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District wants to bring elementary students back for full, in-person school days

Original post made on Jun 10, 2020

The school district is aiming to bring all elementary school students back to campuses in person this fall, though their classrooms will look vastly different.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 10, 2020, 9:44 AM

Comments (71)

25 people like this
Posted by Ugur Ayan
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jun 10, 2020 at 10:32 am

I dont think that it is a qood solution. Health is more important then education.
I dont want my kids to die. Sorry but I cannot send my kids if the environment is not healthy.


29 people like this
Posted by Bill Kirsch
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 10, 2020 at 11:29 am

I appreciate the challenge schools are facing with the pandemic, but how can you expect kinders and 1st graders to maintain social distance at school? Not realistic.


55 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 10, 2020 at 11:35 am

PAEA (the teacher's union) and PAUSD are proposing to offer only 40% of pre covid instruction to HS and MS students. Web Link This is not acceptable.

We parents ask for live streaming, synchronous PAUSD teacher instruction --- simply live stream the instruction, and record that instruction, for posting and later viewing, so students may receive instruction while at home, and so each class meeting advances the curriculum, so that year long course curriculums may be completed. No additional teacher planning is required to just live stream instruction being given. Other CA schools are doing it, Anaheim Union HS and Westlake Charter for example. Foothills College. Kehillah does it. Placentia- Yorba Linda Unified plans to offer it in the fall. Why not PAUSD? It's not a money or technical issue; those other schools already do it. Even PAUSD already does it with Don Austin's webinars. How will offering only 40% of instruction help students of equity?


52 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 10, 2020 at 11:45 am

Months and months into this, we are somehow caught still flat-footed and without a multi-pronged plan with options for parents... sigh...

"Time is not on our side." At this point in the process, I don't think it's reasonable to argue that time is what is holding our district back.


21 people like this
Posted by AVG
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 10, 2020 at 11:47 am

Thank goodness. As a parent of a high schooler and an elementary student, and an educator of many years, I agree with this plan. Online and pre-recorded instruction removes the context and relationships that are crucial to learning for my kids and, in my opinion, for most kids. I know that online, recorded instruction sounds good in theory to parents; to those of us actually doing it, however, we saw that many kids did not engage in the online instruction. I witnessed this myself over and over when I joined my teachers' Google Meets. For those that don't feel comfortable sending their kids to school, there will be an online option. I know some staff won't feel comfortable returning to regular school just yet, so I think that's our district's next thing to address.


28 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 10, 2020 at 11:56 am

@ AVG: it's easy to fail at doing distance learning when you don't even try to succeed --- students are scheduled to be at home 3 days/week in PAUSD's proposed 'hybrid' scenario. Students need instruction and it can be provided, by live streaming the instruction in the physical classroom, and providing a recording of that instruction for later viewing.

This isn't an either in person or online decision --- PAUSD needs to provide ALL channels of instruction, especially when it's the primary means of instruction --- 3 days/week at home versus 2 days/week in person at school. And what happens when a student is quarantined? What happens when a classroom or school has to be closed due to outbreak? What about students with underlying health conditions who can't attend school physically? Their education need not be compromised. Robust live synchronous instruction along with recorded instruction for later viewing is required to educate our students, along with in person instruction, assuming in person instruction is possible, rather than the HS students teach themselves model PAUSD used in the spring.


27 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:02 pm

@Sally - good point. I mean, most other districts in the region, state, and country have their fall plans all worked out - you can read everywhere about their plans!

All they are being asked to do is to teach the same kids, some in person, some online (no one knows how much of each), in classes that are half the size, in rotating shifts, with a ton of evolving hygiene and physical distance rules, using teachers who are scared of catching COVID. And by the way, there will probably be random shutdowns of individual schools or whole regions, so make sure to cover that scenario. Why would they need to wait for state and county health department rules or things like that - this stuff is easy!

The only "easy" solution would be all online - which would be a disaster for most kids.


33 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:13 pm

@Independent [portion removed],

Yes, video streaming would be so easy. After all, high school classes are almost entirely teachers standing in the front of the room lecturing - they never move or anything, and all the students do is sit, listen, and take notes. It's so engaging and wonderful! There's never any discussion, or working with classmates, or smaller group work, or labs, or asking questions and getting explanations, or anything like that. And handling an online and in-person audience at the same time - who can't do that?? We'll just put that "sage on the stage" and let the camera do the work!

Why don't they listen to your completely obvious solutions? Do they hate kids? Or are they just lazy? Or have all the school board members and administrators been captured by the unions (which are both lazy AND hate kids)? Thank goodness someone has such good, constructive suggestions and is so effective at persuading people to follow them! With skills like that, you should run for school board!


44 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:14 pm

Please take a look at local privates, and neighboring publics. I'm not saying it is easy of course, but we are lagging. Kids who need the most are hurt the most.

Multi-pronged plans provide optionality (for the district) for whatever future may lie ahead, as well as flexibility for the various needs of different families.

At this point, many months in, we could / should review the models that have out-performed us... and pick the best, with multiple back-up or blended models to pick and choose and blend from as facts warrant. We re-invent everything, always, and rarely for the better.


10 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:49 pm

Students need access to the SAME instruction ANYWHERE and ANY TIME. Why can't we stream and record the teachers' lectures? Why are we acting like all kids should be treated like we're in a setting like we don't have resources? Hold ALL kids back so kids having access to the internet get an unfair advantage?

If not, parents will do what they have done for years. They'll send their kids to school sick so their kids won't miss school. If a sibling is sick first you KNOW that the other kids will get the illness. What's to keep a parent from sending their kid if they're asymptomatic?


25 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:55 pm

@Sally - I have looked, have you? Please show me any district, anywhere, that has a "multi-pronged plan with options for parents" for this fall. Just one. I'll wait.

Yeah, private schools, good point - they are single schools, with no state regulations, with revenue of $40K per student (vs. $19K at PAUSD), with non-unionized teachers, and self-selecting, almost entirely middle and upper class kids. Public schools should just do what they do! If those private school people were in change, this would be done in a snap!

"Just pick the best" - it's so easy, like shopping on Amazon! Sure, schools were closed all spring and now everyone is trying to go back with hybrid models that have never been done before - but we can just look at "what worked" and pick! How are these board members and district people so dumb? Just ask Sally for heaven's sake!


21 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Here are just a few examples of schools doing live synchronous instruction and recorded instruction:
Anaheim Union HS (Public)
Westlake Charter School (Public)
Kehillah Jewish HS (Private)
Foothills College (Public)
CSUs (Public)

For fall, Placentia - Yorba Linda Unified (Public) joins the above in providing ALL channels of instruction, live synchronous instruction, recorded instruction, and in person if that is possible.

