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School board endorses plan for new academic year

Original post made on Jul 3, 2020

In Palo Alto, the school board unanimously OK'd the district's plan Friday for reopening schools with some tweaks, including providing more in-person time for sixth-graders and consideration of later start times for secondary schools.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 3, 2020, 12:59 PM

Comments (184)

Posted by Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 2:44 pm

Clarification—elementary classes will be split in half, with each first through fifth grader only invited back in person 2 to 3 days per week (2 days one week, 3 days the next).

In the two board meetings on this plan, there wasn’t an explanation of why this plan is preferable from a public health perspective than kids being in school full-time, given that children will be in a variety of childcare programs (with a different set of contacts) on their days away from school.

Posted by Paly Student
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 3:03 pm

I don't care if I start at 6am. Can I have teaching this year? The end of last year was so painful. We were left to figure it out for ourselves for many classes. Most teachers did make classes easier, but too easy. I would have preferred it be a little easier, given the craziness, but with classes that wasn't just being told to figure out really simple things by myself.

Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 3, 2020 at 5:22 pm

Yes to starting at 9am since there is no rush hour or sports. Teens are supposed to get 10 hours of sleep, most probably get 6-7 hours when the start time is early. Probably no teen gets 10 hours, but at least they can shoot for 8-9 hours. "I tried getting 9 hours of sleep every night for a week —" Web Link

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Greenmeadow

on Jul 3, 2020 at 5:32 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Am I getting this right?
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 8:02 pm

Are we really contemplating risking our children’s lives for subsidized day care and basic education that can be taught at home?

Especially in light of the skyrocketing C19 numbers, I’m just not sure I see why this is something anyone would entertain.

We may be tired of the quarantine, tired of the virus, but it’s not tired with us!

Also, children who may lose their lives to this virus potentially contacted in Palo Alto schools have all of zero agency in the matter.

I just have no more words for this kind of nonsense.

I want this to be over as much as the next person, but sending our kids into the coal mine to be the canaries because gee where else could they possible learn basic arithmetic, baking soda vinegar volcanos and crappy under-reaching liberal arts.

For once, will someone think of the children?
Daycare is just not worth the sacrifice.

Posted by Middle schools Kid
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jul 3, 2020 at 9:39 pm

I don’t want to go to there I don’t wanna get coronavirus so yeah

Posted by JLS 6th Grade Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 3, 2020 at 10:41 pm

I hope that 6th graders physical orientation is delayed until a week before the 7th and 8th grade students return to school. This still gives them a special transition into a new school, while keeping their teachers, staff, and their families safer.

Scientists hope, but do not definitely know that children under the age of 13 are less likely to get Covid 19. The data used has been collected while children have been sheltering in place at home and under social distancing guidelines - as opposed to adults, some as frontline workers are much more exposed to the virus. This article paints a clearer picture: Web Link

It would be great for my 6th graders to have a special orientation, but my family does not want that at the sacrifice of the health of our teachers, staff, and community. I hope the revised plan requested by the School Board helps bring 6th graders back on campus for an orientation only after it's deemed safe for all middle school students to return. Both the physical and emotional safety of our kids is important. Having 6th graders enter a new environment while also worrying about getting sick and bringing home a potentially deadly disease to their parents, grandparents, and other elderly in the community would spike their stress during a time of unprecedented stress. In contrast, having them wait to return when it is deemed safe for their peers who are only a year older to return would reduce their stress and be a clear demonstration that their school values their emotional health. This also gives the staff more time to plan and prepare for a return. And perhaps most importantly, waiting to start a physical orientation until right before 7th and 8th graders returns, helps keep their teachers and their community safer, too.

Posted by James
a resident of University South
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:02 am

Distance learning in a heartbeat and I'll get my kids to take a Stanford (online) class or two. I remember as a high school kid, my favorite past time was taking university classes (and as a college student, not taking classes but doing research). As you grow up, problems become harder and harder, and school becomes less and less structured. My kids are fascinated why there were three great plague pandemics in human history and we still don't have a licensed plague vaccine. Maybe their generation will solve that problem.

Posted by PAUSD ignore Middle and High Schoolers
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:38 am

It's a sad day for middle and high schoolers. Our Superintendent Don Austin just ignored the older kids. He didn't spend the effort to have the kids coming back to schools in A and B group. So many kids and families are disappointed!!

Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 4, 2020 at 2:32 am

@ PAUSD ignore Middle and HighSchoolers, middle and high schoolers are not being ignored. Distance learning is for their (and for staff, teachers, and the wider community’s) own protection.

Elementary will be fully distance learning inevitably, too. What a mess that will be, though, if this inevitable reverting to DL arrives after families have been divided up across schools and classrooms based on their preference for onsite vs online.

What formal steps can parents take to have Don Austin removed? Board Member comment/responses were solid on Wednesday and Friday’s meetings, however Austin’s replies were embarrassing, hugely unsatisfactory. He continues his pattern of circular logic and to display an alarming lack of understanding over the magnitude of this pandemic. Don Austin needs to go.

Posted by Aesculus CA
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:32 am

Are elementary kids required to have childcare together with their class cohort (Group A or B) on days they aren't on campus so that they don't mix with any other kids?

Posted by Downtown Parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 4, 2020 at 10:20 am

This isn't an easy situation for everyone I just hope that PAUSD provides teachers the training and tools to do virtual teaching. I'd really like to know what PAUSD means by "robust" online learning. I hope the district is looking at case studies of different online and hybrid programs that did this best e.g. Stanford Online High School. Last school year, I saw a teacher just give up because she didn't have a good internet connection and the right tools to teach online. There are numerous educational tools beyond Zoom and WebEx that can offer students an interactive and engaging experience.

Parents of middle and high schoolers should explore teaming up with other families to hold very small study groups in their backyard of course following social distancing and wearing masks. All students need some sort of social engagement even if it's for a short time.

Posted by JD
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 4, 2020 at 11:05 am

Even after watching several board meetings I am still confused by the elementary school schedule.

When the kids are not in school, are they supposed to be studying independently, or are they suppose to be doing "synchronous" learning via Zoom with the teacher and the kids who are in the classroom?

If it's the "synchronous" option, I think it is doomed to fail. As someone who has managed many large meetings with distributed teams at work, the most unproductive meetings are when half are in the room and half are remote. The people in the room inevitably start talking to each other, ignoring the people on the phone or video. And this is with adults. I can't imagine trying to manage that with 25 kids.

Posted by Brit
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 4, 2020 at 11:19 am

Primary schools in the UK are back to end the school year in mid July as normal. There have been mixed results as many parents are not sending their children back and many Head Teachers are not in agreement with the plans. From what I hear, the children are in bubble groups in the classrooms and these bubbles have to stay together even in morning playtimes, etc. Other countries have also returned their children back to school.

Reading some of the discussions here, I have seen very little discussion about what is happening in other places, getting some of the good ideas and some of the things that are not working so well as data points for what is being done here. It seems to me that PAUSD is trying to do everything without any higher authority making sure that the needs of the school pupils being met. Autonomy is being taken to a level whereby education officals are making decisions without any experience or input from children's emotional and social development being taken into account. Children at all levels, but particularly at the primary level do need to be part of their social circle of peers, and tweens and teens need to be able to interact outside their family circles on a regular basis.

I hope that these things are being taken into account. Any socialization skills that are lost at young age if they don't learn how to interact with others. Things like sharing, taking turns, etc. are social development skills that if they are not learned at the right age, will be very difficult to learn later.

I am just concerned that we will end up with a group of cohorts who cannot interact, cannot socialize, cannot work well with others, and who are selfish and non-compliant within social norms. We are in dangerous waters if we ignore social development skills which are learned in school alongside the academics.

Posted by Canary
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Many community members have referenced the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recent policy. In a PBS interview, Dr. Sean O’Leary “a pediatrician, an infectious disease specialist, a professor, and vice chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases” weighed in on the question of opening schools and teachers’ concerns about it, saying, “Yes, I think there’s reason to be nervous. I do think, if we can — you know, for communities where the virus is not raging, I do think it’s realistic to open schools safely. So, yes, I’m nervous, and I understand why teachers would be nervous as well. And I think, all things considered, though, school is crucial on so many levels. And so that’s — that was really the impetus behind this guidance. And I think teachers should be involved and are involved in the process of crafting these plans as schools reopen.”

The question for Palo Alto is whether we think the virus is “raging”. We are at 3-4 times the level of daily infections compared to the shelter in place in mid-March. Our numbers are going up and the rates for those under 20 have increased three-fold (and that’s with shelter in place). We now know that mild cases can cause long-term damage to health. We now know that healthy people are succumbing to the effects of this disease and that there are still lots of unknowns.

If we’re not at “raging” stage, when do we reach it? What numbers would qualify as out of control? It used to be that the state felt there should be a 14-day decrease in cases per day in order to relax restrictions. I guess Newsom was feeling too much pressure from mask-haters and people who couldn’t go another day without a trip to the hair salon and so we now ignore that metric. Do we have enough contract tracers? No, but I’m sure that’s no problem despite the warnings of infectious disease experts who say that contract tracing is essential.

Do we want our community to just be guinea pigs and to discover, as schools in Israel did, that school openings can result in massive infections and quarantine of hundreds of people? If we were in a county (and in a country) with a major downward trend, and if our test positivity rate were trending down, that would be a completely different story. There are schools that could re-open safely under those circumstances. That’s not where our county or neighboring counties are though. It’s certainly not the trend of our country.

The board and superintendent are taking a gamble that if teachers and students are impacted, it won’t be severe. Or, they really are just ignoring the fact that staff, students, and families could be permanently impacted by this virus. They don’t get the impact because frankly they won’t be the ones to suffer it. Their focus is on the temporary relief to families of child care burdens and socialization needs. They keep saying there was learning loss, but cite zero evidence for this. My kid did all of her assignments. About 95% of my students did most or all of their assignments for me and I saw growth in their skills. We will have different rules for fall instruction, including synchronous components (which allows for socialization), grades, attendance-taking that will more closely mirror regular school than the “flexible even if required” conditions we taught under in the spring. Those of you who need more socialization for your kid are free to host social gatherings at your house without endangering other classmates and their families or school staff and their families.

Some of you need a reality check on this virus. It’s not a cold or a flu. It is much more dangerous, it is largely untreatable, and it is capricious in how it attacks the body and whom it attacks. The stakes if we don’t get this reopening right are significant. Let’s err on the side of caution. The elementary plan is risky enough even with smaller groups of kids. Let’s not experiment with 6th grade as well.

Posted by Come on!
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:11 pm

Well said @canary! I don’t get the 6th grade thing at all, let alone the elementary plan. Better to play it safe, but the board seems to be full steam ahead....

Posted by Alvin
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:46 pm

[Post removed due to factual inaccuracies.]

Posted by fact check
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 4, 2020 at 1:36 pm

@ Alvin
ummmm, we are not close to herd immunity.

Dr. Scott Atlas is not an infectious disease doctor. He is writes on health care policy at Hoover, which is a republican conservative think tank.

Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 4, 2020 at 1:41 pm

Canary is correct. Just because we are SIP tired, doesn't mean it is no longer a dangerous virus. If we can wait this out until the vaccines are cleared (maybe January), then we can return to school then.

I think the big issue is that parents are exhausted from having their young children at home so long, plus, some need to work so they need daycare.

In the case that the parents work at home and the children are in secondary school (and can stay at home alone), continuing lockdown is less of an issue.

Remember that it's also a liability issue; if some child dies from COVID, no doubt the city and PAUSD will be sued. It is rare, but young people do die from COVID. Thank you to our overpopulation of litigious attorneys.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 4, 2020 at 1:43 pm

@Alvin, we are nowhere near herd immunity and, the most recent findings are that antibodies aren’t persisting. We are learning more about the impact on organs beyond the lungs each day, and people are getting reinfected with significantly more damage in round two.

Epidemiologists concur this NOVEL coronavirus is unlike anything we’ve seen, and we DO NOT yet know the longer-term impacts. Not a risk we should be taking with lives on the line.

If parents are in any position to keep kids home, they should. Some really do not have a choice. Many in a Palo Alto, if they are honest with themselves, do.

Posted by Clara Drivers
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 4, 2020 at 4:58 pm

Why is PAUSD barreling ahead when others districts (e.g. Fremont Unified High School District) are pausing their school reopening plan reviews to evaluate and consider how all of the new recommendations coming out in the past few days from the national, state, and county levels may impact their plans? All of these recommendations call for more in person instruction and fully acknowledge the risk of COVID infection. Also interesting that 75% of PAUSD parents want some in person instruction. Why is the school board and Dr. Austin ignoring all of this and charging ahead anyway?

Posted by JB
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 4, 2020 at 5:38 pm

We need to be honest with ourselves and drop all pretense that doing full-time distance learning is somehow good for our kids or somehow protects them from harm. It does neither. School age kids are at such a tiny risk from the coronavirus. All the data from the CDC and every other country shows this. Kids are clearly more negatively impacted by being forced to stay home — depression, hunger, poverty, lack of academic and social development, domestic violence — than from this virus. The only reason we’re not getting kids back to school full-time is because teachers don’t want to go back, period. Teachers seem perfectly fine to expect grocery store workers, delivery drivers, doctors, mail delivery, fire and police, and others to work with the public to keep society moving forward, but when it comes time for public school teachers to do what is an essential job that taxpayers pay for, they don’t want to do it. It’s a terrible shame that will cause lasting damage to this next generation.

Posted by JB
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 4, 2020 at 5:43 pm

Paly Mom — assuming a vaccine is coming in January that hundreds of millions of people in the US will have access to and is 90%+ effective against the coronavirus is wishful thinking I’m afraid. What if we don’t actually don’t get to a mass produced high confidence vaccine for a few years? Should we keep distance learning until then?

Posted by Midtown51
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jul 4, 2020 at 5:45 pm

What about older teachers? What about kids living with grandparents or immune-compromised siblings or parents? What about lunch and recess? What about the danger to everyone when one parent of one student travels? Or has a party? You have to trust that no member of the household of anyone in your kid's class will do anything stupid? Where we are supposed to be sheltered in place, but airlines are operating and people will be doing all kinds of things outside of school? I'm not sending my kid back until there is strict agreements signed by parents on what is and is not allowed outside of school by all members of the household in my kid's class, 14 days quarantine after any travel by any member of the household, and weekly testing of all staff and students. We need out of the box thinking like meeting in open-air tents outside, or utilizing existing online content, e.g. AOPS math classes, or forming small groups of 4 that interact closely at each others' houses to help each other learn, but otherwise no in-person interactions. Maybe this year should focus on study skills, social emotional learning, exercise, current events, or learning about and involvement in government.

Posted by Concerned
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 4, 2020 at 5:52 pm

Web Link

The coronavirus is finding new victims worldwide, in bars and restaurants, offices, markets and casinos, giving rise to frightening clusters of infection that increasingly confirm what many scientists have been saying for months: The virus lingers in the air indoors, infecting those nearby.

Ventilation systems in schools, nursing homes, residences and businesses may need to minimize recirculating air and add powerful new filters. Ultraviolet lights may be needed to kill viral particles floating in tiny droplets indoors.

The World Health Organization has long held that the coronavirus is spread primarily by large respiratory droplets that, once expelled by infected people in coughs and sneezes, fall quickly to the floor.

But in an open letter to the W.H.O., 239 scientists in 32 countries have outlined the evidence showing that smaller particles can infect people, and are calling for the agency to revise its recommendations. The researchers plan to publish their letter in a scientific journal next week.

