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Palo Alto schools, closed since March, will reopen next week for high-need students

Original post made on Sep 4, 2020

After being closed for six months, some Palo Alto Unified schools will reopen next week to serve small groups of struggling and special-education students in person.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 4, 2020, 6:37 PM

Comments (45)

23 people like this
Posted by Yay
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2020 at 6:57 pm

Yay is a registered user.

Thank goodness! Finally doing the right thing PAUSD! Now let’s get going on bringing back small cohorts of elementary school students.


31 people like this
Posted by S. Underwood
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 4, 2020 at 9:44 pm

S. Underwood is a registered user.

Small group activities, camps, pods, etc have been permitted since June with proper precautions. I am thankful this is happening, but we are months behind and it needs to be for all students.


10 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 4, 2020 at 11:04 pm

Palo Alto Resident is a registered user.

@S Underwood - sorry, that is misinformation. All in-person school activities were closed by the Governor's orders on July 17. The regulations were eased about 10 days ago, allowing small group instruction for students with "acute" needs, as described in the article. PAUSD was offering classes for special ed students over the summer (as featured in the PA Weekly) and had to close it on July 17 due to the new public health order.

Camps, pods, etc. are not run by schools. There may have been a few operating in the county, I'm not sure. PAUSD has offered small cohort before-, during-, and after-school childcare on its campuses since school began, through outside providers.

There have been no schools, public or private, offering in-person school in the County since July. PAUSD will be among the first to bring students back next week. It is possible that the County will come off the Watch List by the end of this month, which will permit schools to start reopening to larger groups of students.


14 people like this
Posted by S. Underwood
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 5, 2020 at 4:38 am

S. Underwood is a registered user.

"Small group activities, camps, pods, etc have been permitted since June with proper precautions." -- True and easily observable. We all saw kids in a wide variety of healthy group activities all summer. In case anyone forgot, the June 5th SCC directive permitting exactly what I said (and what we saw) is below. Everyone reading here knows schools have been handled differently. The contrast and dissonance is what I am highlighting.

Web Link.

I am thankful this is happening
-- Yes I am.

We are months behind.
-- Yes, in planning and execution. The July 17 announcement included the waiver provision that PAUSD declined to pursue but countless others did pursue. The Weekly’s July article on that is below. Now, it is September, and we are talking about inviting a small small subset of kids to participate. We could have applied for the waiver and commenced the execution, conditional upon approval, of broader schemes to serve our students then. We chose not to.

Web Link

It [in-person instruction, in small groups until not needed] needs to be for all students.
-- This is an opinion, but I would love to hear why or how one could disagree with this.


If I may add a comment after having to defend my simple comments from being labeled as misinformation:

Families are fleeing PAUSD in droves due to our covid response. PAUSD's significant downtick in enrollment is sobering. It is the only proof one needs that our product is being out-performed by alternative choices. Families are going elsewhere. I hope we can win them back after Covid.

What is happening is like a market shake-up. Schools that serve their students excellently are flourishing and even growing. Schools that lumber around like old dinosaurs will lose traction, to a greater or lesser degree depending on just how sluggish they are. It's not about families with money. Our districts has plenty of it. I hope PAUSD will share the results of the "who left for where and why" survey as openly as possible. It is of vital community concern and analysis for short-term and long-term district planning.


7 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 5, 2020 at 9:16 am

Palo Alto Resident is a registered user.

Sorry, that is more false narrative, @S Underwood. You say, "We could have applied for the waiver and commenced the execution, conditional upon approval, of broader schemes to serve our students then. " (I note you say "we" - do you work for PAUSD?)

Only one public school district in Santa Clara County is open under waiver today (Moreland) and its waiver is to serve high-need students, with "support services" (childcare?) for others. They opened earlier this week. My guess is that Moreland regrets the time spent chasing the waiver, since they could do exactly the same things today without it (as PAUSD will next week).

No district in Santa Clara County is open for general in-person learning today - none. The County will likely move out of Tier 1 by the end of Sept, which should enable schools to re-open in hybrid mode in early October. No waivers required.

The Governor issued his July 17 order, closing almost all schools in the state, just weeks before the first day of school. Until then, the district had been focused on hybrid plans for all. With the change, PAUSD, like almost all districts in Santa Clara County and elsewhere, focused on successfully opening with distance learning only, instead of chasing the waiver. That seems to have worked out, as the school opening seems to be smooth and waivers seem to be not very useful for those who are getting them.


16 people like this
Posted by Gunn Papa
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Sep 5, 2020 at 9:40 am

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Campbell Union SD also applied for and received a waiver. It is debatable whether a district regrets applying for a waiver, but applying for one does demonstrate leadership. Don Austin and I would assume the board didn’t do that. If we stay closed until October 12, what is the plan to resume? What is the plan to stop again when we get new cases of COVID? I just read Austin’s last “update” in my email this morning, and it seems to go overboard on equity, but in a way that looks like over? They have had six months to figure this out.