These schools have pivoted to provide instruction at home --- rather than the little to no instruction, teach themselves model PAUSD employed for HS students in the spring.

BTW, in response to the comment above, private school teachers make less than public school teachers, and have less generous benefits. Check St. Francis or Castilleja employment listings.


29 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:14 pm

"Students need access to the SAME instruction ANYWHERE and ANY TIME" - the only way to deliver that is by going to the lowest common denominator, which is all online instruction. It would certainly be easier for districts - unfortunately it would be a disaster for kids.

Anyone who thinks that high school classes consist of straight-up lectures hasn't been to high school in a while. Without interaction, there's limited engagement; without engagement, there's limited learning. If that model worked, residential colleges would be out of business and MOOCs would rule the world!





15 people like this
Posted by Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:22 pm

@Parent - Have the teachers even tried putting a camera on themselves? How about we try and then figure out how to make it work. A good time to try that out would have been this past quarter when grades didn't matter.

Teachers can still lecture and have discussions with their classes on Zoom. Last I checked nearly every company in the country is operating via teleconferencing.

Teachers can record a lesson and have the students watch the video, then during class time they have a Zoom call to discuss and go over questions.

Sometimes people make it sound like the teachers are fully engaged with each and every student in their class. How is it then that so many students are on their phone or vaping in class? How much time does a teacher spend walking around the classroom engaging all of the students vs. standing in front and lecturing and having discussions or Q&A?

If there are classes that need more in class time, then that can be adjusted. But, for a math, science (most), English, social studies and language class to name a few, having a camera and a white board will go a long way and I'm sure there are many other classes that can done through distance learning.

The bigger issue, in my opinion is not even the online vs in person. It's the quality of the online instruction. At a minimum, online instruction should be at a set time over a Zoom call with a fully engaged teacher. That did not happen last quarter. For the district to not be able to commit, at a minimum, to online classes with teachers present and a set schedule tells me that they are not prepared for what's coming in the fall. To be ordering sinks to wash hands, in June, instead of two months ago, solidifies that opinion.


31 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:24 pm

@Independent [portion removed],

Wow, that's a powerful list of examples - a tiny private school, a charter school, two COLLEGES, and a low-performing district in Orange County. Lots of great examples that PAUSD should be able to follow!

The question isn't whether you could do online classes - MOOCs could rule the world someday, so easy! It's just a Zoom meeting for heaven's sake! Just let the camera do the work!

The question is whether the kids will actually learn that way - be engaged, do the work, absorb the knowledge, etc. Please check in with Anaheim Union on that - they were pretty low performing before, but maybe now that they have online instruction, things have improved!

There are certainly good ideas out there, but this is not a constructive approach.


13 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:36 pm

Leaving them to absorb learning without any instruction is not ok. And teachers are there to provide instruction. If the district and teacher's union agree to a 3 days/week at home, 2 days/week in person schedule, students need to continue receiving instruction while at home, not just teach themselves.

It can be done. It is being done. By public schools, and by public community colleges.


22 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:47 pm

@Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained

"The bigger issue, in my opinion is not even the online vs in person. It's the quality of the online instruction."

Unfortunately, reality doesn't line up with your opinion. Online schools uniformly underperform in-person schools. This is especially true in K-12, where school is obligatory. Many kids are less motivated and less engaged already - they "do school" so they can hang out with their friends. If you take away the friends and the in-person connection with the teacher, it's going to be brutal.

"For the district to not be able to commit, at a minimum, to online classes with teachers present"

They have done that. They've said over and over there will be a 100% online option for the families who want it. They are ALSO trying to put together a hybrid model, for the 75% majority of families who said in the school survey they wanted that. That's what the struggle is about.

"To be ordering sinks to wash hands, in June..."

My understanding they were ordered in early May, when it became clear there was a path to re-opening in the fall (Newson's "open in July" comment was on Apr 28).


Ultimately they will try something they've never done before - that's by definition. They are trying to AVOID the all-online option you are suggesting, since it is the model that experienced professionals are saying will work the least well. The EASIEST thing would be to just do that - it would shut up some opinionated people and let them just do one thing. Rather than choose that path, they, along with most other districts, are trying to find and something better.


29 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:49 pm

@parent

This is the last I will post, as I fear the tone has turned fruitless for either of us, and few people other than us likely care. You sound like an administrator under a lot of pressure, with a lot of stress, who cares a lot. Take a deep breath, and keep doing your best.

I would add / reply only that you have high schoolers, right now, who are providing live instruction (and later access to the recordings) to other students over the summer. Complete with assignments, resources, personal feedback on work, via email and live online.

Of course, those students don’t have many constraints that you have. But they are also high schoolers. They also have zero budget and zero admin support. We are awash in resources and expertise. Let’s agree to marshal them to best support learning in the coming year, to the best we know how.

Elementary is different too, of course. Be ready for pivots, though, at all levels. I beg you!

Good luck. Signing off (for this thread anyways)


16 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:51 pm

"It can be done. It is being done. By public schools"

@Independent, yep, keep on saying that. If you repeat it enough, some people are bound to think it is right. Is it working? Who cares, we want simple solutions that sound good! Unfortunately, slogans don't really do much for students.


15 people like this
Posted by Rachyl
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 10, 2020 at 2:06 pm

While students in Palo Alto are now out of school for summer, many children in Europe (including Germany, France, and Austria) have resumed attending school and are currently in classrooms. Iceland and Sweden schools have remained open through the pandemic. Taiwan never shut down its schools or economy through the pandemic. PAUSD should be studying their Covid-19 case counts and methods.

Sources:
Web Link
Web Link


17 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 10, 2020 at 4:41 pm

@ Rachyl,
Yes, and other places have opened their schools and had to close again because of clusters among students.
1. Montreal:
Web Link
2. Israel:
Web Link
3. Oh, and about France:
Web Link

While online instruction is not ideal for everyone right now, we need to accept that it will likely be the reality this fall. Sending kids to school could jeopardize their safety, the safety of teachers, and the safety of others in the community.


19 people like this
Posted by John Hicks
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2020 at 4:41 pm

@Parent-Quickly, I am happy someone else besides me has hopped in and has pushed back on the misinformation (like when they actually ordered the sinks) and other nonsense that some of these parents spread in this forum. Sure let’s be mind readers and order those sinks BEFORE updated health orders and Newsom’s statements. Sure! Sally can be maddening, but all of her posts take on the same structure. She uses words like “optionality” and “multi-pronged” to sound like she’s an authority figure with all of the solutions, but it always just leads into her usual “PAUSD isn’t good enough, fast enough, never meets her expectations, and private schools do it better” nonsense. Meanwhile PAUSD is the #1 school district in California so they must be doing SOMETHING right. Independent is a little obsessed about what he deemed to be not enough quality instruction during distance learning so essentially he repeats variations of the same posts also.
I have read through your posts and I just wanted to clarify, what kind of fall return would you like to see?


