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When and how will Palo Alto Unified's middle and high schools reopen?

Board of Education to discuss plans for secondary schools on Tuesday

Under Palo Alto Unified's reopening plan, middle and high school students are set to return to campus early next year. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

With Palo Alto Unified's youngest students returning to school in phases this month, the school district is turning its focus to the more complex phase of reopening the middle and high schools early next year.

The school board will discuss on Tuesday the next steps for resuming in-person instruction at the secondary schools. This work has already begun, with all principals meeting for a planning day last week and a preliminary survey going out to students and families. Of the about 5,500 parents and students who have responded to the survey, 61% said they would choose a hybrid model with some in-person instruction and 39% would stick with distance learning.

Seventy-three percent of respondents said they believe livestreaming — which would allow students at home to watch live classes being taught in person — is a viable option for distance learning. The majority of respondents (81%) said they would prefer livestreaming to a third-party option for online learning.

The district also asked families to say what sources of information they would rely on to guide their final decision on whether to return to school in person. The top five responses, in order, were: doctor/health care professional, teacher, friend/neighbor, the school board and district communication.

A separate survey is set to go out to teachers on Tuesday, Oct. 27, followed by another survey to families on Thursday, Oct. 29.

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The board will again discuss reopening of the middle and high schools on Nov. 10 and the district expects to open a window for families to choose between in-person or distance learning the next day. The middle and high schools are set to reopen in January, with priority going to sixth graders and high school seniors, though no dates have been set yet.

On Monday, meanwhile, 700 second and third grade students returned to their campuses for a hybrid model, joining about 700 students in the lower grades who went back to school earlier this month. By the week of Nov. 9, when fourth and fifth graders are set to return, the district projects it will have more than 2,000 elementary students back on campuses for hybrid learning.

The district has started offering COVID-19 testing to employees through Stanford Health Care. On the first day of testing last Wednesday, about 300 employees were tested, according to the district. The testing is available twice a month at various school campuses.

The district has not reported any COVID-19 cases among students or staff since reopening elementary schools for the hybrid model, according to an online dashboard that's updated weekly.

Palo Alto Unified has created an internal system for tracking employees' concerns or complaints about safety conditions at reopened schools using a single email address ([email protected]) that's routed through Chief Business Officer Carolyn Chow's email as the central point of contact, rather than large group emails that don't result in any action or response.

Tuesday's school board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. View the full agenda here. The board is continuing to meet in person but the public can only participate virtually. The meeting will be broadcast on Cable TV Channel 28 and on midpenmedia.org. Those wishing to participate by Zoom can do so by going to pausd.zoom.us/j/97888498129 or dialing 669-900-6833 and using Meeting ID: 949 9734 6242.

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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When and how will Palo Alto Unified's middle and high schools reopen?

Board of Education to discuss plans for secondary schools on Tuesday

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 26, 2020, 4:58 pm

With Palo Alto Unified's youngest students returning to school in phases this month, the school district is turning its focus to the more complex phase of reopening the middle and high schools early next year.

The school board will discuss on Tuesday the next steps for resuming in-person instruction at the secondary schools. This work has already begun, with all principals meeting for a planning day last week and a preliminary survey going out to students and families. Of the about 5,500 parents and students who have responded to the survey, 61% said they would choose a hybrid model with some in-person instruction and 39% would stick with distance learning.

Seventy-three percent of respondents said they believe livestreaming — which would allow students at home to watch live classes being taught in person — is a viable option for distance learning. The majority of respondents (81%) said they would prefer livestreaming to a third-party option for online learning.

The district also asked families to say what sources of information they would rely on to guide their final decision on whether to return to school in person. The top five responses, in order, were: doctor/health care professional, teacher, friend/neighbor, the school board and district communication.

A separate survey is set to go out to teachers on Tuesday, Oct. 27, followed by another survey to families on Thursday, Oct. 29.

The board will again discuss reopening of the middle and high schools on Nov. 10 and the district expects to open a window for families to choose between in-person or distance learning the next day. The middle and high schools are set to reopen in January, with priority going to sixth graders and high school seniors, though no dates have been set yet.