Posted by JD
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 4, 2020 at 6:03 pm

@Concerned. I just read the same NYT article as well. I think IF the virus can spread through the air, then it's really a whole different discussion. The classrooms are not well ventilated. The kids will be in the room for hours at a time. To me, the combination of asymptomatic and airborne transmission makes full day in-person school very high risk.

Posted by hah the "liberals"
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 4, 2020 at 7:41 pm

lots of comments from parents about the risks of sending kids back to school. Then don't send them ! that's your choice.
Did you ever think about other parents that are ok with the risks, or perhaps parents that both work, or families so disadvantaged they don't have great wifi or can't help their kids during the day.
Typical bleeding hearts, care about those less fortunate only when it suits you

Posted by Thank you, Board
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:51 pm

Thank you for approving 100% distance learning for the secondary schools. This virus is going to make any kind of in-school learning unreliable at best. The Board has approved our best chance at getting a steady education for our kids, and the early notice gives teachers the best chance of providing it with skill. None of us wants to be in this situation, but pretending we are not will only make it worse. Best of luck to our teachers in coming up to speed with distance learning, to our kids in figuring it out, and to all parents for learning to adapt to this new normal. None of this is easy, but if we work together then we can make it as manageable as possible.

Posted by Alvin
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 4, 2020 at 11:15 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Hoover Dad
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2020 at 12:06 am

I wanted to point out that, despite of the fact that kids don’t get many positive cases, they can still carry and spread the virus and bring it to their families, even though lots of parents are still WFH. SIP only works if ALL people practice it. The aftermath may include parents not able to take care of kids and high occupancy of Palo Alto hospitals. The best option for PAUSD is to develop comprehensive and efficient remote education right now instead of learning it the hard way and figure out exactly the same strategy when it is too late.

Posted by Alvin
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 5, 2020 at 4:00 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Parent, MD
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 5, 2020 at 9:49 am

What is the process for removing Don Austin?

Posted by Elementary parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 5, 2020 at 10:29 am

Very concerned why we think sending K-5 graders to school 5-days a week or hybrid model of 3/2 is the thing to do? Even if 1 child or staff gets ill, it’s too much of a risk to take with a novel coronavirus that we are still learning about. Seems a little reckless. Almost feels like a repeat of March when the schools were shutting down, cases were popping up all over the city, and parents were begging PAUSD to shut down. Took parental pressure on the district for the shutdown to occur. For those parents who want to send your kids to in-person classes, is the potential risk of making staff and other parents kids/families not concerning? The district doesn’t have the ability to cater to everyone’s preferences in the midst of a pandemic, following a single plan of distance learning for all(with proper training and structure for the kids) sounds like a viable option. For those calling teachers essential workers, any essential services that can be performed remotely so that the community stays safe, should be allowed to be remote. It’s not fair to tag teachers as essential workers and expect them to sacrifice their families safety by going to teach in-person when it can be done just as effectively remotely. Yes, Spring distance learning was a bit of a disaster, it can be improved upon with adequate training, resources, and support. There are a lot of kids who have been home schooled pre-COVID and come out with outstanding education and social/emotional health. It’s a matter of taking ownership as parents as well. I’m a working mom with 3 kids in 3 different schools, we can all learn to figure this out until it’s safe for everyone to go back to some sense of normalcy. As for those that need childcare, I am 100% behind those services and that should come from the state level. Schools are not daycare centers and teachers are not babysitters! There should be adequate funding from the state to support those services for those who need it.

Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2020 at 10:38 am

There are a number of problems with returning to school in the middle of a pandemic. The first is that there don't seem to be a specific criteria for masks (quality, fit, etc). Anyone who has been out in the community will see many folks that don't know how to properly wear a mask. The second problem is that most (55-60%) of infected kids are asymptomatic or have minimal symptoms (i.e., no fever). Since many kids are asymptomatic, the virus can spread through schools rapidly before detection. The only way to keep the schools safe is random testing, similar to what is being done in many congregate facilities. What should be done is pooled testing (groups of 10) each day so 100 -200 or so kids at each school can be tested daily. That's only 10-20 actual tests run if done by pooling. If there is virus in the schools, testing would certainly reveal this in a few days. Unfortunately, the reopening is more oriented to "compliance" rather than aggressive safety measures. In other words, the Board is wrapping itself in the legal safety blanket of political influenced guidance from the CDC and County, rather than doing what is right. For instance, Stanford will be aggressively testing students returning to campus.

I favor some return to campus, but only if there are standards for hygiene - proper masks worn correctly, and aggressive surveillance testing. Instead, I we are likely getting a plan that looks nice on paper, but doesn't really work.

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 5, 2020 at 10:54 am

@Parent, MD

Only the Board can remove Don Austin. His proposed contract is here. Web Link Perhaps someone else has the final See Section 10(C) WITH CAUSE. See Section 10(D) WITHOUT CAUSE (1 year salary payment). See Section 10(E) Abuse of Office. See Section 11 Non-renewal.

Here is the link to the article that describes his contract Web Link

According to this article in the post, his contract has been extended to June 2022 Web Link

Here is the salary schedule for all senior district management Web Link I do not believe step increases were frozen for 2020-21, but someone else might know.

Here is his LinkedIn bio Web Link He seems to have stayed in his other district leadership roles two to three years.

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 5, 2020 at 11:22 am


Here is the link to Dr. Scott Atlas on re-opening schools. Web Link

Please note that most district parents said they wanted an in-person return. One has to believe they also wanted a back-up option for quality distance learning for kids who are sent home for quarantine or isolation or not healthy enough to attend. There is an elementary mom who is strongly advocating for kids of unwell parents to have a distance learning option. Let's face it. Many adults live and work FT with health conditions that are risk in this Covid-19 pandemic.

Trying a 100% return necessitates being ready for quarantine. Even Dr. Atlas I presume supports contact tracing and quarantines? He does note that teachers who are at risk should have options too "Atlas did say that teachers who are at risk could practice social distancing, wear a mask, or even use technology to teach from home."

Posted by Romana
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 5, 2020 at 11:24 am

k/5 grade kids an middle school all need to return back to school this online learning is not working for most kids including my kids lets think about the both parents that work and have no babysitter those parents might lose jobs cause school are not gonna open for are kids to go back and learn me as a working mother can't be on top of online learning need my kid back in school you guys had 5 month to come up with something so let put these kids back in school half day 3 days a week part morning part afternoon something. These teachers got comfortable staying at home and don't want to return back that what I think not fare at all for these kids poor kids miss there friends come on now lets get with the program and put these kids back in school

Posted by Rising Senior at Gunn
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 5, 2020 at 1:02 pm

Distance learning in the spring was terrible.

I've looked at the district's new summer professional development program, and while I think it is a step in the right direction, I don't think it is enough.

I'm afraid one course won't take our distance learning from the 'disaster learning' we saw in Spring to 'robust'. But I'm worried the district won't take further action for PD before Fall.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2020 at 1:11 pm

Putting kids back in school in lieu of not having access to childcare is an obscene reason to push K-5 graders into a classroom. These very parents who are worried about missing work and not having anywhere to send their kids are the ones who will likely be the spreaders in schools. I don’t want to expose my children to carelessness of other parents. This is getting out of hand! PACCC should get some funding to accommodate these parents, they can send their kids there to get help with distance learning as well as childcare. I won’t be sending my children to school to be exposed to this virus. Contact tracing and testing are great tools but if you’re one of the unlucky ones who got exposed and tested positive, contract tracing will help get you out of rotation so others are safe while you are now infected and potentially infected immunocompromised family members. Nope, done with the callousness of some ppl on this forum, distance learning all the way for my family! You guys choose what you want, I’m out. Private school after there is a vaccine sounds like a way better option for me then to send my kids to school because of PAUSD’s threats that my kids won’t be guaranteed a spot in their home school in Nov if we choose distance learning in July. What a horrible statement to parents! Disappointed in the district, the leadership, and choices some in the community are making.

Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 5, 2020 at 1:32 pm

I don't think it's fair to say that working parents just want childcare. Working parents want their kids to get an education without them having to give up their jobs for it, because for many, distance learning cannot be managed at home without an amount of time from a supervising adult that is incompatible with employment. For those suggesting we send kids to daycare to do their distance learning, what is the justification for that daycare worker to be exposed rather than a teacher? Lower socioeconomic class status?

I have empathy for teachers who are worried, but they are in no different a situation from any other person whose job is in person right now -- not just essential healthcare/police/fire/government, but also dentists and other non-essential health care providers, restaurants, most retail, now hair/nail salons, etc. For all of those people, if their job is allowed to be in person and their employer requires it, they cannot demand a paycheck but not show up, or try to do the work from home when their employer has said it should be done in person. It's a sucky world but many many people are having to make decisions that manage covid risk and employment.

It sounds like the district is trying to be aware of teachers who may be particularly at risk and some teachers will be pulled out to manage distance learning specifically, so hopefully between all of that we can manage those with extreme risk.

They've already said middle and high school are almost fully remote, so at this point the balance they have struck (which has also been struck in other countries) is to keep just elementary kids partly in the classroom, as those are the kids that particularly have trouble learning remotely, and are thought to be lower spreaders/less at risk. Do we know that for sure? No, but the question we have to ask is whether we should sacrifice their education on the speculation that it might be risky. Can't we wait and see whether we start seeing cases arising from the elementary schools? We don't have many cases in Palo Alto compared with elsewhere to begin with, and they always have the option to shut back down. I think it's rational to try it out rather than make a decision with known downsides (poor education and strain on working families) on a "just in case" risk theory.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2020 at 2:11 pm

FYI S_mom, I’m a working parent as well. We have 2 working parents in my house. I’m not willing to take a gamble with my family’s health or potentially risk anyone else. We aren’t the Silicon Valley wealthy either but we will figure out how to accommodate our children learning from home. There are other options for filling in the education gap yet there are no options for someone who’s been fatally impacted by COVID. I’m trying to be part of the solution for COVID not the problem.

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 5, 2020 at 2:16 pm

San Mateo County High Schools are delivering choice as well as a commitment to synchronous learning (streaming) no matter what phase they are in. See post at Web Link

Quotes from Skelly Below:

I’ve received a lot of questions about what synchronous learning is and what it will look like. The best way I have heard it described is that, no matter where you are, the instruction is happening in real time and all students are receiving it together. The District is committed to providing synchronous learning for all students almost every day, regardless of what phase of opening we are in.

In the coming weeks each District family will be asked to complete a questionnaire choosing important elements of your student’s educational experiences for the coming semester. This will help the District to gauge your interest in distance learning with scheduled time for instruction vs. fully independent study; classes your student might plan to take outside of the District, and their need for a Chromebook and/or Internet access. For ninth and tenth graders, we will also ask about your choice for physical education classes. As we build the logistics around this we may ask whether or not your student wants to take Physical Education in person on campus or would prefer to meet this graduation requirement in another way. Students with IEPs and English Learners will also have questions that pertain to their experience. More information will be forthcoming. Stay tuned for this.

Posted by Gobsmacked!!!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 5, 2020 at 2:27 pm

Utter disbelief over this comment :
“No, but the question we have to ask is whether we should sacrifice their education on the speculation that it might be risky. Can't we wait and see whether we start seeing cases arising from the elementary schools?”

Sacrificing education is a problem but sacrificing health/safety/lives is not a problem? What am I missing here??? Seeing cases from elementary schools before deciding is the bar now??? How is that even an option? Who are these people??? Get your heads out of the clouds please, it’s not all about education! It’s about children’s health and safety! Your kid isn’t headed from elementary school straight to Stanford! Oh the pressure from these sorts! Wake up and smell the air outside of Palo Alto!

Posted by Parents with choices
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 5, 2020 at 6:42 pm

Don't understand why elementary parents are complaining about sending their kids to school. Just don't if you are afraid or you think there are risks. Luckily, you have a CHOICE.
It's better than the high and middle school students that they are forced to take online. It's a pain to be online for 5-6 hours every weekdays.

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 5, 2020 at 7:06 pm

@PAUSD ignore Middle and High Schoolers, @Parent, @Parent, MD, @Covid-19 ready:

I have been looking into Don’s background to better understand his experience and history. I wanted to share some additional links regarding Don Austin for your review:

1) Daily Breeze Article Dec 6, 2017: Teachers union leader accuses Palos Verdes Peninsula superintendent (Don Austin) of intimidation
Web Link

2) Palo Alto Online Article May 22, 2018: District releases minimal info on new superintendent
Web Link

3) Don Austin PAUSD Twitter feed July 2, 2020: Questioning the Santa Clara County Public Health Department guidance:
Web Link

Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 5, 2020 at 7:10 pm


I don't think we should shut down all of civilization for a year or two to wait out covid, no. I think we should make reasonable choices based on data. We don't have evidence that kids and schools have been a major spreader of covid -- many countries have resumed schooling without an obvious spike in cases. So I am saying I think it is reasonable to keep all of middle and all of high school at home with distance learning, and split elementary into smaller classrooms with as much social distancing as possible, unless we see evidence of a big covid spike.

I understand there are people, like perhaps you, who aren't comfortable leaving home until there is a vaccine, but that's why the school is offering an all distance learning option as well. It really isn't fair to impose either level risk tolerance on the other group, unless there is actual evidence that one side or the other is correct. I don't think we have that right now.

Posted by Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2020 at 11:02 pm

@Concerned Parent, thanks for the links. Austin’s Twitter feed is definitely concerning. It reinforces the sense you get listening to his comments at Board meetings that he really fails to grasp the magnitude of this pandemic.

Posted by Allyson
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 6, 2020 at 12:04 am

The PAUSD gave-in to the powerful teachers union to the detriment of the kids, parents and community. Don Austin does not know Palo Alto and is more suited for the district he worked at previously in Southern CA. Article: Will the teachers union let schools re-open... it’s on the teachers terms:
Web Link

Another article: school boards really don’t care

The remote-learning experiment isn’t going well. This month the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education published a report looking at how 477 school districts nationwide have responded to the Covid-19 crisis. Its findings reveal widespread neglect of students. The report found only 27% of districts required teachers to record whether students participate in teachers to record whether students participate in remote classes, while remote attendance has been ... see article:

Web Link

Posted by Teacher
a resident of Nixon School
on Jul 6, 2020 at 1:17 am

@Concerned Parent, thanks for linking to that twitter feed.

Agree it belittles very real concerns, pokes fun at public health officials who know more than he does about the risk levels of choir and other activities, and I’m embarrassed he tagged our Governor in it!!

Glad it looks like other community members are speaking out on the thread to call out his juvenile behavior and lack of public health knowledge: Web Link

Posted by Pops9
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 6, 2020 at 9:03 am

Don Austin came from PVPUSD in the Los Angeles area. If you're interested in another high quality school district's approach and different conclusion (full A/B schedule throughout all schools), watch their Board meeting, particularly the portion from about 15 min to 35 min on their medical committee's viewpoint on kids in school and related Q&A. Web Link

Posted by Hoover Dad
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 6, 2020 at 10:03 am

I've read all the comments and wanted to point out a couple of things:

1. The virus won't last 1+ years, if SIP is done right. Check China and Europe.

2. If parents have the option not to send kids to school physically, please don't.

3. If parents don't have an option, be cautious and constantly challenge PAUSD for their sanitary actions.

4. PAUSD should be fair on all students, no matter if they attend physically or study remotely.

5. Students if attending schools online, should have their spots kept. This is WRT a ridiculous meeting note where PAUSD said you might lose your spot if not attend school physically.

