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School board approves reopening plan over teacher, parent concerns

Original post made on Sep 30, 2020

Despite mounting concerns from some teachers and parents about the safety of returning to schools in person, the school board voted unanimously late Tuesday evening to begin a staggered reopening of campuses in two weeks.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 30, 2020, 12:30 AM

Comments (63)

136 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2020 at 12:54 am

PAUSD Parent is a registered user.

Jennifer DiBrienza, Melissa Baten Caswell and Todd Collins all just lost my vote tonight. You are too concerned about being first. You need to be safe. Your reopening is rushed, under-prepared and dangerous. There will be kids, teachers and staff that become sick, and possibly die or suffer life long health issues from covid-19 and that is on you.

Kudos to our STUDENT BOARD REPS -- they are articulate, compassionate and they care about teachers and students.


116 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 30, 2020 at 1:35 am

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I didn't watch the whole meeting but I have two takeaways from the end of it.

1) For all of those community members who kept saying, "Put students first!" how do you feel about both student board reps voting down the reopening plan? They spoke clearly and forcefully: continuing distance learning is best for the time being.

2) I've refrained from pointing this out about Board Member Ken Dauber but these last two meetings have been too much. It's like he doesn't want to be there. Last week, he tried to circumvent everyone by waiving the two meeting rule. Every board member would have voted against it if Board President Todd Collins didn't save face for him and abstain. Tonight, he first tried to end the meeting 30 minutes earlier than previously suggested. Then, he tried to force a vote 30 minutes early despite it being clear other members still had questions. Finally, he wouldn't accept an amendment to his motion regarding putting together a teacher safety committee because it might prevent school reopening even though Dr. Austin stated creating such a committee wouldn't be an issue. I know he posts in comments on PAO, so Ken, what's the rush?


107 people like this
Posted by 3x PAUSD Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2020 at 2:44 am

3x PAUSD Parent is a registered user.

Unbelievable. Unanimous. Really?! In the face of all this pushback? Not ONE member of this Board thought it might be a good idea to take a little more time to make sure they get this right? Unbelievable.

The principle of "First do no harm," should apply broadly here, especially related to health issues. Clearly the PAUSD Board and leadership team didn't get the memo.

Even if this plan were solid, the fact they republished it with significant revisions less than 48 hours before the Board’s vote belies the fact they are rushing things before the plan is fully baked.

The revised plan is still harmful in many ways, just a few of which include:

- Nothing has changed about how contagious the virus is. Recent data suggests it is mutating to become MORE contagious. On top of that, we are just entering the flu season, on top of seeing upticks in cases. So rushing to open schools doesn’t make sense in the face of increased danger.

- Young children are going to have a hard time social distancing even if teachers try to maintain separations. Besides, distance doesn't help if you are in a contained space breathing the same air with others for hours at a time. Look at what is happening in higher education -- they re-open, and cases immediately spring up because students want to mingle and the virus spreads. Do we expect 7 year olds to do any better?

- Just as students are getting the hang of distance learning with a particular teacher, the District wants to scramble things up, remixing students and teachers in the midst of a term. This is all being done on the basis of a date that Don Austin set almost haphazardly in an online meeting a few weeks ago when people asked when schools might reopen. He talked about the end of term as a possible time to revisit the decision. One would think at least a semester of stability would help the students in terms of mental well-being. There is widespread agreement, it seems, that the Fall DL has been MUCH better than the Spring DL. Why ditch this when we could work to improve some of the remaining issues and keep some stability through at least January? Can’t we let the student experience “good” DL long enough to recognize it and – wait for it – learn some things before navigating a disruptive transition?

- The deadline for "take it or leave it" with only a few weeks (or for K-1, DAYS) to digest the plan is clearly trying to force the issue. Why can't there be an opportunity to switch out later to give families more flexibility? We’re talking about changing everything after less than 2 months. Why couldn’t there be another reshuffling opportunity in February?


On March 13 2020, I kept my kids home after the PAUSD school board voted to continue in person instruction the night before. I didn't trust the decision and wanted to have a week to monitor what was happening I other school districts. You may recall that was the day that Santa Clara County called for the start of SIP and at the end of that day the students were sent home. I didn't trust the Board's decision-making then. Tuesday’s vote reinforces my dim view of their collective judgement when it comes to charting an appropriate path forward. It sounds to me like some egos may be getting in the way.

There are plenty who have spent the time researching and articulating reasons to delay that are far superior to what I have done here. The fact that the District and its Board are turning a deaf ear to the concerns of so many members of the community speaks volumes about the farce that is transparency and collaboration in their processes.

For those of us old enough to remember the Challenger disaster in 1986, this smacks of the same "Go Fever" that lead NASA to steamroll any objections or warnings in order to achieve their launch date. 73 seconds into the flight a simple O-ring failed and it all went wrong in a terribly spectacular fashion. It took losing a teacher, along with the rest of the Challenger crew, for NASA’s ecosystem of employees and contractors to call a halt and take a closer look at how to improve safety and prevent future failures. I pray we don't have to endure that kind of loss in our District, but one wonders if anything short of that would prompt this PAUSD Board and Administration to put the brakes on this runaway train.

What a nightmare.


66 people like this
Posted by Parent PA girls
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 30, 2020 at 6:35 am

Parent PA girls is a registered user.

Thank you!

I listened through most of the meeting, and had to drop at 8pm to dial in a work meeting with our remote offshore team. Yes I work long hours during the day and sometimes at night and in between I try my best to catch up with all the drama on school reopening plan, as well as checking in what my kids have done.

What i wanted to point out: - Many opposing opinions were well rehearsed and well spoken yet didn't represent the diverse community the district has to server. Where was translation services by the way? - The concerns were very valid but they don't seem will go away whether Nov, or Jan, or March, basically talking about not opening school for the year - Nobody can deny the fact there are families who need reopening for in person education. Whatever that percentage is, not opening will leave only one option, that fails to serve the community as a whole.

Lastly I have to say, attacking a single person even with the best intention was just the lowest of all.


64 people like this
Posted by Whatever
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 30, 2020 at 7:24 am

Whatever is a registered user.

Way to go Austin!!!!

Now kids and families have choices and when teachers who are okay going back and getting in the ditches go back, THE UNION BETTER NOT DARE CRITICIZE THOSE TEACHERS or treat them as scabs, NOT OKAY!!!!


67 people like this
Posted by Unbelievable
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2020 at 8:04 am

Unbelievable is a registered user.

How many people will have to get sick or die for them to listen?
All board meetings are going to be in person from now on, right? That's only fair...


82 people like this
Posted by Elementary Parent
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 30, 2020 at 8:27 am

Elementary Parent is a registered user.

Thank you for making the tough decision to re-open physical schools. I feel so lucky to live in a city who has worked tremendously hard to get to this point. We have listened to guidance, worn masks, kept indoor restaurants and offices closed, and truly put children first. Our county is at the low end of the red tier, in terms of cases and our city has consistently kept our cases significantly lower than the county as a whole. Only 6 counties in the state (making up 4% of the state population) are testing more than us. Unlike friends in other areas, our schools have given us two good options, so that parents can make the best choice for their families. There is no perfect in this situation, but it is clear how much care and work is being put into making the best of this school year from the teachers, principals and school officials.


99 people like this
Posted by Addison parents
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2020 at 8:30 am

Addison parents is a registered user.

Our family is pleased with the unanimous vote of the Board last night and want to thank the members for acting both smart and brave. But we are disappointed by the continued animosity among stakeholders in the District. The teachers' union is clearly not doing any effective communication between the District and its teacher-members, save for coaching them rigorously on what to say in public. Our teachers are strong and smart and yet sound like robots with these well-rehearsed, poorly scripted sound bites.