3 people like this
Posted by Where’s the public health officer
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 10, 2020 at 5:40 pm

Oh my. I thought schools would have public health requirements like retail stores and restaurants. I guess not.

Or maybe we can bring down the number of students per classroom to 12 by scaring everyone off to homeschool for the year.

Is that the plan?




15 people like this
Posted by John Hicks
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2020 at 6:38 pm

@ Rachyl-To add on to what Observer posted showing that Montreal, Israel and France had outbreaks-1st Taiwan, went to extreme measures to control Covid and I just read although they didn’t technically have a shutdown, they added an additional two weeks to their scheduled winter break, so essentially their schools were closed for 1 month even though they didn’t call it a shutdown. Sweden kept elementary schools opened but closed secondary schools and universities. So they did have a school shutdown. They also never tracked the virus among school children or staff members that actually DIED. Currently in Sweden, parents are being forced to bring their kids to school and teachers are being forced to work and they are worried about new Coronavirus spread at school. Iceland closed universities and secondary schools on March 13th and reopened around May 4th. So they also had school shutdowns. Not to mention Iceland and Taiwan weren’t hit as hard with outbreaks as the US has been based on factors such as geography or the crazy measures they took to slow the spread. Sweden decided their strategy was to more or less not do anything and they have already stated they regret it. More parent misinformation in this forum...but of course PAUSD should look to those countries for guidance.
This is a bit of speculation on my part, but a district survey was released a week ago and I’m pretty sure MOST PAUSD parents are DEMANDING they want a “return to normal” in the fall. Now all of a sudden today they announced partitions as the big solution for a return for ALL students at once. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the latest recommendation from health officers and state guidelines state that it should be no more than 12 students in cohorts (on an A/B schedule) in a classroom at one time maintaining 6ft of social distancing? It sounds like the district MIGHT BE caving to an enormous amount of parent pressure. Also, just a side note, distancing is great and partitions are an ok idea, but considering it’s a respiratory illness mostly spread by longer exposure to droplets from talking, singing, coughing, and sneezing, how is everyone going to be safe in the same room together all day long? The partitions can block a sneeze I guess but everyone is going to be breathing the same air in the room. Are masks going to be required also? Even masks aren’t magic shields. I saw some sensible parents Ugur and Bill questioning the safety of school at the top of these comments, and I think that’s a wise choice.


17 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 10, 2020 at 8:11 pm

@Sally - I'm not trying to convince you - I'm trying to correct the misinformation that you are spreading. You said neighboring districts have "multi-pronged options for parents" for the fall - that is just wrong; not a single district has any firm plan for the fall. The county hasn't even issued guidelines yet! FYI, I do not and have never worked for any school district; I am a district parent and volunteer.

@Rachyl, @Observer - yes, there are international examples to look at. Denmark was first, in mid-April. Others have followed, mostly in the latter part of May. US districts are all studying them intently - bulletins come out from education think tanks almost every day documenting their methods and trying to draw conclusions. In fact, the PAUSD partitions idea probably came from pictures of Korea and China, where plastic partitions were set up on each desk (google "korean desk partitions").

@Independent, and other "we demand live-streaming!" - please see Education Code Sec. 51512 Web Link. which prohibits the recording of any teacher in the classroom without their permission. While some teachers might permit this, most will not - in part because they hate and fear it, in part because they think it will be a bad teaching method, teaching both online and in-person students at the same time. You can demand it - individual teachers have veto power.

@John Hicks - the more in person, the better in my book. The limiting factor is the public health guidelines for the county, which have not been issued. Guidelines and rules for SUMMER CAMPS came out LAST WEEK! So there simply are no county rules for schools for the fall yet, and probably won't be for weeks.

My guess is that every high school will wind up with a combination of a full online option and a "A/B" cohort option, either going every other day, every other week, etc. The question is how good the instruction is on the "away" day - that will be hard to measure. This is not a great option for most kids - most are motivated by their friends and personal connections, not the academic content - but it's a bad situation, and this is probably the best they can do.


2 people like this
Posted by Guss
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 10, 2020 at 10:47 pm

Keeping children away from their peers may have long term implications to their development and mental health, let alone their parents. A careful reopening of schools with in-person instruction being the priority is the best way forward. At some point, we have to seriously consider the trade-off between the short-term effects due to covid19 (which I believe are low for children and their teachers) and the long-term effects on their learning and mental health, which although harder to quantify can be substantial after months of SIP.

And it seems that the European re-opening has been largely successful -- to earlier posts that bring up the 70 cases in France, the following article could be helpful to read:
Web Link


25 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 10, 2020 at 11:05 pm

@John Hicks and parent: Thanks to both of you for pushing back on and correcting misinformation.

This post solely has to do with Anaheim Union HSD's synchronous learning plan. At least for this past year, yes, they had synchronous learning, but it was only for 30 minutes per week for each period. Required asynchronous learning was also limited to 30 minutes per week for each period. They also required teachers to hold synchronous virtual office hours but I couldn't determine for how long per week. Source: Web Link

Parents, we know you want the best for you children. We do, too. But delivering on that goal isn't as easy as some members of the community would have you believe. It's very easy for them to say hey look, X and Y district have synchronous learning and it's the thing since slice bread why doesn't PAUSD have it? What's harder is to dig into the details to provide a fair representation of what these promises are.

If you want what Anaheim has where the celebrated synchronous learning lasts 30 minutes each week, yeah, that's pretty easy to do. But we want to give you and your children more than that, so please give us and the district time to figure out how to make that happen.


12 people like this
Posted by Students Need In Person School
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 10, 2020 at 11:08 pm

@ Ugur Ayan: "I dont want my kids to die. Sorry but I cannot send my kids if the environment is not healthy."

