News

Superintendents: Kids should begin school year in classrooms

Leaders in 6 counties announce support for full in-person classes

Nancy Smith teaches her first grade class of in-person and full-distance students at Fairmeadow Elementary School in Palo Alto on Oct. 12, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

School superintendents in six counties and the city of Berkeley jointly announced their support Friday for full in-person classes for the entirety of the 2021-22 school year.

The announcement came from superintendents in Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Alameda counties in addition to the city of Berkeley and aligns with guidance from the California Department of Public Health that encourages schools across the state to reopen with modifications.

The guidance from the CDPH states that all students should have access to "full, in person learning" with safety precautions in place, including more targeted quarantine practices and stronger COVID-19 testing.

The officials also advised all students age 12 and up to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they have yet to do so. Under state public health guidelines, students will be required to wear a face covering when indoors regardless of their vaccination status.

"We highly encourage our students to take advantage of vaccination opportunities and universally wearing their masks," Contra Costa County Superintendent Lynn Mackey said in a statement. "These strategies are proven to be the most effective way to prevent in-school transmission of the COVID-19 virus and its variants."

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State public health and education officials have yet to mandate that eligible students get vaccinated against COVID-19 before they return to school.

They have, however, hinted that such a mandate will be considered once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues its full approval of the three available vaccines.

Similar vaccination mandates already exist for communicable illnesses like measles and whooping cough unless a child has a documented exemption from a doctor.

"It is important for all students to have access to a safe learning environment, and universal mask-wearing and the COVID-19 vaccine are proven to be the two most effective mitigation strategies in preventing in-school transmission of the coronavirus and its variants," Santa Clara County Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan said.

Parents and students can view a set of frequently asked questions about the state's K-12 guidance at cdph.ca.gov.

Parents and students can also find a vaccination location at myturn.ca.gov.

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Superintendents: Kids should begin school year in classrooms

Leaders in 6 counties announce support for full in-person classes

by / Bay City News Service

Uploaded: Sat, Jul 31, 2021, 8:31 am

School superintendents in six counties and the city of Berkeley jointly announced their support Friday for full in-person classes for the entirety of the 2021-22 school year.

The announcement came from superintendents in Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Alameda counties in addition to the city of Berkeley and aligns with guidance from the California Department of Public Health that encourages schools across the state to reopen with modifications.

The guidance from the CDPH states that all students should have access to "full, in person learning" with safety precautions in place, including more targeted quarantine practices and stronger COVID-19 testing.

The officials also advised all students age 12 and up to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they have yet to do so. Under state public health guidelines, students will be required to wear a face covering when indoors regardless of their vaccination status.

"We highly encourage our students to take advantage of vaccination opportunities and universally wearing their masks," Contra Costa County Superintendent Lynn Mackey said in a statement. "These strategies are proven to be the most effective way to prevent in-school transmission of the COVID-19 virus and its variants."

State public health and education officials have yet to mandate that eligible students get vaccinated against COVID-19 before they return to school.

They have, however, hinted that such a mandate will be considered once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues its full approval of the three available vaccines.

Similar vaccination mandates already exist for communicable illnesses like measles and whooping cough unless a child has a documented exemption from a doctor.

"It is important for all students to have access to a safe learning environment, and universal mask-wearing and the COVID-19 vaccine are proven to be the two most effective mitigation strategies in preventing in-school transmission of the coronavirus and its variants," Santa Clara County Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan said.

Parents and students can view a set of frequently asked questions about the state's K-12 guidance at cdph.ca.gov.

Parents and students can also find a vaccination location at myturn.ca.gov.

Comments

Martinimaas
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2021 at 10:34 am
Martinimaas, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2021 at 10:34 am

It would be reassuring if the local, district, and statewide teachers unions also issued statements in support of full return to in-person school under these same criteria (i.e., issuing statements confirming that they are in alignment with the superintendents), and then the discussion needs to start about under what conditions the last remaining safety mandates should be removed. In Palo Alto public schools prior to covid, masks were prohibited, which I always thought was unhelpful, as they can be very helpful to certain people in certain circumstances. As a serious allergy sufferer, I have long wished that face masks during allergy season were more socially acceptable. I know people who have been wearing masks on long-haul airline flights for years, just as a precaution. Then, there are those times when you are not feeling sick per se, but not feeling your best, and if you are trying to "ward something off" health-wise, a mask than be a reassuring thing and may protect the spread of whatever. So, along with removal of mandates, I hope we see changes of prior policy allowing anyone to wear masks for their own personal health purposes going forward, including at school.