What it comes down to is a few points:
*We have scientific evidence that with simple, but rigorous, precautions, we can protect our students, teachers, and staff from COVID-19 in an in-person setting. Nothing is zero risk - we are all shopping for groceries, eating at restaurants, and participating in public life again. Why should our children not be able to resume their roles as active students?
*Distance learning is, on the whole, not working. It still requires too much hand-holding, forces 6+ hours of screen time per day, limits social-emotional growth, and widens the chasm between wealthy families and those with fewer resources, slower internet, and crowded homes that are poor substitutes for classrooms.
*Our children are suffering. There is learning loss everywhere, and while this may or may not continue under the hybrid model, school is about more than just accessing information. It is a holistic experience that includes relationship building, social camaraderie, physical activity, and more. Our 8-year-old astutely noted that under the hybrid model, she will be able to complete the asynchronous portion independently and spend much of her day outside, being active or offline, engaged in creative activities.
*We are not the first. If another person spouts the “I don’t want to be first, I want to be safe” line one more time, we may scream in frustration. As Dr Austin mentioned, there are countless districts of comparable size and character that have returned, at both elementary and high school levels, with no adverse affects. PACCC centers have been up and running for months, and students and staff have all remained healthy and safe. Our neighbors in Menlo Park have listened to medical and public health experts and begun their reopening process. Why is it so difficult for us to listen to them; do we think we know better?
*Testing has come a long way and is quick, easy, and covered by insurance. Most recently, one of us was administered a test from the County at the Arts Center on Friday and received (negative) results by text and email 26 hours later.

Fearmongering isn’t helping anyone. Our students and teachers belong together and we are pleased to send our children back to school, in-person. For those who disagree, you are welcome to remain in full distance learning. No one is forcing you back.


97 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2020 at 8:44 am

DTN Paul is a registered user.

I look forward to voting in a new slate of school board members next month.


76 people like this
Posted by Curious Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 30, 2020 at 8:45 am

Curious Parent is a registered user.

No one mentioned that Teacher's Union rep said her survey indicated that 90% of teachers did not feel comfortable going back in the next few weeks and that 50% OF TEACHERS DID NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE GOING BACK THIS ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR (emphasis mine). For those of you who are asking to wait until Jan, realize that the survey numbers from teachers in Jan are going to look very similar to today...teacher's do not want to work onsite this year, and when they say we are not ready, they mean we are not ready until Sep 2021. It doesn't matter what the science says.

0 points awarded to the nasty parent who mocked Don Austin's teaching degree and institution during the board meeting, and 0 points awarded to the teachers who said THEY didn't want to go back to school but supported sending kids to PAUSD+ to be taught by others.


65 people like this
Posted by LocalFan
a resident of Nixon School
on Sep 30, 2020 at 8:51 am

LocalFan is a registered user.

Don Austin [portion removed] is the latest in a long line of unqualified leaders in Palo Alto. The district and the board are flat out lying about their preparedness to return to school. Teachers would be far more willing to return if HALF of the things the district says are in place were actually in place. And, yes, couldn't agree more with the comment above about Ken Dauber. How the heck was this guy ever voted for by anyone? He is a waste of taxpayer and valuable Zoom screen time.


55 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 30, 2020 at 9:25 am

Joe is a registered user.

I strongly agree with the decision to open school and appeciate Dr. Austin's leadership. The distance learning works for some students, who are self-driven and usually from a well-to-do family; the distance learning does not work for other students. Sadly, the latter is the majority. Both types students need social emotional interaction. Opening school is the wise and necessary solution to serve all students. I also heard some teachers' concern on safely. However, both the state and county health professonals approve the school reopening and that means that it is safe. Each person can have an opinion on safety, but as an institution to serve a community, PAUSD and the board chooses to listen to science. I applaude for you.


48 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Alum
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 30, 2020 at 9:26 am

PAUSD Alum is a registered user.

I agree with candidate Causey on this issue. Teacher, student, and family safety should be the priority. She has my support and my vote!


80 people like this
Posted by DON AUSTIN HAS A SPINE
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 30, 2020 at 9:30 am

DON AUSTIN HAS A SPINE is a registered user.

Majority of parents I know want schools to reopen. Experts say it is safe (read all the data including from outside US). YAY DON AUSTIN FOR LISTENING TO EXPERTS OVER UNION AND PUTTING KIDS FIRST!


50 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 30, 2020 at 9:51 am

Jim H is a registered user.

Is PAUSD going to give regular updates as to how many PAUSD students/staff have COVID during the school year? Stanford, and other schools, have a publicly available COVID Dashboard with testing and positivity rates.


50 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto parent
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 30, 2020 at 10:38 am

Palo Alto parent is a registered user.

I think a public school deciding to follow the direction given by state and county public health officials is the right call. As Todd Collins said, they already know with just 50% of the parent decisions in that 1/3 of the TK/kinder/first grade families in the district want hybrid in person. They are making the right decision to give families choices.

I am very hopeful that the teachers will feel more comfortable once the hybrid schedule actually starts. Communications could have been vastly improved, not surprising at all that at end of the meeting someone threw out that they wanted to get going on rehiring a communications person for the district.


41 people like this
Posted by Agreed to go back sooner
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 30, 2020 at 10:43 am

Agreed to go back sooner is a registered user.

I agreed to go back sooner. I am disappointed and frustrated that the older students cannot go back until 2021. District is right giving the families the choice for going back. Not all families want to stay home for distance learning, it doesn't work for all.
Schools have been closing for too long, and our students shouldn't be the victims. The hospital and death rates are going down. A lot of countries are opening up. Our economy needs to open up, too many people lost their jobs. We need to wear masks and keep social distance.
There are risks in everything: accidents when driving, serious health issues in flu season etc. Need to move forward!


38 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 30, 2020 at 10:57 am

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

“Is PAUSD going to give regular updates as to how many PAUSD students/staff have COVID during the school year.”

That’s a great question. We will see but I doubt there will be transparency. There were COVID cases at the day care centers held on school sites and there wasn’t any report of it that I see except in the comment section here.

“Majority of parents I know want schools to reopen. YAY DON AUSTIN FOR LISTENING TO EXPERTS OVER UNION AND PUTTING KIDS FIRST!“

[Portion removed.]

“Each person can have an opinion on safety, but as an institution to serve a community, PAUSD and the board chooses to listen to science.”

I’m so tired of parents arguing to “listen to the science” because it suits their wants of schools reopening. Kids spread the disease just as much as adults. Here’s your science:
Web Link
Key statement: The claims that children have no role in the infection process are certainly not correct,” Dr. Lewnard said. “There’s, granted, not an enormous number of kids in the contact tracing data, but those who are in it are certainly transmitting.”

“No one mentioned that Teacher's Union rep said her survey indicated that 90% of teachers did not feel comfortable going back in the next few weeks and that 50% OF TEACHERS DID NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE GOING BACK THIS ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR”
What’s wrong with that? Do you have a vaccine? Do you have a treatment for COVID? People are scared after a million people have died worldwide. [Portion removed.]

“Our teachers are strong and smart and yet sound like robots with these well-rehearsed, poorly scripted sound bites.”

Why are you judging how they sounded? Maybe they were nervous speaking in front of the board and all of the people on zoom. It’s one thing to speak in front of a class and it’s quite another to give a speech in front of a 1000 people on Zoom. Also, no one is going to speak “off the cuff” in such a serious matter. The teachers of course rehearsed their speeches. [Portion removed.]

“Nothing is zero risk - we are all shopping for groceries, eating at restaurants, and participating in public life again. Why should our children not be able to resume their roles as active students?”

[Portion removed.] Please stop equating a LOW RISK activity such as grocery shopping for a few minutes with staying indoors For 6+ hours with a group of say 12 students indoors sharing and breathing the same air is HIGH RISK. It’s a false comparison and it shows a total lack of understanding by you about how COVID is spread. Why is indoor dining shut down if it’s so safe to be indoors for long periods of time with the public.

[Portion removed.]

“It is a holistic experience that includes relationship building, social camaraderie, physical activity, and more”
What will be holistic about returning with masks on, not being able to share materials, and staying social distant? How will that encourage social camaraderie and relationship building? It won’t.

We are not the first. If another person spouts the
“I don’t want to be first, I want to be safe” line one more time, we may scream in frustration./Fearmongering isn’t helping anyone.”

Go ahead and be frustrated and scream. Oh well. I don’t agree with anything in your comment and I’m frustrated too. Teachers and other staff members do not want to die. A million deaths with a new disease with no treatments is not “fearmongering.”

“Testing has come a long way and is quick, easy, and covered by insurance.”

So what? Ok you are able to get a test. Great. Oh look, I have tested positive for Covid and I may have a bad outcome. That’s not a CURE. I don’t understand this thought process at all.

