News

Hundreds of COVID-19 cases appear in Palo Alto schools as omicron surges

District stops sending close contact notifications, citing logistical burden and decreased utility

The Palo Alto Unified School District tested 508 teachers and staff for COVID-19 at the district office on Jan. 3, 2022, before the start of classes this week following the holiday break. Photo by Zoe Morgan.

Classes have been back in session for less than a week after winter break and local schools are reporting record numbers of COVID-19 cases among students and staff, as the highly contagious omicron variant spreads locally.

Some districts, including Palo Alto Unified, have abandoned sending out close contact notifications, saying it's logistically impossible with cases at record highs. They are instead warning families that all students should assume they have been exposed to the virus and get tested weekly.

"You would, as a parent, have the very real potential of receiving a contact letter every single day from us (for) however long this surge lasts," Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Don Austin said. "That's not going to add any value for anybody."

Palo Alto Unified plans to publish updated case numbers later in the day on Friday, Jan. 7, but Austin said Thursday evening that he expects over 200 cases, possibly more. By Friday morning, Austin revised his estimate to roughly 300 cases. Those only count students and staff who came to campus. In the fall, the district saw weekly case counts in the single digits among its 10,500 students.

Other local schools have similarly seen big increases in COVID-19 cases this week. The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District has seen 45 students and 13 teachers or other adults come onto campus this week and subsequently test positive for COVID-19, as of Friday morning. The district has roughly 4,500 students.

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There also is a group who contracted the coronavirus over winter break, but found out in time to avoid coming to school. In total, the district counted 156 students and 26 adults with positive tests, Associate Superintendent Leyla Benson said on Thursday. She cautioned that the true numbers are likely higher, because people are only required to report a positive test result if they have been on campus.

"It is absolutely the highest (number of cases) we've seen by a long shot," Benson said. "When we were having a few cases a week, it was a much different landscape. This variant is much more contagious."

In the fall semester, the district had no more than six students report positive tests in a single seven-day period.

The smaller Los Altos School District, which serves roughly 3,300 elementary and middle school students, also has seen cases increase. This week, 26 students and four staff members have tested positive. That may include some who never came to campus, Superintendent Jeff Baier said. Over the two weeks of winter break, 83 students and 26 staff tested positive.

Over in the K-8 Mountain View Whisman School District, which has 4,500 students, 33 students and 23 staff members are listed as having tested positive in the past seven days, as of Friday morning.

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The spikes in COVID-19 cases at local schools follow a broader omicron-fueled surge in the pandemic both locally and nationally. Santa Clara County is seeing its highest numbers of COVID-19 cases to date, with a seven-day rolling average of 1,918 cases as of Thursday.

Trying to avoid classroom or campus closures

An empty Mountain View High School campus on March 16, 2020. Photo by Sammy Dallal.

With cases at record highs, districts are grappling with how to safely keep students learning in person, even as more of their classmates and teachers test positive. After experiencing over a year of remote learning, education officials have stressed that they want students on campus, if at all possible.

"We had heard very clearly from the community the importance of in-school instruction and the effectiveness of in-school instruction," Benson said. "We know that this is the model that is best for student learning."

At the same time, local school administrators acknowledge that it is possible some classes will have to move online, at least temporarily. The biggest concern, officials say, is being able to maintain adequate staffing levels to keep classrooms open. Schools, like many industries, have been facing staffing shortages. Substitute teachers have been particularly hard to find.

Thus far, Palo Alto Unified, MVLA, Mountain View Whisman and Los Altos have all avoided having to move any classes online.

"It's manageable right now and as long as that remains true, we're open," Austin said, adding that he thought they would have had to close classrooms by now.

Baier called staffing the "linchpin" that is making in-person school possible, but said his district is currently in a reasonably good place.

"We are certainly stretched thin, but we've been able to make it work thus far," Baier said.

'When we were having a few cases a week, it was a much different landscape. This variant is much more contagious.'

-Leyla Benson, associate superintendent, Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District

Beyond staffing, there's also the possibility that a classroom, or theoretically an entire school, could close if COVID-19 case numbers get too high. Unlike earlier in the pandemic, the state has not currently released specific metrics for when a school would have to close, instead saying that the process should be "guided by local epidemiology, with particular attention paid to concern for in-school transmission."