5 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 5, 2020 at 12:09 pm

Palo Alto Resident is a registered user.

@Gunn Papa, applying for a waiver shows activity, but since the waiver doesn't provide any benefit, I wouldn't call it leadership. 32 of the 36 school districts in Santa Clara County didn't apply for waivers - there's a reason for that. The waivers are turning out to make no difference.


10 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 5, 2020 at 1:35 pm

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I'm hearing that close to 100 students have opted out of our elementary school.

Homeschooling is not the weird subculture anymore.

As for the need to open, I'm leaning towards we need to reopen. What we're now finding out is that the PCR test results have been too sensitive.

Web Link

Maybe the intrepid journalists at PAO can find out what the threshold for positive results are for California, and Santa Clara County in general. This is an epidiomelogical disaster that's driving policy at the state level.


9 people like this
Posted by Curious Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 5, 2020 at 2:30 pm

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@Palo Alto Resident,

Please stop posting about "False Narratives" and "misinformation" or do a better job of checking your facts. You are wrong in nearly everything you've been posting. Santa Clara county will likely come out the Purple Zone on Sept 8. This was confirmed by Don Austin last Thursday. This means that PA schools "could" open for hybrid in-person learning on Sept 22. However, Don Austin had previously committed that in-person learning would start no earlier than Oct 12. Whether it was a mistake to commit to Oct 12 is water under the bridge.

So, Oct 12 is the earliest date for hybrid return of most students, but still TBD if teachers will agree to this.

Regarding the exodus of students from PAUSD, this is a case of perverse incentives. PAUSD gets the vast majority of its funding regardless of the number of students enrolled. There is actually more money FOR EACH ENROLLED student if there are FEWER kids in PAUSD either because kids are leaving the district, PODS, or private schools. This is why PAUSD fought Stanford when Stanford wanted to expand and add lots of new kids to the district.

If PAUSD were a private business, you could certainly call what's happening a "market shake-up" , but the incentives and threats to PAUSD are different than a private business.


1 person likes this
Posted by Curious
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2020 at 5:17 pm

Curious is a registered user.

@Palo Alto Resident - the waivers are of benefit if schools want to bring more elementary kids back for in-person school before the county is technically out of the "purple" range. The in-person school for children with IEPs and significant to moderate impacts can be done without State or Board approval, but to bring back K-6 requires a waiver. That is the benefit, as I understand it.


47 people like this
Posted by GraceBrown
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 5, 2020 at 7:05 pm

GraceBrown is a registered user.

@ all posters here

Actually, we CAN have nice things, like school, IF we all are willing to adhere to the public health orders proven to limit widespread infections - wear a mask and limit social interactions to people in the same household.

Stop placing the blame on PAUSD, calling out staff, and whining about waivers, especially when it's so obvious, just by driving through town, that folks here think that they are somehow immune to COVID-19. From what I've seen, there are very few masks on city sidewalks and at those backyard gatherings.

Magical thinking....anyone? We own that purple status.

Our children, our teens, and most especially, our young ones with special needs really do deserve better from the Palo Alto adults in their world. The end to this nightmare starts with us.

gb



17 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 5, 2020 at 10:38 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

@Grace Brown,
Palo Alto cannot open until Santa Clara County is in the substantial red zone, but Palo Alto (as a city) is definitely in the substantial red zone and possibly in the moderate orange zone.
Southeast County has a high density of cases (widespread), but Palo Alto residents cannot impact that case count.


23 people like this
Posted by Helen Does
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Sep 7, 2020 at 12:36 pm

Helen Does is a registered user.

Non teaching staff are being forced to supervise failing students while the students attend their classes online. Anyone who objects to endangering their health or their life is placed on unpaid leave for refusing to do ‘their job’. Never mind that it is NOT their job. Teachers will not risk it. Administrators will not risk it. They are forcing non teaching staff to babysit and risk their lives so the hypocrites at PAUSD gets kudos from the community. They are abusing staff! Illegal! Immoral! Stupid! Typical PAUSD.


19 people like this
Posted by Debbie L
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 7, 2020 at 1:40 pm

Debbie L is a registered user.

@Helen Does

That is correct, the district is coercing its classified staff to supervise these cohorts - instead of initially asking for volunteers from its pool of staff to take part in PAUSD+, they simply targeted a small portion of the staff who have since voiced their concerns in regards to their health and safety. Even after some staff members brought up their health issues that put them at the highest risk in case they were exposed to COVID-19, the district is fighting with them and threatening to have them go on unpaid leave if they refuse to be reassigned to a job that is in the first place not theirs. These staff members actually have their own regular jobs to cover but the district is stubborn in trying to get this small group of staff to take part, and have not even bothered to ask numerous other classified staff (a lot of whom who have been at home) if they wanted to take part in the program.