6. Some mechanics might not have worked well in the spring but it does not mean we should stop optimizing it, finding other means or simply giving up virtual education.

Posted by SL
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 6, 2020 at 10:52 am

School gives us an option to choose between online and in - person for elementary. Parents choose online in the fall, then they are not guaranteed physical placement in the home school if they choose to return back to in person when things improve. How is this fair? Parents hold back children at home out of concern for their safety and at this point some can afford to do that to prevent more community spread. PAUSD should guarantee the child's spot at the same home school when returning. What a mess it would be if students were to switch back and forth between learning modes and parents are at a loss as to who is their person of contact in regards to their child's education? Lose physical spot at the school, teach their child to learn from home, use their Distance learning, try to keep everyone safe and in return what do families get? Wouldn't it be easier even for administration if students held the same physical spot when they returned back?

Posted by RR
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 10:52 am

No one has addressed the issue of special needs students. How are they going to be able to keep a mask on and what will that look like for the workers?

Thank you

Posted by McGillicuddy
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 6, 2020 at 11:25 am

apologies for the repost:
Hi Does anyone have the link to register elementary kids for in person instruction? I can't find it on the website for, they don't pick up the phone, and I can't find it among the several pausd emails. However, it seems we have to declare our intention by next week?

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 6, 2020 at 11:42 am

@McGillicuddy, No apologies. Communication on this has been spotty.

The letter to select in-person or distance learning option is to be sent on Wed (7/8). Post from Palo Alto Superintendent:

“Reopening plan will require parent commitments for elementary students to select in-person or distance learning options. Letter to parents will go out Wednesday with a robust explanation and FAQ section.”
Web Link

It has been previously stated that the window to select hybrid or distance program closes on 17 July. I know that some folks (especially our new PAUSD families) haven’t been getting the emails on this. The board has asked that the information to be posted on Web Link as well once available.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2020 at 11:47 am


Scott W. Atlas is a very smart guy, and, despite his age, doesn't appear to be "old". Unfortunately, he is right-wing in a couple of ways that make him not a good source when it comes to public-health questions. First, he is so adamantly (plutocratic) "free-market" and "employer-based" oriented when it comes to healthcare policy that he can't bring himself to accept how badly the free-market approach fails the poor and aged poor (especially those living in crowded and/or multigenerational households) with regard to a pandemic like this.** Second, his "let young people bring us herd immunity" approach fails to protect older people. His failure to appreciate or accommodate how ordinary people actually live is callous.

As a consequence, while Atlas may be "right" in a limited sense about certain things, his policy conclusions are not trustworthy because he isn't actually addressing the real-world outcomes of the policies.

(**As an aside, I note that he was an advisor to the Giuliani and Romney election campaigns.)

Posted by C
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 6, 2020 at 11:54 am

I read JLS's article, "How likely are kids to get Covid-19? Scientists see a ‘huge puzzle’ without easy answers" and found this article, "After Reopening Schools, Israel Orders Them To Shut If COVID-19 Cases Are Discovered".

"At least 244 students and school employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Education. ... The most significant outbreak appeared last week in the Gymnasia Rehavia, a historic middle and high school in Jerusalem. There, 116 students and 14 teachers were infected, according to the Ministry of Education, and the school closed. ... A teacher told NPR a seventh-grader was first discovered to be carrying the virus and the entire grade was ordered to quarantine at home. Then a ninth-grader tested positive, and the school was shut down. ... "It happened also in South Korea and Singapore.""

Web Link

South Korea article, "Spike in Coronavirus Cases Causes Hundreds of Schools in South Korea to Close After Reopening" : "Ahead of the second phase of reopening, a number of students had also tested positive for the novel coronavirus, including a high school senior in Seoul, according to the outlet. Several nearby schools, including the one he attended — as well as the school attended by his little brother — were closed down. ... A 6-year-old kindergarten student in Seoul also tested positive for COVID-19 earlier that week, and it is believed the child contracted the disease from his art teacher, who has also tested positive, according to the Korean Herald. A number of nearby schools went on to announce that they would be pushing back their reopening dates."

Web Link

Singapore is still opening schools. : Web Link

Personally, I'd wait to see infection rates in schools in other countries to determine if we should open ours, rather than the other way around. Would you rather learn from a study, or be the data used for it?

Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 6, 2020 at 1:21 pm

I'll bet that a lot of teachers will choose not to return. The provisions for safe classroom learning aren't very "safe," especially for the teachers who must be in a room with students whose families may not be limiting their contacts with non-household members. Mom wants school (day care) so she can go to work, be with co-workers who bring in all their potential exposures. If I were a teacher, I'd quit right now.
Some parents far are more worried about having daycare for their own children "because kids don't get sick" (but they do transmit) than they are about the health & welfare of the entire community. This pandemic does affect children, but differently than it affects adults. Web Link
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

Since the loosening of SIP restrictions and re-opening of more public contact businesses in the last couple of weeks, the number of covid-19 infections has increased. This indicates to any thinking person that we're a long way from being finished with this. Santa Clara County had an 81% increase in the number of new cases just in the last week. Web Link
After the virus incubates in those who didn't SIP, observe safe distances from others, or mask over July 4, there will probably be an increase next week as well.

All students or staff on a campus must be properly masked, with noses covered. If any student can't wear a mask, for any reason, s/he should not be allowed on campus. Sorry folks, this is a public health issue bigger than any 1 kid no matter how much the parent thinks his/her snowflake needs in-person instruction. If the kid can't mask, s/he can repeat the academic year after vaccines are developed.

If classrooms are open to kids, who's going to sanitize the desks? Supervise lavatory visits? Monitor or enforce handwashing in elementary schools? If parents want their kids in a classroom, they should be required to sign up and attend to some of these tasks? One day a month per parent of Clorox desk wiping or lavatory duty isn't too much to ask in return for getting back your free child care.

Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 6, 2020 at 2:03 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Teacher of 29 years
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2020 at 2:51 pm

@RR I have emailed board repeatedly about specialists programs and what the plan looks like since it has not been laid out at all for any of us. Feeling very left out of this. Everything has been geared toward the gen ed room. Myself and many other specialists interact with multiple classrooms or now cohorts. How will that look? What will the safety precautions be? Also, if our kiddos come everyday we will be over the appropriate number of people in a room when our aides are added in as well.

@Chip....Teachers weren't really given a choice. We were never surveyed by the district only by the union regarding our situations.

As for myself I am very torn about this return, especially not knowing where families are on the "follow" Covid recommendations. Does there family believe in masks or not, do they socialize regularly with multiple social bubbles? This is what scares me most. I cannot control any of what happens outside my classroom, no matter how many precautions are taken in the classroom. I want to be there for my students and miss them dearly. Today I started ESY online with my caseload 1-1 for the next 4 weeks. Was great seeing them and all of the learning that happened.
I really hoped we had a slow roll out in the elementary for our return like other districts. Envy the secondary teachers.

Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 6, 2020 at 3:52 pm

To S_mom: How can you deny it? This is a recurring concern expressed in many comments here. Studies show that high school kids are actually more in need of peer social interaction than the elementary age group, which is the one who need daytime care when not in class.

Posted by Millennial Mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 6, 2020 at 4:24 pm

@Chip- preach!!! When the message is this clear, no need to try and convince the self-serving, self-motivated, me/myself/I agenda driven majority. This Elementary school mom is opting for distance learning, not just for the sake of her family but for the teachers, school staff, and our community. Doesn’t matter if the risk is “perceived” as low or high, but because the 2 words (risk and health) exist in the same statement. That’s enough for me.

Posted by C
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 6, 2020 at 6:05 pm

You could say that summer camps aren't as strict, safe, etc. as schools, but, Israel schools had a CoVid infection, and now here's a summer camp that's had one as well.

"Our full-time summer staff of 1,600 qualified individuals including 100 registered nurses and 60 volunteer doctors are hired and sitting on ready," Joe White, who runs the camp with his wife, Debbie-Jo, told families. "We are planning on being open all summer."

On its website, the camp reassured parents: "We are focused on taking all reasonable measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our Kamps."

But now even cautious hopes that COVID-19 might be kept outside Kanakuk Kamps' gates have already been dashed. On Wednesday, parents were notified by email that one of the camps, known as K-2, was shutting down. The Stone County Health Department updated the community on Facebook: 41 campers, counselors and staff members had tested positive for COVID-19; they had come from 10 states and multiple counties in Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services later updated the count to 49, according to the Springfield News-Leader. By Monday the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that the number had jumped to 76. By Monday afternoon it was 82." Web Link

Also, JLS' article about schools and coronavirus said that teenagers had higher rates of infection than the virus. The problem, imo, is that we still don't have a good explanation why younger kids have lower infection rates. It may immunity, but it also may be that children are better protected from the virus than adults and older children. (Children don't go to work.)

"But children ages 10 to 19 were as likely to have antibodies to the infection as adults ages 20 to 49 — and more likely than adults older than that. ,,, But teasing out whether kids are as likely to catch the virus and spread it has been exceedingly difficult at a time when children are spending far less time mixing with others than they normally do. ...

In the United States, overnight summer camps may help to illuminate the risks of allowing children — albeit generally teens — to resume activities that allow them to congregate together, O’Leary suggested. Colorado is home to a lot of these camps; kids come from across the country to attend. While they aren’t yet open, word has come down they will be allowed to operate starting in July, said O’Leary, who admitted that the idea of the overnight camps makes him nervous, keen as he is to get kids back into school." Web Link

I guess O'Leary now has his answer.

Posted by Parent with data
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 6:59 pm

Many parents want in-person school for their kids because it's far more effective. We have to BALANCE the needs of the kids with safety of teachers and staff and not cater to one over the other. That doesn't seem to be what has been approved here.

The case fatality rate in CA can be calculated from the data on the state website.
Age 0-17 = 0.0%
Age 18-34 = 0.1%
Age 35-49 = 0.7%
Age 50-64 = 2.8%

The risk to kids is almost non-existent.
The risk to staff and teachers is there, but dependent on health factors.

If we as a community aren't smart enough to figure out how to offer some in-person school AND give decent protection to teachers, then we aren't very smart at all. Minimize risk. Don't give up.

Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 6, 2020 at 7:25 pm

@Chip, still don't see it? Guess it's just a default for you that mothers are the villains.

I accept that high schoolers may need peer interaction more, but young elementary cannot actually learn without a live instructor. That's the dilemma -- keeping them home means choosing between having them learn and doing your own job. But only if you're a mom, I guess!

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 6, 2020 at 9:05 pm

The new state law makes it pretty clear what is required, and if PAUSD would actually follow the law, most people might be satisfied.

1. Section 43502 The district "shall offer in-person instruction"
2. Section 43502 The district "may offer distance learning" in a few situations:
3. Section 43503 Situation 1. "as a result of an order or guidance from a state public health officer or a local public health officer.
4. Section 43503 Situation 2. "For pupils who are medically fragile or would be put at risk by in-person instruction, or who are self-quarantining because of exposure to COVID-19"
5. Section 43503 Distance learning "SHALL include" several things, two of which this group has touched on
6. Section 43503 Distance learning shall include ... "Content aligned to grade level standards that is provided at a level of quality and intellectual challenge substantially equivalent to in-person instruction."
7. Section 43503 Distance learning shall include .. " Daily live interaction with certificated employees and peers for purposes of instruction, progress monitoring, and maintaining school connectedness."

There is also language protecting those with special learning and other support needs. The code section is here Web Link

Further information from Superintendent Thurmond is here Web Link

Superintendent Thurmond makes it clear for those who might find the law overwhelming to read

The Learning Continuity Plan Template must include, but is not limited to the following:

A description of how the LEA will provide continuity of learning and address the impact of COVID-19 on pupils, staff, and the community and the specific actions and expenditures the LEA anticipates taking to support its ability to address the impacts of COVID-19.

In-person instructional offerings, and specifically, the actions the LEA will take to offer classroom-based instruction whenever possible, particularly for pupils who have experienced significant learning loss due to school closures in the 2019–20 school year or are at greater risk of experiencing learning loss due to future school closures
Learning Continuity Plans for a distance learning program, including all of the following:

How the LEA will provide continuity of instruction during the school year to ensure pupils have access to a full curriculum of substantially similar quality regardless of the method of delivery
This shall include a plan for curriculum and instructional resources that will ensure instructional continuity for pupils if a transition between in-person instruction and distance learning is necessary.
A plan for ensuring access to devices and connectivity for all pupils to support distance learning whenever it occurs
How the LEA will measure participation and assess pupil progress through live contacts and synchronous instructional minutes, as well as how the time value of pupil work will be measured
What professional development and resources will be provided to staff to support the provision of distance learning, including technological support
To the extent that staff roles and responsibilities change because of COVID-19, what the new roles and responsibilities of affected staff will be
What additional supports for pupils with unique needs will be provided, including for English learners, pupils with exceptional needs served across the full continuum of placements, pupils in foster care, and pupils who are experiencing homelessness during the period in which distance learning is provided

Posted by Addison Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 9:15 pm

I am so confused.
How many days will my child be attending Elementary School? How many hours?
Will there be REAL teaching when they are zooming in from home?
Will childcare be available for working parents?
Isn't there a GREATER chance that my child will catch Covid-19 at childcare on the days or hours she is not in school?

Posted by Concerned
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 6, 2020 at 10:00 pm

NYT article: Airborne Coronavirus: What You Should Do Now
Web Link

Excerpt: What does airborne transmission mean for reopening schools and colleges?
This is a matter of intense debate. Many schools are poorly ventilated and are too poorly funded to invest in new filtration systems. “There is a huge vulnerability to infection transmission via aerosols in schools,” said Don Milton, an aerosol expert at the University of Maryland.

Posted by Parent with data
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 10:46 pm

We're in freaking California.

For many months of the year, classes can be outside. Athletic fields. Playgrounds. Unless it's raining. Is this a perfect solution, no, not by a long shot, but all the evidence says that 99+% of transmission is indoors.

Then move outside.

Find solutions instead of problems.

Posted by Parent with data
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 10:57 pm

The purpose of school is not child-care, though it's a valuable by-product.

It's education and protection in many forms.

It's also social, mental and physical well-being, none of which can be addressed by 100% distance learning.

Child abuse, depression, anxiety, hunger and more have been found to increase significantly with 100% distance learning. Teachers are mandatory abuse reporters. Guess what's not being reported? Without forced school, kids are also behind on normal vaccines, which will increase the odds of other illnesses running wild.

Teachers deserve far higher pay and protection than what they get today.
Our government gave bailouts to rich industries and businesses, and it's time for adequate funding for schools across the country to provide proper protective gear, and increased space for physical distancing, and hiring more teachers, subs, etc. to make this work safely in a pandemic.

Congress needs to step up.

Posted by JlS parents
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 7, 2020 at 7:49 am

Dear parents. It does not matter, which end of the spectrum you are please write to the school Board at PAUSD should provide parents a choice whether to send kids middle school/high school to school or not. I am sure there will be teachers who do no mind teaching in person and those needing to stay at home. School board, please, give us the choice!