At the same time that staffing has proved a challenge, some districts are also moving to shorten the quarantine guidance for teachers and other staff who test positive, allowing them to return to the classroom more quickly. Rather than a mandatory 10-day quarantine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance that allows for a five-day quarantine, if the person doesn't have symptoms and tests negative on the fifth day.

That change is being adopted by some Santa Clara County districts, including Palo Alto Unified. MVLA and Los Altos are both currently making the transition, while Mountain View Whisman spokesperson Shelly Hausman said Thursday that the district is still using the same quarantine rules it did in the fall.

Although MVLA plans to move to adopt the new quarantine rules, Benson noted that they are more complicated, because they require a negative test on the fifth day, while the prior guidelines called for a flat 10-day quarantine, with no need to test again before returning.

The Santa Clara County Department of Public Health did not respond to specific questions from this news organization about its current quarantine guidelines and metrics for school closure, instead referring to state regulations.

Abandoning contact tracing efforts

The Los Altos High School campus is empty during the last week of school on June 2, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

At the middle and high school levels, where students rotate between classes throughout the day, a single case can lead to over 100 close contact notifications. That has led Palo Alto Unified and MVLA to suspend sending out individualized close contact letters.

"What we need to convey to our community is that currently there is a prevalence (of the virus) in our schools, which means that statistically it is very likely that your child has come into close contact with someone, so the safest approach is to continue testing," Benson said.

Both districts are urging families to get regularly tested, with on campus testing options available. The Palo Alto district has also been offering community members the option to take tests at its Cubberley Community Center site, but plans to only serve staff and students starting Monday, due to high demand for tests, Austin said.

For those districts that are no longer sending out close contact notifications, ensuring students actually get tested is a potential hurdle. Individualized close contact letters laid out specific testing requirements that students had to meet to remain on campus.

The Los Altos School District is currently continuing with its contact tracing efforts, but Baier said district officials are looking for ways to streamline the process as more people are testing positive.

"With more cases, getting the letters out for the variety of scenarios in a timely fashion is just really difficult," Baier said.

Mountain View Whisman is also continuing to contact trace and send out close contact notifications, Hausman said.

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Hundreds of COVID-19 cases appear in Palo Alto schools as omicron surges

District stops sending close contact notifications, citing logistical burden and decreased utility

by / Embarcadero Media

Uploaded: Fri, Jan 7, 2022, 9:56 am
Updated: Fri, Jan 7, 2022, 5:44 pm

Classes have been back in session for less than a week after winter break and local schools are reporting record numbers of COVID-19 cases among students and staff, as the highly contagious omicron variant spreads locally.

Some districts, including Palo Alto Unified, have abandoned sending out close contact notifications, saying it's logistically impossible with cases at record highs. They are instead warning families that all students should assume they have been exposed to the virus and get tested weekly.

"You would, as a parent, have the very real potential of receiving a contact letter every single day from us (for) however long this surge lasts," Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Don Austin said. "That's not going to add any value for anybody."

Palo Alto Unified plans to publish updated case numbers later in the day on Friday, Jan. 7, but Austin said Thursday evening that he expects over 200 cases, possibly more. By Friday morning, Austin revised his estimate to roughly 300 cases. Those only count students and staff who came to campus. In the fall, the district saw weekly case counts in the single digits among its 10,500 students.

Other local schools have similarly seen big increases in COVID-19 cases this week. The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District has seen 45 students and 13 teachers or other adults come onto campus this week and subsequently test positive for COVID-19, as of Friday morning. The district has roughly 4,500 students.

There also is a group who contracted the coronavirus over winter break, but found out in time to avoid coming to school. In total, the district counted 156 students and 26 adults with positive tests, Associate Superintendent Leyla Benson said on Thursday. She cautioned that the true numbers are likely higher, because people are only required to report a positive test result if they have been on campus.

"It is absolutely the highest (number of cases) we've seen by a long shot," Benson said. "When we were having a few cases a week, it was a much different landscape. This variant is much more contagious."

In the fall semester, the district had no more than six students report positive tests in a single seven-day period.

The smaller Los Altos School District, which serves roughly 3,300 elementary and middle school students, also has seen cases increase. This week, 26 students and four staff members have tested positive. That may include some who never came to campus, Superintendent Jeff Baier said. Over the two weeks of winter break, 83 students and 26 staff tested positive.

Over in the K-8 Mountain View Whisman School District, which has 4,500 students, 33 students and 23 staff members are listed as having tested positive in the past seven days, as of Friday morning.

