News

With new, virtual school year around the corner, board to discuss special education

District hopes state will relax mandates to allow in-person instruction for students in need

Rani Rambo works with Jordan French, a behavior intervention coach with the Palo Alto Unified School District Extended School Year program at Greene Middle School on July 9. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Throughout the spring, parents of special-education students at Palo Alto Unified voiced concern about their children's experience with distance learning, difficulty accessing legally required support services while schools are closed and a lack of communication about the district's plans for the fall.

The school board will hear an update on special education on Tuesday, including the district's hope that the state relaxes its reopening mandates to allow small groups of students to return to campuses for in-person learning.

Palo Alto Unified will start the school year on Aug. 17 fully online and can only resume in-person instruction when Santa Clara County has been off the state's monitoring list for two weeks.

Starting this month, special education staff will connect with students synchronous on a daily basis, according to a staff presentation. Instructional aides will support students during small group work and also may meet virtually with students one-on-one. Students in academic support classes will meet with special education teachers "as indicated" on their individualized education plans.

Some specialized services will be provided through teletherapy, the presentation states. Education specialists will give weekly updates on students' progress to their families.

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The district briefly offered an in-person program for students with disabilities this summer before Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement about reopening requirements shut it down. Parents of participating children said they had been desperate for meaningful, in-person support and instruction.

Palo Alto Unified also is looking into whether PAUSD+, a new program the district came up with during the closures to provide in-person support to at-risk and struggling students, could open under guidance that applies to individual service providers, such as child care centers and after-school programs, rather than schools.

The program would offer a quiet place to work, internet access, adult supervision, tutoring and mental health check-ins for a small group of targeted students.

"The disruption of in-person learning and family conditions resulting from the pandemic can impact already existing disparities in educational outcomes as well as in the personal lives of students and families," a staff report notes about the driving force for PAUSD+.

The district does plan to offer a virtual version of the support program, including online tutoring and one-on-one support from trained coaches.

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The school board also will consider results from a survey that asked whether elementary school parents wanted to commit now to a full year of distance learning. Five percent of elementary students, or 243 students, will be attending school remotely for the entire year.

In other business, the board will discuss tentative agreements with the district's teachers and classified employees unions on working conditions for the new school year.

The virtual meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. View the full agenda here. The meeting will be broadcast on Cable TV Channel 28 and midpenmedia.org. Those wishing to participate by Zoom can do so by going to pausd.zoom.us/j/97888498129 or dialing 669-900-6833 and using Meeting ID: 949 9734 6242.

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With new, virtual school year around the corner, board to discuss special education

District hopes state will relax mandates to allow in-person instruction for students in need

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Aug 10, 2020, 10:43 am

Throughout the spring, parents of special-education students at Palo Alto Unified voiced concern about their children's experience with distance learning, difficulty accessing legally required support services while schools are closed and a lack of communication about the district's plans for the fall.

The school board will hear an update on special education on Tuesday, including the district's hope that the state relaxes its reopening mandates to allow small groups of students to return to campuses for in-person learning.

Palo Alto Unified will start the school year on Aug. 17 fully online and can only resume in-person instruction when Santa Clara County has been off the state's monitoring list for two weeks.

Starting this month, special education staff will connect with students synchronous on a daily basis, according to a staff presentation. Instructional aides will support students during small group work and also may meet virtually with students one-on-one. Students in academic support classes will meet with special education teachers "as indicated" on their individualized education plans.

Some specialized services will be provided through teletherapy, the presentation states. Education specialists will give weekly updates on students' progress to their families.

The district briefly offered an in-person program for students with disabilities this summer before Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement about reopening requirements shut it down. Parents of participating children said they had been desperate for meaningful, in-person support and instruction.

Palo Alto Unified also is looking into whether PAUSD+, a new program the district came up with during the closures to provide in-person support to at-risk and struggling students, could open under guidance that applies to individual service providers, such as child care centers and after-school programs, rather than schools.

The program would offer a quiet place to work, internet access, adult supervision, tutoring and mental health check-ins for a small group of targeted students.

"The disruption of in-person learning and family conditions resulting from the pandemic can impact already existing disparities in educational outcomes as well as in the personal lives of students and families," a staff report notes about the driving force for PAUSD+.

The district does plan to offer a virtual version of the support program, including online tutoring and one-on-one support from trained coaches.

The school board also will consider results from a survey that asked whether elementary school parents wanted to commit now to a full year of distance learning. Five percent of elementary students, or 243 students, will be attending school remotely for the entire year.

In other business, the board will discuss tentative agreements with the district's teachers and classified employees unions on working conditions for the new school year.