While the MOU that was signed back in August states that the district can reassign its classified staff as it sees fit, why not initially ask all of its classified staff to see who would be interested in taking part in PAUSD +? Why focus on such a small population of its staff, and wait until the last minute to try to figure out the staffing? Why try to force its staff to go on unpaid leave if staff members have legitimate health issues instead of say, asking everyone? I am sure if the district had cast a wider net, you would have had some employees with no underlying health issues be interested in taking part in the program. Keep in mind, the district is threatening those who do not want to comply to make them go with unpaid leave - which of course then leaves their jobs open and would require someone else to be reassigned to it.


2 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 7, 2020 at 10:58 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

Santa Clara County appears to be headed to the Red Zone. If the trend continues, ALL Santa Clara County schools, public charter, public traditional, and private, will be allowed to open K-12 in roughly 2 weeks.

What will PAUSD do?

PAUSD has signed some crazy contract with the union that establishes fixed dates for opening. This contract term is a big problem. Why? Under the crazy state rules, grades 7-12 in a district school can only open if that district's County has ben in the red zone (or lower) for 2 weeks. However, once a district opens for live instruction, the COLOR zone of its County is irrelevant. (insanity)

Please folks, ask PAUSD to go live and stream out to kids at home as soon as it's allowed by the County. Kids who want to attend in person should be able to attend in person.


6 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2020 at 11:07 am

Brian is a registered user.

Someone commented: "There have been no schools, public or private, offering in-person school in the County since July."

That just isn't true.

Campbell Union School District is in person for TK-6, Charter School of Morgan Hill, Creekside School, Khan Lab School, Legacy Christian School, Moreland School District has been in-person for weeks. Sunnyvale Christian School, South Peninsula Hebrew Day School, Pinewood School, Pacific Point Christian School, Mulberry School -- also open for K-5/6.


16 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2020 at 11:10 am

Brian is a registered user.

Someone commented: "From what I've seen, there are very few masks on city sidewalks.."

Who wears a mask when outside and not close to other people? Is the virus going to magically travel through winds to infect people. There's no enough viral load in outdoor settings to make outdoor masks useful. People aren't getting infected on sidewalks, they're getting infected in closed-contained environments such as nursing homes.


36 people like this
Posted by PAMF receptionist
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2020 at 11:28 am

PAMF receptionist is a registered user.

I'm tired of teacher unions. They are holding everyone hostage and need to be extinguished for so many reasons, but covid is the straw that broke the camel's back. Why are our kids not in school? Teachers need to be declared "essential workers", put on a mask, face shield, goggles, or stand behind a plexiglass screen and get back to work. I work at PAMF and had to go back in March. Yes I was scared but with social distancing, wearing a mask and sometimes a face shield I haven't gotten covid- even after being near patients who ended up testing positive. I've had to deal with finding help for my kids who are zooming their classes. If I have to be at work- so should the teachers. Why is their health and their job different than mine? If they don't like it they can quit or maybe one teacher can zoom teach all the children who want to remain on zoom but let the majority go back. I have heard the Bay Area polls show 76% of parents want their children back in the classroom- with masks and social distancing. I'm tired of teachers getting to rule the show, do you job and teach my children- we all know zoom just doesn't cut it and all this screen time is destroying their brains. Every other country is back in school.


11 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 8, 2020 at 11:35 am

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@Brian - Exactly. But, my favorite is the people who wear a mask while driving alone in their car.

I'm pro-science and wear a mask, but I'm also pro-common sense.


21 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2020 at 1:17 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

@Receptionist. [Portion removed.]

1. 76% of parents want kids back in school. [Portion removed.] It’s NOT up to the parents whether or not schools open. Time and again, the vocal parents here advocated for an unsafe return so fortunately it’s up to the health guidance issued by the state. Also, it’s your child and your responsibility. Don’t blame staff for wanting to be safe or the union for keeping it’s workers safe. [Portion removed.]

2. As to ALL other countries being back in school I’m also sure that’s NOT true, but do you mean all of those countries that aren’t posting an outrageous 40,000 new cases a day nationally down from 70,000 cases a day? It’s comparing apples to oranges. If schools are open in other countries it’s because they have more successfully decreased Covid numbers.

[Portion removed]

Face it. It is not the school’s job to baby sit your child. [Portion removed.] Teachers are working online. [Portion removed.]

Also, why has there been no reports here about the COVID cases in the day care programs taking place at these schools over the last few weeks? You can look at the community numbers all you want. The disease is circulating and the numbers are always going to be higher than they look. Let’s see if this PAUSD + program gets open and shut due to COVID. Or will it be reported. For those wanting teachers to risk their health, I am sure PAUSD will go back on OCT. 12 to appease all of the vocal parents and PAUSD+, although well intentioned, will be where they start to say “See! It’s safe to come back!” assuming there isn’t Covid outbreaks. But I’ll check back in when the infections do start.

