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As Newsom cautions longer school closures, Palo Alto Unified passes emergency resolution in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Original post made on Mar 18, 2020

In the wake of Gov. Gavin Newsom's comments that schools will likely remain closed for the remainder of this academic year, the school board bolstered the district's response to the coronavirus.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 9:25 AM

Comments (36)

Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Mar 18, 2020 at 10:28 am

Why can't the district impose some consistency and uniformity in its distance offerings? Why not? The teacher's union's influence? How does that serve students? Many teachers are looking out for their students right now, but as usual, the district does not.

Posted by Don't do anything extra
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Mar 18, 2020 at 10:31 am

As usual, our board members speak gobbledy gook and defend mediocre to poor district practices.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 18, 2020 at 11:41 am

I’m glad to hear that the district is taking care of staff and everyone will still receive a paycheck during the closure. With so much uncertainty, that is one less thing for them to worry about.

Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Mar 18, 2020 at 11:42 am

Has the district looked into offering UC Scout a-g WASC and UC accredited courses for the high schoolers?

Posted by Palo Alto parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2020 at 1:31 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Palo Alto parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2020 at 1:35 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 18, 2020 at 1:49 pm

The UC-system offers fully accredited online courses directly from them, and they just made them FREE for all students due to the outbreak. It's called UC Scout Online.

There is a catch though. Your local public school needs to approve and allow you to do it. So to any high school kid who really wants to finish a class for your personal growth aspirations (in a sensibly designed online forum), feel free to look up UC Scout and ask PAUSD for approval.

Don't expect PAUSD to be helpful, though. They will likely say no, despite the state and UC's best efforts to help. They have said no to others. Saying yes slightly erodes the interests of their teachers' guild.

Posted by Meanwhile
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 18, 2020 at 2:17 pm

It would be nice if teachers weren't left to read about these updates from PAOnline...might explain the lack of uniformity.

Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Mar 18, 2020 at 2:19 pm

@Sally - actually you don't have to have the district's approval to do UC Scout; you can do your own course; you just have to pay ($800). But it's better if the district would facilitate it, of course. It seems that since UC Scout is free when you do go through your district, that PAUSD should facilitate offering UC Scout in this emergency instance, especially for equity reasons. UC Scout offers a-g courses and is WASC/UC accredited and online. I'm sure there must be other accredited offerings online as well.

What about it PAUSD? For our high schoolers?

Posted by Well
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 18, 2020 at 3:23 pm

That's good news, our leader can decide instead of going around in circles with them for weeks. Plus, they are avoiding any blame.

My son's teachers are just posting things to keep their minds busy, they are not posting actual assignments to finish out the year. Wouldn't this be fairly easy? Maybe they are working on it this week? The World Language program adopted last year is already a disaster (no textbooks, no homework, no way to study for tests) so my son isn't missing anything there.

Posted by Sally -- Important Info Before You Register Anywhere Online!
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 18, 2020 at 3:24 pm

@Independent -- You are correct one can enroll without approval, but NO ONE SHOULD ENROLL IN ONLINE CLASSES WITHOUT PAUSD APPROVAL.

Without PAUSD simply saying "yes" (it's not hard to say "yes" guys!), not only would UC Scout Online be $800 per semester versus FREE, but you couldn't be sure PAUSD would count them toward graduation.

The possibility that they would say "no" seems crazy, but is well grounded in how the district has behaved previously to protect its teachers' guild.

PAUSD has refused to allow these credits to count toward graduation (also baffling, since we aligned our graduation requirements to UC/CSU requirements, and these actually come FROM the UC/CSU system itself).

Come on PAUSD. This is easy. I'm not saying UC Scout Online (or anything else) should be the ONLY solution. Given the state of affairs, we need to allow kids multiple avenues to pursue their goals during these boring weeks and weeks stuck at home.

Posted by Meanwhile
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 18, 2020 at 3:46 pm

@Well: Teachers at Paly have been directed by the district to only post optional work/enrichment that takes no more than an hour for the week to complete. We've been told to ramp it up to 3 hours next week--still all optional with no impact on the grades.

Posted by Educator
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 18, 2020 at 3:47 pm

Teachers were informed of the closure at lunch time on Friday. There was no time during regular hours to prep for this week. The district sent home enough grade-level specific resources on Monday to get all students through at least this week. Teachers were not expected to provide anything for this week, and were discouraged from doing so, in order to maintain uniformity. On Friday we will regroup and plan for next week.