“Don Austin is the latest in a long line of unqualified leaders in Palo Alto”
I agree wholeheartedly and wrote this last night:
Finally, after hitting the grim milestone of 1 million COVID deaths worldwide over the weekend, I am calling on leadership to start thinking more in terms of erring on the side of caution. In my opinion, dropping students and staff back into a classroom this fall with the upcoming flu season and potential spread of Covid is beyond dangerous. In person learning is important but not at the cost of lives. Between back tracking about that survey, not listening to opinions of the majority of his staff, not listening to the parents and staff that don’t feel the safety plan is good enough, needing a parent petition and media to be involved to have voices heard, all while holding board meetings and making decisions over ZOOM, the lack of leadership is astounding. I am now calling for some sort of consequences against Don Austin for his haphazard, rushed, and forced return plan, his deceitful twisting of survey data, and for his lack of listening to the concerns of his staff and parents. Why is he in charge? It is time to stop being in denial about the dangers of this pandemic. Just because HE thinks it’s time to get back to normal doesn’t mean it is. I wonder, does he really understand the science of this disease and how dangerous a Fall return would be?

Finally @ Unbelievable. Perfect comment and thank you!


61 people like this
Posted by Clarification
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 30, 2020 at 10:59 am

Clarification is a registered user.

Two school site-based day care centers in PAUSD have already had to close for quarantine due to Covid exposure. I'm curious why PAOnline has not reported this?

Staff and teachers come from 10 counties--low numbers in your county will not protect you from high numbers in others.

Parents KNOWINGLY send students with Covid to school in other states that re-opened before us. They will do it here, too.

A robust plan adhering to guidelines is only as good as it is executed--you heard over the board meetings that not all PPE is in hand. Whether teachers feel ready or not is not always because they're just scared...it's also because the district won't make good on the plan they are presenting...or only will make good when the teachers and community dig their heels in and demand it. Which leads me to...

In response to anti-union sentiment: check the district's MOUs (posted by them on their website) in comparison to PAEA's. Look specifically for language on safety. Can you imagine what school would've looked like had we gone back with that language in place? Actually, you don't have to imagine--a student in Georgia took a picture of it. When will PAOnline provide a comparison analysis? If we pull this off with only minor incident (and I really really hope we do), PAUSD has PAEA to thank in addition to harried administrators trying to keep up with all the shifts/changes.

Remember, once we return to school, according to California guidelines, specific schools WILL NOT close until 5% of their population has Covid or 25% of the district's sites have closed. Ready to stay that course?


44 people like this
Posted by Jay
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 30, 2020 at 11:40 am

Jay is a registered user.

Just make it simple. Disconnection between teachers and District proves they are not ready. Teachers are in front line to implement all procedure for our kids. So ignoring teacher's voice simply is not healthy. Anxious and uncomfortable teachers can't deliver quality instruction neither. Teachers are rated A+ and Admin are rated B- for Palo Alto Unified School District at Web Link. We need to listen to teachers. And I can't believe this new reports 66% K/1 chose Hybrid option last night without telling how many percent has been answered. Misleading. Don't they know almost half of parents are waiting until today?


55 people like this
Posted by Dawn Assten
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 30, 2020 at 11:41 am

Dawn Assten is a registered user.

I was so impressed with how the high school students so eloquently explained why this is a bad idea. I am disappointed in the Board members. Shame on them for not listening to the huge percentage of teachers that KNOW the plan doesn’t work. Don Austin and his ego need to go!


29 people like this
Posted by 2*Parent
a resident of Triple El
on Sep 30, 2020 at 12:28 pm

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@DON AUSTIN HAS A SPINE
Duveneck Elementary had a parent survey last week about returning to school. 52% of parents responded. Out of those, 60% fell uncomfortable returning to school.

Not sure if the parents you talk to constitute majority of the impacted community.


44 people like this
Posted by another parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 30, 2020 at 12:36 pm

another parent is a registered user.

As a country we never fully appreciate and respect the teaching profession. Parents, policy makers, and administrators all think they know better and can tell the teachers what to do, now more true than ever. When the next Teacher Appreciation Week comes, remember to send a note thanking the teachers literally risking their lives to teach your children.


40 people like this
Posted by remember
a resident of Fletcher Middle School
on Sep 30, 2020 at 12:43 pm

remember is a registered user.

It was only a few years ago that teachers objected to full day kindergarten which as proved to be a huge success and important for equality. Web Link

Thank you to the board for trusting the advice of health care professionals and voting to give families the CHOICE to return to classrooms. It will be fascinating to see how the numbers work out. My bet is the majority of students will opt to come back as soon as possible.

Thank you to all the essential workers in day cares, grocery stores, hospitals, nursing homes and other places who are working safety and caring for others. It is sad so many PAUSD teachers are so afraid. Maybe some of them will retire, quit or leave but I'm confident that our district can attract qualified people. There are PAUSD teachers who are sub par and it is very difficult to get rid of tenured teachers. Maybe here is a chance to clean house.


15 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 30, 2020 at 1:01 pm

Paly Parent is a registered user.

Couldn't make the board meeting last night. Is this a hybrid model or full-time model with the younger kiddos? And, have the safety precautions been sent out to parents to help them in making an informed decision between DL and in-person? Sounds to me those who still want DL are concerned about how safe it is to go back.


32 people like this
Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 30, 2020 at 1:11 pm

Jim H. is a registered user.

I would bet that NFL and NCAA athletes are being tested and have been given more advice on how to stay safe, yet look at all of the schools/teams that have issues. Notre Dame just postponed a game due to an outbreak. They had 18 players test positive. The positive tests were traced back to their one and only team meal prior to their last game.

I am one that does think that school can be done in person. However, I do not believe that PAUSD has the leadership or the desire to make the necessary steps to make it safe. They are only willing to adhere to county guidelines. What ever happened to "best practices"? There must be schools out there that have been succesful in this. What are they doing? Has PAUSD bothered to check or are they just waiting to do exactly what the county tells them so that they can be held blameless when all goes to hell?


47 people like this
Posted by UCSF- Schools should be essential service
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 30, 2020 at 1:42 pm

UCSF- Schools should be essential service is a registered user.

I am so proud of the school board. UCSF posted an article on how to safely open schools at the end of August. Web Link The teacher's union has been holding these schools hostage. If they don't want to teach then the can take a leave and we can hire new teachers. There are plenty of private school teachers ready to go back. This virus is going to be here for the long haul- we need to learn how to live with it, following the safety guidelines. Maybe this is the perfect time to finally break up the union and make sure our schools have effective teachers who enjoy what they do!


43 people like this
Posted by Eileen 1
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Eileen 1 is a registered user.

I am uncomfortable equating teachers to all the other "essential workers in day cares, grocery stores, hospitals, nursing homes..." Workers in hospital settings go into work knowing that they will be exposed to potential infections, the other workers referred to are not highly educated professionals to which we entrust our children. ALL workers are valuable and to be respected no matter what work they do, but teachers should be equated with the high tech community of workers and other professionals who live in this community. They are educated and they have chosen to work with children. In Palo Alto many of the teachers have Masters Degrees. Yet, we are asking them to return to work with young children and other adults in an indoor environment. Anyone who has spent time around a child of grade school age knows that they cannot be relied upon to wear a mask at all times, wash their hands for a full 20 seconds, and stay 6 feet apart from one another without constant supervision.

I am not opposed to the schools reopening, although as community member I have qualms about having people who live outside Palo Alto come in and work with children, parents, other teachers, etc... I think this may invite additional community spread of Covid. What I am opposed to is that not all of the teachers are being given the choice of whether to teach via distance teaching or returning to the classroom. The Resource teachers and other specialists (school psychologists, speech, etc..) are being told they may return to the classroom, take a 5 month unpaid family leave, or resign. The district personnel who work with children who need the most help are not being given a choice of where to work. They are being forced to go back into the classroom regardless of their family circumstances (chronic illness, aged parents living with them..) or resign.

"Remember" comments that this could end up ridding the District of bad teachers who should go, but cannot be let go due to tenure. What if the District loses some of their best Resource teachers, aides in the classroom, speech therapists, psychologists, etc.. because they are appropriately concerned about bringing home Covid to their child with cancer, husband with diabetes, elderly parents they care for? Surely, it is possible that the loss of some of these experienced teachers could have a negative impact on the students.

Why are teachers being asked to take more risks at work than a Google or Facebook engineer, a lawyer, a financial consultant? None of the workers in these professions anticipated that their career choice would bring them into contact with a highly contagious disease.