The spikes in COVID-19 cases at local schools follow a broader omicron-fueled surge in the pandemic both locally and nationally. Santa Clara County is seeing its highest numbers of COVID-19 cases to date, with a seven-day rolling average of 1,918 cases as of Thursday.

With cases at record highs, districts are grappling with how to safely keep students learning in person, even as more of their classmates and teachers test positive. After experiencing over a year of remote learning, education officials have stressed that they want students on campus, if at all possible.

"We had heard very clearly from the community the importance of in-school instruction and the effectiveness of in-school instruction," Benson said. "We know that this is the model that is best for student learning."

At the same time, local school administrators acknowledge that it is possible some classes will have to move online, at least temporarily. The biggest concern, officials say, is being able to maintain adequate staffing levels to keep classrooms open. Schools, like many industries, have been facing staffing shortages. Substitute teachers have been particularly hard to find.

Thus far, Palo Alto Unified, MVLA, Mountain View Whisman and Los Altos have all avoided having to move any classes online.

"It's manageable right now and as long as that remains true, we're open," Austin said, adding that he thought they would have had to close classrooms by now.

Baier called staffing the "linchpin" that is making in-person school possible, but said his district is currently in a reasonably good place.

"We are certainly stretched thin, but we've been able to make it work thus far," Baier said.

Beyond staffing, there's also the possibility that a classroom, or theoretically an entire school, could close if COVID-19 case numbers get too high. Unlike earlier in the pandemic, the state has not currently released specific metrics for when a school would have to close, instead saying that the process should be "guided by local epidemiology, with particular attention paid to concern for in-school transmission."

At the same time that staffing has proved a challenge, some districts are also moving to shorten the quarantine guidance for teachers and other staff who test positive, allowing them to return to the classroom more quickly. Rather than a mandatory 10-day quarantine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance that allows for a five-day quarantine, if the person doesn't have symptoms and tests negative on the fifth day.

That change is being adopted by some Santa Clara County districts, including Palo Alto Unified. MVLA and Los Altos are both currently making the transition, while Mountain View Whisman spokesperson Shelly Hausman said Thursday that the district is still using the same quarantine rules it did in the fall.

Although MVLA plans to move to adopt the new quarantine rules, Benson noted that they are more complicated, because they require a negative test on the fifth day, while the prior guidelines called for a flat 10-day quarantine, with no need to test again before returning.

The Santa Clara County Department of Public Health did not respond to specific questions from this news organization about its current quarantine guidelines and metrics for school closure, instead referring to state regulations.

At the middle and high school levels, where students rotate between classes throughout the day, a single case can lead to over 100 close contact notifications. That has led Palo Alto Unified and MVLA to suspend sending out individualized close contact letters.

"What we need to convey to our community is that currently there is a prevalence (of the virus) in our schools, which means that statistically it is very likely that your child has come into close contact with someone, so the safest approach is to continue testing," Benson said.

Both districts are urging families to get regularly tested, with on campus testing options available. The Palo Alto district has also been offering community members the option to take tests at its Cubberley Community Center site, but plans to only serve staff and students starting Monday, due to high demand for tests, Austin said.

For those districts that are no longer sending out close contact notifications, ensuring students actually get tested is a potential hurdle. Individualized close contact letters laid out specific testing requirements that students had to meet to remain on campus.

The Los Altos School District is currently continuing with its contact tracing efforts, but Baier said district officials are looking for ways to streamline the process as more people are testing positive.

"With more cases, getting the letters out for the variety of scenarios in a timely fashion is just really difficult," Baier said.

Mountain View Whisman is also continuing to contact trace and send out close contact notifications, Hausman said.

Zoe Morgan writes for the Palo Alto Weekly. Angela Swartz writes for The Almanac, a sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

Comments

Barron Parker Too
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jan 7, 2022 at 10:30 am
Barron Parker Too, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2022 at 10:30 am

It's interesting that PAUSD hasn't yet got the "memo":

Omicron produces an estimated 70 times the number of virus particles in the upper respiratory track as delta. It is far, far more infectious. So you're all going to get it, whether you come to school or stay home, whether you wear masks or don't, whether or not you are vaccinated or boosted.

And you are going to get it very soon, almost certainly within the next 2 months.

[Portion removed.]

So don't close down the schools. There will be lots of absences in the next two months, and then it will be over.


