News Digest | May 21, 2021 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 21, 2021

News Digest

Stanford removes 11 sports from chopping block

After a controversial decision to cut nearly a third of its varsity sports teams last year, Stanford University has walked back its decision. On Tuesday, the university announced in a press release that it will not be cutting 11 sports programs, citing improved financial footing and more fundraising opportunities to support the athletics department.

The university didn't disclose the specifics of its improved financial outlook, but said in the release that Stanford officials have been talking with groups of alumni, including the advocacy group 36 Sports Strong, which has been trying to raise private funds to prevent the elimination of the university's athletic teams.

The teams that will be restored are men's and women's fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men's rowing, co-ed and women's sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men's volleyball and wrestling.

The decision comes just a week after Stanford athletes filed two lawsuits against the university in an effort to keep the 11 sports. One suit filed by eight athletes alleges the university was in breach of contract for misleading them into the sports program as recruits without disclosing plans to make the cuts. Another lawsuit filed by athletes on five of the women's teams alleges that the cuts violate federal antidiscrimination law Title IX.

The university noted in Tuesday's statement that the decision to reinstate the teams were "independent" of the two lawsuits and that discussions with 36 Sports Strong and others were already "far along."

Palo Alto to appeal regional housing mandate

Palo Alto's elected leaders embarked this week on a quest that they acknowledged has little chance of succeeding: to formally challenge a regional mandate that requires the city to plan for more than 6,000 new residences between 2023 and 2031.

The City Council on Tuesday directed planning staff to appeal the Regional Housing Needs Assessment methodology that was used to come up with housing targets. The council voted 5-2, with council members Alison Cormack and Greg Tanaka dissenting, to file the appeal with the Association of Bay Area Governments, the regional agency that oversees allocations in the nine Bay Area counties.

ABAG's Executive Committee, which is made up of elected leaders, was scheduled to formally adopt the methodology for its Regional Housing Needs Allocation process and approve the housing targets on May 20.

Council members also acknowledged that failure may come as a price. ABAG had initially considered scenarios in which Palo Alto would be assigned about 10,000 new residences between 2023 and 2031 — a number that the city pushed back against. The regional agency then further modified its methodology and redirected some of the projected growth from Palo Alto to the largest cities in the region, lowering Palo Alto's obligation to the current level of 6,086 housing units.

"We are really looking at advancing affordable housing," Mayor Tom DuBois said during the meeting. "At the same time, we have a responsibility to the city to protect ourselves from state override, using all the means we can. I think we are being assigned aspirational numbers."

Palo Alto Unified now offering Pfizer vaccine

The Palo Alto Unified School District is now inoculating eligible students with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which became available to children ages 12 and up in Santa Clara County this month.

Through a partnership with Safeway Pharmacy, the district is hosting daylong clinics on campus to administer shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Parents will be able to schedule a time slot for their children online ahead of time, with up to 1,000 shots of the vaccine available during each clinic. The first one was held last Sunday at Palo Alto High School's Peery Family Center gym. More clinics will be held every seven or eight days, said Lana Conaway, assistant superintendent of equity and student affairs, who is credited for spearheading the partnership program.

Each clinic will be staffed by Safeway Pharmacy's nurses to administer the vaccine. School nurses will help with the pre- and post-vaccination process, which includes age verification and monitoring students for 15 minutes after the shot.

Locations may change in the future, and Conaway added that the district will try to make accommodations for students who want to get vaccinated but can't make the commute.

While the district is providing opportunities to get staff and students vaccinated, it will not require students to be vaccinated in order to come back to campus nor will it ask students about their vaccination status, Conaway said.

— Lloyd Lee

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