“Families are fleeing PAUSD in droves due to our covid response. PAUSD's significant downtick in enrollment is sobering. It is the only proof one needs that our product is being out-performed by alternative choices. Families are going elsewhere. I hope we can win them back after Covid. What is happening is like a market shake-up. Schools that serve their students excellently are flourishing and even growing. Schools that lumber around like old dinosaurs will lose traction, to a greater or lesser degree depending on just how sluggish they are.”

First, since this is a once in 100 year pandemic, I’m so sorry the PAUSD pandemic response didn’t meet your expectations. On one hand you are here commenting angrily that the schools are closed and you want them open again so now they are “dinosaurs” and are in for a big market shake up. If they are out dated dinosaurs and there are better alternatives out there for traditional public school, then why do you care so much that schools are closed? No one cares if “families leave in droves.” There will be new families to service.
[Portion removed.]
Also, what schools are now “flourishing” during the pandemic as you stated. None. Traditional public school will always have a place whether you participate in it or not.


16 people like this
Posted by District parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 8, 2020 at 1:59 pm

District parent is a registered user.

I am a parent in the district who normally doesn't get very involved. I have trusted the district to do right by our families. But we are now embarking a big experiment with our children. I am reluctantly starting to pay attention.

I am shocked and dismayed to see such disregard for children and antagonism towards parents from someone who seems to be a district representative.

"76% of parents want kids back in school. Wow, what a stat. No kidding. You mean the parents want a place to drop their kid off all day for free day care services? That’s shocking. Sorry!"

Rest assured that parents understand that an in-person experience provides for social, emotional, and physical benefits that an online experience cannot. Most of us love our children, we are not looking to offload them. We are looking out for them. That is our job.

I would hope that district reps would be doing so as well.

There are risks whichever way we turn. I'm not saying that our kids should be back in school now. I am glad that we started with distance learning. But as community spread goes down and understanding of covid goes up, we should all, together, be asking how and when we can return kids to school because it is much healthier for them to have more in-person experiences and instruction.


15 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2020 at 2:31 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

My comment doesn’t disregard children as I stated I am concerned about their health and safety. Students are being safely educated online and I am all for that. I believe that is what is best right now. [Portion removed.]

My post disregards parents who think they are in charge of decision making, that aren’t concerned for the health and safety of staff, blame the union for everything that they don’t like or that they perceive is wrong, and complain because things haven’t gone their way.

“Rest assured that parents understand that an in-person experience provides for social, emotional, and physical benefits that an online experience cannot.”

Students will have to stay socially distant, not interact with peers, and not share materials this year due to COVID precautions, so how would students receive any of these social and emotional benefits of in person learning this year that you speak of? They won’t. It just will put students and staff and by extension parents and grandparents at risk. Also, in my opinion, there will be outbreaks and a return to in person learning anyway.

“There are risks whichever way we turn.”
I’m so tired of the risk of COVID being downplayed. We are nearing 200,000 deaths in the US and closing in on 1 Million deaths world wide. That doesn’t even include all of the people that have recovered and are suffering bad health effects. Health and safety must take precedence over everything else including in person learning.


5 people like this
Posted by Samuel L
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 8, 2020 at 2:48 pm

Samuel L is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 8, 2020 at 2:49 pm

Mike is a registered user.

There is no worse indictment of PAUSD teachers/union than that [of] their defender, The Voice of Palo Alto (BTW, please change that name -- you are nowhere close to the voice of this city).

Telling parents they just "want a place to drop their kid off all day for free day care services." Telling them "No one cares if “families leave in droves.” There will be new families to service. You can leave. No one cares. No one needs to win anyone back."

What an [portion removed] assault on the legions of parents who care so deeply about their children's education, and the very real mental and physical health effects of their continued isolation.


3 people like this
Posted by Alvin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 10, 2020 at 12:12 pm

Alvin is a registered user.

@The Voice of Palo Alto: "Students will have to stay socially distant, not interact with peers, and not share materials this year due to COVID precautions, so how would students receive any of these social and emotional benefits of in person learning this year that you speak of? They won’t. It just will put students and staff and by extension parents and grandparents at risk. Also, in my opinion, there will be outbreaks and a return to in person learning anyway."

I agree, what parent would send their kids back to school with all those restrictions? I prefer online/distance learning to having my kid sit in a mask all day and socially distanced from their classmates and teachers. Plus, flu season is less than two months away, which appears to be more dangerous than Covid for younger people. Maybe the schools should close every year between November-April during flu season and move to online? Just a thought.


18 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2020 at 1:03 pm

Brian is a registered user.

@Voice of Palo Alto

"It’s NOT up to the parents whether or not schools open."