Forever Name
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 2, 2021 at 11:07 am
Forever Name, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2021 at 11:07 am

And yet 6 percent of PAUSD parents (that’s 400 families!) surveyed are planning to keep their kids home from school this year (per the recent PAUSD survey). I feel so sorry for those isolated children: the long term *proven* effects can be devastating socially, emotionally, and academically. Distance learning is akin to dropping out (per published data) with life long impacts. For such an educated area there are a lot of panicked families making fear driven, ignorant, destructive decisions. Get a grip parents. Before keeping kids home again unnecessarily, families might want to read the memos and educate themselves.

Web Link

"Bay Area schools are expected to fully reopen this month to in-person learning — throwing open their doors to excited students eager to end months of social distancing and academic isolation and get back to friends ...."

"There’s nearly universal agreement from the governor’s office to the principal’s office to family dinner tables that the impact of distance learning was devastating mentally, emotionally and academically for too many, with increases in obesity, depression, anxiety and more. Getting students back into classrooms is critical, health and education officials say, and it would take an unexpected and devastating development to stop students from going back to class or to return them to distance learning later in the year."


What Will They Do Next
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2021 at 11:10 am
What Will They Do Next, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2021 at 11:10 am

Doesn't matter what Superintendents want. It's all about optics with them. Unions will shut it down and most teachers are complicit. They don't care about what parents want and their children need. Newsom will back any plan they come up with. Just follow the money.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Aug 2, 2021 at 1:52 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2021 at 1:52 pm

The fact that all 6 Superintendents got together to make a joint statement about returning
to in-person learning should actually be viewed as a worrying sign and not as some sort of ringing endorsement or reassurance. Internal CDC documents obtained by The Washington Post revealed that “the delta variant travels from host to host faster than the Ebola virus and is more contagious than the chickenpox.” Almost all pandemic news is now about a disturbing increase in cases due to the Delta variant. At around the same time that these Superintendents made this statement, Lyft announced employees will not be returning to the office until February 2022. So unvaccinated kids can return in person in August but vaccine eligible adults are being pushed back to February 2022?

The societal norm is to have children in school and obviously there are parents that went ballistic last year when the schools closed. My concern is that the pandemic is not under control, many children over 12 are unvaccinated, and children under 12 do not have a vaccine available yet. One positive in the Bay Area is the mostly very high vaccine uptake by eligible adults.

This statement is also concerning:
The guidance from CDPH-all students should have access to "full, in person learning" with safety precautions in place, including more targeted quarantine practices and stronger COVID-19 testing.” They are all but admitting there will be Covid cases in schools by talking about “quarantine practices.”

It’s an interesting turnabout this year. Most teachers are now vaccinated. Last year the teachers were being asked to take risks before vaccinations became available and drew the ire of some “Open The Schools!” people. Now families will have to navigate the risks. Is it safe for my unvaccinated child to return to school? Is my child’s teacher vaccinated?

Brentwood schools opened with 15 Covid cases in 3 days. Those 400 families are smart! Obsessing about the unions isn’t healthy. It’s very sad.


Anony Mouse
Registered user
Esther Clark Park
on Aug 2, 2021 at 3:42 pm
Anony Mouse, Esther Clark Park
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2021 at 3:42 pm

Just a reminder: By the end of last year, PAUSD was fully open to any student who wanted to attend in person (AND we served all students who preferred distance learning). You may not recall the chest-thumping and bragging of school leadership - up to and including a press conference with Governor Newsom. You may also not be remembering that the teachers had no say in the re-opening process. It was made very clear that PAUSD was going to be a leader in opening schools - no matter what. You may not remember this, but teachers do. All the teachers I work with want to go back to in-person teaching. We're all vaccinated. It's your un-vaxxed children that may be taking a risk. Any concerns about those risks should address them to health and school officials who have the power to stop in-person schooling. Leave the union out of it.