The only unhealthy thing here is your attitude that your kids are going to die if you send them back to school! That's a totally irresponsible, false, and terrifying message to send a child! And can cause lasting psychological damage. Do you know that NOT ONE SINGLE person under the age of 31yrs has died in our county through this pandemic?! And the age group of 31yrs - 40 counts for just 2% of deaths? Educate yourself with facts! Please stop fear mongering to children! That's a terrible thing to do to kids. County dashboard updated daily:

Web Link

Our job as parents is to be calm, assure our kids they are safe, that school will be safe, and keep a reasonable perspective on the risks -- which for students is essentially close to zero. Kids under 20 yrs are not getting sick. Remember, the virus was confirmed in this county in January, yet kids at school were safe and did not have massive outbreaks of the virus even up until the shutdown in March. Now, the curve is flat, and our county as less than 1% infection rate, and there are empty covid units in the hospitals with nurses/doctors being laid off because they have no patients. And 100s of millions of students are back to school in countries around the world where the current data indicates they are safe to return. In fact, cases have even dropped in some countries where students are back to school.

Web Link

I do not appreciate any parent fear mongering by saying kids going back to school are "going to die" and creating uncessary panic with other kids, like mine, who are anxious to get back to school with their friends, in person, and lead a healthy life at school with their peers.


24 people like this
Posted by Bandwidth
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 11, 2020 at 12:35 am

About 80 classes at a time live streaming from each high school's servers? Sure.
40 or 50 livestreams at a time from each middle school? No problem.
Or, if we can't get them going live, teachers can upload four 90-minute videos at the end of their teaching day. Or on their free time. No problem. Doesn't take too long to upload 6 hours of video, does it?
And kids at home sitting through four 90-minute Zoom classes per day? You're dreaming.
And as noted a few times above but very much worth repeating: most classes aren't lectures. It's not like your old high school or college memories. What's happening in the classrooms is often groups of kids working all over the room with teachers rotating around. A lot more discussion, a lot more time with students discussing and debating and creating things together and presenting to the class. Language practice. Labs. Art. So the way some of you are imagining this is like teachers can just stand there talking and writing on a board and kids will watch, stay engaged, and learn. That's not how it works. Even if you think it should work that way you're asking teachers (again) to reinvent their methods and curriculum.
And verbal communication just goes great when we have masks on. We all love doing that so much in person I can't wait to see my high school student glued to her computer to watch hours per day of teachers in masks trying their best to be understood live in the classroom and on Zoom at the same time.
See, some of these comments are completely off base because people have not at all thought about how anything actually works, or would work.
You know what would be really nice? If just one person who posted earlier about how "they should just live stream their classes" would admit, "you might be right, I hadn't thought about that."


13 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 3:53 am

PAUSD keeps saying they are a leader but we only have to look to our neighbors to see how other districts are providing and have provided far more than what PAUSD has provided. ALL PUBLIC school districts.

When did PAUSD providing asynchronous teaching after schools closed? When did Los Altos, Atherton, Menlo Park and Mountain View provide asynchronous learning? Other districts went online during the 1st week. Palo Alto Unified went online after more than 3 to 4 weeks after closure.

I urge parents to look to see what our neighboring PUBLIC SCHOOL districts are doing. Palo Alto again is doing what they did regarding the curfew. While everyone else is going to maintain social distancing, Palo Alto has decided to cram all students into a the single small classrooms with poor HVAC and ventilation systems.

When health and safety is not valued in the name of convenience (yes it's very convenient for our Board of Trustees to not make plans for elementary other than going fully in person 100%), it's irresonsible.

While other districts around us in March went to online teaching 1st week of closure because they faced the realities and planned, our Superintendent and Board of Trustees kept saying risk is low and we will never close down. When we were forced to close, we took more than 3 weeks to provide asynchronous teaching.

Same thing again. All the other neighboring districts are planning 6 feet of social distancing or going fully online, but only PAUSD Board and Superintendent are planning to return 100% in person at the elementary level. It seems they think that as long as they keep saying it's safe, it'll become true.

Just because you say it's safe and healthy, doesn't mean it is and it doesn't mean it will happen. It just means PAUSD board is choosing not to prepare for online teaching because it takes too much work and effort and planning and real leadership and decisions, so instead they choose to bury their heads in the sand and pretend it's not a reality.

Soon they will be saying there was no pandemic and their plans of returning 100% to class for elementary is 100% safe.

Irresponsible. Who is running this school board?
When it comes to voting time, remember who hired Superintendent Don Austin.
REMEMBER.

When it comes time to vote, remember who was not transparent in their communication. Which board members.

When it comes time to vote, remember, how our Board members insisted to bring our children back 100% to schools and not keep them 6 feet apart in poorly ventilated classrooms in small stifling spaces with poor airflow. REMEMBER.

When it comes time to vote, remember, how our Board members took 4 weeks to provide asynchronous learning after schools were closed in March, when other neighboring PUBLIC SCHOOLS provided asynchronous learning on google classrooms and schoology the 1st week after 2-3 days of preparation.

When it comes time to vote, remember how our Board members behaved and voted.

Remember and vote for change. Vote for people who actually care about the welfare of our students, not just say it in words.


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 4:09 am

It would be really nice to see Palo Alto Online do a real piece of journalism comparing and contrasting what PAUSD is doing to our neighboring public schools. On one side we have Los Altos Schoo District and Mountain View School District. On the other side we have Menlo Park School District. Some boards have publicized their reopening plans (PAUSD and Menlo Park) and some boards have not yet (Mountain View and Los Altos).

Compare a chart of when schools were closed down in March, which school boards provided real asynchronous teaching and compare that to when PAUSD provided asynchronous teaching.

Then compare how other boards plan to bring back Elementary school students.

Superintendent Don Austin kept saying in his backstage with the Superintendent that with blended learning (just a few weeks ago he was saying blended option was the way to go and it was clear we would not be returning 100% back in person).

Now there is a pivot to 100% returning back to school for Elementary.
PAUSD will likely be the only school Board choosing such a foolish choice of poorly prepared and implemented action.

It is truly saddening to see PAUSD Board and Superintendent Don Austin are proactively choosing to be the last school board to face reality. They did that about school closures and now they will be doing that about school reopening.

There is a lack of reality and practicality in their approaches. Theoretically it suits their purposes of not doing any real hard planning and difficult leadership behaviors.

PAUSD and Superintendent are like a group of teenagers, all not wearing their seat belts and going 190 mph on the highway and saying, "oh risk of car accident is very low.. not today ... we won't get into a car accident" while completely oblivious to the fact that there is a deep fog and severe rain storm in the horizon with a multilayered car pile up happening.

Meanwhile, the neighboring public school districts have their seat belts on and are starting to slow down as they listen to the radio station and becoming aware of potential need to slow down as there is fog, rainstorm and car accident approaching.

And PAUSD Parents and students? We are in the bus driven by PAUSD Board members with Superintendent Don Austin at the helm.