Everyone is doing the best they can in this new and unchartered territory, from the top down. Let's exercise a little patience and stop playing a blame game while people figure out what works best.

Posted by Well
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 18, 2020 at 3:51 pm

@Educator: Thanks for letting us know, that is what I was thinking, but no one told us. We were told that there was online "flexible learning", no real school work. Although, two weeks of it is technically Spring Break.

What about grades? My son was hoping to improve some grades. Are they frozen?

Posted by Well
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 18, 2020 at 3:54 pm

@Meanwhile: Thanks for the information.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2020 at 4:07 pm

I really can't believe that the machinery for this was not in place long ago. We have the real possibilities of earthquakes that could severely damage school buildings, roads to and from schools, fires, etc. This is Silicon Valley. This is a wealthy school district in a wealthy community.

Why haven't better preparations for disaster been put in place as soon as technology could do these things?

What has been going on in the past few weeks? Has there been nothing even possibly discussed that this may occur?

What goes on? Why we have spent the last X number of years hiring and firing superintendents and really not done anything at all about making ways for doing remote schooling. We have students who could have been benefiting from remote schooling while hospitalized or even the time comes to mind when the Volcano in Iceland kept a choir stranded in Europe because of a volcano eruption. Did these things never occur to anyone.

Anyway, too late for the what might have beens and ifs, but we are paying for the lack of preparedness. Of course hindsight is not a good way to look at this, but it is hard not to do so.

At least, perhaps, when the big one happens, PAUSD may have a little more experience and perhaps, just perhaps a better plan.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2020 at 4:30 pm

There will be nothing done ahead.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2020 at 4:45 pm

This is a disaster for juniors and seniors.

You have to have preapproval for classes. They will not count fora-g credit. You can have up to 4o units. It counts for his only . Even if a class has a-g honors credit they will not post in gpa. They will for AP classes.

These classes are not easy. Usc scout has endless homework and proctored tests and teacher contact time constraints. BYU has usc approved courses and us vet basic but you have to find and pay proctors. Paly will let you test but not now probably.

Many colleges do not really like the cheesy online classes.

Some colleges like u of Nebraska have hs college classes all big 10 schools take and these are cheap and decent and private colleges like these better than cheesy AP online classes because the teachers are credentialed. Keep the syllabus and text name and some work samples

Posted by Meanwhile
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 18, 2020 at 4:59 pm

@Well: Paly teachers have been told to turn in 3rd quarter grades (so everything prior to last Friday) by 3/24. As of now, nothing is being assigned after last Friday until after Spring Break--if we return. We haven't been told what do for semester grades yet or what to do if we don't return.

Posted by VH
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 18, 2020 at 5:43 pm

It has been a LOT for the administrators, teacher and students to take in, these past few days and I feel for all of them. That being said, I am hoping that PAUSD is taking this week and the next to cleanly figure out the distance-learning option. Agree with Resident comment above that it is hard to believe we do not have the machinery in place (in Silicon Valley!)... but that aside, I hope the solutions are coming soon.

This cannot be so hard ...I see a solution in three-parts:

1/ USE ZOOM. Easy to use and provides all functionality (chat, shared screens for teacher to teach, document sharing, easy video/audio options etc). Zoom has already offered free accounts to students and waiving the 40-mt limit on scheduled sessions, so the length of the classes can stay the same. I use Zoom everyday for my work, 100% remote and once you build the right culture and discipline of working with it, it is fantastic. (I am merely a consumer of this product, have no allegiance or connection to this company or product)

2/ STANDARDIZE THE PERIODS/SCHEDULES and TEACH THE SAME CONTENT TO ALL STUDENTS OF THE GRADE. Since this is distance-learning, rotate teachers or pick the best teacher to teach the class to all students at the same time. That way, all students get the best of all content. Schedules are easy. (This is even better than current situation where some students get better teachers than others :))

3/ USE THE REMAINING TEACHERS TO FILL THE GAPS w/ 1:1 or 1:many customized teaching for students with needs, flex/tutorial requirements, extra support.

