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Palo Alto Unified's youngest students return to school with a new set of norms

Original post made on Oct 12, 2020

About 650 transitional kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade students went back to campus in person on Monday following weeks of heated debate over the pace and safety of reopening schools.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, October 12, 2020, 5:47 PM

Comments (22)

35 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2020 at 9:55 pm

PAUSD Parent is a registered user.

What a long, strange road it’s been —

Phased, science based approach, yes! PAUSD has it covered. ♥️❤️♥️❤️


18 people like this
Posted by ;)
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2020 at 11:14 pm

;) is a registered user.

Looks great! As long as working parents don't send their sick kids to school, it should work out well. Anyone who sneezes should be sent home. Allergy season is almost over with the first frost so can't use that excuse. With masks, wonder if less people will catch colds and other viruses this year.


35 people like this
Posted by Thank you, Teachers.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2020 at 10:36 am

Thank you, Teachers. is a registered user.

This has to be really hard for the teachers and the children. Please know our gratitude. Be well. Thank you!


32 people like this
Posted by PA Last to Open
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2020 at 12:04 pm

PA Last to Open is a registered user.

The rest of the country's schools are already open, in person, many 4-5 days a week. Even SF already back to school in person. Look outside Palo Alto/SCC and you will see the rest of the country, the world in fact, has already moved forward in a safe and sustainable manner that does not destroy communities and sacrifice our kids isolated at home falling behind based on unfounded parent/teacher fear and histrionics. Our teachers are not doing anyone a special "favor" by going to work. It's their job. In the meantime, teachers are supported by thousands of other workers who have been doing their jobs non-stop since March. Just ask your local grocery workers whose kids have been stuck at home and they will tell you that they feel like second class citizens: like the grocery workers taking graveyard shifts so they can be at home doing Distance Learning with their young kids during the day, getting maybe 2-3 hours/sleep a day if they're lucky (yes I talk to my local grocery store workers who are actual human beings). Yet the teachers keep eating and grocery shopping! (Nowhere else are teachers unions given this much power. It's a travesty.) As a person related to someone with first hand experience traveling all over the US in over 30 states since March (essential medical services) it's a fact that PA schools are way behind. In fact, I know over 20 CA families who moved to other states, or went to private schools, so their kids could get back to school and play their sports. People who live in PA think this 100% online school is normal. It is NOT. The rest of the country has moved forward educating their students. It's unethical to keep students at home any longer. Almost 20,000 medical professionals, led by Stanford and Harvard doctors, are leading the effort against these destructive lockdowns which harm so many kids. Wake up PA! SJ Mercury 10/12/2020 "Coronavirus Stanford Docturs Among Leaders of Global Anti Lockdown Movement".

Web Link


21 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

@PA Last to Open,

I have not checked all your facts, but please hold this school board accountable for this slow movement and lack of preparation.

Vote for 3 NEW board members who will make decisions based on facts.

Red Tier means schools should reopen, not wait until January for secondary. These students and their families are by law supposed to get the option of in person instruction.


21 people like this
Posted by PA Last to Open
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2020 at 1:33 pm

PA Last to Open is a registered user.

@ Facts and Figures: Agree 100%!

Thank you for mentioning how to take action (you are always a voice of reason). Yes, VOTE for 3 NEW board members who will make decisions based on facts and get ALL our K-12 kids back to school in person.

And sending secondary kids to school for ONLY two days in person starting January for the rest of the school year is NOT supported by facts. Schools all over Europe and U.S. are in person, some masks, some not, not 6ft apart, are in school full time. And by the way, I myself am a teacher and the union does NOT speak for me. I want my students back in person like the rest of the country.


13 people like this
Posted by Curious Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 13, 2020 at 2:11 pm

Curious Parent is a registered user.

@PA Last to Open.

Today, Santa Clara county improved to the next tier (orange) based on the continuing drop in covid rates. PA covid rates are really, really low (knock on wood). For comparison, French schools have mostly been open since the beginning of Sept and the French covid rate is roughly 5x the Santa Clara County covid rate and 15x the Palo Alto covid rate. German schools have mostly been open since early August and German covid rate is roughly 30% higher than Santa Clara county and 4x the Palo Alto Covid rate. New York city schools have recently returned and the covid rate in NYC is roughly 2x Santa Clara County and 6x Palo Alto. The list goes on and on. With nearly 8 billion people in the world affected, there will undoubtedly be countless incidents of ongoing covid breakouts in different communities, but we certainly have enough data now to start making data driven decisions.