Posted by JlS parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 7, 2020 at 7:53 am

Correction board email is

Posted by No money for private school
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 7, 2020 at 8:09 am

If i had money for private school, believe me my kids would already be in private school. I and many more parents will vote with their feet. I do not believe Palo alto will provide effective distance learning, period. San Jose school district provided recorded lessons on math starting march, 25 minutes lessons for math only!!! They are available on the district website. Los altos researched and found a nice summer curriculum from University of Utah and provided it to parents to refresh during the summer, check out their Summer learning for all. Redwood city did the same thing. Palo Alto school district provided Social emotional learning from Rebecca Shen Lorenson, aka worry journals and yoga lesson! What a joke! My kid is worried as he feels behind, not because he needs an online yoga lesson during the summer. Most of kids attend Russian Math, Kumon, Singapore math classes and are way ahead of those who dont have the means to attend those classes or whose parents dont believe in Tiger mom parenting. We are here for school district. It is hibernating and pretending the problem is not there.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 9:04 am

Posted by Parent with data, a resident of Menlo Park

>> Congress needs to step up.

Such things are a responsibility of the California State Legislature, not Congress. Talk to the offices of your state Assembly and Senate districts.

Posted by Another Paly Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 7, 2020 at 9:18 am

@Parent with data

Your data about kids having near zero death rate is correct, but it isn't about protecting the kids. It's about protecting the teachers and to a lessor extent any elderly family members living with the kids. Education is (unfortunately) not seen as a critical national infrastructure like energy, food supply, and health care. So, it is hard to ask teachers to accept the unknown risk of Covid-19 to help mitigate the even more unknown risk of kids lacking school and education.

I suspect we will be looking at 1-2 more years of distance teaching barring a vaccine miracle.

Posted by Midtown51
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jul 7, 2020 at 9:51 am

@"parent with data Menlo Park" mortality is useful but there are long-term effects as well, e.g. lung scarring. Additionally, it's not like "what happens at school stays at school" and it's not like the teachers and support staff are school-aged kids. So think through the data a bit more.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 10:03 am

>> The case fatality rate in CA can be calculated from the data on the state website.
>> Age 0-17 = 0.0% Age 18-34 = 0.1 Age 35-49 = 0.7% Age 50-64 = 2.8%

Next time, would you mind including the 65 and over categories? There are a lot of households where there are 0 to 17 year olds and over 65's under the same roof. And what are the odds for an 80+ grandfather?

Posted by C
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 7, 2020 at 10:04 am

> Many schools are poorly ventilated and are too poorly funded to invest in new filtration systems

I guess the million dollar retrofit question is whether or not parents should send their children to school despite these costs. Particularly, if staff members, children, or their households need medical treatment, I can see the costs of treatment as costly (not to mention emotional costs) as retrofitting. The cost of an (adult) hospital stay can range from 20K to 90K for a single person.

Any, my concern is that we're unlocking, be it schools or businesses, prematurely, when a technological solution may be soon available. Certainly medicines and vaccines need further testing, but non-invasive solutions, such as UV and filters, are also being developed. Here's an article of a filter that actually heats up to destroy the virus, as well as an article also discussing the costs of retrofitting schools.

Seems kind of a double-standard when a private building is remodeled or built we expect it to conform to building standards designed for safety, while schools are "too expensive" to retrofit to a safe level for the teachers, staff, and students using it almost daily.

Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

Posted by NOT Tiger Parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 7, 2020 at 10:21 am

“Tiger Mom Parenting”- have to LOL on that one! Perhaps that’s part of the problem here. It’s pandemic time, we can’t expect “normal”, we have to adjust for the short term so we all have lives to go back to normal with.

As for “data”- being that this is a novel coronavirus, the data goes back only 6 months and is extremely fluid. Nowhere close to what is needed for “data driven decisions”. So many ways to slice and dice this constantly changing data to validate any narrative.

Posted by No money for private school
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 7, 2020 at 10:41 am

Tiger mom or not, PAUSD test score are high because of tiger parents. People like me who want their kids to receive quality education in school not to pay for private tutors are at a disadvantage. Middle class kids suffer- we dont have money for tutors and do not qualify for all the extra help East palo alto kids get. During so called distance learning the only kids who received any kind of help were Tinsley kids- teacher taught them on zoom in small groups. They are also were invited to summer school. More affluent kids get private tutoring and are way ahead of curriculum. There should be a basic standard of education for everyone. The point is PAUSD is not doing their minimum like other school districts. Please, do not quote pandemic here. If some district like San Jose can provide recorded quality lesson for 11,000 per year, Palo Alto should be able to do so for 20,000 per student!

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 7, 2020 at 10:56 am

@No Money For Private School

You are 100% correct. Distance learning is not the problem.

The State mandate is clear that synchronous teaching is desired if in-person is not available to a student. Even if 98% of students can attend, synchronous is desired for those at home due to health, covid risk or quarantine (per new law).

Please speak up at the Board meetings and write the Board. Maybe they will listen to you with your real world experience.

Posted by Mr Paly
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 7, 2020 at 3:20 pm

Can anybody explain why the middle and HS students don't get an option for on campus classes????
I emailed the board and Don Austin but never got an answer to my question.

Posted by Parent with data
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 7, 2020 at 8:49 pm

The poster that commented we are way too early in this pandemic to know much for certain is correct.

That said, studies have come out that say that kids are not a major source of transmission. The majority of kids have got it from their parents or even grandparents, not the other way around. Most adults have got it from other adults.

Making school based decisions on the worst possible scenario doesn't seem right to me. Decisions have to balance the needs of the teachers and students. Most students need to go back, at least half time, because of abuse, depression, no participation in learning, etc. etc.

Teachers are rightly concerned about risk. However, masks and sanitation have been proved to work! Why keep everyone home when we have reasonable solutions available?? Some schools are over steering on the risk, and just giving up when some students will be negatively affected by this for life too.

My current assessment on the risk is that it's fairly low and manageable. ~10% get fairly sick, mostly people with high risk factors. Those individuals need to stay home and their families need to limit their risk. A portion of the 10% have longer-term symptoms. I'm guessing it's less than 1% of people under 50. Should we have full-time distance learning (with all it's negative impacts) on the risk that 1% will have long term symptoms? It might be an over-reach, and maybe not. We don't have enough data to know yet.

Everyone's risk assessment will change in the weeks and months ahead.

Posted by C
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 7, 2020 at 9:08 pm

So I did a rough comparison of CoVid-19 vs. other coronavirus family virus in adults vs. children, and pretty much every coronavrius virus has a higher rate of infection among children than adults. Anyone with a young child can tell you that they catch something far more often than the adults. Something disquieting about transmission of viruses is that, during the SARS epidemic, "In most of the areas in which outbreaks occurred, healthcare workers and adult patients were mainly involved and, because they were immediately hospitalized, the risk for the infection spreading to children was greatly reduced because they are not usually allowed to visit hospitals (28). This hypothesis seems to be further supported by the fact that the early detection and isolation of symptomatic patients were the most important measures in controlling the SARS epidemic." In other words, children didn't catch SARS as often as adults because of some sort of inherent immunity. They didn't catch SARS because they were kept away from environments that promoted the spread of a virus. Pretty obviously, be sending children back to school, they will be exposed to contagious diseases.

The same article then says the infection rates of four common, but not very virulent, coronaviruses, are higher in children than adults. "HCoV-229E, HCoV-OC43, HCoV-NL63, and HCoV-HKU1 have been in continuous circulation since their first isolation and every year cause a large number of infections that more frequently involve children than adults".

IMO, With *no* explanation of lower infection rates among children than adults with CoVid, we should, until we know better, assume that CoVid will behave like other coronaviruses, as opposed to behaving the opposite. Of course, I only looked at four members of the coronavirus family so far, so if anyone has more information, please post.

Web Link


And here's the reason I stopped looking. "Children as likely to spread Covid as adults, says new study, adding to confusion : Geneva-based researchers analysed viral shedding in symptomatic children & found that they have similar viral loads & shedding to adults." In other words, children can spread the virus to adults, just as easily as adults can spread them.
Web Link

It's too bad that government policies of potentially deadly epidemics are not made by doctors or scientists with experience in infectious diseases. Given the rate of contagion and potential danger of the virus, I would err on the side of caution, rather than take additional risks. Children rely upon adults for their protection, and, thus, indirectly, steps to prevent adult infections by preventing children from being exposed, imo, protect children as well.

Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 12:16 am

Texas childcare(Schools will be next)
The new cases mark a significant increase from June 15, when there were 210 reported cases from 177 facilities -- including 141 staff members and 69 children.
On May 15, Texas reported a total of 59 cases from 53 child care facilities. At that time, 36 staff members and 23 children were infected.

Exponential growth-July 6th now its:

At least 1,335 people have tested positive from child care facilities in Texas, the state's Department of Health and Human Services reported Monday, citing figures from Friday.

Of those infected, 894 were staff members and 441 were children. The cases came from 883 child care facilities that are open in the state, DHHS said.

894 staff members-Teachers will be next
441 Day Care Kids-Students will be next
Exponential Growth-1 Person Infects 3

Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 12:29 am

While about 0.1 percent of people who got the flu died in the US last year, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the coronavirus' death rate is currently about 5.2 percent, based on the reported totals of cases and deaths. That makes the coronavirus' average death rate 52 times higher than that of the flu.

To demonstrate a more apt comparison of flu and coronavirus deaths, del Rio and Faust looked at numbers from “peak weeks” of seasonal flu outbreaks (not estimated numbers) and a week during the coronavirus outbreak. During the week of April 14 to 21, there were 15,455 COVID-19 deaths in the US, while the average number of counted flu deaths during the peak week of influenza seasons from 2013 to 2020 was 752.

That’s more than a twentyfold difference.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 8, 2020 at 3:24 am

When we look at other districts, PAUSD is falling behind and short in how they are approaching reopening in the fall. I'm not quite sure why our superintendent is paid one of the highest salaries, but where exactly is his leadership? Look at San Mateo and what they are doing. Someone asked about UC Scout, a program that is free to many schools and has prerecorded lessons. There seems to be something not quite working at the Board. Is it Dr Austin? Is it Sharon Ofek? At the leadership level, something is askew because they answers they provide at the Board meetings are circular and really have no substance or details.

Let's also consider who hired Dr. Austin. Which Board members were on the Board that approved his hire? Were they being competent in hiring him? Did they do due diligence and get recommendations from his prior work of employment?
[Portion removed.]
PAUSD parents need to carefully consider if they want a repeat of what happened this year during a time of crises. There are other school board parents stating how well run their school board is rising to meet the crises. We can all agree that is not the case with PAUSD. Why?

Who dropped the ball? Don't vote them back into power because this game is about power and there is a reason why the current board of trustees keeps running for re-election when they may not have a child in the system or skin in the game.

Vote people in who have skin in the game. Parents with kids in the system. They will approach it differently than the current board members.

Posted by AJ
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 8, 2020 at 8:55 am

This is a good time for schools to consider investing in state of the art infrastructure for AV communication at schools to improve the quality of online audio and video communication especially as more instruction will move online. Can we also consider getting kids a list of physicla workbooks etc to be completed at home instead of relying on digital tools such as Seesaw etc.? Expecting kids to write or draw on Seesaw is very unreasonable. Their fine motor skills need development with pen and paper. Doing math and science worksheets on Seesaw makes no sense. The school could consider printing weekly packets for pick up for kids or print at home. Students can complete and parents can take photos and submit.

Posted by student
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 8, 2020 at 8:58 am

Donald Trump says he will cut off Federal funding for public schools if they do not fully reopen in-person classes before the November election. Web Link

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 8, 2020 at 9:48 am

Yes. You are right. But the Board election is in November. School starts in one month.
What can we do to get change NOW?
The Board seems perfectly happy with Austin and Ofek. Why?
Our District has plenty of money for capital infrastructure for wiring from the Bond Measure, but it's not happening. Why?
Our District can require teachers to stream classes from classrooms, but it's not required in the MOU for secondary. Why?
Our Board negotiates with the teacher's union in private, which they are allowed to do, but why not make it open and transparent to the public? Why?
Our teacher's union reps speak at Board meetings as if they do not have a voice in negotiations. Why?
Our students and their families probably make up 25% of the population of our city. Why is our City Council not worried about the safety of everyone else? Why?
Our State mandated in person live teaching and daily live connections for those not able to be taught in person, but our District is requiring doctor notes to stay home. Why?

Posted by @resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 8, 2020 at 11:03 am

[Portion removed.]

There are also no 360 review processes at PAUSD so no one captures how weak or strong the leadership team really is and the board probably has no idea what the reality is. Or they are looking the other direction.

Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 11:10 am

Dozens of children in Connersville are now being tested for Covid-19 after contact stemming from one Richmond church. Wayne County health officials said Tuesday that there were multiple cases of the virus connected to one west-side Richmond church, including its pastor. One woman connected to the church is also an employee of a Connersville day care center and reported for work there. Now, 65 children have been tested for Covid-19.

In the study, 27 children at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London showed features consistent with coronavirus-related MIS-C, and four kids experienced neurological effects without respiratory symptoms.
The neurologic symptoms included encephalopathy (impaired brain function), headache and muscle weakness.

Nine children and two staffers at a Charlotte childcare center have tested positive for coronavirus, according to North Carolina’s new dashboard tracking COVID-19 ‘clusters’ across the state.

Posted by student
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 8, 2020 at 12:06 pm

The Trump administration says they will weaken CDC safety guidelines to make it cheaper for schools to reopen in the fall. NPR News report: Web Link

Posted by Actual Evidence?
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 8, 2020 at 12:44 pm

@"@resident" [Portion removed.]

I do agree that the district is rudderless. In fact, that is their 360 degree process, they just spin in circles and hope their past reputation and the community will save them.

Posted by Resident 2
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 8, 2020 at 2:12 pm

@resident - I love it when people pretend to know and make clearly wrong statements.

Who are the people with "integrity and talent" who have left exactly? They cleaned out a lot of the weak 'leadership' when McGee got shown the door (Mak, Bowers, Diorio, Wade, Harris); the current leadership team has been stable since then (Chow replaced Novak at CBO, arguably an upgrade).

Among principals, only 2 changes this year - Laurence at Gunn was promoted (replaced by an internal candidate), and Paulson at Paly "resigned" (replaced by a veteran outsider). The year before, ZERO principals left the district - Hickey got promoted, Miller was doing some kind of work at the DO). This is the lowest turnover in over a decade.

Compared to the former decade-plus of hot mess at 25 Churchill, this group is actually competent and focused on results.

Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 4:32 pm

In March-the beginning of the pandemic-it will happen will happen here or anywhere:

The New York City Department of Education said it has now lost 74 employees to COVID-19.

The other 70 school-based employees include:

-28 are paraprofessionals
-30 are teachers
-2 are food service staffers
-2 are administrators
-2 are facilities staff
-2 are school aides
-2 are guidance counselors
-1 is a parent coordinator
-1 is a School Computer Technology Specialist

Posted by Disappointed parent.
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 8, 2020 at 4:48 pm

Nobody likes distance-learning, especially a bad one. For my child, it was literally ONE hour per week from his classroom teacher. The teacher did not teach any Math or English. It was just sharing the coronavirus experience. Fortunately, the principal, the librarian, the PE teachers, and the science teacher generously stepped up and offered many hours of lessons each week.

Posted by data
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:50 pm

So you're going to compare covid spread in facilities that have NO mask or distance policies with what the schools are now being asked to do?

Not valid at all.

Show evidence of schools that did use masks, distancing and extra sanitization... what outbreaks occurred there? The answer is Zero.

Many countries have implemented the above procedures are are able to protect teachers, staff and students. It's not easy or comfortable, but it can be done.

Posted by The Voice Of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 6:02 pm

Victoria's coronavirus cases rise by 17 as two schools in Melbourne's hotspots close

Victoria has recorded its seventh consecutive day of double-digit increases in coronavirus cases, and two primary schools in COVID-19 hotspots have been closed following student infections.