8 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 11, 2020 at 7:56 am

There are other districts offering synchronous live instruction, and recorded instruction. Yes. It CAN be done. It is being done. It's not an either in person or online instruction choice, no, it is an ALL means of instruction, in this time of pandemic, facing a possible second wave, possible school closure again, and possible quarantining.

The PAEA (teacher's union) and PAUSD are only offering 40% of the previous instruction for HS and MS students. Students would only attend, for in person instruction, one course period/week/course as opposed to 2.5 course periods/week/course pre covid. Only one course/week vs 2.5 courses/week with no other instruction makes it hard to complete year long course curriculums.

Are the previous posters saying that Foothills College and the CSUs and Anaheim Union, and Westlake Charter, and Placentia-Yorba Linda and private schools in the area, are trying to hurt students by having pivoted to offer live streaming instruction and recorded instruction for later viewing? These means of instruction complement any in person instruction that can be offered. You know, in case of a second wave, school closure, quarantining, it will come in handy. It IS being done. By other schools. Who have less money than PAUSD. Why isn't the PAEA and PAUSD willing to offer it? Why isn't the PAEA and PAUSD striving to offer pre covid instructional minutes and curriculum completion? So teachers want to veto it? How does that help students of equity, by offering less instruction?


25 people like this
Posted by Roger Dodger
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 11, 2020 at 9:26 am

A few noisy armchair experts and Monday-morning-quarterbacks-turned-teaching-experts ("how hard can it be?") on this forum seem to think this is easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy: just turn on a camera and press a button and Presto!, you've got instant "live synchronous instruction" and the problem is solved. This simplistic reasoning betrays a total ignorance of today's teaching environment in middle and high school, where there are a literal TON of other physical resources used to teach and learn, a LOT of physical movement and action in the classroom environment, constant individual and group interactions at a variety of scales, multiple technologies, and a level of complexity that goes so far beyond the typical "college 101 foundation lecture class" that it would make your head spin. This is not a college lecture environment. It's pretty much the opposite.

There is NO WAY TO DO THIS SYNCHRONOUSLY. To imagine otherwise is wishful thinking at best and willful ignorance at worst.

Don't get me wrong. I think our kids are losing out. We are all losing out. But we are in an unprecedented situation. No one has ever done this before, despite the constant refrain of "everyone else is doing it." Show me evidence (*actual evidence*, not something you read on NextDoor) that the neighboring district is accomplishing something that's never been done before, please show me, I'm all ears and eyes.

Until we get a vaccine, we are going to endanger our ENTIRE community by re-opening the schools. It's clear that this virus spreads readily in enclosed environments where people are spending extended periods of time together. You couldn't ask for a better vector for encouraging an ideal scenario for viral spread than a school. If we go into this with the clear expectation that people are going to get sick and die, *including possibly some of our students,* that might be one thing (not great for the staff who are being asked to sacrifice themselves, but what the heck, those old teachers and the ones with other health issues had a good run, right?), but let's not for one minute fool ourselves into thinking that there is a single "solution" that makes this whole sh*t-show go back to "normal." There is no "normal" anymore, and the sooner we all realize that and start thinking of how we can support kids learning at home as strongly as possible, the better. This will not be easy. Not anywhere near as easy as some people seem to think it is. Looking at the news over the last week or so, we are already seeing spikes and a resurgence of the virus in places that "re-opened," even with precautions (some, stupidly, without). We would benefit from taking a much longer view here. One that acknowledges that we are at the very beginning of a whole new frontier in education. Thinking this is "solvable" by aiming a camera at a teacher talking in front of a classroom computer is fantasy-land, and a waste of time.


14 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 10:25 am

@Resident, please link to (or even cite) one district in the Bay Area that has a plan for the fall. You won't because there are none. There are no plans yet, in fact there are no county-level guidelines. The only districts with even a firm direction (e.g., Berkeley) are going 100% online only, since that is the only model that will meet the requirements of any County Health Officer under any conditions. 75% of PAUSD parents said they don't want that model, and the same is true in every other district.

@Independent, you keep repeating the same slogans and distortions. Please stop - you hurt the students and the community.

Why aren't colleges a good example? Because they are 100% optional, so the students are more motivated; the students are 100% older and more mature/disciplined. Plus, no one measures the effectiveness of college learning - the question isn't how they teach, the question is how much students learn. Since MOOCs have been a massive failure, there's lots of reason to believe that model is a poor substitute for in-person classes, and maybe doesn't work at all. That's your recommendation?

A teacher above blew up your "but Anaheim does it!" example - and again, there is no evidence that the little they did was a good thing or actually worked. Stop saying "there are lots of great examples" - there are NO great examples. Period.

Saying "instruction is good, kids should have it" is fine - I hear superintendents and board members all over say the same thing. Saying, "I have the answer - live streaming of classes" and implying that others are too dumb, stubborn, or lazy to adopt your great solution is not constructive - you are misleading the community and hurting children. [Portion removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 11:11 am

PAUSD board is not being transparent. Their decision to go back 100% with elementary students and bringing back teachers did not include teachers in their planning. If teachers choose not to return because they don't feel safe, what will PAUSD do?

Will they stick 2 or 3 grades under 1 teacher? What if parents decide to keep their students back or actually take their students to a district or private school that will do 6 feet social distancing?

This is PAUSD and Superintendent Austin's way of not doing the difficult task of social distancing to keep kids safe. How many boards surrounding PAUSD are doing 100% return to school for elementary? Not a single one surrounding us.


3 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 11, 2020 at 11:13 am

@parent - No, I'm not misleading the community or 'hurting' children to ask our school district and teacher's union to provide instruction for our students. Are you saying that other educational institutions that provided live synchronous instruction and recorded instruction 'hurt' children? That doesn't make any sense.

What I think would hurt children is to receive only 40% of prior instruction. That's what PAEA and PAUSD are proposing for the fall.