While I have been disappointed that the teacher's union has been so risk-averse to returning to work, I have been impressed with the hard work of the teachers in the current environment. My kids are learning, although certainly with some big tradeoffs. Starting school in January is better than staying in distance learning for the entire year.


46 people like this
Posted by Anony Mouse
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2020 at 3:25 pm

Anony Mouse is a registered user.

So weird to see this constant comparison with grocery workers. God bless, but does a grocery worker spend 4-6 hours per day with the same set of customers in a small space? Oh and some of those customers don't know how to follow COVID protocols? Save your weird comparison. It doesn't work.

A question for the Weekly: Do you have any sources who are inside and can tell you about the stress and pain and chaos among staff, teachers and admins? There's more to this than the happy talk express that is PAUSD admin. It would be nice to see some reporting that goes a little deeper.


22 people like this
Posted by Clarification
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 13, 2020 at 5:25 pm

Clarification is a registered user.

@Anony...same! Would like to see a comparison between the publicly published documents on the district website and the proposals put forth by the union. Also, any chance of a public records request of emails to see the response to concerns sent to the board and district admin?


46 people like this
Posted by Educator
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:03 pm

Educator is a registered user.

The following local districts are not returning yet, with the majority pledging to not return until January, so I’m not sure why you say Palo Alto is last:

San Jose Unified
Campbell Union
Redwood City Union
Santa Clara Unified
Mountain View Whisman
Sunnyvale
Cupertino Union
Fremont Unified
Saratoga Union
Los Gatos Union
Ravenswood
Belmont Redwood Shores

The list goes on.




21 people like this
Posted by Orange tier now
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2020 at 9:11 pm

Orange tier now is a registered user.

Palo Alto cases have been extremely LOW comparing to other cities in Santa Clara County: cumulative cases: Palo Alto 312 cases, San Jose 14,994, Santa Clara 1,066, Mountain View 618, Cuperino 136...... I don't agree our middle and high school students are not allowed to have in-person learning this year. Families should have a choice staying online learning or in-person learning. Most private schools got the waivers to return students back to school campuses.
Web Link

Congrats to younger kids. Please wear masks and keep distancing and don't send sick kids to schools. Let's keep the cases LOW that our older kids can go back to school. Thank you


11 people like this
Posted by Amy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 13, 2020 at 10:13 pm

Amy is a registered user.

Orange Tier Now:
Unfortunately East Palo Alto which is definitely a part of our very local community has not faired as well as Palo Alto. In fact it’s startling how much more prevalent this pandemic has been in our neighboring East Palo Alto community. Palo Alto has a case count of 466/100k people. Palo Alto has a case count of 13,000/100k people. So when we think about spread in our local geographic area, I think it’s important to also consider East Palo Alto even though it’s not captured in the Santa Clara County number. Here are the sources. Note that the San Mateo County dashboard tracks per 10k people so you have to multiply to get per 100k.

Web Link

Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by Air Quality IQ
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2020 at 1:25 am

Air Quality IQ is a registered user.

"an industrial air purifier whirred loudly in the background. The district purchased $400,000 worth of air purifiers from Georgia, according to Board President Todd Collins, for classrooms whose HVAC systems aren't yet up to airflow standards."

"Industrial" air purifiers should not be loud. They should be large enough to generate the air flow to clean classroom air without causing too much noise.

The air purifiers are a positive step, but I hope this isn't another one of those window-dressing efforts -- I hope the teacher's union will check to make sure the filters are rated for the spaces they're in, I wouldn't trust the district to ensure they are.

Isn't this interesting that they can buy filters for Covid but not for kids and teachers who got chronic bronchitis from the musty old buildings? Again, my concern would be that the studied ignorance about air quality from the past will carry forward into this. If teachers are worried, please stay on top of ensuring the campuses have good air quality management.


14 people like this
Posted by PA Last to Open
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2020 at 11:20 am

PA Last to Open is a registered user.

@ Educator: "The following local districts are not returning yet, with the majority pledging to not return until January, so I’m not sure why you say Palo Alto is last".

Know the facts. Make rational comparisons.