Missouri leaders knew the risk of convening thousands of kids at summer camps across the state during a pandemic, the state's top health official said, and insisted that camp organizers have plans in place to keep an outbreak from happening.

The outbreak happened anyway.

Coronavirus outbreak at Missouri summer camp infects at least 82 campers, counselors, staff

Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 8, 2020 at 8:20 pm

Frustrated with fellow parents choosing a *my-kid’s-needs first!* approach to risk calculation. Look at this hybrid schedule! Staff and teachers WILL get sick and possibly die.

We keep hearing parents say, “there’s a low risk my kid will get sick.” Maybe. And Yes — kids need socialization and yes this is a terrible juggling act for working parents. BUT we have a choice which could SAVE STAFF LIVES.

If you really, truly, have no choice but to send your kid, do. If you could possibly reduce staff exposure by even one less kid on campus, please do.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 8, 2020 at 9:50 pm

Now seeing brain damage and permanent lung damage with ever changing virus.

Not worth it parents!! Teachers over 50 also being forced to exposure seems illegal. Stupid frumpiest just want what they want and ignore reality .

Children are not immune nor are parents .

Posted by Anon
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 8, 2020 at 9:52 pm

Trumpies not frumpiest

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 8, 2020 at 9:57 pm

If PAUSD offers real instruction to those at home and lets students stay home without a doctor's letter, then our community and teachers will be much safer.

High school students will come to school sick (as they have always done) if real instruction isn't offered for those at home.

Everyone who wants the community to be safe (all of Palo Alto, teachers, staff, and students), please encourage high quality instruction for those who choose or are told to stay home.

Thank you.

Posted by C
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 8, 2020 at 9:58 pm

Coronavirus: Why hand-washing and distancing might be 'insufficient' - and herd immunity now looks 'unachievable'

The novel coronavirus which has so far claimed at least 540,000 lives worldwide is now said to be able to linger in the air for hours after infected people have left.

These tiny particles exhaled as infected individuals talk or breathe can float around, especially in enclosed and poorly ventilated environments, according to more than 200 researchers who went public with their concerns this week – accusing the WHO of trying to shut down the evidence.

Previously, transmission of the virus was thought to occur through direct contact – for example being sprayed by larger droplets emitted when an infected person nearby coughs or sneezes, or from touching contaminated surfaces.

Or even just sitting in a seat previously occupied by someone carrying the virus – whether they were showing symptoms at the time or not. This is why handwashing and cleaning are so important.

Web Link

Given that the above information was known only recently, I doubt any school reopening plans have taken it into account. Should also mention that it also means if you go out to eat and sit at a table where someone infected sat, you can catch the virus.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 8, 2020 at 10:02 pm

How will distance learning teachers be selected?

Those most adept with tech/passionate about using this opportunity to teach kids how to make compelling slide decks, stop motion, coding, etc. and to otherwise maximize online learning?

Or those over 50/immunocompromised who will receive a couple of days training for DL at most?

Posted by to parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 10:48 pm

Professors can decide whether or not they're willing to teach in-person; the default is remote teaching. There are a limited # of classrooms with appropriate ventilation for in-person classes, so not all classes professors would like to teach in-person will necessarily be taught that way. The only classes that will likely to be selected for in-person teaching are those that are graduation requirements and cannot be taught remotely.

Posted by to parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 10:50 pm

Sorry, this was intended for the thread on Stanford's hybrid plans.

Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 11:04 pm

Palm Beach County’s top health official is sounding the alarm about children and the coronavirus.
“I’m very concerned in terms of the children because of that long-term damage," she said. "We have no idea what that will look like."
“In the five to 14-year-olds, when those children are examined, there are changes in the lungs that have occurred," she said. "We have no idea what the long-term effect of this will be."

The number of people who visited emergency rooms with COVID-19-like symptoms in Dallas County reached 786 on Tuesday -- up 182 from the day before.

"We are seeing it and again. Our experience reflects experience nationwide that we’re seeing children with COVID-19 and some of them are quite ill and some of them require intensive care," said Dr. Jeffrey Kahn Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern.

Kahn said some children who come into the emergency department are severely ill and have Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).

Posted by Parents
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 8, 2020 at 11:23 pm

I’m less concerned with the unknown potential long-term impact on kids. It’s novel and we really don’t know for sure.

What we DO know for certain, is there is a high likelihood this will kill at least some of our teachers.

But essentially parents are saying — we know this, but we’re still choosing onsite because MY child (and me if I have to keep him/her home any longer) will suffer for a year.

Posted by LAZIEST district in our area
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 9, 2020 at 12:21 am

PAUSD is the LAZIEST district in the area. Look around us - hybrid seems to be the norm. Why can't PAUSD work a little harder to offer this (at the very least)?

Posted by some other information
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 9, 2020 at 12:59 am

To date, according to Santa Clara County's tracker, there have been only 112 recorded cases (not deaths) of COVID-19 in Palo Alto. We are sending our elementary school child to in-person camp this summer and plan to send him to school under the hybrid option. I plan to teach in person too -- with smaller groups than normal and with adult students. Should circumstances change here (to look more like parts of Florida, Texas, or Arizona), I trust Dr. Cody to step in. I am also grateful for the state's guidance (am assuming that the new federal guidance will be far less trustworthy with the White House's interference).

For those interested in the perspectives of some local experts, check out UCSF grand rounds this Thursday. You can watch live or the YouTube recording. They are going to address reopening schools (and the outbreak at San Quentin):
Web Link

Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 9, 2020 at 1:18 am

GILA COUNTY, AZ — Family members of Kimberley Chavez Lopez Byrd, who taught in the Hayden-Winkelman Unified School District for more than 30 years, say she passed away from COVID-19 on June 26.

District Superintendent Jeff Gregorich says Byrd was team-teaching an online summer school course in the same room with two other teachers, and despite following all CDC guidelines for social distancing, sanitizing and wearing masks and gloves, all three of the teachers tested positive for COVID-19.
She was very concerned you know but she was 100% on board with whatever needed to be done,” said her husband, Jessie. “She had ordered face shields, masks. She was making masks because she loved to sew.”

In just a week of teaching together, the three teachers went through half of a large bottle of hand sanitizer. Kimberley started to feel sick. She was admitted to the hospital on June 13. She tested positive for COVID-19. She died on June 26.

Two days after she entered the hospital, two other teachers also tested positive for COVID-19.

“Fatigue set in. Cough set in. Fever set in. By the weekend it was in full swing and I was very ill,” said Jena Martinez, another veteran teacher. Martinez spent four weeks in quarantine. She is still getting breathing treatments, and just tested negative for the first time this week.

Another teacher, Angela Skilling, was on day 27 battling COVID-19 on Wednesday. She is still testing positive. “We have little kids,” she said. “How many people did I come in contact with?”

Her fellow educators say they’re telling Byrd’s story because school districts face increasing pressure from the White House to re-open classrooms on schedule. Educators say it’s too soon, and the death of a veteran teacher should serve as a cautionary tale.

“All three teachers religiously followed the CDC social distancing, wore masks, gloves, and were continuously disinfecting throughout each session,” Gregorich said. “Unfortunately, these protective CDC strategies did not keep any of them safe.

Posted by deleted information
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 9, 2020 at 2:13 am

The Voice of Palo Alto deleted a key paragraph from the story:

“Byrd's family says they do not know for certain where she contracted the virus but said several other family members also tested positive and are currently in quarantine. Her son says she also had a history of lung issues and asthma, making her particularly vulnerable to the virus.“
No family members of the other two teachers are reported as having this awful virus. I read the story as this amazing teacher likely caught the virus from her family and then transmitted it to the two other teachers. Her death is tragic but not one caused by teaching.

I also think given her age (60s) and medical conditions, if she had lived here, she could have requested an accommodation to teach virtually from her home, but am not sure.

May her memory be a blessing.

Posted by PALY parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 9, 2020 at 8:27 am

Secondary students are for sure getting the short end of the stick here! Just because the district cannot reimagine schedules or do the hard work to reconfigure cohorts doesn’t mean it can’t be done! What does the board expect will happen with ‘re-evaluation’ on September 11- will we pivot to hybrid? If the quality of online instruction in spring is any indicator, I am not hopeful that this round will be any better. My 8th grade son had little to no instruction. I feel for our teachers - they too are a victim of unimaginative leadership. Schools around the area are doing it! Why can’t we?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 9, 2020 at 9:00 am

"Schools around the area are doing it!"

Which ones are those? Can you point out any high schools in our area that are opening with hybrid plans? I know of three announced plans (aside from PAUSD) - Sequoia, San Mateo HS, and East Side HS - all are remote to start.

Per this article from the Merc (Web Link most have not yet published plans and some are waiting till August (?).

Posted by Roy M
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 9, 2020 at 9:31 am

I actually think the CDC guidelines are reasonable and this morning the director said that the CDC will not revise them despite Trump's pressure to do so. What keeps getting missed in all the discussion about both the AAP and the CDC documents is that both are talking about opening schools as safely as possible with restrictions. Key points from the CDC:

Protections for Staff and Children at Higher Risk for Severe Illness from COVID-19

Offer options for staff at higher risk for severe illness that limit their exposure risk (e.g., telework, modified job responsibilities).
Offer options for students at higher risk of severe illness that limit their exposure risk (e.g., virtual learning opportunities).
Consistent with applicable law, put in place policies to protect the privacy of people at higher risk for severe illness regarding underlying medical conditions.

Identifying Small Groups and Keeping Them Together (Cohorting)

Ensure that student and staff groupings are as static as possible by having the same group of children stay with the same staff (all day for young children, and as much as possible for older children).
Limit mixing between groups if possible.

Staggered Scheduling

Stagger arrival and drop-off times or locations by cohort or put in place other protocols to limit contact between cohorts and direct contact with parents as much as possible.
When possible, use flexible worksites (e.g., telework) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts) to help establish policies and practices for social distancing (maintaining distance of approximately 6 feet) between employees and others, especially if social distancing is recommended by state and local health authorities.

Web Link

These guidelines scream hybrid model since I don't think any school in Palo Alto can maintain them while keeping all students on campus at one time.

Posted by Roy M
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 9, 2020 at 9:33 am

Wanted to make a separate comment that I am on the side of reopening schools as much as possible as long as it is safe. This Twitter thread from the AEI explains the economic argument which is separate from the social/emotional arguments that kids should be at school.

Web Link

Posted by Resident.
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 9, 2020 at 10:59 am

PAUSD needs to learn from other school districts. Teaching online is different from in-person. The teachers have to adapt the curricula. It is more than just repeating the same material over Zoom. From class notes to homework and tests.

In Menlo Park, they divide and conquer. Each teacher is assigned to adapt a part of the curricula and share with the others. PAUSD teachers should ask for help from MP or MV.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 9, 2020 at 11:23 am

I agree with @ Resident, Community Center, PAUSD should consult with similar school districts to discuss/share best practices on a realm of aspects/topics. Worth the time!

Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 9, 2020 at 11:35 am

“No family members of the other two teachers are reported as having this awful virus. I read the story as this amazing teacher likely caught the virus from her family and then transmitted it to the two other teachers. Her death is tragic but not one caused by teaching.”

The other two teachers were just teaching:

4 Weeks in Quarantine and still getting breathing treatments:
“Fatigue set in. Cough set in. Fever set in. By the weekend it was in full swing and I was very ill,” said Jena Martinez, another veteran teacher. Martinez spent four weeks in quarantine. She is still getting breathing treatments, and just tested negative for the first time this week.

27 Days still battling COVID:
Another teacher, Angela Skilling, was on day 27 battling COVID-19 on Wednesday. She is still testing positive. “We have little kids,” she said. “How many people did I come in contact with?”

Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 9, 2020 at 12:36 pm

We should not be so critical of our board and district administrators overall. This is a new situation and they appear to be trying to adapt to it for the most part.

The one area where the district is culpable is online instruction. PAUSD has a long history of hating online instruction and they have refused to adapt. There is much evidence that it works well if done properly. I also think that "asynchronous" instruction works very well and needs to be considered.

Two of my grandchildren live here but attend private schools. I have never been happy with this. However, when the schools shut down, both of those schools were up the very next day online and the kids and their parents got into it.

When you have a superintendent and board members who openly disparage online instruction, it is easy to see why the teachers felt that they had permission to ignore it rather than give it a shot. We have every right to expect that educators will adapt to new content and new methods that they may not have learned during their own years of education. PAUSD failed.

There is much that PAUSD needs to do for the future concerning online instruction. We can hope that they can yet learn.

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 9, 2020 at 1:08 pm


Your post is very polite, but if you did not experience the spring first hand as a parent and have not had kids in the District, it's hard to imagine just how bad it was and how worried parents are, at least for high school. Indeed, my own parents and in-laws thought I was mistaken when I explain our high school student received 0-2 hours per week of instruction almost the entire shelter period. They thought I meant per day. Moreover, the Superintendent said the District was "setting the bar low," but our teachers would step up, and PAUSD would be a top performing district, outdoing those that had moved quickly.

You might be interested in this article from EdSource which states the California teacher union position. Web Link

Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 9, 2020 at 2:30 pm

@Covid-19 ready,

I didn't have any kids in the district this time but I have heard a lot of stories from those who do.

Many people in other districts locally and around the country reported reasonable results. Also, I have heard reports about improvements as the spring progressed and people got better. I haven't heard that from PAUSD.

The bar wasn't set low. There just wasn't a bar.

Posted by anon
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 9, 2020 at 9:01 pm

Well, the spring was awful.The ap sci teacher did nothing and then told the kids they had to do everything and at her ap testing level at paly. Admin was told, counselors were told and they did nothing. nothing. just excused the behavior and sat and watched kids suffer and worry about passing a hard class. they were warned they would be FAILED if they did not do every single piece of online robotic work and ap testing. There was NO prep for the ap test, NO lectures, NOTHING. the staff was told in March April and May.For classes your child really needs content for like math and science, try to take elsewhere are just get a good text book and test them yourselves while you test. This is better than NO teaching and NO support but time wasting depressing stressful online scavenger hunts to fill in old out dated rubrics written sometimes decades ago based on nothing much.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 10, 2020 at 8:39 am

Don Austen’s plan is very good and thoughtful but monitoring and enforcing Ed code and plan is too difficult when teachers are all using different platforms !!!!

They need to upgrade to canvas which has everything they need and is safe and can be monitired. Foothill uses it. Seriously , it would fix many problems.

Posted by Canary
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 10, 2020 at 10:59 am

We are learning more about the impact of poor ventilation on transmissibility of Covid. With scientists urging the WHO to acknowledge that the virus can spread not just through large droplets but much smaller aerosolized particles, many have called upon businesses, schools, and universities to do a more thorough job of assessing their ventilation needs when considering reopening. The private-charter chain KIPP is reported to have invested $350,000 to modernize their ventilation systems for just seven campuses. ( Web Link )

Dr. Cody, in a recent press conference, shared her core principles of risk reduction: 1) outdoors is far safer than indoors, 2) more distance is better than less, and 3) briefer contacts are safer than longer contacts.

How is the district preparing school sites for reduced risk of Covid spread?

Are we preparing sites for outdoor learning? Meaning, are we purchasing tents, chairs, megaphones, etc. that would allow a class to be outside for most of a class period each day? Outdoor learning poses challenges for teachers and students.