Virginia Smedberg
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2021 at 5:36 pm
Virginia Smedberg, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2021 at 5:36 pm

I find it interesting, as others have noted, that it's the superintendents who have "agreed" - nothing is said about teachers, or parents, or students - whether they've been surveyed, and what concerns and considerations they have and whether those are being addressed. Also the "safety precautions" are not fully specified in this announcement - are those plans available for parents, teachers, students, AND community members (we are also in this with all the rest of the players) to see? The announcement says "with safety precautions in place, including more targeted quarantine practices and stronger COVID-19 testing." I'd like to see the specifics


William Hitchens
Registered user
Mountain View
on Aug 2, 2021 at 6:35 pm
William Hitchens, Mountain View
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2021 at 6:35 pm

Wow!!! How stupid while the Delta variant is starting to run wild. Rapid response is necessary here, not "ignorant inertia". Do school districts even know what ignorant inertia is? No, they define it --- ignorantly.

Embarrassing questions:
--- Will all of the school adults, such as teachers, staff, cooks, custodians, and bus drivers be forced to be fully vaccinated and masked? If not, then why are your kids there?
--- Will all of the kids 12 and older be fully vaccinated, forced to wear REAL masks, and properly distancing enforced --- 6 feet is the gold standard!!! If not, why are they your kids there?
--- Are the kids' families also fully vaccinated? If not, why are your kids there? We can't force them --- yet.

I could ask more embarrassing questions but why bother? Desperately ignorant people just don't listen to embarrassingly accurate questions. Dear ignorant fools. Do it right, and don't threaten community health by infecting your children, and then yourselves. You may not understand or care, but WE THE COMMUNITY care. Your lives are NOT private if you do things that will infect and harm us.


C
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Aug 2, 2021 at 7:55 pm
C, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2021 at 7:55 pm

> Are the kids' families also fully vaccinated?

Yeah, that. And I find this article ironic, with the new mask mandate. If there was a new, more virulent, strain of mumps or measles, I bet response would be different. I sure wish parents of children attending schools were tracked for infections, to get a better idea of school policy. I also wish kids were taught how respiratory viruses are transmitted. Because it sure looks like a lot of adults don't know.


Forever Name
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 2, 2021 at 7:57 pm
Forever Name, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2021 at 7:57 pm

@ What Will They Do Next

Agree 100 percent! Teachers Unions run this state: pure evil actions this past year with kids paying the price. Families that have the resources are going/gone private or fleeing/fled the state in record numbers (see public data and news). Those kids left behind in public schools are at the mercy of Teachers Unions, the same kids that have the fewest resources and the most to lose are being hardest hit with devastating life long impacts. So much for Social Justice. Teachers Unions are anti-social justice, anti-student, anti-equity, and anti-children's social/emotional/physical health. Teachers Unions, and Health Officers, who demanded schools be closed (which former Director of CDC has publically stated was never necessary and should have never happened), have CREATED a Public Health disaster for the children in the state of CA that will be felt for an entire generation. UCSF Director of Covid response Dr. Monica Gandhi, and the entire team of UCSF doctors (top in the world), have been leading the way on calling out this public health disaster and Newsom's cowtowing to the powerful Teachers Unions who run the show in CA at the expense of all the children. (While of course his OWN children all attended private school in person the entire last year.) Teachers Unions no longer serve the public good and are a danger to our children and society.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Aug 2, 2021 at 9:10 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2021 at 9:10 pm

1. The Union doesn’t represent the children in any manner. The Union is supposed to represent the interests of their members not children. They don’t represent the interests of children in anyway so everything about social justice/children being left behind is a moot point. Finally, the parents of those children are actually responsible for those children legally until they turn 18, not the schools.

2. The Union did not “close the schools.” That was the decision of the Government. Due to an unprecedented health crisis we are all still suffering through.

3. Please post a link with evidence that the former CDC director stated “schools should never have been shut down.” Schools were shut down during The 1918 Flu Pandemic. That is very hard to believe.

4. You are making an assumption that the schools caused a separate public health crisis for children. Some children did better with distance learning even though that wasn’t promoted by the media. Regardless, the pandemic and the mitigation strategies used to contain it were not the fault of the schools, teachers, or the unions.

