on Tuesday evening to consider approving a partnership with Stanford Health Care to offer district employees biweekly COVID-19 testing, among other items.

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

PAUSD Parent
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2020 at 9:55 pm
PAUSD Parent, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2020 at 9:55 pm
35 people like this

What a long, strange road it’s been —

Phased, science based approach, yes! PAUSD has it covered. ♥️❤️♥️❤️


;)
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2020 at 11:14 pm
;), Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2020 at 11:14 pm
18 people like this

Looks great! As long as working parents don't send their sick kids to school, it should work out well. Anyone who sneezes should be sent home. Allergy season is almost over with the first frost so can't use that excuse. With masks, wonder if less people will catch colds and other viruses this year.


Thank you, Teachers.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2020 at 10:36 am
Thank you, Teachers., Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 10:36 am
35 people like this

This has to be really hard for the teachers and the children. Please know our gratitude. Be well. Thank you!


PA Last to Open
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2020 at 12:04 pm
PA Last to Open, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 12:04 pm
32 people like this

The rest of the country's schools are already open, in person, many 4-5 days a week. Even SF already back to school in person. Look outside Palo Alto/SCC and you will see the rest of the country, the world in fact, has already moved forward in a safe and sustainable manner that does not destroy communities and sacrifice our kids isolated at home falling behind based on unfounded parent/teacher fear and histrionics. Our teachers are not doing anyone a special "favor" by going to work. It's their job. In the meantime, teachers are supported by thousands of other workers who have been doing their jobs non-stop since March. Just ask your local grocery workers whose kids have been stuck at home and they will tell you that they feel like second class citizens: like the grocery workers taking graveyard shifts so they can be at home doing Distance Learning with their young kids during the day, getting maybe 2-3 hours/sleep a day if they're lucky (yes I talk to my local grocery store workers who are actual human beings). Yet the teachers keep eating and grocery shopping! (Nowhere else are teachers unions given this much power. It's a travesty.) As a person related to someone with first hand experience traveling all over the US in over 30 states since March (essential medical services) it's a fact that PA schools are way behind. In fact, I know over 20 CA families who moved to other states, or went to private schools, so their kids could get back to school and play their sports. People who live in PA think this 100% online school is normal. It is NOT. The rest of the country has moved forward educating their students. It's unethical to keep students at home any longer. Almost 20,000 medical professionals, led by Stanford and Harvard doctors, are leading the effort against these destructive lockdowns which harm so many kids. Wake up PA! SJ Mercury 10/12/2020 "Coronavirus Stanford Docturs Among Leaders of Global Anti Lockdown Movement".

Web Link


Facts and Figures
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2020 at 1:13 pm
Facts and Figures, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 1:13 pm
21 people like this

@PA Last to Open,

I have not checked all your facts, but please hold this school board accountable for this slow movement and lack of preparation.

Vote for 3 NEW board members who will make decisions based on facts.

Red Tier means schools should reopen, not wait until January for secondary. These students and their families are by law supposed to get the option of in person instruction.


PA Last to Open
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2020 at 1:33 pm
PA Last to Open, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 1:33 pm
21 people like this

@ Facts and Figures: Agree 100%!

Thank you for mentioning how to take action (you are always a voice of reason). Yes, VOTE for 3 NEW board members who will make decisions based on facts and get ALL our K-12 kids back to school in person.

And sending secondary kids to school for ONLY two days in person starting January for the rest of the school year is NOT supported by facts. Schools all over Europe and U.S. are in person, some masks, some not, not 6ft apart, are in school full time. And by the way, I myself am a teacher and the union does NOT speak for me. I want my students back in person like the rest of the country.


Curious Parent
Registered user
Community Center
on Oct 13, 2020 at 2:11 pm
Curious Parent, Community Center
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 2:11 pm
13 people like this

@PA Last to Open.

Today, Santa Clara county improved to the next tier (orange) based on the continuing drop in covid rates. PA covid rates are really, really low (knock on wood). For comparison, French schools have mostly been open since the beginning of Sept and the French covid rate is roughly 5x the Santa Clara County covid rate and 15x the Palo Alto covid rate. German schools have mostly been open since early August and German covid rate is roughly 30% higher than Santa Clara county and 4x the Palo Alto Covid rate. New York city schools have recently returned and the covid rate in NYC is roughly 2x Santa Clara County and 6x Palo Alto. The list goes on and on. With nearly 8 billion people in the world affected, there will undoubtedly be countless incidents of ongoing covid breakouts in different communities, but we certainly have enough data now to start making data driven decisions.