Why does everyone think that teachers face the most threat from getting Covid from their students? Isn't it possible that a teacher could pass it to another teacher, that a principal could pass it to a speech therapist, that any adult on a school site could pass it to another adult?

Every employee in the district should be allowed to assess their risk and choose whether their circumstances allow them to return to work in the classroom. Those who cannot return to the classroom should be allowed to distance teach. Families are being given the choice of whether or not to return their students to in class or distance learning. Why aren't all school employees being given this choice as well?


26 people like this
Posted by Staying Young Through Kids
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 30, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Staying Young Through Kids is a registered user.

@Paly Parent The younger grades will use a hybrid model upon their return.

I am ABSOLUTELY THRILLED that kids will be able to go back to school. Our county has been very careful and they are loudly signaling it is time and it is safe with the proper precautions.

However, the PAUSD plan is TERRIBLE PLAN because it is hybrid!

Right now my elementary kids get synchronous distance learning all day 5 days a week or 100% of the time.

With this lousy PAUSD hybrid plan my child will receive in person instruction only 5 days our of every 10 days or 50% of the time. The other days (2 days one week 3 days the next), are AT HOME with little to NO INSTRUCTION! Music, library, and PE are now supposed to fill 50% of my children's' school time? It's laughable...

Dr. Austin and his staff also didn't talk about the fact that based on the demand for distance learning students and teachers will be RELOCATED from their current sites and sent to the "virtual school". This will be the largest elementary school in Palo Alto and it is an administrative nightmare. Who handles disciplinary issues? Who helps with 504 and IEP administration? How will teachers feel supported by a principal who's running a "pop up" school with almost no planning from the district? Even more confusing is "virtual school" does not have resource specialists, but just shares specialists from all the different schools (not very efficient).

So, ultimately, I'm torn between 100% instruction remotely at a DIFFERENT SCHOOL with DIFFERENT TEACHERs, or 50% instruction with our current teachers, a peer group that matters to my kids, and a parent group that has committed to support our site.

Just return all kids to their home site and let the principals determine resource allocation for distance vs. in school. Like it or not, ALL OF OUR KIDS WILL BE REMOTE LEARNING HALF THE TIME! If the distance kids are remote all the time and the rest of our kids are distance half the time (alternating) it seems like EVERY SCHOOL WILL BE A DISTANCE LEARNING SCHOOL. If so, then each school could simply administer resources for their kids. Keep schools together, keep families together, no need to move anyone!

Finally, since what makes sense is unlikely to happen, can someone please tell me, How does a parent pay PTA dues @ the virtual school? And, how much PIE money will they be getting?


39 people like this
Posted by Facts please!
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 30, 2020 at 1:56 pm

Facts please! is a registered user.

what exactly do the teachers want?? they can't even say anything else than "more time". really? you have amazing PPE, small classes, one of the lowest Covid rates in CA... what do you want? Fire them all and hire hungry, motivated teachers to replace them. If they are wearing masks, and kids too, THEY WILL NOT DIE.


20 people like this
Posted by Staying Young Through Kids
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 30, 2020 at 1:56 pm

Staying Young Through Kids is a registered user.

Question: Since our district serves students from both Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, do we close if SMC closes? Do schools only close if SCC closes? Will students from SMC be allowed to attend school if their county moves to a higher color/risk category while SCC remains lower? How about the other way around?

I'm surprised this didn't come up last night. Is there an Ed Code or County Health rule that covers this?


37 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 30, 2020 at 1:58 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

“Thank you to all the essential workers in day cares, grocery stores, hospitals, nursing homes and other places who are working safety and caring for others. It is sad so many PAUSD teachers are so afraid. Maybe some of them will retire, quit or leave but I'm confident that our district can attract qualified people. There are PAUSD teachers who are sub par and it is very difficult to get rid of tenured teachers. Maybe here is a chance to clean house“

This is another “choose your livelihood or risk your life” comment. You are not an administrator so how can you possibly judge who is “subpar?” You are in support of putting teachers back in the classroom at direct risk but just so you know, you will now be at indirect risk. Also, all those same old stale comparisons of grocery story workers, and medical professionals are false comparisons. Finally, nice excuse to use a deadly pandemic to “clean house.” [Portion removed.] I don’t understand this attitude at all. PAUSD has some of the highest test scores in our state so they all can’t be “subpar” and therefore how is the current staff not “qualified people?” [Portion removed.]

“There are risks in everything: accidents when driving, serious health issues in flu season etc. Need to move forward!“
No we don’t. Not a good call to move forward when we are likely only 1/3 of the way through this pandemic and about to head into a deadly fall and winter in the United States. [Portion removed due to inaccurate data.]

It’s the same old ant-union/anti-teacher rhetoric here again but yet these same predictable comments are coming in with a potentially fatal disease circulating in our community.
1. The risk your life or we will take your livelihood(and clean house!!!) comments
2. False comparisons of teachers to workers in other fields like doctors or grocery store workers
3. Mentioning that other countries have gone back to school but failing to mention those countries either have way lower disease transmission than the U.S. or are now having second waves of infections
4. Falsely stating it’s only a “minor risk” like the flu when Covid is at least 13x deadlier
5. Stating a bunch of meaningless data percentages that can be thrown out the window once schools reopen and people feel like it’s a signal to return to normalcy as those numbers will likely go up again when that happens
6. Blaming the union for everything that goes wrong or that they don’t like when the union’s job is to protect the health and safety of their members
7. The latest false equivalence comment of “we all go grocery shopping and take a low risk so why won’t teachers take a risk” when indoor teaching on a daily basis would be a HIGH risk activity
8. Citing “the science” when convenient but ignoring the science that children spread COVID
9. As a bonus today, we had someone judge and criticize the public speaking of teachers in the zoom meeting last night that they were robotic sounding. How critical.

Please be more respectful of the teachers who are charged with taking care of your children for 6+ hours a day. [Portion removed.] I will ask one last time, if it’s so safe to be mixed in with the public indoors then why are all board meetings taking place on Zoom and why is indoor dining shut down? Finally, so what if teachers are scared. They aren’t MEDICAL WORKERS trained in PPE and don’t have an entire hospital set up at their disposal to protect them from COVID(see...false comparison). But most of all they are people too and can feel scared if they WANT TO after a MILLION people have already died from COVID worldwide in about 6 months or so! I really want you to know you all aren’t anyone to judge anything.


30 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 30, 2020 at 2:20 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Have. It. Outside.
This is a temperate climate.
History of outdoors education during prior pandemic.


49 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2020 at 2:34 pm

PAUSD Parent is a registered user.

So multiple of the PACCC centers have shut down already for Covid cases. The JCC is now shut down for two weeks due to Covid cases. PAUSD has had Covid cases amongst staff already this year. All those kids will not be in stable cohorts as they will mix with kids from their classes and vice-versa -- the cohorts are a joke! Add in sports and activities.

But sure, go ahead and open schools at the start of the cold and flu season. Good luck to everyone who will be bouncing back and forth with being quarantined at home for 14 days (with no school except "make-up work") at best, and possibly sick at worst on a constant basis.

I hope your children don't get sick, I hope they don't bring it home to you, I hope their teachers don't get sick. I hope no one dies.

Community spread will increase. We will be in lockdown again. Welcome to the big experiment! Thank you PAUSD for what is sure to be a disaster.


43 people like this
Posted by You can choose
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 30, 2020 at 2:57 pm

You can choose is a registered user.

Don’t understand why the parents keep complaining of going in-person. You have a CHOICE, nobody forcing your kids to be back. It’s not fair for the families who want to go back but they can’t because of your complaints especially after so many months. Looking at the screen for so many hours a day is not healthy for kids. My friend’s high school kids who are in private schools in San Mateo, their teachers can’t wait going back to teach because it’s painful teaching online for them.
If you don’t go back, just stay home. The class sizes will be small which is very good.


23 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 30, 2020 at 5:25 pm

PAUSD Parent is a registered user.

I would love the schools to open full-time, but I don’t think it would be safe. As to the hybrid system, I have friends back East, including the suburbs of NYC and Boston, whose children are back to school on a hybrid basis. Because a teacher can’t be at 2 places at once and the cleaning requirements, the in-person hours are between 8-12 hours a week and then about 4 more hours at home on zoom. The rest is “independent” study with kids finishing 4 hours of “independent” study in an hour etc. Understandably, parents are complaining that there are just not enough teacher-supported hours. I’m not sure I’m willing to give up the instruction hours that my kids are getting with distance learning for so few in-person hours, especially at the secondary level. Hopefully, PAUSD can learn from these districts and do better when the secondary schools open in January.