Fact: In California as of 10/12/2020 exactly 957 Private Elementary Schools alone have received waivers for opening. Here is a link to the Calif Dept of Public Health schools with a complete list of current approved waivers. These waivers were approved beginning August 12. Two months ago! This does not even include all the secondary private schools that have received waivers to open. And other schools utilizing a loophole to open by recategorizing as "daycare". There are THOUSANDS of CA schools already open.

Web Link

Rational Comparisons: As far as secondary, in case my post wasn't perfectly clear, PA secondary schools opening in January are absolutely in the running for last in the entire country, U.S.A., and last in the world to open (where they have much higher case counts in other cities, in SCC, and other countries). See "Curious Parent" for examples of case counts in other countries where schools are already open, and "Orange tier now" for examples of case counts in other SCC cities compared to PA. Comparing PA schools opening/closing dates to other schools in the same county, SCC, schools under the same conservative SCC Health Officer and therefore same health orders, including many cities with much MUCH higher case counts than Palo Alto, is irrational.

PA elementary and secondary should both be open now. January is absurd. The effect on students/families of 100% online is unconscionable, a Gunn student has already committed suicide, and far more work and exhausting for secondary teachers. As a teacher, I encourage parents to Vote for Board Members who will get your kids back in our classrooms. Isolation is dangerous for teens for many reasons outlined by our own SCC Health Officer in published reports from the SCC Health Dept. and many Health Experts around the world (see previous post with link to info from Stanford, Harvard Health Experts).


9 people like this
Posted by Air Quality IQ
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2020 at 12:41 pm

Air Quality IQ is a registered user.

"$400,000 worth of air purifiers from Georgia, according to Board President Todd Collins, for classrooms whose HVAC systems aren't yet up to airflow standards.""

Delving a little deeper, isn't that an awful lot of classrooms that "aren't yet up to airflow standards"? And why weren't they? The district has deflected complaints about air quality problems in our schools that are serious enough to cause higher levels of illness and absenteeism in our schools, both from asthma AND infectious diseases, for DECADES. Such air quality problems are associated with higher rates of absenteeism (and depression), lower student performance than with better air quality, and increased district liability. All things being equal, you can dramatically raise test scores just with proper ventilation. And they are recognizing the need to do something about bringing things up to "standards" only now?

I hate to criticize because of our district office's well-known habit of doing self-destructive things that hurt our students and families when they want to cover up rather than do the right thing, but a tenet of effective air quality management is transparency and two-way communication. I know of teachers who are afraid to talk about their school-site-induced asthma. I certainly know families who were tormented out of the district for trying to improve air quality in the schools here. I know teachers who suffered pneumonia from outbreaks that didn't have to happen if the air quality had been brought to "standards." This is another way that the trust issue comes into play in what's happening here.

The filters are a good step. Yay. But they were a lot of money, and they shouldn't be loud. If they aren't rated for the spaces or designed properly, if the spaces are still problematic from past water condensation/ intrusion problems that were never adequately remediated (if it smells musty/moldy, the research says you have a problem, period), then the filters alone will not be enough to ensure healthy indoor air quality. By healthy indoor air quality, I mean not increasing the likelihood of infections going around, including Covid.


10 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 14, 2020 at 2:36 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I was at Town and Country and gazed across at the fancy upgraded Paly campus my taxpayer dollars help paid to upgrade. Huge theater, large outside attractive spaces. Surely some classes can be held outside there!? Use this huge space!


21 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2020 at 4:42 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

@PA Last to open:

1. You stated total misinformation that “PA is the last to open” and that “all schools around the country have already opened.” Then comically you tell EDUCATOR who proved you WRONG with a whole list of public school districts that aren’t open to “know the facts and make rational comparisons.” Then you point to private schools and waivers and that nonsense. Just admit YOU were wrong. Not ALL schools are open. Educator and other readers of your comments aren’t mind readers and shouldn’t be expected to magically “know the facts and make rational comparisons” and be scolded by you when YOU were actually wrong. Then even more comically you further qualified your initial statement a second time that secondary schools in PA would be last if they reopen in January. Clean it up. Also, the schools using a daycare loophole to open doesn’t actually mean those schools are open in full. A lot of those schools may be open in a small capacity to serve some students in need. Again, know the facts and make rational comparisons please. Finally, high schools are opening last because the claim is that “little kids don’t spread the virus but high school kids do as much as the adults.” I think “the little kids don’t spread it” is nonsense but that’s the reasoning.