Actually it is. Schools are created by communities and funded by communities the purpose of educating children. If schools are unwilling to do that, then those schools should be defunded and closed. "Online learning" -- especially for K-6, is not "school." If anyone thinks it is, spend some time in the homes of a 1st grader attempting this nonsense.

This history of schools is one of community efficiency. The farmer is optimized around being an efficient farmer. The baker is optimized around being an efficient baker. Public Schools were formed as a means for a community to pool resources in order to educate the children. If the farmer spent his day teaching his children, he wouldn't be as efficient as a farmer and thus production would be impacted and the food supply for the community would be impacted. So communities banned together to provide schooling in order to free up parents/workers to engage in their profession. It was more efficient to have 1 person teaching 15 students, than 15 people teaching 1 person.

Schools directly flow from the will of the community. And yes, parents are in charge. Teachers have no say. They're employees, hired to do a specific job. We defer to them commonly in areas of pedagogy, but only because their skills are optimized around such knowledge. Where they aren't knowledgable is in the area of public health. We didn't ask their opinion. I wouldn't ask a teacher their recommendations around public health any more that I would ask a doctor about engine maintenance for a Citation. Teachers don't call the shots and we should oppose any effort to allow them to. They work for us. They are employees that serve at the pleasure of the community. I have lots of respect for teachers -- but they should stay in their lane. I respect police officers as well, but I'm not asking them for opinions on accounting practices or road construction.

This idea that schools are some "government" entity separate from the will of those they serve is absurd. Schools only have money because we, the community, choose to provide that money -- and that money is provided contingent on the school actually serving the students.

Schools are not designed to serve the teachers or employees. They have a single goal, to serve the parents and students.

If teachers are uncomfortable with returning, they can find alternative employment. Doctors, nurses, and even hospital janitors show up to work in conditions far more perilous than the classroom. Yet, nobody thought to shut down hospitals to "protect" health workers. [Portion removed.]

And even those that do catch this virus -- the actual rate of symptomatic infection is minuscule, and the death rate for those under 70 is practically nil -- it's 0.5% and for those without preexisting conditions, that rate drops to 0.2%. The median fatality rate overall is just 0.24% -- of infected people. So the numbers around actual fatality rate in the overall population are quite literally, significantly insignificant. Source: "The infection fatality rate of COVID-19 inferred from seroprevalence data," John Loannidis. See medRxiV for the referenced paper.

Open the schools now.


8 people like this
Posted by Alvin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 10, 2020 at 3:12 pm

Alvin is a registered user.

@Brian, hate to break it to you, but parents do not get to decide whether schools open or not. That's up to the elected School Board members.

Another thing, we do not choose to fund the public schools. We pay taxes to fund the schools, and that is not voluntary, just like paying sales taxes, payroll taxes, income taxes, etc. are not voluntary.

Your other statements about schools serving parents, teachers having no say, and so on, are really over the top.

A question. You want the schools to open now. Would that include kids and staff wearing masks, social distancing, periodic virus testing, temperature checks, and the like? Because that's no place I would want to send my kids or go to work all day.


4 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 10, 2020 at 9:08 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

The new State law allows distance learning in only two situations: 1. for students who choose to stay home or are forced to stay home due to quarantine and 2. when the public health officer closes schools.

I have 2 questions:

1. If the public health officer says schools can open if they follow certain requirements, don't districts have to open their doors to all students who want to attend with live instruction and follow the public health guidance?

2. If not, what gives PAUSD the right to not open its doors after two weeks in the red zone when the public health officer gives the OK?


11 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 11, 2020 at 1:04 pm

Paly Teacher is a registered user.

@"Facts" and Figures:

"The new State law allows distance learning in only two situations: 1. for students who choose to stay home or are forced to stay home due to quarantine and 2. when the public health officer closes schools." Do you have a source for this statement? And I presume you mean once they're not in purple for 14 consecutive days?

Also, you mentioned previously that San Mateo high schools would stream classes during hybrid instruction. Did you find a source for that either?

"1. If the public health officer says schools can open if they follow certain requirements, don't districts have to open their doors to all students who want to attend with live instruction and follow the public health guidance?" Can and must (or shall) have very different meanings. I can eat ice cream at 3 am but I don't have to.

"2. If not, what gives PAUSD the right to not open its doors after two weeks in the red zone when the public health officer gives the OK?" Let's be clear: PAUSD is not the only district who won't open right when they're allowed to do so. Santa Clara Unified is distance for the entire first semester (secondary) and trimester (primary) (source: Web Link). I don't want people thinking our district is going rogue.


3 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 11, 2020 at 1:28 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

Yes, I have all this support. Thanks for asking.

43502. (a) For purposes of calculating apportionments for the 2020–21 fiscal year, a local educational agency SHALL (emphasis added) offer in-person instruction, and may offer distance learning, pursuant to the requirements of this part.

and

43503. (a) (1) For the 2020–21 school year, a local educational agency that offers distance learning shall comply with the requirements of subdivision (b).
(2) Distance learning may be offered under either of the following circumstances:
(A) On a local educational agency or schoolwide level as a result of an order or guidance from a state public health officer or a local public health officer.
(B) 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.