Old Palo Alto Resident
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 7, 2022 at 10:49 am
Old Palo Alto Resident, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2022 at 10:49 am

My friend and his wife had COVID over the holidays. They both had booster shots and only had mild symptoms. But they had to call 911 twice to rush their 18 months boy to the ER because of high fever and seizure. One of the seizures lasted for 20min.


Member
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 7, 2022 at 10:52 am
Member, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2022 at 10:52 am

Thank you PAUSD for keeping the schools open. Thank you teachers and administrators for your efforts. As a parent I greatly appreciate your hard work.


Anon123456
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 7, 2022 at 10:58 am
Anon123456, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2022 at 10:58 am

It matters a lot whether "we all get it" in the space of 3 weeks or 3 months.

Article: "Hospitals Are in Serious Trouble" Web Link


No heat
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Jan 7, 2022 at 11:00 am
No heat, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2022 at 11:00 am

Get your boosters folks; they're authorized for anybody age 12+ who has been at least 5 months since their last dose, and highly effective at keeping you out of the hospital. If you're able to drive to the south part of the county, you can get a booster today. Web Link


panative
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 7, 2022 at 12:21 pm
panative, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2022 at 12:21 pm

As a Palo Alto parent, I am profoundly grateful to all teachers and school staff (and to all other essential workers as well) for their unbelievable commitment to this community. They are going to work knowing that it's very likely they will get sick - and they're doing it anyway. Sure, Omicron is relatively mild - for most. But not for all. Huge thanks (and hazard pay) are in order.


NB
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jan 7, 2022 at 12:24 pm
NB, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2022 at 12:24 pm

@Barron Parker Too -- it won't be over for those that experience Long COVID-19. There are many outcomes between death and full recovery, including permanent organ damage.


JustAnotherDay
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jan 7, 2022 at 3:06 pm
JustAnotherDay, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2022 at 3:06 pm

Please understand that what PAUSD will report is going to be very underreported. I know of several cases in PAUSD kids that tested positive in the 1-2 days before school started/end of the winter break so they never went to school. Case rates in PAUSD families are even higher than what PAUSD will report, as none of those cases will show up in the PAUSD data as they were never on campus. But these kids have siblings in school and your kid plays with them at the park, on sports teams, is with them in art classes, encounters them at the store, the library, etc. Covid is rampant in the community right now! EVERYONE I know that has it right now is FULLY VACCINATED and BOOSTERED if they were eligible. Stay safe everyone!


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2022 at 4:06 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2022 at 4:06 pm

I have no idea exactly what is happening in Palo Alto schools today. What I do hear though is that all over the Bay Area there are "sick outs" at schools by teachers and probably students too. Additionally, those who are going to school are not able to be in their own classrooms but have to double up and have substitutes who are basically babysitting showing videos or playing games, and apart from attendance taking, there is very little purpose to very much of what they are doing.

As to next week, we shall have to see how things progress, but the likelihood is that for at least another week or two, there will be huge numbers of absences for either protest, precautions due to lack of tests or exposure to a positive case, or genuine sickness. Even genuine sickness is generally speaking a mild dose and many will not even be tested due to the fact that nobody wants to take a sick child to stand in line for a couple of hours to tell them that yes they are sick and to stay home.

The likelihood is that by the end of January Omicron will have hit most of us and the immunity will strengthen the population. We are going to have to wade this month out and then hopefully we can return to some semblance of normality.

The students are once again suffering. Their education is not what it should be from an academic point of view, but my suspicion is that they will become stronger and wiser having survived this provided they are given accurate information and are not scared by those fear mongerers that love to be the doom and gloom brigade.


Paly Teacher
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Jan 7, 2022 at 5:59 pm
Paly Teacher, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2022 at 5:59 pm

I'm not sure how PAUSD is getting their numbers, but it should be clear to everyone that they don't show the whole picture. For example, in an email today, Dr. Austin said no Paly staff members who didn't come to school this week were positive. However, I know of at least four staff members who tested positive and stayed home.

Of course, maybe they didn't tell the district of their status. However, it's still true that whatever numbers the district is putting out, they're probably gross underestimates.

Stay safe everyone.


William Hitchens
Registered user
Mountain View
on Jan 7, 2022 at 6:25 pm
William Hitchens, Mountain View
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2022 at 6:25 pm

The ignorant well-meaning AND mediocre abilities of Palo Alto's (and my Mountain View's) elected public school board members, combined our mostly mediocre school administrators, teachers and support personnel, makes the rapid spread of Omicron Covid in classrooms totally predictable. After all, what can we expect from an inferior public education system --- that is crippled by gross under funding and political pressure from ignorant and ideologically biased parents?