30 people like this
Posted by Yes to Schools Open
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2020 at 5:31 pm

Yes to Schools Open is a registered user.

@ Ryan Elliott: Thank you, well said. Amen.

Thank you Austin and the Board for doing the right thing.

I just wish this also applied to secondary students, who are more than half the district student population. Waiting another four months to return in person is damaging to these secondary students, unnecessary, and not required by the Health Dept. Teens desperately need to be together in person. The county set a strict list of criteria, and the district has worked very very hard to meet them, so it's time to get ALL our students back to school in person. I will be voting for Board candidates who plan to do that.

Fact: Every respected medical establishment and Health Officer in the U.S. agrees students need to be in school, including the SCC Health Dept and Cody. Parents who think they know more than the medical establishment, or are acting out of fear instead of facts, are welcome to keep their kids home. But you are NOT welcome to keep my student or other students home who want to be in school. More importantly, it's unconscionable that parents are still pleading to keep the schools closed knowing for a FACT this is harming other families' kids who need the support of school in person, which sometimes can be a life or death situation for a student. Shame on those parents. It's hypocritical to praise Cody for keeping our area safe and at the same time dismiss her when she says kids need to be in school in person now for their health and safety -- especially those students most at risk in the community (not to mention Cody etc has stated the flu is more contagious/dangerous for kids).

Science Magazine 9/21/2020
Abstract: Children have a low risk of COVID-19 and are disproportionately harmed by precautions. “Pandemic mitigation measures that affect children’s wellbeing should only happen if evidence exists that they help because there is plenty of evidence that they do harm.”

Web Link

P.S. Whoever from the PAEA Teachers Union came up with the slogan "We'd rather be safe than first" is clearly not paying attention or living in reality since most schools around the world, in every other state in the U.S., and locally are ALREADY OPEN. If the PAEA union is going to ask Teachers and Parents to blindly parrot a slogan, at least come up with a slogan that's true. The current slogan makes teachers/parents repeating it look ignorant and ridiculous when Los Altos, Menlo Park, SF schools, and hundreds of private schools through waivers are already open in CA. Know your facts!


25 people like this
Posted by Staying Young Through Kids
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 30, 2020 at 6:02 pm

Staying Young Through Kids is a registered user.

Amazing for kids to be back in school! Our area is safe until it's not. That's just the way it works.

Just like you go play outside when the sun comes out after a storm, the sun is shining in Palo Alto right now and we need to take advantage of the "good weather" and a super low R0 even in it might be temporary.

What's TRULY UNFORTUNATE is that the PAUSD hybrid plan will not have the opportunity to really play out (teachers with kids only 50% of the time) prior to the election.

I don't fault any of those running for the PAUSD board (or County BOE) for voting to have kids go back to in person learning. Great idea!

I do fault every one of the trustees for sending our kids back to a terrible system of LESS teaching than they were getting remotely!

The lack of a predictable schedule is going to be an enormous challenge for families.

Breaking apart classes, moving kids, moving teachers and tearing kids away from their "home" school is going to lead to a lot of unhappy kids and angry parents.

How the trustees are missing this is beyond me. What makes a school? Have they asked themselves that? Isn't it more than just teachers showing up and kids in seats? The community makes the school stronger and makes education better.

How the district has failed to educate parents on what will happen in the principals meeting with Dr. Austin tomorrow...wow. Just wow!

Expect fireworks at the next board meeting.


30 people like this
Posted by PAparentof2
a resident of Nixon School
on Sep 30, 2020 at 6:52 pm

PAparentof2 is a registered user.

Way to go Board... for making a tough decision [portion removed.] Our kids need in person teaching... sorry the zoom schooling is not working, but it's not a replacement for top quality teaching we expect in Palo Alto. No, its not. Not if we really want them to succeed... real math, real science, real English, real learning... if we want them to really learn and do well in high school and college we need them to catch up academically, socialize, and compete naturally. It is how the world works. I feel sorry for teachers, who will never feel there is a right time... did you know that almost half of the teachers dont even live in the district? They have the benefit of their kids attending the school they teach in. It's great that the Board is inclusive of all members of the community. I want my vote in Palo Alto to count for my property taxes.. and my kids... And I am sorry but teachers shouldn't decide the best for the community. It's not their role. They are essential workers similar to nurses and others who "have to go in" and "do their jobs". I am sure the Costco worker didn't want to go in at first... or the nurse.. or police officer... or Doctor.. but they did.. and navigated through the uncertainty. I want my kids to learn more than just "the easy way" to do things... and I feel the safety protocols are in place to pick up and do the work. I am sorry if it's not popular to say.. considering the teacher's "feelings" but I also dont like how unions and teachers want to decide the fate of my kids educational journey.

Yes, this decision was hard. And a lot of us parents, were anxious and "scared" about speaking up against the our kids' teachers because they are so strongly against. Thankfully it looks like we've got a tough Board, willing to do the hard work and make the RIGHT decisions for our kids and our community. We aren't first, We are going to get our top educated kids back in school, to do what we do best, learn and succeed in life. And we will be safe. Let's get all the kids back in school ASAP.


24 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 30, 2020 at 8:10 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

@unregisterd, "Don’t understand why the parents keep complaining of going in-person. You have a CHOICE, nobody forcing your kids to be back. "

Because a pandemic forces us to rethink our normal libertarian tendencies. Read the post just before yours.

The problem is that each one of us it not just a separated individual. We live and work in a society, and none of us is independent.

If some of us are operating in such a way that we get sick, we will spread it around.

I was watching some baseball this afternoon on TV. They had some shots of children playing outside of the stadium. No masks, no distancing, lots of yelling and fun. That is what kids do together.

The same parents that are demanding the schools to open will be mad at the district if kids get sick.

I hope that this works.


15 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 30, 2020 at 11:25 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

I do hope our district will continue to invest in safety and work with parents and teachers to make everyone comfortable. We have saved money due to the closure and received money from the State. That money should be used for SAFETY and EDUCATION.

One of the key elements of safety is excellence in distance learning for those who attend in person and for those who do not.

According to the new state law, distance learning is supposed to include live daily interaction with peers and the teacher and be of the same quality and challenge as in-person. Students who need to stay home for their health, for their family's health, or for quarantine should not have to choose between SAFETY and EDUCATION. Asynchronous at home learning does not meet the requirements of the new state law, and shame on the board if they allow asynchronous to be provided. Streaming home must be part of the hybrid model.


14 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 1, 2020 at 10:04 am

Me 2 is a registered user.

More research:

Heavy exposure of children aged 9 to 12 years with SARS-CoV-2 did not lead to infection: Web Link

"These data suggest that the relatively low number of children at school age with COVID-19 may be explained, at least in part, by a lower infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 in children compared to adults. This view is in accordance with a recent study in Hunan province, China, where children of 0-14 years were significantly less susceptible to SARS-CoV2 infection than adults [8]. In line, a 9-year-old child with mild COVID-19 that had 102 contacts, most of them being children in the same age, in three different schools and a skin-club resulted in no secondary infections although all were contacted by the local health authorities and 55 were tested negative for SARS-CoV- 2 RNA"

[Portion removed.] COVID-19 infections from a school setting are rare. COVID-19 infections by teachers or students are likely through *community spread* rather than in the classroom. Now we're getting more research focusing on *why* kids don't spread COVID-19 rather than *if*. There have been hypotheses around the fact that kids have lower levels of ACE2 receptors compared to adults. Or lower lung capacity. Any now there's debate whether fomite spread really exists.

In any case, that's where science is going -- rather than focusing on if children spread to why it doesn't.

What's really appalling is the hybrid schedule that the BOE and PAEA have negotiated. It's really the worst of both worlds. We may stay distance learning not because we're worried about COVID-19 in school setting, but the fact that this half-assed schedule doesn't work.


37 people like this
Posted by Ghost Of Edmund Burke
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 1, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Ghost Of Edmund Burke is a registered user.

It is and always has been extremely disheartening to see so much vitriol for the teachers on this forum. I would love nothing more than to be back in the classroom with my students. I hate distance teaching, because it's not actually teaching. But I hate the alternative even more - getting exposed to/infected with a potentially deadly virus, or worse, bringing it home to a medically vulnerable family member.