20 people like this
Posted by John Hicks
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2020 at 11:26 am

@ RodgerDodger-Thank you! I’ve been posting that same message in this forum to these parents who are so determined to have a “return to normalcy.” The District released a survey in the last week or so and I am sure *this* group of parents is DEMANDING schools open in the fall. The district is likely feeling a ridiculous amount of pressure to open, so then all of a sudden this article appears with a “Magic COVID Solution” of partitions which would suddenly allow ALL students back to school. I posted yesterday that I believe having 25 kids or so in a room together isn’t even allowed by current health official guidelines yet suddenly PAUSD tries to announce that all elementary students can come back to school at once? Then a few parents voice their concerns about safety and health at the top of the comments so “CHILDREN NEED IN PERSON SCHOOLING” posts a bunch of meaningless county stats to try to “prove” things are safe. Once those school doors open up, you can pretty much throw all of those stats out the window. Anything can happen and most experts predict the fall to be another wave of the pandemic. Also, even if kids aren’t getting sick or dying, it will end up being the school staff members that will be in danger like you mentioned. Other posters have posted how other countries have opened up safely and Observer provided links on how a lot of those schools had outbreaks and had to shut back down again after kids and staff became infected. Then others like “Sally” act as the authority on this matter and post to impress their parent network while they go into their typical rants about how the district is trash and doesn’t have solutions. Meanwhile nobody has a solution except to stay online but parents don’t really want that. The truth of the matter is they know opening schools won’t be 100% safe no matter what precautions are taken but it’s more of a case of “the show must go on.” PARENT is probably right though, in an attempt to try to appease everyone, they will likely have an A/B cohort option to go along with a full time online option. [Portion removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 11:30 am

@Resident - again, you are spreading misinformation. There was no decision made or even considered at the last board meeting. The staff showed one slide (one!) with a picture on it and said that going back 100% was an option they were now looking at, and maybe it would work. Did you even watch the meeting or look at the materials they showed?

@Independent - you hurt children and the community by spreading misinformation as fact. You insist that "live streaming, synchronous PAUSD teacher instruction - simply live stream the instruction, and record that instruction" is the solution - it isn't.

You say others do it, but your examples are misleading (Anaheim) or irrelevant (colleges), and provide no evidence that your solution provided any benefit to students.

If you just said "more live instruction would be better" I doubt many will disagree - I wouldn't. But by saying you have the answer, and it's easy, and lots of others are doing it, you (on purpose?) mislead the community and hurt children.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 11:48 am

Well said John Hicks when you say, "But if you are a parent and you don’t see fall opening as potentially dangerous, you must be living in a fantasy world."

Perhaps PAUSD board members are not parents in PAUSD?

@parent: did you even read this article? It says "The Palo Alto school district is aiming to bring all elementary school students back to campuses in person this fall,"

Last set of Board meetings they talked about "blended learning option most likely" and now it's "The Palo Alto school district is aiming to bring all elementary school students back to campuses in person this fall"
They have pivoted to 100% back for elementary schools after Don Austin saying they didn't have a plan until they had a schedule . Seems their schedule is 100% in person teaching so that is now their plan.


28 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 11, 2020 at 12:29 pm

There are so many commenters who are just asking question after question and are 1) not interested in hearing the answers and 2) not offering practical solutions.

@Independent: As math teachers nag us all the time, show your work. You claim the 40% of prior instruction figure the union is supposedly fighting for comes from 1 class meeting per week instead of the usual 2.5. Did you account for the fact that teachers will also be conducting distance learning?

Here's a list of issues you haven't addressed because you've been plugging your ears or because you don't have meaningful responses:
-Ed Code 51512 which prevents recording without teacher permission AND states such a recording "disrupts and impairs the teaching process and discipline in the elementary and secondary schools." To drive home the point, our children may feel much less comfortable asking questions in class and engaging in meaningful discussions if they know they're being recorded or might be recorded which would happen with a livestream.
-Your college examples don't count because 1) college courses typically are lecture based unlike many high school courses and 2) Ed Code 51512 doesn't prevent recording college lectures
-Anaheim offers only 30 minutes of synchronous learning

Also, what's your source for Westlake Charter School (WCS)? [Portion removed.] I'm going to rebut this example for the other readers. First, keep checking back to see if @Independent provides a source. Second, I went to their website and found some stark differences between their one school and our huge school district:
1) WCS is only a K-8 school so whatever they synchronous instruction they do doesn't really apply to high schools
2) WCS is tiny. It has 4-6 teachers per grade. Of course it's much more feasible for them to offer synchronous instruction (source: Web Link)
3) Oh, it doesn't sound like they are even offering synchronous instruction. From their distance learning video: "We are not starting with whole-class video chats because it just isn't feasible for some students. Maybe some students can log on at 8 am but some may not be able to log in, you know, due to family schedules, until 8 pm, and everyone should have equal opportunity to engage." (source: Web Link)

So, to summarize, distancing learning for K-12 students is so ubiquitous yet the five examples given consist of two college/college systems, a private school, a public school district that offers 30 minutes of synchronous learning, and a K-8 charter school which seems like it doesn't even offer synchronous learning? [Portion removed.]

As another reader posted, you are harming the community by accusing the district and union as being selfish and/or incompetent by repeatedly asking questions without constructively listening to the answers. [Portion removed.]

We teachers recognize there are a lot of issues to be worked out. We are trying our best to come up with the optimal solution. If you want to discuss a potential instructional strategy or are curious whether a particular solution will work, please ask away. Maybe you'll learn something, maybe we'll learn something, but this will only happen if we're open to new ideas.


18 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 12:53 pm

@Resident, you continue to spread misinformation. Please stsop!

I watched the meeting and viewed the slides presented (which you apparently did not).
There was no decision made or announced; there was no specific proposal made. One administrator presented one new alternative, using one slide, that could allow for 100% return to elementary school. Since before there had been no alternatives like that, they said they were now going to consider it.

I don't know the article author's intent, but "aim" here seems to mean "would like to." And of course they would - if it can be done safely, who wouldn't want that?

So your statement, "Seems their schedule is 100% in person teaching so that is now their plan" is 100% incorrect. It is not their plan; it is an option they are considering. Please stop spreading misinformation.


4 people like this
Posted by GunnQuestion
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 11, 2020 at 12:53 pm

I wonder how HS classes will work that are hands-on and need group involvement. I know that is all of them to some degree, but I am thinking of things like Music (playing together) and Auto (working on cars). How can you work on ensemble pieces by playing together just once a week? And how can you do anything remotely resembling an Auto class at home? Should my kids even sign up for classes like that, or just stick with those that are better taught online?


9 people like this
Posted by Need a better nuanced response
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 11, 2020 at 1:32 pm

The issue is not students breathing on each other (which partitions aim to address), the issue is students breathing the same air. The older school buildings in Palo Alto rely heavily on natural aspiration (i.e. open windows) to circulate air on warm days (no A/C). I don't know the details of airflow for the heating systems, but I would guess the flow rate is low based on time I've spent in the classrooms at 3 different elementary schools over the last 10 years. With the windows closed in the winter, then, students will be largely sharing the same air for up to 6 hours each day they are in school. Partitions won't solve this issue.

That's not to mention the aspect of elementary kids hanging out in close proximity through the day. Do we expect them to sit still at a desk for the entire time at school? Will we ban recess? How is it better to tempt kids to do the things they aren't supposed to do for health reasons?