Chris
Registered user
University South
on Jan 7, 2022 at 7:10 pm
Chris, University South
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2022 at 7:10 pm

TimR,

Looking at the graphs of cases and hospitalizations, which are both in a sharp upward trajectory, how do you know when the numbers will peak? The peak will depend on human behavior and since many people are not taking this wave seriously, they will cause the peaks to go well above where they would if more precautions were taken.


Samuel L
Registered user
Meadow Park
on Jan 7, 2022 at 7:12 pm
Samuel L, Meadow Park
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2022 at 7:12 pm

Probably not a coincidence that the district website been essentially down for the past two days. Hard to view numbers when none are reported.


Sally-Ann Rudd
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jan 8, 2022 at 6:54 am
Sally-Ann Rudd, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 6:54 am

Grateful and thankful that PAUSD is prioritizing keeping schools open, that includes administrators, teachers, leadership. Thank you. Time to stop worrying about cases and think about deaths, I know multiple people who are positive at this point and most of them have mild cold-like symptoms. Mild illness shouldn't be paralyzing the county and the country.


Samuel L.
Registered user
Meadow Park
on Jan 8, 2022 at 9:25 am
Samuel L., Meadow Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 9:25 am

5 deaths reported in Santa Clara County yesterday. 28 in LA County, 14 in Alameda, 2 in San Mateo County.

Sally Ann Rudd - how many deaths are acceptable to you? What's your number?


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Jan 8, 2022 at 1:54 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 1:54 pm

California "school sick out" is a self-admitted protest by teachers. They don't want to get sick, and they want classes online. It's very easy to read between the lines as to what's going on. The teachers I know are furious with teachers that are playing this game. If you're vaccinated, vaccinations were "sold" as preventing serious illness and death. Teachers and children belong in the classroom. There's inherent risk in everyday living. The Covid "emergency" is behind us. Life goes on.


CalAveLocal
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Jan 8, 2022 at 2:32 pm
CalAveLocal, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 2:32 pm

Jennifer, with all due respect - do you have children in our school district now? I do. I also know that all of the teachers want to do the absolute best by our children - and they have been doing it for the last 2 horrible years. Yes, teachers don't want to get sick. Some of them have underlying health conditions; some have family members that have them. No-one wants to bring Covid home.
Its time to add Covid19 vaccines to a list of mandatory vaccines in school, and do it immediately. Given that at this time its not mandatory, given the number of people who don't believe in getting vaccinated - yes, even in our highly educated Palo Alto - everyone at school needs to stay home if there is any possibility of Covid. This is not a joke, this is not a hoax, this is our reality. And claiming that "teachers are playing a game" because they don't want to work is, frankly, insulting.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Jan 8, 2022 at 3:19 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 3:19 pm

CalAveLocal -- The teachers are ADMITTING to calling in sick as a protest. It's not "insulting." It's a fact! You obviously aren't following the news. In all fairness, I don't know any PAUSD teachers (with the exception of teachers who taught our kids) so I haven't been told firsthand that this is happening in PAUSD, but it's happening statewide. The last story I read and saw on the news was Oakland, and this is very bad in Contra Costa County (teachers and students) where we live. Over 150 teachers on one day, and over 2,400 students called in sick. The school district is looking for substitutes. Parents are admitting to keeping children home that aren't sick. This IS A PROTEST!


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2022 at 3:24 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 3:24 pm

The COVID emergency is not behind us. If it were, there wouldn’t be an article here stating that 100’s of cases are coming into schools, the Superintendent stating that the virus is so prevalent they no longer will send notices or contact trace because it’s too overwhelming, and also stating that if you sent your kids to school that statistically they have been in close contact with someone with COVID.
What the teachers are fighting for is the right to work in a healthy and safe environment regardless if they are vaccinated. Are the children and their families all vaccinated? [Portion removed.]
Next, saying “the teachers you know” is an example of “the anecdotal evidence fallacy.” In place of logical evidence, this fallacy substitutes examples from someone's personal experience. The same logical fallacy applies to the poster earlier that stated the schools shouldn’t be closed because “everyone they knew had mild cold like symptoms.” That’s their experience, not everyone’s experience, and not the reason to keep schools opened during a surge.
One of the biggest lies of the pandemic is the presentation of schools as a “bastion of safety” during a deadly pandemic. It doesn’t matter if the kids walk into school infected or if it is spread in class. This was only done so that parents can drop their kids off and go to work to produce corporate profits. While the administrators/ school board work mostly online, the teachers are on the front lines of it but they can not be expected to keep your children safe from a virus that is transmissible as the measles. Downplaying a deadly respiratory pandemic because it’s called “COVID” and it’s “new” is nonsense. Many demanded schools reopen last year leading to this mass infection in communities. No one is totally sure what the long term effects of this virus will be. Being flexible and going remote in January was the way to go for safety. The lack of leadership here is astounding.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Jan 8, 2022 at 3:46 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 3:46 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2022 at 4:29 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 4:29 pm