While I have been disappointed that the teacher's union has been so risk-averse to returning to work, I have been impressed with the hard work of the teachers in the current environment. My kids are learning, although certainly with some big tradeoffs. Starting school in January is better than staying in distance learning for the entire year.


Anony Mouse
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 13, 2020 at 3:25 pm
Anony Mouse, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 3:25 pm
46 people like this

So weird to see this constant comparison with grocery workers. God bless, but does a grocery worker spend 4-6 hours per day with the same set of customers in a small space? Oh and some of those customers don't know how to follow COVID protocols? Save your weird comparison. It doesn't work.

A question for the Weekly: Do you have any sources who are inside and can tell you about the stress and pain and chaos among staff, teachers and admins? There's more to this than the happy talk express that is PAUSD admin. It would be nice to see some reporting that goes a little deeper.


Clarification
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2020 at 5:25 pm
Clarification, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 5:25 pm
22 people like this

@Anony...same! Would like to see a comparison between the publicly published documents on the district website and the proposals put forth by the union. Also, any chance of a public records request of emails to see the response to concerns sent to the board and district admin?


Educator
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:03 pm
Educator, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:03 pm
46 people like this

The following local districts are not returning yet, with the majority pledging to not return until January, so I’m not sure why you say Palo Alto is last:

San Jose Unified
Campbell Union
Redwood City Union
Santa Clara Unified
Mountain View Whisman
Sunnyvale
Cupertino Union
Fremont Unified
Saratoga Union
Los Gatos Union
Ravenswood
Belmont Redwood Shores

The list goes on.




Orange tier now
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2020 at 9:11 pm
Orange tier now, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 9:11 pm
21 people like this

Palo Alto cases have been extremely LOW comparing to other cities in Santa Clara County: cumulative cases: Palo Alto 312 cases, San Jose 14,994, Santa Clara 1,066, Mountain View 618, Cuperino 136...... I don't agree our middle and high school students are not allowed to have in-person learning this year. Families should have a choice staying online learning or in-person learning. Most private schools got the waivers to return students back to school campuses.
Web Link

Congrats to younger kids. Please wear masks and keep distancing and don't send sick kids to schools. Let's keep the cases LOW that our older kids can go back to school. Thank you


Amy
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 13, 2020 at 10:13 pm
Amy , Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 10:13 pm
11 people like this

Orange Tier Now:
Unfortunately East Palo Alto which is definitely a part of our very local community has not faired as well as Palo Alto. In fact it’s startling how much more prevalent this pandemic has been in our neighboring East Palo Alto community. Palo Alto has a case count of 466/100k people. Palo Alto has a case count of 13,000/100k people. So when we think about spread in our local geographic area, I think it’s important to also consider East Palo Alto even though it’s not captured in the Santa Clara County number. Here are the sources. Note that the San Mateo County dashboard tracks per 10k people so you have to multiply to get per 100k.

Web Link

Web Link


Air Quality IQ
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2020 at 1:25 am
Air Quality IQ, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 1:25 am
14 people like this

"an industrial air purifier whirred loudly in the background. The district purchased $400,000 worth of air purifiers from Georgia, according to Board President Todd Collins, for classrooms whose HVAC systems aren't yet up to airflow standards."

"Industrial" air purifiers should not be loud. They should be large enough to generate the air flow to clean classroom air without causing too much noise.

The air purifiers are a positive step, but I hope this isn't another one of those window-dressing efforts -- I hope the teacher's union will check to make sure the filters are rated for the spaces they're in, I wouldn't trust the district to ensure they are.

Isn't this interesting that they can buy filters for Covid but not for kids and teachers who got chronic bronchitis from the musty old buildings? Again, my concern would be that the studied ignorance about air quality from the past will carry forward into this. If teachers are worried, please stay on top of ensuring the campuses have good air quality management.


PA Last to Open
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2020 at 11:20 am
PA Last to Open, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 11:20 am
14 people like this

@ Educator: "The following local districts are not returning yet, with the majority pledging to not return until January, so I’m not sure why you say Palo Alto is last".

Know the facts. Make rational comparisons.

Fact: In California as of 10/12/2020 exactly 957 Private Elementary Schools alone have received waivers for opening. Here is a link to the Calif Dept of Public Health schools with a complete list of current approved waivers. These waivers were approved beginning August 12. Two months ago! This does not even include all the secondary private schools that have received waivers to open. And other schools utilizing a loophole to open by recategorizing as "daycare". There are THOUSANDS of CA schools already open.