2. Our teachers are not doing anyone a special "favor" by going to work. It's their job.

As a teacher yourself it’s absolutely shameful to say this. Teachers have been working online very hard to provide distance learning and are doing their jobs by providing education online. No one says it’s the same but we are in a pandemic. As a teacher yourself, do not blame the teachers.

3. “SCC, schools under the same conservative SCC Health Officer and therefore same health orders, including many cities with much MUCH higher case counts than Palo Alto, is irrational.”

Now blame the health officials for trying to do their jobs in an unprecedented situation because it doesn’t agree with your take on things. Also, what about the rates in EPA? Maybe take a look and it won’t appear to be so conservative.

4. “Nowhere else are teachers unions given this much power. It's a travesty. /And by the way, I myself am a teacher and the union does NOT speak for me. I want my students back in person like the rest of the country.”

As a teacher yourself, please now give up all of your other union benefits fought for by your teachers union since you think it’s a travesty and since the union does not speak for you.

5. “Schools all over Europe and U.S. are in person, some masks, some not, not 6ft apart, are in school full time.”

Please stop citing other countries where transmission rates are lower than the US. Also, if students return they must wear masks and stay socially distanced. What are you promoting here? Of course even if students do magically follow these rules at school(which they won’t), we all know the social activities will increase after school anyway.

6. Finally, this: Wake up PA! SJ Mercury 10/12/2020 "Coronavirus Stanford Docturs Among Leaders of Global Anti Lockdown Movement".

This movement has been discredited. This link for “The Great Barrington Declaration“ that first disgustingly promotes the unethical “herd immunity” strategy which would kill millions and second that has been widely discredited and signed by a bunch of fake names like (Dr. Johnny Bananas!!)Here is the link:

Web Link

Finally, here is the link about why The Great Barrington Declaration strategy you are posting is so dangerous:

Web Link

Finally, facts and figures is not “the voice of reason.” That poster just has a similar “schools
must reopen“ take like you do. That’s fine but it doesn’t make them a “voice of reason.”


16 people like this
Posted by PA Last to Open
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2020 at 5:36 pm

PA Last to Open is a registered user.

@ Voice of Palo Alto: "As a teacher yourself, do not blame the teachers."

Unless someone is a teacher, they should stay in their lane. I, as a teacher, have a right to my opinion, which by the way is not unique. There are MANY secondary teachers who I know personally who are anxious to get back to school in person and have not signed the PAEA Union's fear-not-fact-based Petitions which they disagree with.

I had a bet with a friend how long it would take The Voice of Palo Alto to post in response to several posters' facts (data from PA, SCC, and the world) and claim they are all wrong (which is false): such as the number of private elementary schools open in CA as stated by the CA Dept of Education (fact), cases higher in some European countries than SCC yet schools open for months (fact), cases higher in other CA cities where schools are open (fact), etc. Par for the course. Personally, I would never presume to speak as the voice of an entire city. Particularly if I did not have kids in school or and was not a teacher.

[Portion removed.]


29 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2020 at 6:21 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by JLS_Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 17, 2020 at 5:29 pm

JLS_Parent is a registered user.

Is there a reason why we cannot have the kids and teachers submit to weekly testing as a condition for safe return? In fact, if this pandemic continues into next fall and we don’t have wide spread vaccination then shouldn’t we start thinking more and more about rapid testing as part of the protocol for safe return to school?


11 people like this
Posted by In Person Option Please!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2020 at 1:41 pm

In Person Option Please! is a registered user.

We are now in ORANGE tier. Experts (let’s believe in science and data) now say it’s safe to reopen classrooms with safety precautions. There should be no debate now that parents can now CHOOSE an in-person option for their kids. People who disagree with the experts or who have immune-compromised relatives living at home, etc. can continue with distance learning option (and teachers who have health issues can continue to teach in online format). Yes, this take more work and coordination for staff, but EDUCATION SHOULD BE #1 PRIORITY.


12 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2020 at 2:12 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

@JLS Parent,

There is a group of parents pushing for on site testing a schools, but they have been told by PaUSD that PAUSD can't require it. I'm not sure that this is exactly right. MY guess is PAUSD can require it, but it can't be a forced payment (like sports).

Public universities all over the country are requiring testing to be allowed to attend class. I don't know why public K-12 can't require the same. But those universities are paying for testing.

Surely, we could create fund to pay for those whose insurance will not fund the testing if it will get kids back to school.

Saliva testing 2x per week would be cheap and fast. It is not 100% accurate, but speed and frequency help.


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