Now you are trying to conflate the issue into “my insecurities” to try to make it personal, and some nonsense about the medical professionals. We are talking about PAUSD.

The COVID emergency didn’t end with vaccines because millions refused the vaccines and many of the students and the families of the students the teachers are dealing with are unvaccinated.

First you said, “the teachers you know were furious about the other (protesting) teachers.” Then you said “in all fairness, you don’t know any teachers in PAUSD so you don’t know firsthand if this is happening in PAUSD.” This invalidated your initial comment as you even admitted you flip-flopped and proved, as I pointed out, saying the “teachers you know” is a logical fallacy.

Commenting that “the COVID emergency is over” with cases, hospitalizations and deaths still escalating, and constant societal and economical disruptions still taking place, shows that you are uninformed. Placing (COVID) “emergency” in quotes shows a sort of denialism as if COVID still isn’t disrupting things. Again, this article being posted here shows that it is.

Finally, the “this all the teacher’s fault,” standard anti-teacher sentiment doesn’t work in this scenario. The teachers are working in person during a deadly pandemic and should be thanked for their dedication. [Portion removed.] The failings to control the pandemic is not the teacher’s fault. It is the fault of the failed public health policies of our Government to control the pandemic. It is pretty safe to say they have not only lost control of the virus, but are also just balancing the loss of lives with their economic concerns, and teachers and the working class are bearing the brunt of these decisions. The mindset is the standard “the kids and teachers should be in school.” It is not safe right now. [Portion removed.]


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Jan 8, 2022 at 4:43 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 4:43 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2022 at 4:52 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 4:52 pm
Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Jan 8, 2022 at 5:10 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 5:10 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2022 at 6:06 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 6:06 pm
Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Jan 8, 2022 at 6:48 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 6:48 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2022 at 6:58 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 6:58 pm
Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Jan 8, 2022 at 7:29 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 7:29 pm
casey
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 8, 2022 at 9:13 pm
casey, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 9:13 pm

@Samuel L - PAUSD reported that their website provider FinalSite "is currently experiencing an outage due to disruption of certain computer systems on its network which is impacting thousands of schools worldwide. They have been working to identify the issue and secure their systems which included proactively taking certain systems offline."

If you read between the lines, you may be able to guess that their website provider has been subject to a ransomware attack. Having your website go down at this particular moment in time is problematic.


Samuel L.
Registered user
Meadow Park
on Jan 8, 2022 at 9:29 pm
Samuel L., Meadow Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2022 at 9:29 pm

Casey - You must.jabe a PhD in "reading between the lines". How do you get from a system outage to a ransomware attack?


Old Palo Alto Resident
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 9, 2022 at 3:25 pm
Old Palo Alto Resident, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2022 at 3:25 pm

For people thinking that COVID is behind us is wishful thinking. With the spike of cases, people are saying not look to just look at the positive rate and we shouldn't be too concern because the death rate is not as high. But more infected people will give the virus more chances to mutate. This will give more chances for a new variant that could be more lethal and contagious.


Palo Alto Resident
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2022 at 7:16 pm
Palo Alto Resident, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2022 at 7:16 pm

No need to read between any lines. Many articles last week about Final Site's ransomware attack, apparently effecting 1000s of schools. Web Link


OPA Resident
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 9, 2022 at 11:41 pm
OPA Resident, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2022 at 11:41 pm

I was particularly concerned about not receiving close contact notices from the school for my elementary school kid - they dont go from room to room, so there isnt an unending battle for the school to trace and send the notices .
I reached out using out-of-band channels to the parents of the classroom and thankfully most parents agreed to share covid related information from the class.