It's astonishing to me the number of people on this forum who blithely sail past that last part as if it does not play a major role in what is going on right now, and why teachers are so opposed to this. I would take a bullet for my students (I actually get trained to do that!) but I draw the line at being asked to throw my family into the line of fire, and the raw contempt exhibited by some on this forum for this deeply held concern has been one of the most depressing aspects of this entire struggle.

A final note, and it's an important one: school is not going to be "normal." It will not be anywhere *near* normal.

Let me repeat: School. Will. Not. Be. Fun.

There is no way around this. Distancing, hygiene, and safety protocols (unless they are utterly disregarded, which is another conversation altogether) will make the environment distinctly unfriendly. If we can't get supposedly educated adults in this country to make a small sacrifice for the benefit of their community and willingly wear masks, how are we expecting to do it with large numbers of children? Remember, the result of that obtuseness in a substantial part of our population has led to over 200,000 deaths, with no end in sight.

The BoRed of Education met again through Zoom to ensure the safety of the participants. In that meeting they voted unanimously to endanger the safety of the entire student body, the entire staff, and the entire community. Shame on them.

-Ghost of Edmund Burke


20 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 1, 2020 at 2:00 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

1. “Repeat after me: COVID-19 infections from a school setting are rare”

It’s unbelievable you keep posting about “the science” and lack of threat of spread in schools and in the classroom. You can just do any web search and find outbreaks related to schools.
Here is Montana, a more rural area, reported today which has had way less disease transmission than California as far as total cases and they have had outbreaks at schools. Here’s the link:
Web Link
Key Statement:
The state's previous report released a week ago showed 121 schools with active cases.
A total of 433 cases are associated with schools statewide, which includes 302 students, 131 staff members and another 124 cases categorized as under investigation.
So what are you talking about here? Even if you think all of these infections aren’t taking place directly in a classroom (which IS happening) then how do you explain all of these school outbreaks? Even if it’s not directly from classroom teaching it is from mixing the public together whether it’s staff infecting students, staff infecting staff, or students infecting staff. Even if it’s from “community spread” as you suggest, well that community spread is causing outbreaks at schools so your point doesn’t make any sense. It’s STILL happening and spreading at schools regardless whether the cases originate in schools or they originate in the community. That’s what schools do. They bring members of the community together. [Portion removed.]

Also, this: “In any case, that's where science is going -- rather than focusing on if children spread to why it doesn't.“

You say there is debate. Well ok. So now teachers will be caught in the middle of this so called debate. Why would any teacher be comfortable if the facts aren’t known? But yet here is a Harvard study that says the opposite of what you posted, and that kids do spread COVID and that they actually carry a very high viral load:
Web Link

2. “Students who need to stay home for their health, for their family's health, or for quarantine should not have to choose between SAFETY and EDUCATION./According to the new state law“

What about the SAFETY of the teachers? If it were children who were most at risk by this pandemic then schools would be closed indefinitely. No one seems to care about the adults. Finally, there is no “new state law” as you always post. SB98 is mainly a BILL regarding finances. No one will go to jail if too much asynchronous instruction is done. Your post is based on a false premise.

[Portion removed.]

4. Thankfully it looks like we've got a tough Board, willing to do the hard work and make the RIGHT decisions for our kids and our community.

The board is neither tough or doing any of the hard work. The board just gets to make a decision on Zoom and they assume no risk of working in person. If you read closely, this decision was made way before the meeting ever started so it was just a formality. Such hard work! They basically just told the ACTUAL hard working staff to “get back to work and assume the risk.” How tough and brave of them. It’s exactly the opposite of what you postulated, you are only saying it because you are happy with the outcome of them saying yes and are rewarding them with your praise.

[Portion removed.]

7. “More importantly, it's unconscionable that parents are still pleading to keep the schools closed knowing for a FACT this is harming other families' kids who need the support of school in person, which sometimes can be a life or death situation for a student.”

No it’s not. It’s life or death for everyone. Maybe they are worried about others like school staff instead of their own needs. You cite the public health criteria of the new color coded system repeatedly but of course it’s more lenient than the “declining cases for 14 straight days” which never happened and never was going to happen in all likelihood. Also, why do you get to admonish other parents for their opinion because it doesn’t agree with yours and “publicly shame” them? They have the right to their opinion about keeping schools closed just as you have the right to say reopen. [Portion removed.]

9. “Teens desperately need to be together in person.”

This is exactly the mentality that will cause COVID to spread. Isn’t all health advice currently not to hold large gatherings? Opening schools is a huge signal that “things are back to normal” from a societal standpoint. So not only will those teens get together in person at school, but they will get together and hang out after school, and then get together for sports and other activities. This is exactly why it is so risky for the adults at the schools. We also know how great teens are at following all of the rules in general.

10. not to mention Cody etc has stated the flu is more contagious/dangerous for kids).

Please post the source for this statement. I really doubt Cody said that at all but especially not in those words. The Flu/Covid comparisons are first of all outrageous. I doubt if CODY would do that comparison. And AGAIN I ask, what about the adults that run the school? What’s the danger for them?

11. “what exactly do the teachers want?? they can't even say anything else than "more time". really? you have amazing PPE, small classes, one of the lowest Covid rates in CA... what do you want? Fire them all and hire hungry, motivated teachers to replace them. If they are wearing masks, and kids too, THEY WILL NOT DIE.”

YOU can not guarantee outcomes. Second, what is this “amazing PPE” a little cloth mask?
[Portion removed.]

@Katie Causey: Well said, thank you. Amen.


17 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 1, 2020 at 2:28 pm

Me 2 is a registered user.

TVPA - you should be a better critical reader of news than that.

"The state's previous report released a week ago showed 121 schools with active cases.
A total of 433 cases are associated with schools statewide, which includes 302 students, 131 staff members and another 124 cases categorized as under investigation."

There's nothing in the article that says what the source of the infections are and how they spread. Research has mostly shown that infections in schools are from *community* spread, not school spread.

It's this kind of statistic that drives me nuts - no context, just bleating out numbers to scare people.

And to be a dead horse - we don't know what the associated Ct numbers for those tests are. Anything more than 35 (and some people say 32) is not infectious, yet machines have been set to 40 all over this country. It also the reason why there was concern early on about reinfection, which it turns out that the machines were set to too sensitive and picking up non-infectious virus particles.

Again - look at hospitalizations, not test numbers.

I get it. You don't want to go back to the classroom, but please, spare us the scare tactics.


17 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 1, 2020 at 2:49 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]
You are so worried about the context of the numbers, the so called scare tactics, and possibly are on the side of “schools must reopen”, that you either don’t care or don’t understand that it doesn’t matter what “context” the numbers are in or where the outbreaks originated community or otherwise, COVID IS IN THE SCHOOLS whether it is from staff or students and whether or not they catch it in the community. They bring it in to school and other people are getting infecting and/or needing to quarantine at the very least. Your arguments do anything to “minimize” the threat of COVID in schools. [Portion removed.]


26 people like this
Posted by Yes to Schools Open
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 1, 2020 at 3:02 pm

Yes to Schools Open is a registered user.

@ Voice of Palo Alto: "Please post the source for this statement. I really doubt Cody said that at all but especially not in those words. The Flu/Covid comparisons are first of all outrageous. I doubt if CODY would do that comparison"

Happy to oblige, and dispel your notion that flu/covid comparisons are "outrageous" since this report/statement came directly from Cody and her SCC Health Dept! Here is the report from SCC Health Dept 6/30 (revised on 9/21 with the same conclusion) that specifically makes flu/covid comparisions, and says the flu is more contagious in kids than covid (which has been echoed by many medical professionals). Page 6: "Specifically, these findings suggest that COVID-19 transmission in schools is likely to be less widespread than influenza transmission."

Web Link

This flu/covid comparison (pointing out the greater risk of flu in students) was also repeated, and confirmed, by the SCC Health Dept Rep who spoke at the 9/29 School Board mtg. Anyone who actually listened to the Board mtg, instead of just posting here ad nauseum, would know that. It's recorded. Feel free to listen.

Page 4: "The health-related risks for children who are not provided in-person instruction are significant, including lower rates of immunization, higher rates of undetected child abuse and neglect, and risk to social/emotional wellbeing." So yes, shame on parents who are willing to sacrifice other kids for whom school is a critical lifeline by pleading for all students to stay home (instead of just their own) when SCC says it's safe to return. All my students' teachers are also ready to return in person as online is way more work for them.