5. There are charter schools and private schools available if parents aren’t happy with public schools.

6. Ghandi is just one UCSF medical professional. She also advocated very early on last Spring about children removing masks long before vaccinations were available. She could be wrong about things considering new mask mandates went into effect today. Ghandi advocating for school reopening neither makes her correct or a heroine.

7. The assumption last year was “schools should be open because the kids don’t get or suffer from Covid.” That assumption should no longer be held. More children hospitalizations are being reported with Delta.

7. People are free to come and go as they please in our state. That isn’t directly linked to schools.

8. Schools are going to open. So I am not sure why there is another Union diatribe.

9. Stop obsessing about the Union. It seems sad.


Forever Name
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 2, 2021 at 9:31 pm
Forever Name, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2021 at 9:31 pm

@ The Voice of Palo Alto

It's clear when someone doesn't have children, is not educated about covid and schools, and does not understand how destructive teachers unions have been this past year and a half. Teachers Unions are the reasons schools such as PAUSD stayed closed for a full year after Mach 2020. The govt did NOT close schools. Know the facts. Do your homework.

CDC Director Redfield Says It Does Not Recommend Closing Schools, Covid Acquired ‘In The Household’.

CDC Director Redfield Nov 2020 press conference: "Schools is one of the safest places they can be." "CDC Director Robert Redfield said at the White House coronavirus task force briefing that the organization did not recommend closing schools in the spring, nor does it recommend it now. Redfield stated that research showed Covid-19 was not typically acquired in schools, but at students’ homes."

Web Link

ALL the UCSF medical staff, Stanford staff, and medical professionals across the state are advocating for school reopening: "Noble is a Professor of Emergency Medicine, and just one of the thirty UCSF health care professionals – from infectious disease experts to adolescent health specialists – calling for a reopening of California schools as soon as February 1. They say 10 months of lost learning and the mounting social isolation caused by the closures outweighs the risk posed by reopening."

Web Link

Web Link

"A group of 30 UCSF medical professionals has published an open letter, calling for California schools to be reopened by February 1."
Web Link

"The Kids Were Safe The Whole Time"
Web Link



Forever Name
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 2, 2021 at 9:38 pm
Forever Name, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2021 at 9:38 pm

@ The Voice of Palo Alto

Unions fought to keep schools closed while city and state govt officials fought to OPEN them! Know the facts. Public School Closures, a public health disaster, falls squarely on TEACHERS UNIONS.

SF Chronical Editorial Board
"Editorial: Californians are losing faith in public schools. They're not wrong"

"When schools in San Francisco and across California at long last welcome all their students back to full-time, in-person instruction, a significant share won’t show up. The missing thousands represent lost faith and lasting damage to public education institutions and unions that took advantage of an emergency to shirk their responsibility to the state’s children."
Web Link


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Aug 2, 2021 at 10:06 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2021 at 10:06 pm

[Portion removed.]

2. The premise of “the schools are a bastion of safety under an otherwise deadly pandemic” is nonsense. Redford said this under the close monitoring of the previous administration that wanted schools open at all costs (Open The Schools!) because he was concerned about re-election based on the economy. Parents aren’t able to drop their kids off and go to work if they don’t have the necessary school function of child care.

3. “The kids were safe the whole time” is an opinion article and as I stated it’s not holding up anymore. More children hospitalizations are being reported. Children aren’t “Covid data points.” .02% this… .08%…that

Web Link

4. I’m aware of all those medical professionals writing those open letters. But if it’s so safe and all, how do they explain all these cases in Brentwood in only 3 days back? Hint. It’s not safe. They are wrong. It’s only the societal norm that “kids should be in school.”

Web Link

5. The Union post from the SF editorial board was just another opinion piece to villainize the Union. Again, without kids in schools the economy can’t run. If people lose faith it’s up to them.

[Portion removed.]


William Hitchens
Registered user
Mountain View
on Aug 3, 2021 at 11:24 am
William Hitchens, Mountain View
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 11:24 am

I'm really glad that we don't have any children in public schools. I don't trust the school's "administrators" to keep them safe. There's just too much political pressure and misinformation bearing heavily upon this issue.


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