The virtual meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. View the full agenda here. The meeting will be broadcast on Cable TV Channel 28 and midpenmedia.org. Those wishing to participate by Zoom can do so by going to pausd.zoom.us/j/97888498129 or dialing 669-900-6833 and using Meeting ID: 949 9734 6242.

Comments

Common Sense
Registered user
Barron Park
on Aug 11, 2020 at 7:47 am
Common Sense, Barron Park
Registered user
on Aug 11, 2020 at 7:47 am
14 people like this

[Portion removed.]

I do strongly object to PAUSD doing this without a waiver. It seems (we will see tonight) PAUSD is trying to justify this by claiming (defying common sense) that PAUSD+ is a special program and does not count as "school." Or possibly because the groups are small. But by this logic, any school following "camp"-like rules could claim not to need a waiver. This is dubious, to say the least.

In-person education activities provided by the district need a waiver.

Please present this issue head-on, openly, and in conformance with waiver and in-person guidelines, if you believe in it. Please put a stop to our district's problems with openness, transparency, trust, and honestly. The continued erosion of trust is toxic in the long run. Please stop the spin.


Facts and Figures
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 11, 2020 at 12:56 pm
Facts and Figures, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Aug 11, 2020 at 12:56 pm
5 people like this

@Common Sense,

You already know the answer why the district is not applying for a waiver. It will get one, and then it can ask all K-6 students to be taught in-person live by district teachers.

By treating PAUSD+ as non-teaching, without the requirement of certificated staff, it will be using district facilities for non-teaching.

If it's doing this, it should offer childcare for ALL families who need it, perhaps at a scaled rate based on ability to pay. Childcare workers are not (yet) unionized and may want the work.

And, why not rent out the classrooms to families who are building pods. That will be the next logical step, won't it? Fremont is charging $1K per month for full day childcare. Will Palo Alto be next?

Seems like it's time for public charters in Palo Alto. Charters are PUBLIC schools with non-union staff and teachers.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Aug 11, 2020 at 1:07 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Aug 11, 2020 at 1:07 pm
4 people like this

[Portion removed.]
It looks like the program is designed for students that have special needs thus the title of the article:
With new, virtual school year around the corner, board to discuss special education.
Also, it looks like they ran something similar before it was shut down by Newsom:
The district briefly offered an in-person program for students with disabilities this summer.

I’m my opinion, it actually sounds like PAUSD is attempting to go above and beyond by trying to open this PAUSD+ program up for in person learning during a dangerous pandemic when the article states that this specific program will already be offered virtually. It sounds like their heart is actually in the right place. What benefit would PAUSD get out of doing this in person? It doesn’t sound like from the article that there is an associated fee for parents to get this service, so it doesn’t look like PAUSD will be making money off of this. It also looks like they are currently checking in to what they can and can’t do and would likely ask for a waiver if the program could be allowed.

It just kind of shows me that no matter what PAUSD tries to do, there will be some parents that have to find a way to get angry and complain about something. [Portion removed.]


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Aug 11, 2020 at 1:54 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Aug 11, 2020 at 1:54 pm
3 people like this

“Seems like it's time for public charters in Palo Alto. Charters are PUBLIC schools with non-union staff and teachers.”

More anti-union nonsense. Teachers will be working from home nice and safe because of current health recommendations on Newsom’s order. That’s good news. If the union had something to do with this behind the scenes, so be it. Please stop throwing unionized labor under the bus. Charter schools will always be available but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of unionized labor. If you aren’t happy with PAUSD or public schools in general, feel free to enroll your child into a Charter school.

“If it's doing this, it should offer childcare for ALL families who need it, perhaps at a scaled rate based on ability to pay. Childcare workers are not (yet) unionized and may want the work.”

PAUSD doesn’t have to offer “day care for all” because they are trying to find a way to offer in person services for children with special needs. They try to find a way to help out some families with some struggles and they get raked over the coals. You just can’t win with the amount of complaints. PAUSD doesn’t have to turn into a day care center. Instead of finding a way to complain, let it be. Maybe this could be a great program for children with special needs and that’s it.

“And, why not rent out the classrooms to families who are building pods. That will be the next logical step, won't it?“

No it’s not a logical step at all. The district will not support parent pods in any way, nor will they attempt to make money off of rent, and they will not want to take on any liability if Coronavirus exposure happens in those parent organized learning pods. Also, maybe they will attempt to get a waiver for the program. You don’t actually know that. You are just assuming.

In summary, PAUSD tries to run a nice program for children with special needs in person calling it PAUSD+ and this led to an anti-union/ pro-charter attack, and then a jump in logic of providing day care for ALL and rental space for parent organized learning pods. Can PAUSD possibly do anything without an angle open for a parent complaint?


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