Web Link

Rational Comparisons: As far as secondary, in case my post wasn't perfectly clear, PA secondary schools opening in January are absolutely in the running for last in the entire country, U.S.A., and last in the world to open (where they have much higher case counts in other cities, in SCC, and other countries). See "Curious Parent" for examples of case counts in other countries where schools are already open, and "Orange tier now" for examples of case counts in other SCC cities compared to PA. Comparing PA schools opening/closing dates to other schools in the same county, SCC, schools under the same conservative SCC Health Officer and therefore same health orders, including many cities with much MUCH higher case counts than Palo Alto, is irrational.

PA elementary and secondary should both be open now. January is absurd. The effect on students/families of 100% online is unconscionable, a Gunn student has already committed suicide, and far more work and exhausting for secondary teachers. As a teacher, I encourage parents to Vote for Board Members who will get your kids back in our classrooms. Isolation is dangerous for teens for many reasons outlined by our own SCC Health Officer in published reports from the SCC Health Dept. and many Health Experts around the world (see previous post with link to info from Stanford, Harvard Health Experts).


Air Quality IQ
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2020 at 12:41 pm
Air Quality IQ, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 12:41 pm
9 people like this

"$400,000 worth of air purifiers from Georgia, according to Board President Todd Collins, for classrooms whose HVAC systems aren't yet up to airflow standards.""

Delving a little deeper, isn't that an awful lot of classrooms that "aren't yet up to airflow standards"? And why weren't they? The district has deflected complaints about air quality problems in our schools that are serious enough to cause higher levels of illness and absenteeism in our schools, both from asthma AND infectious diseases, for DECADES. Such air quality problems are associated with higher rates of absenteeism (and depression), lower student performance than with better air quality, and increased district liability. All things being equal, you can dramatically raise test scores just with proper ventilation. And they are recognizing the need to do something about bringing things up to "standards" only now?

I hate to criticize because of our district office's well-known habit of doing self-destructive things that hurt our students and families when they want to cover up rather than do the right thing, but a tenet of effective air quality management is transparency and two-way communication. I know of teachers who are afraid to talk about their school-site-induced asthma. I certainly know families who were tormented out of the district for trying to improve air quality in the schools here. I know teachers who suffered pneumonia from outbreaks that didn't have to happen if the air quality had been brought to "standards." This is another way that the trust issue comes into play in what's happening here.

The filters are a good step. Yay. But they were a lot of money, and they shouldn't be loud. If they aren't rated for the spaces or designed properly, if the spaces are still problematic from past water condensation/ intrusion problems that were never adequately remediated (if it smells musty/moldy, the research says you have a problem, period), then the filters alone will not be enough to ensure healthy indoor air quality. By healthy indoor air quality, I mean not increasing the likelihood of infections going around, including Covid.


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 14, 2020 at 2:36 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 2:36 pm
10 people like this

I was at Town and Country and gazed across at the fancy upgraded Paly campus my taxpayer dollars help paid to upgrade. Huge theater, large outside attractive spaces. Surely some classes can be held outside there!? Use this huge space!


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2020 at 4:42 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 4:42 pm
21 people like this

@PA Last to open:

1. You stated total misinformation that “PA is the last to open” and that “all schools around the country have already opened.” Then comically you tell EDUCATOR who proved you WRONG with a whole list of public school districts that aren’t open to “know the facts and make rational comparisons.” Then you point to private schools and waivers and that nonsense. Just admit YOU were wrong. Not ALL schools are open. Educator and other readers of your comments aren’t mind readers and shouldn’t be expected to magically “know the facts and make rational comparisons” and be scolded by you when YOU were actually wrong. Then even more comically you further qualified your initial statement a second time that secondary schools in PA would be last if they reopen in January. Clean it up. Also, the schools using a daycare loophole to open doesn’t actually mean those schools are open in full. A lot of those schools may be open in a small capacity to serve some students in need. Again, know the facts and make rational comparisons please. Finally, high schools are opening last because the claim is that “little kids don’t spread the virus but high school kids do as much as the adults.” I think “the little kids don’t spread it” is nonsense but that’s the reasoning.

2. Our teachers are not doing anyone a special "favor" by going to work. It's their job.

As a teacher yourself it’s absolutely shameful to say this. Teachers have been working online very hard to provide distance learning and are doing their jobs by providing education online. No one says it’s the same but we are in a pandemic. As a teacher yourself, do not blame the teachers.