Maybe other concerned parents can try to do the same where feasible.


Local
Registered user
Stanford
on Jan 10, 2022 at 7:02 am
Local, Stanford
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2022 at 7:02 am

Thank you PAUSD for keeping the schools open. Thank you teachers and administrators for your efforts. As a parent I greatly appreciate your hard work.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2022 at 8:24 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2022 at 8:24 am

I am pleased schools are open.

I would be interested in knowing how students are doing with substitutes, volunteers, etc. all taking the place of regular staff. Are more movies being shown? Are classrooms filled with more than one class of students as rooms or teachers are being shared?

In other words, how is education being done? Are the students learning their curriculum or are they just butts on seats?

If education is continuing and there is value in being in their learning environment then of course that is good news. However, if there is no point in a student being in a classroom due to the value of the teaching being done, then they might as well be home watching YouTube videos by good teachers that have been available and are often done better than some of our regular teachers. I have been very impressed with what can be found by Googling around on YouTube as opposed to some of the required remote learning venues.

Of course education involves more than academic learning, socialization skills and similar protocols can't be learned from remote schooling, but we have to understand that schools are primarily there for academics and we do need to know if this is being achieved at the present time.


TimR
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jan 10, 2022 at 2:52 pm
TimR, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2022 at 2:52 pm

A simpler, more rational way to look at this: everyone who goes out in public (or interacts with people who do) has probably been in "close contact" with someone infected with the Omicron variant. No need for contact tracing and all that. It's everywhere. [Portion removed.]


Sub
Registered user
another community
on Jan 10, 2022 at 7:41 pm
Sub , another community
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2022 at 7:41 pm

@Bystander - I work for PAUSD as an elementary sub and can personally vouch that I have a degree in the subject, follow the curriculum, and have never had a sub plan tell me to just “watch a movie”. It’s been a minorly adjusted version of their normal day. While I am nowhere near as qualified as their teachers, I still aim for them to learn.


Resident
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 12, 2022 at 7:30 am
Resident, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 12, 2022 at 7:30 am

[Portion removed.] In modern times people are subject to mass hysteria. We have let collective panic overrule our better instincts and we are out of touch with reality staring at screens that scream horrific "case numbers!!!!" instead of taking sober judicious actions we've exaggerated the omicron [portion removed] threat. [Portion removed.]


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 12, 2022 at 1:34 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jan 12, 2022 at 1:34 pm

Taxpayer here…
“Oversight urged of school Covid spending,” by John Fensterwald in The Daily Journal, Oct. 21, 2021, p. 3 :

“The state auditor criticized the California Department of Education for inadequately monitoring $24 billion in federal Covid relief that is going to school districts and charter schools. Without better oversight, the department won’t know if districts are mis-applying the money or wisely using the massive, unprecedented aid, California State Auditor Elaine Howle wrote in an audit…”

“The department doesn’t require districts to document the spending data they report, she said, adding that as a result, the department ‘lacks assurance’ districts are spending the money the way the federal government intended.”

- but one instance of lack of accounting in CA state government (all levels) for spending decisions - after receiving lavish funding.
This includes schools, with a cry for more, more.
How about we educate citizens and legal residents?

Funding in schools is NOT always correlated with good results: see Oakland (over many decades of documented mismanagement of school district, despite high funding)

Anyone have an update?


Chris
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Jan 13, 2022 at 8:37 am
Chris, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Jan 13, 2022 at 8:37 am

I've gotten COVID twice now working at a Palo alto school. It is not "mild" to say the least.

Unless you've actually had COVID just shut up seriously reading your comments is so offensive


Kirsten Lakin
Registered user
another community
on Jan 16, 2022 at 1:56 pm
Kirsten Lakin, another community
Registered user
on Jan 16, 2022 at 1:56 pm

Speaking as a Saratoga resident with a fourth grader, I have no problem with teachers calling in sick. Many have their own families to protect and they do not want to bring Omicron into their private lives via exposure from their workplace, in this case public schools.

Online education and further isolation are viable options to contain the coronavirus and I have no issue with keeping a child home from school as well.

Dr. Fauci has reportedly resigned himself from offering any optimistic end to COVID by simply stating that all of us are going to contract Omicron regardless of our vax status.

That said, mandatory face masks, further isolation and closure of non-essential businesses and public activities remain our best Covid-fighting allies along with vaccines...unless people want to be getting supplemental boosters into eternity.


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