Explained further by this law firm

Web Link.

Here is the law Web Link

In addition, here are the San Mateo posts. See July 2nd "The District is committed to providing synchronous learning for all students almost every day, regardless of what phase of opening we are in."


6 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 11, 2020 at 1:54 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

San Mateo Link here

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Kathy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 11, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Kathy is a registered user.

First day of 14 day reopening countdown for SCC was Sept. 7th.


3 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 11, 2020 at 5:15 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Sunnyvale Christian School is listed above. Years ago, one of our kids, a female, did one very early year of education there (we did not live in Palo Alto then - and we are not Christian) and we now see this set the foundation for a STEM career. They were sensible with solid basic curriculum. Great Math. No fuss and feathers. I would trust their organization to handle little kids safely and productively.


4 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 11, 2020 at 11:45 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

@ Alvin:I agree! Great comment!
@ Mike & Brian:
1. Here is a link to The National Parents Union:
Web Link
Make your voices heard!

[Portion removed.]

2. “If anyone thinks it is, spend some time in the homes of a 1st grader attempting this nonsense.”
Sorry. The health and safety of staff and students comes first. We are in distance learning because of public health. Also, your child...your responsibility. Schools are closed.

3. “This history of schools is one of community efficiency. The farmer is optimized around being an efficient farmer.”
[Portion removed.] Move on from the good old farming days please. Also, you are speaking about the “concept of why school was created in the first place.” Although again, it wasn’t based on “community efficiency”, it was based on the efficiency of having a FEW adults teach MANY children. [Portion removed.] Also, the MODERN concept of school was created by Horace Mann in 1837, which we mostly abide by to this day which championed an organized and set curriculum of core knowledge for each student. That’s not “community efficiency.”

4. “Schools directly flow from the will of the community. And yes, parents are in charge. Teachers have no say.”
[Portion removed.] Ironic how the teachers have “no say” but yet you so desperately NEED them now and also the schools to be back open so you don’t have to have your child home with you all day. Teachers don’t work for the parents and are certainly not your servants. You don’t cut the checks. If you “only defer to them in areas of pedagogy,” you are receiving this through distance learning since that’s all they are good for anyway right? [Portion removed.]

5. “Where they aren't knowledgable is in the area of public health. We didn't ask their opinion. I wouldn't ask a teacher their recommendations around public health any more that I would ask a doctor about engine maintenance for a Citation. Teachers don't call the shots and we should oppose any effort to allow them to“
It doesn’t take an epidemiologist or a genius to see that we are currently in a dangerous pandemic. Schools have reopened and shut all around the country within a week because of Covid.
[Portion removed.]

7. “This idea that schools are some "government" entity separate from the will of those they serve is absurd. Schools only have money because we, the community, choose to provide that money -- and that money is provided contingent on the school actually serving the students.”
[Portion removed.] Just because you are a tax payer does not mean you or any other parents are in charge of the schools.

[Portion removed.]

9. “If teachers are uncomfortable with returning, they can find alternative employment. Doctors, nurses, and even hospital janitors show up to work in conditions far more perilous than the classroom. Yet, nobody thought to shut down hospitals to "protect" health workers. That's absurd.”
[Portion removed.] Comparing the dangers of working as a custodian to that of a teacher is absurd. Custodians do not work in an indoor environment with multiple members of the public for hours at a time. As far as medical workers, teachers did not swear upon the Hippocratic oath. [Portion removed.]

10. “and the death rate for those under 70 is practically nil -- it's 0.5% and for those without preexisting conditions, that rate drops to 0.2%. The median fatality rate overall is just 0.24% -- of infected people.”
More convenient stats that parents try to use to validate their stance about how schools should reopen. Extrapolate even those seemingly low percentages across the ENTIRE US population and the case and death numbers would be astronomical. Those numbers don’t even account for the fact that schools have been CLOSED and have kept approximately 55,000,000 students safe at home. What do you think will happen if the flood gates are allowed to open with all students returning to in person learning? Those numbers will skyrocket.

Treat teachers with actual respect Brian, and schools must stay closed.

*In a previous comment I said a return to in person but I meant a return to distance learning


11 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2020 at 9:57 pm

Paly Teacher is a registered user.

What I’m about to say addresses the legality of school districts staying closed 14 days after a county is out of Tier 1, not whether it should stay closed.

First, I’ll address their reference to San Mateo Union High School District (San Mateo UHSD). Next, I’ll refute “Facts” and Figures’s (FaF) remarks on this issue. Finally, I’ll summarize reasons why I think it is legal for districts to stay closed.