So, are we preparing for safe indoor learning? If being indoors for prolonged periods of time (over 15 minutes is prolonged) poses more risk, then it seems a worthwhile expense for PAUSD to order a report on our ventilation systems and whether they are adequate. We know that we have classrooms in this district that don’t have windows, that don’t have any chance of cross-breeze and that lack air conditioning. Are the air filtration systems appropriate? If a room only has one door that opens up outside and no windows, what will we do to ensure proper ventilation?

The board should require a formal report from Dr. Austin which covers the status of our classrooms and the requisite purchases (HEPA filters, portable air filters for classrooms, etc) that will ensure a safe environment for students and staff. Surely that would be a better use of money than on a public information officer.

Especially since the new 6th grade schedule looks like they’ll have 24 kids in a class at once (so next to no distancing), those classrooms should be prioritized for assessment of ventilations needs, along with our special education classes, PAUSD+ classrooms, and elementary classrooms. Those should be conducted immediately and then 7-12 grade levels could have a later report as they will not likely have on-campus students before mid-September.

If safety is our top priority, and if we are using science to guide our decisions, this seems like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the FAQs section on the PAUSD website gives me little confidence that the district will take any action to ensure the safety of our ventilation systems in our schools, and so that puts all of our safety at risk.

Posted by PAUSD parent.
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2020 at 11:36 am

If you don't have a child in the system, you won't believe what was happening. There was no teaching at all. Maybe, the health advisor told them to focus on mental health issues rather than academics since the CA suicide rate peaked in April and May.

It is worrisome to read the reports from Don and the board. They congratulated each other for closing a successful semester. In one youtube video, he showed off a few seniors going to Stanford and other ivy league schools. It seems that how he measures his success.

Remoting learning is not hard. There are plenty of good, free materials. What they did in spring was not working. But, the board chose to ignore the results of the survey.

Posted by Canary2
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 10, 2020 at 1:12 pm

Dear Alvin,

A couple of your censored comments can be found (before being censored) on the page I dedicated on my blog to the ongoing censoring.

I copy and then post comments before and after they are censored (only a tiny sampling) here:
Web Link (or search for: village fool palo alto before and after).

BTW, You are in good company! Here's sampling of censored quotes. I titled this blog post:
What do Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, George Orwell, Miguel De Cervantes, and Shakespeare have in common? All were censored by the PA online.
Link: Web Link (or search for: village fool palo alto twain Shaw Orwell have in common)

I hope you will see this comment, my comments usually vanish fast.


VililAge FoO00000l

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 10, 2020 at 1:20 pm


UV lights in rooms are another option to explore as well as fogging in between classes.

We can be proactive and innovative, or we can pretend like this is 1918 and shut our doors entirely. But, to open classrooms without innovation and new technology is insane.

Other districts are spending the summer installing cameras to prepare for distance learning. Is PAUSD hoping parents will pay to supplement and just leave those who cannot with teaching?

Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 10, 2020 at 1:45 pm

This pandemic is shinning a blinding light on the blaring entitlement of parents in this community.

Yes. This is extremely hard on children and on working parents (on everyone!) BUT, there are kids in cages and living under siege in Syria and other places.

Your child’s social emotional wellbeing being zapped by distance learning is real pain. But so is preventable death of teachers/community members. The year or two ahead is an opportunity for your child (and for parents) to dive deep into gaining perspective, sacrifice, hardship, thinking of the safety of others, cooking their own meals and, gasp, maybe even learning to clean their own toilets. We are living through wartime years, but aren’t accepting the magnitude of this crisis.

Posted by No money for private school
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 10, 2020 at 2:21 pm

Los altos school district- hybrid model, 2 days a week in person, Mv Whisman - hybrid, 2 days a week in person, San Carlos - hybrid, 2 days in person; Tiburon- hybrid, 2 days in person, Menlo park- hybrid, every other week. Palo alto middle school - 20 minutes asynchronous watching khan academy videos. Where are our taxes going? Why is it so hard to design a hybrid model for middle school? This is a city with a high suicide rates of teens.How will the emptied space be used? For paid childcare??? Ocean grove online school gives up to 3k for homeschooling. What does Palo alto give us?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 10, 2020 at 2:40 pm

@No Money...

All the districts you list are K-8 districts, which generally run their middle schools like elementary schools. In fact some run K-6 or K-8 schools. PAUSD elementary schools are 2 days/week, just like all those others.

PAUSD is a K-12 district and runs its middle schools more like high schools. Usually that's a good thing. In this case, it means it means running hybrid school is a lot harder. So they are doing it for 6th grade to start (1 day a week), and the other grades will come later.

The pandemic sucks, but implying there are easy answers isn't going to help.

Posted by school
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2020 at 2:51 pm

@resident - what makes you an expert on how the middle schools are run? Do you work for PAUSD?
If you are indeed so knowledgeable please help get all students a hybrid option.
Hybrid needs to be offered for ALL grades. Elementary, Middle, HS.

Posted by Happy with distance learning for HS
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 10, 2020 at 4:46 pm

I am glad the district has chosen distance learning for high school. My kids suffered all the same problems that people talk about here, in particular some teachers who did virtually no teaching or work-assigning for three months. (We did also have a few teachers who were clearly doing their best.)

But I am not asking for more of that failure. I am asking for and expecting something better.

This timely decision gives teachers plenty of time to prepare. The single mode of teaching gives them a simpler problem to focus on. The distance learning ensures they will have a safe and stable teaching and learning environment. The flexibility to use classrooms means they and their students will have in-person time as needed and as safe.

I do not think that giving teachers a more complicated hybrid setup, or one that is vulnerable to absences of teachers and students and entire classes, or one that is finalized much later is a better option. Instead, the district has opted to start simple, do it well, and go from there. I understand and applaud that decision.

That said, I have real concerns about how Austin presented the level of success at the end of last year. He was either deluded or disingenuous. Neither is welcome in a leader.

Posted by Stream baby Stream
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 10, 2020 at 5:43 pm

Stream instruction. Live instruction 4 hours per day per MS and HS student.

Other districts get it. Community colleges get it. Camps get it. Summer programs get it. Come on PAUSD, parents want assurances that instruction will be STREAMED and RECORDED.

Why? It's safe. It works whether 1% of students are allowed to attend or 99%. And, for at-risk teachers, let them them stream from EMPTY classrooms.

Let's get set up for streaming immediately. And make this promise to families.

Can't be done? Talk to San Mateo High Schools. They promised synchronous.

Posted by Please focus on the main issues.
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 10, 2020 at 9:06 pm

First, no companies, schools and gov are asking "high risk", sick or senior staff or teachers to go to work. In fact, the schools do not want them to be there even if they just think that they may get sick.

It is not productive to keep bringing this issue up in the discussion. There is no need to keep saying the parents are heartless tigers. The world is opening slowly and carefully. The focus is "how" rather than creating political statements. Many cities, states and many countries have done it. Let's try to learn rather than point fingers.

I personally know many people recovered. It is not as bad as the news reported. Unfortunately, google, youtube and facebook chose to report the bad news and censored the good ones.

Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2020 at 10:31 pm

[Portion removed.] Support your first statement with data.

Posted by Write to school board
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 11, 2020 at 6:41 am

Please, write to school board at I believe Todd Collins does read the comments section, so Todd where do your kids go to school? Elena Kadvany, please investigate if at least a single Board member currently has kids in Palo alto schools. This board is simply detached from the parents and does not represent them.

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 11, 2020 at 8:42 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Curious parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 11, 2020 at 9:27 am

I really don't understand all the bickering here about when and how our children return to school. It's not up to Don Austin. It's not up to the School Board. It's not up to parents. It's not up to Sara Cody. It's not up to the CDC. It's not up to Donald Trump or to Congress or to our governor. The teacher's union will make the decision when it's time to return.

Posted by Board makes me angry
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 11, 2020 at 9:45 am

People, please do not vote for board members who send their kids to private schools. What can they teach us or our children? This is a conflict of interest issue. There are two sides in the story- parents of kids who attend and teachers who teach. Please, do not apply to the board if you have nothing to say

Posted by Teacher
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 11, 2020 at 10:45 am

@Stream Baby Stream-

I'm hoping to use my empty classroom to stream live my classes. I am expected to take attendance and conversely have kids "show up". All the PD I am taking now from the district points to this. I'm just hoping to get the copy room person back on campus so I can start getting all the materials I need for students in digi format so they can be ready. Breakout rooms and Zoom invitations. Let's go!

Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 11, 2020 at 11:05 am

“I really don't understand all the bickering here about when and how our children return to school. It's not up to Don Austin. It's not up to the “School Board. It's not up to parents. It's not up to Sara Cody. It's not up to the CDC. It's not up to Donald Trump or to Congress or to our governor. The teacher's union will make the decision when it's time to return.”

The title of this article and the information directly underneath it says this:
SCHOOL BOARD endorses plan for new academic year
BOARD ASKS DISTRICT STAFF to return with proposals for sixth graders, later school start times

The School Board approved the dangerous decision for teachers and students to return to work/school during a pandemic. Don Austin is the person who made the dangerous recommendation to the School Board for teachers and students to return to work/school during a pandemic.
When something predictably goes wrong with a COVID outbreak this school year, Don Austin and The School Board will be the ones to blame and NOT the Teachers Union.
Teachers Unions do not have the power to make the decision as to whether or not they return to work or not. They are employees. Teachers Unions can now make demands about WORK PLACE SAFETY for keeping themselves and YOUR CHILDREN SAFE during a global pandemic.

Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 11, 2020 at 11:35 am

For everyone who swore by the pediatricians recommendations:

Web Link

They walked it back...
You can’t fall back on “the pediatricians said...” anymore for your return to school arguments. They softened their statements and threw it back on public health officials so they won’t be blamed when you know...COVID sickness and death at schools. Everyone is passing the buck and no one wants to take the blame when something predictably goes wrong in schools with the Novel Virus.

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 11, 2020 at 11:45 am

@Write to School Board,
I answered your question re our Board Members and who has children in the district school. It was removed. All the information was found on Google. You can find it too. Trying again. Maybe this one won't be removed b/c it includes less detail.
Ken Dauber: No public school student for 6 years +. Youngest graduated private local high school in last few years.
Todd Collins: No public school student for 6 years + in PAUSD K-12.
Jennifer DiBrienza: Two public school students currently; 1 private school student currently.
Shounak Dharap: [Portion removed] [Child not yet school age.]
Melissa Baten Caswell: None currently. One student graduated PAUSD in last 5 years. Another student attended K-5 in district and a private school for middle and high school.

Posted by Stream baby Stream
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 11, 2020 at 12:10 pm



You might want to let leadership know that students and parents are looking for meaningful assurances that there will be instruction with streaming, breakout rooms, etc at the secondary level.

Can't get a copy room person to scan, ask your site council for help with a parent volunteer group.

Posted by Jessica
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 11, 2020 at 12:40 pm

Palo Alto Schools have sports fields and open space on campus, why can't school be held outside ? We have nice weather most of the years. Palo Alto middle school and high schools hold graduation ceremony's outside with a flat screen so that family/friends who are sitting further away can still see the activity on stage.

Why can't this be done for classes? A canopy over the sports fields/open space will provide shade from the sun, and a nice environment for the kids to learn. With all the technology available in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, how can this not be a possibility ?


Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 11, 2020 at 12:48 pm

“I personally know many people recovered. It is not as bad as the news reported. Unfortunately, google, youtube, and facebook chose to report the bad news and censored the good ones”
Worldwide: 12,745,846 Cases/565,261
United States: 3,324,013 Cases/137,021 Deaths
Last 4 DAYS in the U.S. 3692 Deaths
Yesterday a single day high of 71,787 new cases in the United States.
Currently ICUs are being over run in Florida, Arizona, Los Angeles, and Texas.
Projected US Deaths predicted to top 200,000 by October.
California sets single day death high of 149 people this last Wednesday.
COVID19 didn’t exist until about 6 months ago and it is now the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States.

What’s more, scientists today have a better sense of how to measure COVID-19's lethality, and the numbers are alarming. Using a more sophisticated calculation called the infection-fatality rate, paired with the past few months’ worth of data, the latest best estimates show that COVID-19 is around 50 to 100 times more lethal than the seasonal flu, on average.

Coronavirus Mutation:
The researchers believe this mutation is approximately 10 times more infectious than the original viral strain

Expert warns the US is approaching 'one of the most unstable times in the history of our country'

Internal CDC documents warn full reopening of schools is 'highest risk' for coronavirus spread

US Army sending medical task force to Houston

How much worse do you want it to get?
I haven’t even mentioned the economic impacts.
Please stop downplaying the severity of the virus and it’s impacts.
We are currently going through the worst crisis in America since WW2.

Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 11, 2020 at 1:58 pm

Looking just at the Covid death rate does not tell the whole story. About 20% of infected people need hospitalization. And of those who aren't hospitalized, another segment have long-term problems.

People can get Covid and flu at the same time.

Speaking as someone who has school and homeschooled a student in Palo Alto, I just want people to be aware that even a year "sabbatical" from school is not going to leave your student behind, it depends on what you do with it. It could even be an opportunity for your child to do things that help keep that intellectual spark alive.

Doing school remotely could leave your child with more time to do things outside of school, including meeting with other kids in smaller settings outside.

Seriously, people, this is not forever, and there is ample experience among homeschoolers that best practices online can be part of a fantastic educational strategy. Kids should not be online the way they are at school, trying to reproduce the school day but remotely would be a disaster.

I do think the school should create a programmatic opportunity for people who are willing to try something really different, like their kids getting to do a more homeschool-like online learning with the teachers mainly supervising students' doing long-term projects that they choose. If people sign up for a program that is very different, then they are more likely to be on board with it and flexible.

Regardless, Stanford Online High School has made a really comprehensive set of resources available for schools to learn about best practices and how you set up an effective online school. They are ranked higher now than either Gunn or Paly nationally, and are accredited.

They put recordings of the webinars they did this spring online, and have other tools for setting up good online classrooms. These are free and specifically targeted to middle school and high school instructors:
Web Link

Another online learning platform that is WASC accredited and popular with gifted kids has had webinars about online resources, but I don't see any resources for teachers available now. They have a list of resources
Web Link
Their platform is outstanding, and optimizes learning and connection while minimizing unnecessary overhead for the students (time when they are not engaged, basically).

I think the most important aspect of whether distance learning is a success is whether our district can deal head on with the issue of what best helps foster independence and self-direction in learning, and how many current practices in school (not just here) work counter to that. If they can do this one thing, they will not only make really good use of the time that school is disrupted, but everyone will be better off when things restart.

I really do think the district has made the best plan moving forward. If they plan for a good online experience and Covid doesn't surge, then the kids are still learning. If Covid and flu do surge which is a real possibility, and they hven't done this kind of preparation, then kids will lose out the way so many did this past fall.

Our teachers deserve the support to protect their health.

I'll say this again, though I realize few will listen. I say it because I didn't react well to this advice from veteran homeschoolers myself when we began homeschooling, but it turned out to be golden advice: Even if you are homeschooling not your choice, under non-optimal conditions, if you are just angry and see it as never good enough, then it never will be better than that. If you decide to approach it as if you CHOOSE to do it, then it's possible to move forward in a more constructive way and find all kinds of surprisingly beneficial aspects that could never have been possible in school, so that you look back grateful it happened and re-energized when school starts in-person again. There are so many resources now because of homeschoolers, that I hope our district will take advantage of, including changing how the district looks at student control of their time.

I wish everyone the best. Please remember that this is a pandemic and to give yourselves and our teachers some grace.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 11, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Board and admin could not get soap or towels or stop vaping before or during crisis

Better to be off campus because there will be no enforcement

Maybe vaping kills virus? Or spreads it? Wonder if vaping kids had to go off it while at hone?