On Monday, meanwhile, 700 second and third grade students returned to their campuses for a hybrid model, joining about 700 students in the lower grades who went back to school earlier this month. By the week of Nov. 9, when fourth and fifth graders are set to return, the district projects it will have more than 2,000 elementary students back on campuses for hybrid learning.

The district has started offering COVID-19 testing to employees through Stanford Health Care. On the first day of testing last Wednesday, about 300 employees were tested, according to the district. The testing is available twice a month at various school campuses.

The district has not reported any COVID-19 cases among students or staff since reopening elementary schools for the hybrid model, according to an online dashboard that's updated weekly.

Palo Alto Unified has created an internal system for tracking employees' concerns or complaints about safety conditions at reopened schools using a single email address ([email protected]) that's routed through Chief Business Officer Carolyn Chow's email as the central point of contact, rather than large group emails that don't result in any action or response.

Tuesday's school board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. View the full agenda here. The board is continuing to meet in person but the public can only participate virtually. The meeting will be broadcast on Cable TV Channel 28 and on midpenmedia.org. Those wishing to participate by Zoom can do so by going to pausd.zoom.us/j/97888498129 or dialing 669-900-6833 and using Meeting ID: 949 9734 6242.

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

kyrie robinson
Registered user
South of Midtown
on Oct 28, 2020 at 11:39 am
kyrie robinson, South of Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 28, 2020 at 11:39 am
22 people like this

I took the survey and it was poorly designed. Too many binary choices where the answer should have been “it depends” or “I need more information.” I was practically choosing randomly. Two takeaways:
1. The data is likely not reliable for any serious analysis
2. We live in Palo Alto and surely there are people who can help design surveys with higher validity. If you are really stuck, call me next time.


Parent who talks w/other parents
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Oct 28, 2020 at 2:31 pm
Parent who talks w/other parents, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Oct 28, 2020 at 2:31 pm
14 people like this

This article should state the short window the survey was open. I received it via email Wednesday night and it closed at noon on Friday. It was cited as being for planning purposes. The questions were poorly designed, the options were not described, and there was no option for an open response. Now it's being used for making major decisions like removing live streaming from the table when nearly 3/4 respondents want live streaming.


Social Justice Issue
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2020 at 3:22 pm
Social Justice Issue, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 29, 2020 at 3:22 pm
Like this comment

@ Lilian J. "I like online learning"

Thanks for participating. It's great that online learning is working for you and others. I'm guessing that's because you have a roof over your head and aren't one of the quarter-to-half a million CA students who are homeless who this is NOT working for. Keeping schools closed is a huge social justice issue. For students who are comfortable with their circumstances and like online learning, I recommend they step out of their privileged lives for a moment and consider what other students might be facing with online learning. Homelessness is surging, with schools being many kids' only safe place to go for meals and an education.

LA Times, 10/21/2020
"California’s homeless students could fill Dodger Stadium 5 times, study finds"
Web Link

Do teachers (unions) and students comfortable at home really believe homeless kids can zoom in all day? And actually learn under these circumstances? For the next year or two? From where? With what? Keeping schools closed is selfish as it only serves those with resources (a roof over their head, food, decent night's sleep, a laptop for each child in the family, reliable wifi, a quiet place to work or take tests, etc etc). Think about what it might be like to be living out of a suitcase and trying to do school. Not even a bed to call your own. Keeping schools closed is extremely UNHEALTHY and UNETHICAL for a large segment of the student population as verified by many medical and public health organizations, our own SCC Health Dtr, and our own PAUSD superintendent. The only group lobbying for continued closures in Calif is the teacher unions who don't care about the students they are harming.


LillianJ
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Oct 30, 2020 at 3:22 am
LillianJ, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Oct 30, 2020 at 3:22 am
Like this comment

I don't think that it's reasonable to open schools now. I think that health is more important than the possibility to go to school. As for me, I like online learning. Actually, I like studying; I use a lot of resources such as this Web Link to find some help and do my assignments on the highest level. I often use different writing services (e.g. Paperell) to get good results. And I also like to read some interesting articles on this Yale Web Link , for example. Education can be engaging; it's necessary to provide all conditions to make it available and comfortable for everyone. And of course, it's a matter of self-motivation.


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