In contrast to the PAUSD approach, my teenager attends a private school in the area that did a much better job adjusting to the lockdown. They switched to online learning the first day the students were dismissed from school, and 3 weeks later they started synchronous online learning with a morning full of classes and optional electives/extracurricular events in the afternoons. The PAUSD school board/ district -- the one that was ready to keep the schools OPEN originally until the county shut them down -- doesn't seem to be addressing the issue in a realistic way. They are worried about learning before health. Paraphrasing one of the earlier posters to this thread said, I don't want my kids to die -- AND I don't want them to bring something home that kills me and/or my spouse and deprives them of a parent for the rest of their lives. PAUSD needs to do a better job of articulating options that are realistic. Show us that you are truly trying to make this work in a safe way, not just that you are trying to make token steps to allow you to go back to the traditional approach.


22 people like this
Posted by Teacher of Littles
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 11, 2020 at 1:56 pm

This is such a last minute, “look what I saw online”, out of touch plan of ever there was one. The board proposed this and sent principals and administrators off to measure rooms and count desks. Instead of prioritizing the health and safety of students (and staff) the school board wantS to use money (that the district doesn’t have) for inadequate, developmentally inappropriate, temporary protection all because parents want their kids in school. The stress this will cause for students, teachers, and custodial team hasn’t even been thought of. Please, make a choice between full distance learning for a few months and/or a blended model. Or in classic PAUSD style, let the squeaky wheel parents have their way and leave the staff scrambling in August.


5 people like this
Posted by Where’s the public health officer
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 11, 2020 at 2:20 pm

Folks,

Stop the bashing.

Teachers, parents just want a video of class running for their kids while you are teaching. Why are you citing a code section which seems to be way out of date. Other public schools are doing this. It’s 2020.

With limited funding and a pandemic that requires quarantine, oh, and over 11,000 students to teach, what exactly is wrong with streaming home and recording for kids who can’t attend? It’s not precluding in person.

Have we forgotten that this is a public health crisis. Just because we haven’t been hit that hard doesn’t mean we are out of the woods. Let’s be more flexible. And if we can deliver more learning with streaming, then why not? Isn’t more learning better? Aren’t these schools? How does the union get to choose? Can’t we tell them no?

And btw, I really do hope City Council and our County Public Health Office are paying attention.


7 people like this
Posted by Former teacher
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 11, 2020 at 4:46 pm

I worked in Pausd until schools closed on 6/5/20. I was told I am not coming back because I was temporary. I have been a special ed teacher in CA for 7 yrs and I wonder why the district can't rehire teachers of color. I am black and I don't want to use my color card here but I was left with unanswered questions. I think there was some bias in my evaluations too. At this time when we are fighting and protesting to let the world know that Black lives matter as we remember George Floyd who died in the hands of a white police officer, I am wondering how I can continue relaying this message of hope and an end to racism as a teacher if I am not given a chance to do so. I was told I should have kept quiet when I spoke out about something that looked like harassment that I did not bear with at my former school and I think this is why I was let go despite having 2 teaching credentials and a post graduate degree.I love teaching children who come from all walks of life but I was not given a chance to continue teaching in PAUSD. I wondered if I was let go because I am black and don't stand a chance in non-diverse schools, or was it just because I was a temp who had to be released because of budget cuts and yet the district and the state of California need more special ed teachers? Maybe one day, I will find an answer to my questions now that we can start talking freely. Black teachers need to be well represented in all schools. We should not be the last ones to be hired and fired. Thanks for creating this forum so that we can express how we feel.


6 people like this
Posted by Wondering
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 11, 2020 at 4:58 pm

Can PAUSD force teachers to work if they do not feel it is safe? Can they force students to attend? If a parent chooses to remove their child from school, the school can either report them as truant or unenroll the student, if I'm not mistaken.

For those that are against in person school, what are your solutions?

I also think there's too much emphasis being put on the impossibility of teachers recording lessons for students to watch and then have an in-person/Zoom discussion online. That eliminates recording students.

My children have both recently exited PAUSD and both of them have said that the bulk of their class time was spent with the teacher lecturing. Small group discussions can also be handled via Zoom, or even in person. It's a small group. Some classes will be difficult, such as sculpture, but not impossible.

Expecting a classroom experience as they might have had last year is, at this point, not feasible. We all must adjust, teachers, students and parents.


Like this comment
Posted by Independent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 12, 2020 at 10:42 am

@Paly teacher - the CDE is my source for Westlake Charter. Why so opposed to giving students instruction in a pandemic?

"First, it is noteworthy that the California Department of Education, in its recent guidance on distance learning, cites just one example of an in-state school successfully using an online-learning model—Westlake Charter School in Sacramento."
Web Link




4 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2020 at 3:52 pm

It is not difficult to deliver content online.

Every scu or math class my kids had was a lecture power point bore fest and then a test in material not covered. Teacher would talk for 50 min and the sit for the block period while kids played on phones. Online won’t be much different except kids can turn teachers off and have hot breakfast during lectures. They can have comfier chairs .

For English, online can be great because they can be present as kids write and lots if peer editing and rewrites can happen. Content can be presented as homework before class and discussed in context together.

For history at least a third was documentaries with notes si who cares really what is the difference except you can not kick your friend who has fallen asleep listening To ken burns drone on


20 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 13, 2020 at 1:06 am

@Independent:

1) You're ignoring a lot of other holes in your arguments.

2) There you go again putting words in people's mouths. I'm not against giving students instruction during a pandemic. I gave a lot of it the last three months.

3) You're moving the goalposts on Westlake Charter. In a previous comment on this article, you said, "We parents ask for live streaming, synchronous PAUSD teacher instruction --- simply live stream the instruction, and record that instruction, for posting and later viewing...Other CA schools are doing it, Anaheim Union HS and Westlake Charter for example." I then told you they weren't doing synchronous learning. Now you're saying they're simply doing online learning.

Come on, you can do better than this. Get your facts straight or stop dividing and hurting the community.


7 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2020 at 9:43 am

Paly teacher

Read the campanile article where seniors describe the lack of instruction . The can not speak for fear of retaliation and they know other teachers and admin will do nothing even when they are told.

The “ you have to teach yourself and pass any test we [email protected] has hurt minorities and any kid without 100 an hour to spend filling the achievement gap.
Online instruction in my home has shown me more clearly that teachers are delivering some or half or no content but then expect mastery. They are not present when kids are working with material to check for understanding. Teachers that know better need to stop turning g a blind eye to the khan academy Bozeman teachers. It is not equitable.

Look at foothill . They have content and testing that matches in a fair way and they teach. It is not complicated . If you know content and check for understanding before a test that is unusual at paly.