There are advantages to online learning UNLESS the paly teachers just spend time talking about rubrics and showing old power points instead of just delivering content themselves. Then it becomes time consuming and abusive.

Kids at home should be working g from nine am to about one pm

Posted by Parent and teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 11, 2020 at 5:07 pm

As both a parent and a teacher, I am very invested in the decisions being made. As a parent I am in favor of the hybrid model but as a teacher I am in favor of the 100% online model. The essay below was shared on social media and I think everyone should read it. As both a parent and a teacher, I am very invested in the decisions being made. As a parent I am in favor of the hybrid model but as a teacher I am in favor of the 100% online model. The essay below was shared on social media and I think everyone should read it

[Portion removed; due to unknown origin and possible copyright issues, please post a link to the content instead of copying it into your comment.]

Posted by Stream baby Stream
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 11, 2020 at 5:48 pm

@Parent and Teacher,

With a commitment to 100% streaming and recording, we can be fluid with in-person attendance based on needs of students and class types. To do otherwise is to lock ourselves into a rigid model that might not work at all.

Love the thought put into your post, but considering hybrid 2 days vs. 100% online is IMHO a waste of time. It's a rigid plan. Let's set our community, teachers, students and families up for success.

Posted by DavidZ
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 11, 2020 at 7:34 pm

Still think kids cannot get this disease or spread the infection to parents and grandparents? Here is a case study from North Carolina published July 10 in the Charlotte Observer.

Web Link

A family gathering of about 2 dozen people who did not wear masks led to infections of "...41 people in 9 different families and 8 different workplaces. " A child in one of the families in attendance who "...tested positive infected two grandparents and their neighbor" ages 65, 67 and 85.

This was all verified through contact tracing performed by Catawba County Health Dept. outside of Charlotte, NC.

Posted by Please let us know how we can help
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 11, 2020 at 9:15 pm

I think we all (teachers, parents, students) want this to work out better than the end of last year. I hope that teachers will not hesitate to ask parents - for example through the PTA - if there is something that we can do, like digitizing content. We are all in this together and can help each other to help our kids.

Posted by Teacher
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 11, 2020 at 10:21 pm

@Please let us know how we can help-
Excellent idea! On it! I need scans, a synchronous schedule finalized (if we are going to 100% remote distance learning I am somewhat confused as to what elements of synchronous AND asynchronous looks like?- won't it all be synchronous?) and a remote admin, counseling, and social service arm doing their part to reach those kids who fell through the cracks last spring. 85% of this hurdle is COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, AND COMMUNICATION. Short Zoom meetings with parent stakeholders should be mandatory. As a parent and a teacher the more long detailed emails coming down the pipeline the better.

Posted by JJ
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 11, 2020 at 10:26 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 12, 2020 at 8:02 am

Amen to that!

@Please Tell Us how about setting up a platform in which community volunteers can register (so the teachers know it’s not just random weirdos uploading stuff) and teachers can float requests that have deadlines, in various categories, that community volunteers can take care of? It should include volunteers being able to donate small amounts of money, too, since going remote robs the schools of important fundraisers for classroom supplies like the book fairs. And the platform should be continually improved with feedback from teachers, by volunteers not big corps wanting to exploit the personal info of everyone. Please set up the platform fast so teachers can get help now and they all know where to go. Let the community know what you are doing and when it will be available. If you don’t have that skill set, be the one who beats the bushes in this town until you find someone else who does and is willing to do the work. Make it possible for community members to be vetted so they can help with some of the social services work such as families who may be struggling. Be the one who finds the volunteers who are good at staying on top of the requests from teachers and making sure they are reliably filled by enough volunteers.

Thanks for offering to help. I realize that may sound like a lot, but you had a great idea, and that there is what would help. Teachers may need the help but they need it to not be more work for them than it’s worth, and such a platform (with volunteers to keep making it so teachers can count on it on an ongoing basis) would do it. If you get it rolling, it could continue to support teachers on an ongoing basis after the pandemic is over. Oh, one more thing - it should have privacy protections so that parents can easily volunteer to help on an ongoing basis in their own child’s classroom but that other community members can broadly volunteer without violating anyone’s privacy if they don’t want that.

I’ve just suggested a tall order for @Please Tell Us. Who in the community with this skill set will do this or help beat the bushes for someone who can? (Sorry, when I was a school parent it would have been me, but it can’t be right now.)

Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 12, 2020 at 10:44 pm

@Parent & a Teacher, please select DL if you are for it as a teacher but for hybrid as a parent. Otherwise, it’s hypocritical that you don’t want to sacrifice your own physical security to teach but want to ask a fellow teacher to make that physical sacrifice for the social/emotional wellbeing of your child.

@Covid-19 Ready, can you please run for public office? Every one of your posts have been factual, insightful, thorough, and immaculately reasoned.

Posted by We are not in this together
a resident of Barron Park School
on Jul 12, 2020 at 11:50 pm

To Silver linings. Why are you so active on this topic??? How does the topic of school reopening concern you? i am glad you figured out how to home school, many parents on this forum did not. We do not care - in person, zoom classes or teacher dancing on tik tok. We need teachers to teach, not Khan academy videos. Distance learning bullshit is the biggest scam going in the PAUSD right now. Distance learning perpetuates inequalities and reduces social mobility. Sometimes i wonder- is it all intentional? Does Palo alto school board want to get rid of renters, middle class people? If you walk in North Palo Alto- almost each household has a private school sign on. Is whatever offered now, meant to get rid of us "unwelcome" people of lower middle class? I often hear- we are in this together. No we are not!!! Someone in a nice house, someone in a small hot apartment and someone in a trailer! Problems of indians are not the problem of the Chief

Posted by Special Email Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 13, 2020 at 6:55 am

Based on spring and ESY — and facing facts now that fall will also be fully distanced learning regardless of those still refusing to accept that right now — why stay enrolled in pausd?

Parents have to sit with their child at a computer screen coaxing their child to do what the person on the other end is instructing (which is not anything the parent sitting with the child doesn’t already know/couldn’t implement directly.)

It’s torture and more hassle than help. Parents in this situation will need to quit their jobs or hire someone in-home to be 1:1 with their child. Why continue letting pausd take the funding?

Are there options (beside Ocean Grove which is full) for transferring the funding from pausd directly to parents who will be quitting their jobs to become the full time teachers either way this year?

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 13, 2020 at 8:34 am

Special email parent,
I believe AB 77 / SB 98 states that even though you can still move to a charter this year or homeschool, the money will stay with PAUSD unless you physically move out of district.
Even then, I'm not sure how much of the PAUSD Basic Aid formula is based on the total attendance.
Depending on the grade of your child, you could move to Los Altos elementary / middle which has committed to a minimum level of synchronous. For high school, all of San Mateo County will have synchronous.
If you are looking for a paid experience that might allow you to work from home, there are some small live programs for homeschoolers.
Re your job or your family's jobs, try not to quit. Maybe you were being sarcastic, but many college students will be home this year, either taking a gap or taking classes online. It will be more cost effective for you to pay them a minimal amount to manage while you are gone. Yes, you will have to agree on social distance living rules, but this is much better than taking the risk of quitting in a recession.
Finally, if you feel this strongly, write your legislators who passed AB 77 / SB 98, write the school board, and write Superintendent Thurmond. Palo Alto is much too wealthy of a school district to fail its working parent families like this.

Posted by Schools Can Open WSJ
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 13, 2020 at 9:44 am

School Start in less than 30 days...

WSJ today, July 13, 2020, Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commission - Schools can re-open:

Schools Can Open Safely This Fall
Staggered schedules and other precautions would help reduce children’s low but real risk from Covid.
By Scott Gottlieb
July 12, 2020 12:47 pm ET

Schools should open in the fall. It’s critical for meeting the educational and social needs of children. But local officials should have the discretion to take tailored actions to help keep children safe.
see WSJ

Why Can't Palo Alto Re-Open?
Is it the teacher's Union, Don Austin and the Palo Alto School Board that does not want the Palo Alto schools to re-open in person?? Teachers and businesses ask kids to think outside the box, come-up with a solution... now this is a time to show the kids that the teacher's union, Don Austin and the school board can do the same. This is such a low tech solution to come-up with to have the kids back in person....

China outfitted each desk with a clear plastic shield, similar to what we all now see in the grocery stores.

Posted by Elementary School Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 13, 2020 at 10:08 am

Based on what the spring looked like I do not think that elementary schools will open as a hybrid method. I'm guessing that in a couple of weeks we will all be told that everything will be remote for all grade levels. Most other school districts in the county are not opening elementary schools, so I'm pretty sure we won't either.

Having said that - I feel like there is a waste of resources going on at this time.

First and foremost, all resources should be thrown at the most effective and proper remote learning tools to start with. Make sure that all students have access to the internet, have devices that they can use for school that work well, perhaps reach out to Stanford School of Education; their graduate students are required to have some number of hours teaching, why not teach online at their very own local PAUSD?

Once thats solved; some of the resources should be directed at solving the problem of safety upon return; aim for beginning of 2021 for that. At the very least, lets make sure that schools have actual soap and sanitizer; that there are cleaning crews available to sanitize the classrooms between uses. For high schools na middle school perhaps, having kids themselves step up and wipe up everything. Make sure that there are masks available for these children that do not have them.

Our government is horribly decentralized and yes, closing certain states and not others is like designating a no pee zone in the pool. Which is exactly what happened. But perhaps the only solution is to start on very local levels and build up - and yes, limit contact with other counties/cities for a while.

Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 13, 2020 at 12:14 pm

Why Can't Palo Alto Re-Open?
Is it the teacher's Union, Don Austin and the Palo Alto School Board that does not want the Palo Alto schools to re-open in person?? Teachers and businesses ask kids to think outside the box, come-up with a solution... now this is a time to show the kids that the teacher's union, Don Austin and the school board can do the same. This is such a low tech solution to come-up with to have the kids back in person.... China outfitted each desk with a clear plastic shield, similar to what we all now see in the grocery stores.
Distance learning perpetuates inequalities and reduces social mobility. Sometimes i wonder- is it all intentional?
Parents have to sit with their child at a computer screen coaxing their child to do what the person on the other end is instructing (which is not anything the parent sitting with the child doesn’t already know/couldn’t implement directly.)
It’s torture and more hassle than help. Parents in this situation will need to quit their jobs or hire someone in-home to be 1:1 with their child. Why continue letting pausd take the funding?

[Portion removed; please don't write in all CAPS.]

Posted by Anon
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 13, 2020 at 8:29 pm

There is reality. Fantasy is fun but can keep your darlings safe.

School bubble in Disney world with great testing? No testing? Staff contacts not traced and kids family contact not traced.

Do the math . Group a goes to school on dat one with a teacher and staff. Group b goes with staff on day two. On day three the teacher and staff have been exposed to all of them and they have been exposed to everyone.

Who thinks splitting class is a solution?? Maybe mon tues group A and clean on wed and group B on th Friday. Not sure can a math person please look at this? It does not make sense. The one teacher exposed to everyone will expose everyone. ??

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 13, 2020 at 9:08 pm

I'm confused.
Didn't the CTA lobby fight hard to keep teacher pay and positions? Is it really possible that one week after AB 77 / SB 98 was signed, the CTA said sorry, we'll take the pay and keep the positions, but we're not teaching in-person? Oh my.
In-person instruction was at the heart of AB 77 / SB 98 for what appeared to be two big reasons. #1 Kids learn better, and #2 parents can go to work.
Now the CTA must have told locals to tell their districts to pound sand.
Isn't it time for Governor Newsom to say that districts can cut pay and cut positions if there is not meaningful in-person instruction (not just the possibility of it at some point)?
Finally, if teachers can choose not to teach in-person, can we choose to have our kids do whatever this year and just return in 2021 in their current rising grades?
Oh, and if this is what we are stuck with, why aren't the schools being wired and cameras being purchased right now?

Posted by Mana
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 13, 2020 at 9:37 pm

Let's take it slow, experiment with new educational designs, and be rational about this. Children pass around viruses between eachother and from family to family like nobodies business. It's better to play this safe. We just have to get through these first Covid19 waves. The virus got here end of spring season. When the flu happened it wasn't the first wave that was the worst, it was the second that winter, and the following spring. I think we have to be smart about this, show our children that we are smart. I don't think 1 year on pause is going to set any child or teenager back. Let's just get the through the first waves people. Look on the bright side, we have been talking about how smaller class room sizes would be healthier for our children for years. The education design has a chance finally to be redesigned.

Posted by Mana
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 13, 2020 at 9:52 pm

A very important thing to consider is that this winter we will have the flu and covid's first real season. We are going into the second wave of covid this winter. Historically when the flu hit a hundread years ago, it wasnt the first wave that was the worst, it was the second. I think we need to brace ourselves for this winter and the potential hysteria that have two virus season intertwined might bring.

Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2020 at 11:47 pm

@We are not,
>"To Silver linings. Why are you so active on this topic??? How does the topic of school reopening concern you? i am glad you figured out how to home school, many parents on this forum did not. “

HI @We are not. I think you got the wrong idea from reading only one of my posts. We started homeschooling several years ago, not during the pandemic. We did not plan to homeschool, and were not prepared, and yet found ways to make the education vastly superior in a truly holistic way to what my child had and could have had in PAUSD in person. My child was still in school when the pandemic hit, and because of having to transition to a very different way of educating, while the lockdown was a big disruption to the homeschool kids, too, at least their learning continued pretty uninterrupted.

I am active on this topic because, a) I am a member of the community, b) I am a (not-my-choice-former) PAUSD parent, and c) I care about everyone, and d) I can see what a lot of people are missing about what our kids’ education COULD be now, because I know what it’s like to be on each side of that “wall” of understanding about education.

I have spent these years in contact with many hundreds of other innovative educators and homeschoolers, and I can see that this time could be opportunity for silver linings for our district kids, benefits we never could have expected. I can see that it doesn’t HAVe to be bad like it was apparently for you. Sometimes it feels like it’s one of those movie tropes in which the whole group is trying desperately to figure a complicated strategy to get out of a stronghold, and everyone is ignoring the person who is standing there in disbelief with an unlocked, open door at the back of the room through which everyone could escape if they would just look up.

Distance learning is not “the biggest scam” if it’s done right. Did you know there are more homeschoolers today than kids in physical charter schools? Homeschoolers rely a lot on distance learning, but they curate for the good stuff, and the kids usually use distance learning in the context of a lot of real-world learning and learning to be self-directed. Would you rather your child needed a third party to spoon feed them assignments and lessons all the way up to college, or that your child learned how to learn for themselves? My kid’ homeschooling was a journey from the former to the latter, not by accident, but because of learning best practices for homeschooling.

Our district already had/has problems with making a lot of us unwelcome, my family and child included. You have a point in that the district is a basic aid district, that means, they get just as much money if they “encourage” some families to go away. I hear you.

But distance learning does not inherently have to perpetuate inequality or reduce social mobility. Studies of homeschoolers test scores are few and far between, but the largest found no achievement or gender gap, which makes sense because the education is customized for each child (which we could be doing now in PAUSD, especially since the pandemic, if they understood how to do that). Another study I heard about recently, showed that low income students benefitted the most from homeschooling. The fastest-growing segment of homeschooling is educated African-American families who want to remove the institutional biases and racism from their children’s development.