On September 2, in a comment from a previous article FaF stated, “San Mateo high schools are scheduled to stream from the classroom. It's really quite typical.” The best evidence they could muster later is this statement from San Mateo UHSD’s superintendent: “The District is committed to providing synchronous learning for all students almost every day, regardless of what phase of opening we are in.” 1) They didn’t say they’d stream. You’re interpreting their statement as such. 2) This is one district. 3) I’ll believe it when I see it. The grass is always greener on the other side.

FaF cites CA Ed Code Sections 43052 and 43503. Since it seems like they’re applying a very technical interpretation of the law, I’ll start the same way. Section 43052 says “…for the 2020–21 fiscal year, a local educational agency shall offer in-person instruction, and may offer distance learning, pursuant to the requirements of this part.” It doesn’t say shall offer in-person instruction, and may INSTEAD offer distance learning. So a literal reading of the law would put every CA district in violation of the law. On the other hand, it’s possible one literal interpretation of the law could conclude that as long as a district offers one day of in-person instruction for five students, then it will have met the requirement of “shall offer in-person instruction.” Where did I get this idea from? FaF’s law firm link, of course (here for your convenience Web Link), that they offered zero analysis from. Here’s the quote: “However, it is unclear whether in-person instruction must be offered for the entirety of the year (from the first day till the last day), for all grade levels, or for the entire instructional day in order to meet the requirements of SB 98.”

That law firm offers quotes that supports the idea that districts have a lot of leeway to stay closed:

-“ Based on the above, an LEA may close an entire site, or an entire district for example, in consultation with public health officers.” Note they used the word consultation, not permission.
-“ Additionally, while the above list of when distance learning may be offered may appear exhaustive, letters submitted to the Senate Journal from Senator Holly J. Mitchell and Assembly member Philip Y. Ting provide that it is not the intent of the legislature to limit LEAs [local education agencies] to those two scenarios. The letters state it is not the intent of the legislature to require an LEA to seek out or receive approval from a state or local public health officer prior to adopting a distance learning model.” Sure, these are only two legislators, but it provides some doubt into the idea that the two reasons listed in Ed Code Section 43503 are exhaustive.

Here are more reasons why I think districts can stay closed:

1) Other districts like Santa Clara Unified are committed to staying closed even once they’re out of Tier I (source in previous comment). Irvine is opening shortly after they’re allowed to, not on the day of: “Terry Walker, superintendent of 35,000-student Irvine Unified, said a reopening date will be set shortly after schools can open in Orange County on Sept. 22” (Web Link).

2) A Senate Floor Analysis states, “LEAs shall offer in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible” (file:///C:/Users/dnguy/AppData/Local/Temp/201920200SB98_Senate%20Floor%20Analyses.pdf). Greatest extent possible is open to interpretation. We may differ on what that means, but until a court provides more detailed guidance on how to interpret that concept, I don’t think districts are breaking the law by staying closed.

3) The County can tell schools they can remained closed in a new order. Here’s one indication they might: “Once permitted to reopen, schools should resume in-person instruction and activities consistent with the requirements issued by the Public Health Department” (Web Link). Note how they said should, not must.

I could go on but I’ve demonstrated that school districts at the very least have a strong legal basis to stay closed past 14 days out of Tier 1. Again, in writing this, I’m not addressing whether schools should stay open. Rather, I felt the need to shut down superficial and selectively cut-and-pasted comments that cite a law and then summarily suggest, if not accuse, PAUSD of breaking it while offering an ounce, if any, of analysis.


6 people like this
Posted by Gunn Papa
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Sep 12, 2020 at 10:14 pm

Gunn Papa is a registered user.

Paly Teacher, serious question: could you estimate a possible month that teachers will return to school?


7 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 13, 2020 at 9:46 am

Me 2 is a registered user.

Just because you can keep the schools closed doesn't mean you should.


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Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 13, 2020 at 8:59 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

@Paly Teacher,

It's simple: It's a State and County Public Health Department decision whether PAUSD re-opens for live instruction. You don't decide. I don't decide. Even the PAUSD administration really doesn't get to decide. Nor does the union.

PAUSD administration did have the right to not apply for an elementary waiver, but it does not have the right to decide whether or not to reopen. After Santa Clara County has been in the Red Zone for two weeks PAUSD must reopen live instruction and must follow all County requirements for live instruction.

PAUSD also must continue to offer distance learning (with daily live interaction and instruction with teachers and peers) for all those students who stay home for any reason (quarantine, health, etc...) during this Covid-19 crisis. No student doctor notes are required (this you can find in the CDE FAQs).

You talk about other districts not opening. Indeed, other districts also may be acting in disregard of the legislators clear language "shall offer in-person instruction, and may offer distance learning, pursuant to the requirements of this part." It is probably true. But it is not a valid excuse for PAUSD to disregard the law.


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Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 14, 2020 at 1:06 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

Source: EdSource (today)

Over 400 elementary school waivers for in-person instruction approved

ADDED: List includes Los Altos (Elementary) School District. See below.