Know your facts. Anyone who questions these facts put out by the SCC Health Dept should call Cody and debate this with her (instead of shooting down every statement in this forum that doesn't fit a fear vs. fact narrative).

And as a PA resident of 35+ years with students actually in PA school, no one behind the name the "Voice of Palo Alto" speaks for me.


15 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 1, 2020 at 3:08 pm

Me 2 is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 1, 2020 at 3:58 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

Parents on this thread, get your child the flu shot. And, get one yourself. The average flu shot rate in the US is roughly 60% for under 18 and 45% for adults.

We need to do better this year.


17 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 1, 2020 at 4:07 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

@yes to open schools
I asked you to provide the link that CODY said that nonsense in a statement. You still didn’t provide that. You just gave me a link to the health data site for SCC
and here is what it ACTUALLY says:
“In other countries, where schools remained open or have recently reopened, cases in schoolchildren have been associated with few secondary cases in the school, suggesting that child-to-child transmission may also not be as significant as with influenza.”

So “in other countries” and “suggesting.” Those other countries have lower disease transmission than the US so it is comparing apples to oranges and it isn’t a FACT YET. Do those countries run a current baseline of 40,000 new cases a day heading into fall and winter? No. Do they lead the world in total cases and deaths? No.

Web Link

Also, It is only early data “suggesting.” We are very early on with a new disease, and Inofrmation changes constantly. [Portion removed.]

Finally, here is why I stated flu/COVID comparisons are outrageous:

Mortality for COVID-19 appears higher than for influenza, especially seasonal influenza. While the true mortality of COVID-19 will take some time to fully understand, the data we have so far indicate that the crude mortality ratio (the number of reported deaths divided by the reported cases) is between 3-4%, the infection mortality rate (the number of reported deaths divided by the number of infections) will be lower. For seasonal influenza, mortality is usually well below 0.1%.
[Portion removed.]

@me2: I found this immediately with a quick web search. Just like “please open schools” you can please try to explain this away if outbreaks don’t happen at schools and there is no danger like you always state:

Web Link

[Portion removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 1, 2020 at 4:23 pm

Me 2 is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


33 people like this
Posted by Curious Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 1, 2020 at 4:48 pm

Curious Parent is a registered user.

New York city public schools (including high schools) opened today. For comparison, the Covid rate in New York city is roughly the same as in Santa Clara county and roughly 3x the Covid rate of Palo Alto. New York city isn't run by conservatives and New York's teacher's union has historically been tough and uncompromising (see Web Link for an interesting albeit old article).

So, if New York city is open and much of Europe is open and most private schools are open and all levels of government are saying we should open, while PA secondary schools meanwhile are not scheduled to open for 3+ months, what exactly do our teachers mean when they say "We don't want to be first"?


23 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 1, 2020 at 5:11 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

@curious parent:

Maybe they mean this :

Web Link

Or maybe this:
Web Link

[Portion removed.]


32 people like this
Posted by Three weeks in, a big improvement
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 1, 2020 at 5:11 pm

Three weeks in, a big improvement is a registered user.

I just talked with a friend in Arizona who has two young kids. They went back to elementary school three weeks ago. He said so far so good healthwise (no issues at the school) and his kids are noticeably happier. He said he saw a difference right away in their demeanor, even though he thought they'd been doing fine at home. This is a guy whose house is nicely set up for staying home (big yard, pool, play equipment) and whose wife could be with them. Despite all those advantages the school environment, masks and procedures and all, has been a big improvement. My point is, just because school isn't the same as it was pre-pandemic doesn't mean it won't be a big improvement for many kids, socially and emotionally and for their overall growth and development, over staying home.


29 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2020 at 1:17 am

Silver Linings is a registered user.

I don't have an opinion about what is best to do now, because I don't have enough information. But I am really discouraged by the [portion removed] disrespect towards our teachers. I think the vast majority of people commenting would fold after an hour of what teachers do.

We love you, teachers! We'll get through this. Please don't let the turkeys get you down.

I am also discouraged by how quickly everyone has forgotten just how untrustworthy our district leadership have been in the past, and the typical we-had-turnover-so-that-wipes-the-slate-clean-so-we-don't-have-to-do-anything-or-learn-how-to-restore-trust attitude only leads to other trainwrecks.

I do believe kids are better off in school. But I disagree that if they are NOT, that remote instruction has to be inferior. It's only inferior if people try to do school exactly the same. This time can be an opportunity to really fix things that are wrong. Here's one of many articles about how some kids are thriving because of remote learning: Web Link

My concern about making it a choice is that the district has a way of pressuring families and children, in my experience, in unsafe and emotionally damaging ways, to get them to do what they want. If they don't like having to support online learning at the same time as in-person, the families/ kids getting online learning will suffer for it and vice versa.

When teachers say they don't trust, I believe them. I haven't seen the district come to terms with the importance of being trustworthy, and the importance of working through problems rather than every few years, thinking they can just start over, ignore those with problems, and it will all be okay the NEXT time there is a challenge (rather than learning by really making things right). It seems to me that they still have an ethos of only being moved if they are sued, not because the law or human decency demands it.

Teachers and parents have complained about air quality problems at several school sites that a few air filters won't necessarily fix (although it's a start, I would delve into how well the filtration was designed to reduce transmission or whether they bought filters basically as window dressing), and which are germane here to how vulnerable they and the students are to getting sick because of them. Our district was always abysmal at handling air quality complaints, and even stopped collecting asthma data for the CA Healthy Kids Survey (like the way the potus wants fewer Covid tests to keep the information about problems to a minimum). I know of teachers and parent volunteers who were afraid to complain about their asthma on school sites.

I'm glad I don't have to make the choice, but personally, if the problem is trust, the answer isn't forcing someone against their will.


12 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 2, 2020 at 10:56 am

Me 2 is a registered user.

"But I am really discouraged by the nastiness, browbeating, and disrespect towards our teachers. "

And the nastiness, browbeating and disrespect shown towards parents.

"@me2: I found this immediately with a quick web search. Just like “please open schools” you can please try to explain this away if outbreaks don’t happen at schools and there is no danger like you always state:"

BTW. on the article you linked to, this little nugget:

"However, most districts have said they don’t believe students or teachers transmitted the virus within schools."

I would take scientific studies over poorly written, Internet-sourced "news" stories all day. Maybe read the articles to which you link?


14 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 2, 2020 at 12:49 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

Still arguing with me the day after the President of the United States tested positive for the coronavirus? You would think THAT happening would be a clear indicator for you that nobody is truly safe. If the protected President gets it, with everyone around him being tested constantly, how exactly are schools supposed to be safe with, at the very least, no testing in place? The truth is no one is truly safe.

The so called little nugget you pulled was said by “districts” and that “they don’t think” it is being transmitted. Are they busy running the schools or are they sitting around measuring the spread of Coronavirus? (high comedy yesterday YOU actually told ME to be a more critical reader) They are not the scientists. [Portion removed.]

Facts not fear! Here is yet another article proving my point:

Web Link

Key statement: After preying heavily on the elderly in the spring, the coronavirus is increasingly infecting American children and teens in a trend authorities say appears fueled by school reopenings and the resumption of sports, play dates, and other activities.

So the AUTHORITIES not the districts are stating school reopenings are a factor. As I have pointed out multiple times here, the same thing will happen in PA once those school doors open in October. Disgraceful and dangerous decision by the school board. They all should be removed immediately but at least we can vote them all out next month. Too bad we can’t get Austin out also. It’s way too early to try to get back to normal regardless of parent pressure or that silly And more lenient Color Coded Tier system that replaced the “14 days of declining cases.” The declining cases for 14 days never happened and no matter what color that system it is, it’s not truly safe.

"But I am really discouraged by the [portion removed] disrespect towards our teachers.”

Totally agree. The great Silver Linings is correct yet again. [Portion removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2020 at 2:08 pm

Silver Linings is a registered user.

""But I am really discouraged by the nastiness, browbeating, and disrespect towards our teachers. "
And the nastiness, browbeating and disrespect shown towards parents."

Agreed, if anything, parents are treated like mushrooms here.