3. “SCC, schools under the same conservative SCC Health Officer and therefore same health orders, including many cities with much MUCH higher case counts than Palo Alto, is irrational.”

Now blame the health officials for trying to do their jobs in an unprecedented situation because it doesn’t agree with your take on things. Also, what about the rates in EPA? Maybe take a look and it won’t appear to be so conservative.

4. “Nowhere else are teachers unions given this much power. It's a travesty. /And by the way, I myself am a teacher and the union does NOT speak for me. I want my students back in person like the rest of the country.”

As a teacher yourself, please now give up all of your other union benefits fought for by your teachers union since you think it’s a travesty and since the union does not speak for you.

5. “Schools all over Europe and U.S. are in person, some masks, some not, not 6ft apart, are in school full time.”

Please stop citing other countries where transmission rates are lower than the US. Also, if students return they must wear masks and stay socially distanced. What are you promoting here? Of course even if students do magically follow these rules at school(which they won’t), we all know the social activities will increase after school anyway.

6. Finally, this: Wake up PA! SJ Mercury 10/12/2020 "Coronavirus Stanford Docturs Among Leaders of Global Anti Lockdown Movement".

This movement has been discredited. This link for “The Great Barrington Declaration“ that first disgustingly promotes the unethical “herd immunity” strategy which would kill millions and second that has been widely discredited and signed by a bunch of fake names like (Dr. Johnny Bananas!!)Here is the link:

Web Link

Finally, here is the link about why The Great Barrington Declaration strategy you are posting is so dangerous:

Web Link

Finally, facts and figures is not “the voice of reason.” That poster just has a similar “schools
must reopen“ take like you do. That’s fine but it doesn’t make them a “voice of reason.”


PA Last to Open
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2020 at 5:36 pm
PA Last to Open, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 5:36 pm
16 people like this

@ Voice of Palo Alto: "As a teacher yourself, do not blame the teachers."

Unless someone is a teacher, they should stay in their lane. I, as a teacher, have a right to my opinion, which by the way is not unique. There are MANY secondary teachers who I know personally who are anxious to get back to school in person and have not signed the PAEA Union's fear-not-fact-based Petitions which they disagree with.

I had a bet with a friend how long it would take The Voice of Palo Alto to post in response to several posters' facts (data from PA, SCC, and the world) and claim they are all wrong (which is false): such as the number of private elementary schools open in CA as stated by the CA Dept of Education (fact), cases higher in some European countries than SCC yet schools open for months (fact), cases higher in other CA cities where schools are open (fact), etc. Par for the course. Personally, I would never presume to speak as the voice of an entire city. Particularly if I did not have kids in school or and was not a teacher.

[Portion removed.]


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2020 at 6:21 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 6:21 pm
29 people like this

[Post removed.]


JLS_Parent
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Oct 17, 2020 at 5:29 pm
JLS_Parent, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Oct 17, 2020 at 5:29 pm
12 people like this

Is there a reason why we cannot have the kids and teachers submit to weekly testing as a condition for safe return? In fact, if this pandemic continues into next fall and we don’t have wide spread vaccination then shouldn’t we start thinking more and more about rapid testing as part of the protocol for safe return to school?


In Person Option Please!
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2020 at 1:41 pm
In Person Option Please!, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 18, 2020 at 1:41 pm
11 people like this

We are now in ORANGE tier. Experts (let’s believe in science and data) now say it’s safe to reopen classrooms with safety precautions. There should be no debate now that parents can now CHOOSE an in-person option for their kids. People who disagree with the experts or who have immune-compromised relatives living at home, etc. can continue with distance learning option (and teachers who have health issues can continue to teach in online format). Yes, this take more work and coordination for staff, but EDUCATION SHOULD BE #1 PRIORITY.


Facts and Figures
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2020 at 2:12 pm
Facts and Figures, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 18, 2020 at 2:12 pm
12 people like this

@JLS Parent,

There is a group of parents pushing for on site testing a schools, but they have been told by PaUSD that PAUSD can't require it. I'm not sure that this is exactly right. MY guess is PAUSD can require it, but it can't be a forced payment (like sports).

Public universities all over the country are requiring testing to be allowed to attend class. I don't know why public K-12 can't require the same. But those universities are paying for testing.

Surely, we could create fund to pay for those whose insurance will not fund the testing if it will get kids back to school.

Saliva testing 2x per week would be cheap and fast. It is not 100% accurate, but speed and frequency help.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.