As things get better and travel bans/lockdowns are lifted gradually, we could even have teachers come in to classes and welcome some students (who have trouble learning at home) to physically attend school - by limiting the class size drastically.

In the grand scheme of the types of complex issues that are being solved in the world, figuring out high-quality distance learning for PAUSD should not be an issue - happy to support/help in any way to re-envision this. Really hoping this is worked out soon, hope someone in PAUSD is reading all this and working out a good solution soon!

Be safe and well, everyone!

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2020 at 5:52 pm

One other point.

Where do we stand on a citywide wifi system?

If we had a citywide wifi, then any student who doesn't have internet at home/computer, could be lent a school laptop.

We really are behind the times. I am reading about how other places are so far ahead of us with their closed schools. It really is apparent just how last century we are here in Silicon Valley. Incredible really!

Posted by Roy M
a resident of Addison School
on Mar 18, 2020 at 8:21 pm

@VH. The district has Zoom. My daughter's teacher had 1:1's with all the kids and has scheduled a class meeting via Zoom, but nothing assigned yet. Because the district was so unprepared, it will take a couple of weeks for them to get caught up and there will be some trial and error as everyone figures out the best way to teach and learn using it.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2020 at 8:27 pm

Teaches should not use zoom until privacy and safety is secured

Posted by Just another parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 19, 2020 at 12:38 am

How about we consider everyone including teachers and admin as human beings for once. They are parents too, they may have loved ones left without a job or loved ones that have to continue to report to work whether remotely or physically, like doctors, nurses, store clerks etc. All those people risking their health for the well being of the rest. This is an ever changing catastrophe that NO ONE was prepared for, otherwise there would be zero casualties everywhere else.

You must trust the plan rather than bash every attempt. Without an attempt there is no success.

Posted by Parent
a resident of another community
on Mar 19, 2020 at 8:56 am

Hi, I know with all these school closures, I was worried about where to take my kids. But I found a company called WeeCare that found me childcare immediately!

I just hope that this gets resolved soon.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2020 at 9:17 am

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community

>> Teaches should not use zoom until privacy and safety is secured

Please be more specific. Since videoconferencing is generally "not necessarily private", then, teachers should not say things via videoconferencing that must be private. You never know what might be being (re)broadcast on the other end, or, who might be in the room behind the camera, or, -whatever-. Authentication can also be a problem -- do you really know who is on every connection?

On the other hand, anything in a common textbook is by definition "not private". Any common school subject is "not private". No reason why "Bellum Gallicum" can't be taught in Latin class. Or, to put it another way, if teachers and students are bringing a lot of personal stuff into Latin class, then, that will need to change in the age of Zoom.

Anything not appropriate for an open classroom situation needs to be saved for "later in private". Not every subject is appropriate for this kind of instruction-- e.g. sex education, health education in general, anything related to special ed, IEP reviews, etc. etc., will have to stay private, as they are now. Right now, that means being deferred. But, there is plenty of education to be done that doesn't need to be personal.

Posted by parents
a resident of Hoover School
on Mar 21, 2020 at 2:56 pm

Very disappointed on PAUSD through this crisis. Can teacher just record video class and send to parents at least everyday? Why other school districts already have daily online classes?

Posted by P2
a resident of Woodside
on Mar 21, 2020 at 5:25 pm

Woodside high school closed on Friday and started online classes 3 Days later on a Monday. Congrats to them. It’s tough on everyone but happy to see the effort.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2020 at 8:25 pm



Zoom violates privacy laws for children. Using it puts them at risk because the leadership can not watch teachers in real time . Certainly the won’t on zoom.

The teacher may be fine but her husband. Visitor uncle aunt might not be and they would have access. Same goes for kids . Their parents should not have access to other children while they are in a classroom but they will with zoom.

The notion that all teachers and all parents are nice us naive. The notion that zoom is secure for children is stupidity.

No thanks to mr what’s his face contacting my kid for office hours while they are doing a one on one in her room. Because the admin. Staff will not schedule classes during class time I have to wait again and know when each class is going. With a few kids, this is stupid to schedule and then impossible to keep track of. One screen shot shared or one discussion or bad post puts another lawsuit up.

Record lectures. Be available during the class and take notes on work sent through schoology .

Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 22, 2020 at 1:49 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Program Questions
a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2020 at 10:53 pm

UC Scout:
Is it really free? Under their "Plans & Pricing" page, there is more clarity as to who provides what. While it may be free to the student, it doesn't mean it's free to the district, especially if they are providing the teacher and other support resources. Time is money after all. At scale, the cost could drop to the district, but it's still not free.

How do you prevent students/parents from recording group interactions? Any parent or student who records the meeting could be violating other students' privacy, couldn't they?

What happens if a parent engages a teacher inappropriately in front of other students? A recording might be appropriate then, but how disruptive would that interaction be to students' learning? What would be appropriate consequences?

While an administrator could choose to monitor teleconferencing meetings by being notified and invited, would they realistically be able to monitor every single interaction? There isn't an expectation that they are able to do that in traditional, in-person school environments.

If a parent wants to visit an on site class, administration has been able to come as well to provide teacher or student safety (e.g. making sure parents are following guidelines about not being disruptive or violating security rules). With teleconferencing, any or every parent could be present for every class. What are the risks there?

How long before CPS is called by teachers who witness concerns? Parents better be on good behavior inviting mandatory reporters into their homes.

How are smaller group interactions documented? How could a student be protected from abuse by a staff member?

Since this is for minors--not adults working from home--there are *many* issues that need to be considered surrounding products like Zoom during this rush to adopt *something* to facilitate more comprehensive distance learning. Some clear expectations and consequences should be set for students and their guardians/parents in an attempt to protect families and district staff alike.

Posted by Scouter
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 26, 2020 at 4:15 pm


I understand your frustration over the current events that impact your children. As a member of the UC Scout team I can assure you we are doing all we can to help. Schools and teachers are often surprised that UC Scout offers free online curriculum, but we do. We have 65 A-G courses including 26 AP courses. Each course consists of video lectures, assignments, quizzes, tests, and more. Different options include:

PLUS is the best option for teachers and schools dealing with shutdowns. We give any of our 65 courses to the school AND/OR teacher to administer. We do not teach the class, the normal school's teacher teaches the course. Since we have pre-existing high-end video lectures for every unit, this makes the teachers job manageable. That teacher can determine which elements of our packaged course to include for his/her students. The students and teacher connect via Canvas, our online learning management system. This program is built for ease of use. However, we are running webinars for teachers who still aren't comfortable or familiar with our system.

ON DEMAND - you can take one of the 65 courses directly through UC Scout. UC Scout provides the teacher and course credit. We can send this credit to the college of your choice. The cost is $399/per student/ per semester, which covers the costs associated with our teachers, resources, and technology. As mentioned by previous comments, the key exams: midterms and finals are proctored. This is used for academic integrity to make sure our students are indeed taking the tests. We are fully accredited and we take our academic integrity very seriously.

BASIC for teachers - Teachers can use Basic in the same way they can use PLUS except that the students don't have access to the course via the UC Scout online learning management system. The teacher can print assignments, show videos in class, etc. But this option doesn't seem like the best option for schools or teachers given the current circumstances. It is, however, also free to public schools and teachers.

BASIC for students - California public school students can have free access to our educational videos for all 65 courses for self-study. No credit is provided, but it's useful for studying various A-G courses or preparing for AP exams.

I welcome anybody interested to google our website and/or reach out to us with questions. Thank you!

Posted by Scouter
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 26, 2020 at 4:19 pm

p.s. In case it wasn't clear, yes, PLUS from UC Scout is 100% free for California public school and teachers.

Posted by PALY Student
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2020 at 10:29 pm

I am so angry at PAUSD forcing all students to have pass/fail grades. As a junior who had straight As the first quarter, I feel like all of my hard work has gone to waste and my grades will seem inferior to other applicants do my second semester grades not contributing to my GPA. I wish that Pass/Fail grading would be optional and that students could choose to receive grades. Also, many of my peers are becoming unmotivated because of the pass/fail system, and many are taking it as an opportunity to not learn and watch TV all day.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2020 at 7:10 am

Paly student

Screenshot all your grades

Keep a few good samples of your work

Offer it to colleges inotes or mention this in your essay.

Then hi watch sone tv and rest.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2020 at 9:38 am

Paly Student - read the reply I posted to you on the comment you made in the thread about the cost of sheltering. I don't think I need to post it twice.

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