The California Dept. of Public Health has signed off on 424 waiver applications for schools to offer in-person instruction to K-6 students. The waivers still affect only a tiny proportion of the millions of elementary school students in California. The vast majority of waivers are to private and religious schools. Most of the waivers to public schools are to very small, mostly rural districts, such as Cienega Elementary with about 20 K-6 students in San Benito County south of Gilroy, and Alpine Union in San Diego County with about 50 K-6 students. The largest districts receiving waivers are Los Alamitos Unified in Orange County with about 5,000 K-6 students, and Los Altos Elementary in Santa Clara County with about 3,500 students.

Link to districts Web Link


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Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2020 at 10:43 am

Me 2 is a registered user.

You want data? The Germans have data.

"Child-to-child transmission in schools/childcare facilities appeared very uncommon. We anticipate that, with face mask use and frequent ventilation of rooms, transmission rates in schools/childcare facilities would remain low in the next term, even if classes’ group sizes were increased."

Web Link


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Posted by Staying Young Through Kids
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Staying Young Through Kids is a registered user.

@Gunn Papa I'm guessing teachers will be back in schools beginning in October. Mr. Collins announced the plan to a group of Duveneck parents yesterday and now Dr. Austin has confirmed.

Transitional kinder through 1st grade will return on October 12

2 – 3 on October 26

4 – 5 on November 9

6 – 12 on January 7

the PAUSD safety plan and how each classroom, site, and the district will react to positive cases (or suspected exposure to a positive case) remain to be seen. The trustees will be presented with the entire plan and potentially vote on return to school dates at their next meeting.


6 people like this
Posted by Gunn Papa
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Sep 16, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Gunn Papa is a registered user.

Superintendent Don Austin just rushed through an email to everyone containing an apology for our School Board President Todd Collins telling the Duveneck PTA on Monday that PAUSD is reopening on October 12. Is it going this bad down at 25 Churchill? Or is Austin simply unable to muzzle Collins? Either way, I’d have to say that Collins needs to go and Austin needs to get his act together immediately.


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Posted by Staying Young Through Kids
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2020 at 1:23 pm

Staying Young Through Kids is a registered user.

@Gunn Papa I could not agree more. Dr. Austin is so eager to exhibit leadership he's losing sight of how a school district works and the collaborative effort required to get things done.

PAUSD has had some amazing leadership at the elementary school level for years. Dr. Austin should listen to and work with with those high performing principals to grow our district from from K-5 up. Realizing how hard our primary teachers work relative to what we're seeing at the HS level would be a great place to start.

PAUSD and PAEA continue to put far too much emphasis on lauding our HS achievement while never stopping to realize they are standing on the shoulders of our amazing elementary school teachers, principals and staff.

I do applaud Dr. Austin for 2 things thus far: His effort to create uniformity at the HS level while still allowing for some site autonomy. Our district needs a culture shift and some standardization, but each school must retain its individual identity and feel. And, I applaud his move toward Standards Based Education. Grades are nothing. If kids are not advancing to meet the standard of the subject then what are the teachers doing? His attention to the D & F report at the HS level is commendable. NO ONE who attends our schools should be failing any class. Their obligation is to TEACH not grade.

As for Mr. Collins, he had a moment of brilliance when he advocated against Capital Appreciation Bonds and we owe him thanks for that. As a trustee I have not been inspired by him at all. I have yet to see him have any significant individual impact.


2 people like this
Posted by Upset HS parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2020 at 2:15 pm

Upset HS parent is a registered user.

I have been supporting PAUSD, PIE, PTA and room parents in elementary in donating money and volunteering my time to help. I have a kid in Paly now. I'm so disappointed and upset if my kid cannot go back to campus to have social life and learn sooner than Jan 7 next year. The on-line learning is not working for majority of the students. Their mental health is at risk. The confirmed cases in Palo Alto are so low. Santa Clara County has moved to Red Tier on Sept 8, more businesses are opening. Other states and international countries are opening schools. I don't understand why the teacher union is playing politic of not coming back to teach in person. What do you need to come back? More masks or PPE? Let's talk and work it out please.


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Posted by HS parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2020 at 2:16 pm

HS parent is a registered user.

I have been supporting PAUSD, PIE, PTA and room parents in elementary in donating money and volunteering my time to help. I have a kid in Paly now. I'm so disappointed and sadden if my kid cannot go back to campus to have social life and learn sooner than Jan 7 next year. The on-line learning is not working for majority of the students. Their mental health is at risk. The confirmed cases in Palo Alto are so low. Santa Clara County has moved to Red Tier on Sept 8, more businesses are opening. Other states and international countries are opening schools. I don't understand why the teacher union is playing politic of not coming back to teach in person. What do you need to come back? More masks or PPE? Let's talk and work it out please.


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