So, if I were in your shoes, and the district suddenly told me that they were just going to give my kid time to sit at home and read for the next two months, I would probably be just as angry as you are. And yet, for some kids, that’s the best thing that could happen to them educationally, and although we never did exactly that, we did indeed find ways to make it possible for our child to do all the reading that had never been possible in school, and that was HUGE for educational outcomes. Our child’s test scores skyrocketed upon leaving school. The difference between that first scenario and what we did is student autonomy — our student had a lot more independence and control over time, and this allowed far more learning. BTW, my kid used Khan Academy only a little, but found videos too time consuming and slow. Turns out with the right textbook and a one-hour a week class, it was possible for our child to go at about two to four times the regular school pace, validated later by college classes. Faster once the learning disability was accommodated. My kid wasn’t even referred to advanced math lanes in our schools.

I’m trying to share with you that you don’t have to be angry or upset, that you CAN find ways for this to become a silver lining. You don’t have to feel that we are all in this together, but you do have to accept that conditions are not going to be the same this fall as before the pandemic, and you can either choose to learn how to make it better than you could ever have imagined, or you can continue to be angry and your child suffer for it. I know my telling you that isn’t going to make you anything but angry with me, as I already said, I had the same reaction when MANY homeschool families with experience told me that it didn’t matter that I was justified in my anger at the district and the difficult circumstances we found ourselves in, if we wanted our kid to get the best education, we need to move forward AS IF the homeschooling had been our choice.

That was the starting point. THEN it was necessary to listen to the homeschool community and hear what resources and experiences would work for us. The California Ed Code and our district’s board regulations allow the district the flexibility of offering independent study. There are so many things they could be doing now that would be opportunities to innovate FOR THOSE WHO WANT IT but don’t know what’s possible.

IF you are so angry at the district and don’t think the education can be fair, there are alternatives, as @Special Email Parent mentioned, like Ocean Grove. They are distance charter schools and even school district homeschool programs. In the case of the former, they even have a few thousand dollars to help each family pay for the online classes and tutors you and your child needs/chooses.

@Special Email Parent,
Ocean Grove is full but if you get in line, they may have space for you by the time school starts. Parents never get funded for teaching, by the way, but you can hire vetted instructors and pay for accredited classes with the funds. Ocean Grove is not the only homeschool charter available to students in SC County. You can enroll in pretty much any distance homeschool charter operating in a district adjacent to our county, that has the space and education specialists. The funds they have available for classes differ. If you go with a homeschool program through a school district using independent study laws, it’s $0. The different distance charters have very different philosophies, and I'm sorry to say there isn’t even a good guide from the office of independent education to figure out what’s available to you, the best way to find one tends to be word-of-mouth among homeschoolers.

The goal is a great education in the district for all children, in whicht he idea of having to sit there with any child to MAKE them do their work, or a kid sitting there bored for hours, is an unimaginable thing of the past.

Posted by Special Education Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2020 at 12:12 am

Ugh. Hadn’t noticed autocorrect changed “special education” to “special email.”

Thank you to @Covid 19 Ready (i agree with above comment suggesting you should run for public office!) and to @SilverLinings for this info.

For many of my fellow special education parents, it’s job OR getting our kids through 1:1 distance learning, but not both. Fully cognizant of the looming recession.

Many of our kids have added health issues for which we can’t send them to campus and can’t open our bubble to a college person to physically support our kids. Distance learning through pausd really isn’t working — requires pausd staff on one end of the computer and a parent or childcare provider sitting next to the child at the house. If we’re having to sit next to our kids full-time for online instruction anyway, I suspect many of us are looking for options to just unenroll from pausd at this point.

Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2020 at 12:13 am

@Covid-19 ready,

>"Finally, if teachers can choose not to teach in-person, can we choose to have our kids do whatever this year and just return in 2021 in their current rising grades?"

First, go to the Stanford Online HS web page and look at the resources they have to teach school districts how to create a high-quality online program -- what is PAUSD doing, are they already on top of that, are they doing nothing? They aren't communicating well so it's hard to know.

Here's another resource, a professional organization for best online educational practices
Web Link

The answer to your question is yes.

If you choose to go with a charter like Ocean Grove, your child will have a public school transcript and then they would be in the next grade next year.

If you choose to homeschool by Private School Affidavit, then yes, you can withdraw your child from the district, file a PSA in October and basically do what you want next year and return to the district in the same grade.

Your kid could spend the year reading great literature, doing a research project, writing a book, watching Great Courses videos, building things, learning how to cook (while skyping with friends who are cooking), focus just on a weakness like writing or math and forget having to do anything else, learn a foreign language by skyping a grandparent and getting to know that grandparent before they get too old, etc etc. The main drawback is that there are no funds for homeschooling, but there are so many cheap and free resources out there and groups that will hand hold you through learning about them. The other drawback is that it's hard for people to transition from traditional school to doing that in a positive way (I've written about that before) unless they understand a little about why it's hard and what to do about it. But yes, you can pretty much take your kid out of school and do what you want. You can even form a private school with other people and only one of you has to file the form.

This page, by the way, has instructions and the charter school locator
Web Link

That said, please give the district a chance here. Get involved to be sure the proposals are real and not just window dressing.

If you want to do something different, get together as parents and demand the district describe what opportunities it's made available to all independent study students in the past, including for one-on-one learning. The district does collect that information for an annual report to the superintendent. The district doesn't legally have to provide independent study to students who want it, but if they do offer it (as ours has), they legally have to offer it equitably. So if they've allowed other students to basically homeschool or get one-on-one instruction, including paying for it, then make them provide that information publicly. Make them provide how much they've paid, when they've paid, what the process is for requesting it, etc. And if changes have to be made so that more people can access that opportunity now, then demand the district incorporate that in its plans. Ask the Weekly to do a story on the district's past practices with independent study. At least you know what is your right to demand in our district based on CA ed code and our district's own past actions and policies.

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 14, 2020 at 11:06 am

@Special Education Parent,
I suspect there are many parents who just want to put a pause on this year. Even if we would put our children in enrichment, we'd like to just place a rising 9th grader in 9th grade in 2021 and spend this year doing something else.
If you or others figure out how we can legally take a gap year...not just home school and come back in the "next" grade, please post this.

@Silver Linings, Your post indicates this is possible with homeschooling, but I can't find a law that lets the student stay in their grade and not rise with their current cohort.

Thanks everyone for this great education and sharing your stories.

Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 14, 2020 at 1:27 pm

Good online instruction is not that hard to accomplish. Before the pandemic, many k-12 schools (public, charter, private) used a lot of online materials. Online is very common in college programs (bachelors and masters). Most training courses are online today, it is hard to find a class if you want one.

The district has about 5 weeks to get something going. They need to be doing some pretty quick research and find some solutions. It does not work just to tell teachers to do their own, nothing consistent will happen.

I have faith that our district can do this if they want to. We need to move beyond the fiasco of last spring.

Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 14, 2020 at 5:08 pm

One teacher told me the other day:
"Through February, 130 kids came through my classroom daily. They have 98 parents and 192 siblings at home. Some also have aunts, uncles, grandparents & cousins living in their homes. Some have live-in staff. That means I'm being exposed to the family viral output of about 450 people every day. Most of those 450 meet & have their own outside contacts with people who don't live with them, other students, fellow members of their "bubbles," work colleagues, and neighbors.

Even if I meet with each these students only once per week, I'm put in contact with the potential viral input from at least 600 sources, probably far more. How safe am I? I live with my kids and my spouse. I love teaching but not so much I'll jeopardize myself & my own family.

Parents are concerned about monitoring contacts of their own kids & families. Many also insist that their kids must be in a classroom, with live teaching. I have to worry about what's coming at me & mine from 130 families whose full membership I don't know, nor do I know how well they practice the recommended safety rules. Should I wear a hazmat suit & face shield to work? When I see the final plan, I'll decide whether or not to teach this year. A "gap year" at home sounds pretty good to me at the moment."

Posted by Resident
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jul 14, 2020 at 5:58 pm

Here is a study with an interesting conclusion.

Web Link

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 14, 2020 at 6:16 pm


1. Students should have the same choice to "gap" year as this teacher. Not a gap where they have to homeschool, but a real gap to do what they / their family wants and return to school in 2021 with no penalties. If this teacher can take a gap or refuse to teach in person, students should be able to gap and refuse to learn virtually. This one-sided equation is not student-focused.

2. For the teacher, a gap is perfectly reasonable as long as all teachers who do not teach also are required to gap. Our secondary students should not be subjected to self-taught school again.

3. This teacher must be a secondary teacher. Secondary parents and students want in-person, but most would be satisfied with a full year of curriculum with a live virtual teacher even though the new law seems to require live in person teaching. For students who cannot learn virtually or classes that cannot be taught virtually, there will have to be exceptions and solutions. The district seems to be refusing to make a firm commitment to all secondary students to a full year of curriculum with a live teacher, in person or virtual. Maybe you could ask this teacher, WHY?

4. Unless every teacher and their households are going to fully shelter in their private lives, there is no risk-free situation. Teachers have chosen professions which are student-facing. Other professions are not "striking" from coming into work. Why are teachers? This should be a public health decision, not a teacher or teacher-union driven one.

5. We cannot wait for a vaccine to return to school in-person. We must establish methods that are flexible and robust. There is no reason secondary cannot start 100% online and then determine on a frequent basis who can attend based on priority (learning needs, class type, need for socialization, etc...).

6. Some people think that everything will be resolved by January 2021. There were also people who thought the shelter would be over by the end of spring break. Let's plan for a 2-year problem and be pleasantly surprised if we are wrong. Our students cannot afford any more gaps in learning or teaching.

Posted by Please, start online petition
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2020 at 7:50 pm

Parents, who have the experience with online petitions. Please, start one or send me the link to the existing one for in-person instruction for middle school/high school or at least live classes. I will sign and all 80% of parents I know will also do.

Posted by Another Teacher
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 14, 2020 at 9:35 pm

Tell the teacher you were chatting with:
To get a haircut, shore up their lesson plans, and prepare to fully engage their students on Zoom. Take the current PD offered by the district, go to an empty (hopefully) campus with like minded minded colleagues, BUCK UP< AND DO THEIR JOB. You think it's bad now? Wait for budget cuts coming down the pipeline.

Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2020 at 10:36 pm

@Covid-19 ready,
I suspect there are many parents who just want to put a pause on this year. Even if we would put our children in enrichment, we'd like to just place a rising 9th grader in 9th grade in 2021 and spend this year doing something else.
If you or others figure out how we can legally take a gap year...not just home school and come back in the "next" grade, please post this.

@Silver Linings, Your post indicates this is possible with homeschooling, but I can't find a law that lets the student stay in their grade and not rise with their current cohort.

@Covid19 ready,
This is a topic that homeschoolers talk about all the time, because of the focus on mastery-based education, self-direction, etc. I know people who homeschooled their kids through high school and never assigned them a grade level at all -- you can actually designate the kids as "ungraded."

So, actually, the pandemic aside, I super, super support your inclination to take a gap year before 9th if you think your child will benefit, especially if your child tended to be on the young side (with so many people in our district holding their kids back for the perceived advantage).

Once high school starts, the "clock" starts on a lot of things. If your child wants to take risks with their education, or "travel school" (yes, that's one reason people homeschool, to go learn by traveling around the world), focus on one thing, develop a skill, etc, a good time is before 9th because it doesn't go on your child's record for high school, i.e., college application, unless it's something appropriate. Your child will likely be more mature in high school, too. I personally think 8th-9th is a better gap year than almost any other time.

So, if that's what you want to do, you might first ask the district if they will support your child doing that. Who knows, given the pandemic, maybe they will. The district has a policy that they submitted to the DOE on promotion and retention. The DOE rules that have to apply to upper school students actually allow a lot of flexibility from the state, but the district is likely to enforce a certain interpretation of how they have always done things even if the policy is flexible in writing. Maybe they can be convinced to make exceptions this year.
Here are the CA DOE FAQ's on promotion and retention:
Web Link

If not, it's very easy with homeschooling. Homeschool can be done through public schools, charter programs, private school satellite programs or through PSA (private school affidavit). Anything involving a public program is likely to be sticky about letting a non-failing student repeat a grade. But if you homeschool by PSA, you can do what your child needs. You are a private school of 1 with a PSA, and private school rules on promotion and advancement apply, that is, you can pretty much decide what your child needs. (See the DOE FAQs under private schools -- the state rules don't apply to them.)

What you would do is commit to homeschooling and file a Private School Affidavit. You then can put your kid in any grade you want, you are the administrator of your homeschool. I have heard that the district can be sticky about transferring in credits from other districts and schools anyway. So then your child attends school as an 8th grader again. Or you can be an ungraded school (I think the PSA actually has a space for you to select "ungraded".) It's not as important what grade your child is in for a lot of the really good homeschool online classes anyway, your child chooses by interest and academic level. Your child can take a gap year, too. Look into what's called "unschooling".

Then when next year rolls around, you would have to re-enroll in the district. Your child is transferring back from your school, in which she was an 8th grader, to the district, and would be a 9th grader.

The CA ed code is actually surprisingly flexible and about ensuring they account for outlier unhealthy situations but letting the majority of students and schools and families have as much flexibility and encouragement to do what is best for each child as possible.

Posted by Walter Hays Parent
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 14, 2020 at 10:48 pm

DL doesn’t have to be awful. There is an Ohlone teacher running online private summer school classes and from what we hear kids are engaged and learning there.

The problem in the spring was discrepancy in DL quality from teacher to teacher — with no unified and equitable curriculum provided by the district.

Instead of facing reality now to invest in tech, digitize all materials, share best practices, and establish uniformity in synchronous/async components... DL is being treated as a afterthought left to individual teachers with no real effort to uniformly improve from spring.

Pausd will see un-enrollment from elementary when inevitable shutdown occurs and we repeat the mess from spring. This time, though, the district can’t hide behind equity/special education/not having had enough time to prepare.

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 14, 2020 at 10:54 pm

@Another Teacher,

Thank you. I hope all the teachers are bucking up.

What is this PD?

The current MOU from the union seems to say that only special needs students will be allowed on campus? Am I missing something? See current MOU proposal: Web Link

I think you are right about budget cuts. I don't mean to be rude, but the new law guaranteed teacher pay and no layoffs, as well as reduced instruction hours, in exchange for in-person live instruction. If the teachers aren't teaching in-person live across all the schools in Palo Alto, then pay cuts and layoffs should be legal.

Plus, I don't know about other parents, but until I see that ALL students are being taught, I'm not voting for any additional monies to go to the schools.

Posted by Midtown51
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 5:55 pm

The only way in-person will work safely is 4 hours or less per day and outdoor instruction. I wrote to the board and got back the response that our school principal is the one developing the plan for our school. There is no district-wide plan on how to return K-5 to school safely?

Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 15, 2020 at 8:42 pm

@Midtown 51

This is the response our district gives when it does not want to answer your question. Then the principal will tell you they are following the district guidance.

Write your principal and ask for a meeting.

Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 1, 2020 at 9:28 am

Jim H is a registered user.

@Midtown51 - "Covid-19 ready" is correct. The board will rarely give a straight answer, if they even respond. The strategy is to put the responsibility on to the sites. Then, when things go wrong, the district can blame the sites, and the sites can say they weren't given enough direction from the district. Families get bounced from one to the other and eventually get tired of the runaround and give up. By the time frustration builds enough to make it a public issue, the family has graduated from the district and/or the board members have been changed and the current board blames the old board.

That way they can promote and move employees around the district without having to fire anyone or hold anyone accountable. It's also helpful in case they get sued, as it's nearly impossible to pinpoint out who is at fault and the district will turn around and blame the family.

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