@Voice,
A lot of people are skeptical about whether the potus is really sick or not. Some are pointing out that you just have to look at what he accuses others of to see what he himself is doing: committing "hoaxes", afraid to debate further, etc. The rules got changed so the moderators could turn off his mic, and the virus is surging in red states -- what else would get him out of it? I'm not going to argue it because I'm just sharing the skepticism I'm hearing, but realistically, the WH under Bush hid his Lyme disease for a year before telling the public. I really don't think the situation now, given the dishonesty of the source (speaking of trust) has anything to do with our local decisions.


14 people like this
Posted by Trump not an excuse
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 2, 2020 at 7:54 pm

Trump not an excuse is a registered user.

Don't use Trump or White house staff for opening school excuses. They don't wear masks and big gatherings!


12 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 3, 2020 at 11:25 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

“Don't use Trump or White house staff for opening school excuses.”
I already did. First, the guy who was pushing for school reopening and said “open the schools” is now currently hospitalized with the coronavirus but you don’t see any irony or issue with that. Second, my point was actually that no one is special and everyone is at risk, if even the US President who is being tested constantly can get it and can be hospitalized with the virus. Is there going to be testing at schools? No. Isn’t school going to be a large gathering? You really think all kids will keep their masks on all day? No, they won’t.

A lot of people are skeptical about whether the potus is really sick or not. Some are pointing out that you just have to look at what he accuses others of to see what he himself is doing: committing "hoaxes", afraid to debate further, etc.”

Enough “hoax” talk. If those are your friends make new friends. They are being weird. Also, don’t backtrack what you said about parents Silver Linings. You were correct. [Portion removed.]


21 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2020 at 7:46 am

Silver Linings is a registered user.

@Voice
[Portion removedl] We were a district family for almost a decade, and I have more personal experience with the district and it's problems than most.

I have been a relentless supporter of parents in this district, as I was above. I do not believe parents are given the respect they should be due in the relationship. I believe the same about teachers, and find the nasty attacks above on teachers to be uncalled for and ignorant of how hard the job is. Please consider that they are not made of stone, are working hard right now (as one said, harder than ever in their lives), and deserve our encouragement, too. I believe parents deserve much more support than they are getting right now, too. But respecting others does not necessarily signal agreement with everything they say or want.

As for attacking my friends who are skeptical of what's coming out of the WH -- where have you been the last four years? When trust has been so relentlessly assaulted, it is absolutely rational for people to be skeptical of whether the current circumstance is even what we're being told. (Nationally, the illness conveniently pushed all kinds of negative news off the front page, and someone who likes to control the news cycle is once again in control of it. Seemed okay in the video. Again, I don't appreciate being pushed into arguing someone else's point, I am in the wait-and-see camp.) Locally, the district has a trust problem, that's just a fact.

But the national situation does bring up a very concerning fact that weighs heavily in favor of the teachers' argument here.
Check out this Scientific American article (one of many on this subject): COVID-19 Can Wreck Your Heart, Even if You Haven’t Had Any Symptoms
Web Link

This isn't a small percentage of patients, either, it's like over half of infected cases (even the mild and asymptomatic ones) have evidence of cardiac inflammation even months later. Children, too.

The majority of our teachers are older, older women in particular. There are already reports of Covid patients with later symptoms being treated dismissively, and if cardiac inflammation leads to later problems, women are far more likely to be dismissed and treated disrespectfully in medical interactions. Women are vastly more likely than men to be sent home from the hospital in the middle of a stroke, for example. They're more likely to have missed heart attacks. Do we really want to err on the side of subjecting our teachers to that for years to come?

We do not need to be endangering our teachers or our students (including student athletes), or their parents and grandparents, by exposing them to this, even if they're the ones who think they are invulnerable. People are even writing about the national security risk of so many in the national security operations being unnecessarily exposed to illness and suddenly disrupted. What they're missing is the potential danger to the potus and others in the coming months and years due to cardiac inflammation (especially when, again, the public doesn't get information about that aspect of his health already). Even just the increased medical costs to the district should be reason alone to proceed with caution.

I understand why parents want students to return to school, and I certainly understand why students want to. But we're in a pandemic, and one thing we can teach our kids now, that is incredibly important in life, is to be realistic and make the best of circumstances.

Me, personally, I think the purpose of any in-person school right now should be reserved for focusing on social development only, because distance learning can work. I realize it's really hard on parents, but this is a hard situation, and a lot of what is hard goes away if everyone lets go of unnecessary aspects of the instructional model, not the learning. I think too many of our district sites have un-dealt-with air quality problems and our leadership has not only done a poor job of air quality management over the years, they've seemingly made a practice of avoiding truly understanding good air quality management. Teachers have been complaining about that very issue in these threads, of complaining for years about air quality problems and getting nowhere.

Pandemic-home-schooling will never work in the context of trying to re-create school as it was online. Thus, is it really necessary for all the classroom teachers to be facilitating the in-person interactions? If the hybrid is done well, then only a small subset of teachers, the ones who are willing, could facilitate in-person interactions, outdoors, with masks, socially distanced.

Parents who homeschool often go through this very same frustration, when they realize how difficult it can be to set stuff in front of kids and expect them to do it. Instead of sending kids back to school to get someone else to make them do it, they typically reexamine the method of education and whether making kids learn that way served their student that well or was it just necessary because of the constraints of the brick-and-mortar model of education.

You don't have to become unschoolers to begin recognizing that students can learn better when they have more control over their time and how they learn. A lot of the frustration I see of parents now is because they think their child should be doing stuff and they feel THEY (parents) now are supposed to be making their child do that stuff.

Unless the approach to learning changes to one in which the child and family have more control and flexibility, and support for that -- and there are many articles now showing that some students are thriving because their schools have done this -- then parents are going to be frustrated feeling like their kids are not learning or doing what they are supposed to. Transitioning to letting students be in charge, and NOT making them do stuff, is one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling. The transition takes work and time. And has to be supported on the school end.

Teachers can do a lot to fix this by improving the quality of remote learning -- changing the paradigm -- students should not be spending long hours on Zoom or computer videos every day. College courses are a better model -- classes don't have to meet every day, and when they do, they should be focused on interpersonal interaction not on introducing the material.

This pandemic won't be forever. The distance learning hiatus can be an opportunity, if we approach it that way. It doesn't mean it will be an easy opportunity. One value of school as high-quality childcare and easily-accessed social space is something even many homeschoolers appreciate. I get that it's hard not to have that, believe me (we didn't homeschool at first by choice).

But we're heading into the cooler season, and as we are learning, the virus is not a joke and the national response has been lacking. I think it would be foolish not to listen to what such a majority of teachers are saying about both their health concerns and trust. As I keep saying, the hiatus can be an opportunity: if we CHOSE this, what could we be doing differently so that we look back with gratitude for the opportunities?


18 people like this
Posted by Ohlone parent & PAUSD graduate
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 4, 2020 at 9:16 pm

Ohlone parent & PAUSD graduate is a registered user.

The Board approved a reopening plan that doesn't follow the Santa Clara Dept. of Public Health guidelines on outdoor instruction. Our neighboring school district in Menlo Park prioritizes outdoor instruction. Why can't we?

* PAUSD plan: "Utilize other campus spaces for instructional activities (e.g., lecture halls, gyms, auditoriums, cafeterias, outdoors), as needed."

* Santa Clara Health guidelines: "Move as much instruction and as many activities as possible to outdoor spaces and other larger spaces to allow for greater distancing between students and greater dispersion of viral particles."

* Menlo Park plan: "Any in-person instruction that we provide will include as
much outdoors instruction time as possible. Assistant Principals will organize
outside instructional areas and encourage their regular use, weather
permitting."


10 people like this
Posted by Dick D.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Dick D. is a registered user.

I must note that I have not read the wonderful, many comments. Seems to me a couple of "data points" might be added to the dialog:

#1 trump – don't take care and end up with the disease; rub elbows, hug and kiss others who end up the same way. Does anyone know how to prevent this kind of behavior amongst our kids, even if they're not into that stuff, but do have lots of contact in the normal course of play.

#2 New York City – rush forward and then end up closing down many of the system's about 1700 schools;

an extra::::: – how many states rushed forward to "open up" have ended up reclosing.

I don't think we've got this thing in hand to move forward, especially given how far away from meeting the minimum requirements for doing this now. When the weather precludes further outdoor teaching are we going to stick kids and
teachers into room with lousy air systems, unplanned and addressed simple tasks such as student and teachers having to use the bathrooms . . .


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