The AP bio teacher told my kid to post the scores taken online for the teacher. She never looked at scores and could not be bothered.


6 people like this
Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 14, 2020 at 1:13 pm

All,
There is a lot of confusion here.
1. Some think parents want to go back to school in person because of the survey results. Most parents, including me, want our kids to get taught. The crisis learning / distance learning did not work for many families. Because the District has not explained in detail how the fall will be different, parents are petrified of distance learning. Have you looked at the satisfaction rates in the spring survey? Have you seen the comments from parents concerned that their student self-taught? Yes, it's actually hard to imagine that this happened in Palo Alto where we spend over $21K per year per student (average in California is below $14K) and we don't pay to rent building space. But it's true. So stop thinking that Palo Alto parents are demanding. Students could have been taught much more and the Administration refused to require it. BTW, the happiest parents are in elementary school where some teachers offered daily schedules for live instruction and connection. The least happy parents are in high school where kids actually need to get through a year of curriculum.
2. Some think asking for streaming is ridiculous because in-person and quality distance learning could be better. Well, of course it could be better. But, at the high school level, the A/B schedule proposes 75 min per week per class, which is 33% of the typical offering. In that time according to the MOU (see district website in employment section), essential content should be taught. So, from a learning perspective, if A and B alternate content and stream out to those at home, 66% of the typical offering could be provided at a low extra cost. That could include break out discussion groups or entire class groups. In addition, if you look at the MOU carefully, it seems like that if we move to 100% distance learning the A/B schedule stands. Really, we'd split groups even if everyone were home? That doesn't make sense, does it?
3. Again re streaming, this is a solution for quarantines and students who cannot attend due to health concerns (yes, high risk kids and kids with high risk adults or siblings). Why not make streaming available to them? WHY?
4. Can we talk about the countries that everyone lists as going back to school? These countries had school closures and quarantines EVEN THOUGHT they 1. did not require everyone to come back and did not all have all grades (esp. not high school). Plus, and maybe most importantly, these countries have national curriculums which were available through the country digitally to those in quarantine and at home at least in some form.
5. Did anyone read the MOU? Why does it provide for childcare and deep cleaning on Wednesdays, but it does not define the distance learning requirements or say unequivocally that 1+ year of academic progress will be made by each student. Parents (just like teachers) want a firm commitment with a level of detail that makes things clear.


11 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Good teachers will find a way and bad ones won’t

Online or not a good teacher is a good teacher. The online platform exposed bad teaching


5 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2020 at 2:51 pm

And total lack of support even with taped evidence.


7 people like this
Posted by look around the world
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2020 at 3:48 pm

Millions of children around the world are already back at school, lets look at what's happening there. We in America too often think we have to create policies from scratch.


8 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2020 at 3:59 pm

Kids need to be in school. Trust the teachers to handle it properly, and keep it in perspective.


28 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 14, 2020 at 4:23 pm

@Fact Checker - you and others continue your campaign of false and misleading information. Maybe you are just mis-informed, maybe you are doing it on purpose to promote your own agenda. In either case, please stop - you are hurting kids and our community!

1 - you ask "Have you looked at the satisfaction rates in the spring survey?" as if they show a terrible results. That is just wrong. Overall satisfaction was 67%; satisfaction with High School was 60%, with Elementary 72%. If you compare this to 2015, during "normal" times, overall satisfaction then was 70%, High School was 63%, and Elementary 80%. My read is that satisfaction is generally good, and only somewhat lower (3-8 points) than under normal conditions; it is very far from the terrible result you try to paint.

2 - "Why not make streaming available to them? WHY?" You seem to think live-streaming will solve all problems and it is easy. First, as others have said, the District *cannot* mandate teachers stream classes - by state law (Ed Code 51512), each teacher's permission is *required* for any "recording or listening device." So if the teacher feels it is not the right thing to do, the district cannot make it happen.

That said, many teachers DID hold online classes, and I expect many more will in the fall. So why do you paint this as a somehow a titanic point of resistance? The only people who disagree seem to be a minority of teachers, and the district is likely trying to minimize their impact.

3 - "[The MOU does not] define the distance learning requirements or say unequivocally that 1+ year of academic progress will be made by each student." This one is true, but doesn't make sense. You are looking for things in a teacher contract that don't belong there, and in fact are in no existing teacher contract!

Have you read any existing teacher contracts? They do not specify "learning requirements" or "student progress goals"! These items - curriculum, content, teaching approaches, learning objectives, etc. - are handled by district staff, principals, and department heads, not the union contract. So you are looking for something that doesn't belong in the contract in the first place.

When you spread such bad mis-information, you confuse the community and undermine our institutions. Some people try to do that on purpose - usually demagogues who want power, or others who think dramatic change will serve their interests (as Game of Thrones put it, for some "Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder!"). Some just do it by accident, through lack of understanding. Either way, please STOP - it is hurting our children.


Like this comment
Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 14, 2020 at 11:51 pm

@Parent,
1. 40% dissatisfaction. No comment.
2. Ed code section 51512. Seriously? The union is relying on a 1976 code section about student recording of classes to avoid streaming in a pandemic? 100% of teachers won't agree to record and stream in a pandemic. Wow. I hope the Board is doing its legwork and pushing back.
3. The MOU absolutely should protect our students and provide that there will instruction provided on the 3 days that are not in person. Right now, it does not explicitly set forth an instruction commitment.
Please explain how it hurts children to call out 40% dissatisfaction, ask for streaming and recording back to kids who are home b/c of their health or their family's health, and asking for a commitment to 1+ year of learning?


18 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 15, 2020 at 7:46 am

Please stop.

Don't just ignore that the numbers you quote are little changed from past years, under "normal times." That's what demagogues do - ignore the facts and repeat misleading information.

Don't ignore that state law controls what the district can put in a contract or otherwise require. Don't imply a law "from 1976" somehow isn't relevant - the law is well known, and there have been court cases in the last decade that confirmed it. When you ignore that, you spread misinformation.

Don't just say "the MOU should" do what you want, even though no teacher contract does that. Do you even know what can be bargained BY LAW vs. what can't be? When you say teacher contracts must do something that they CAN'T do, you spread misinformation.

If you have constructive ideas and preferences, great! "Streaming is good, we need as much of that as can get!" - makes sense. Or legitimate criticisms or questions - "I don't understand why the MOU doesn't include XYZ, I think it should" - perfectly reasonable. Or "I think the district isn't paying enough attention to online-only options; we need them!" - all good.

But falsely tearing down institutions and spreading misinformation are tools for demagogues. You present yourself as an expert (the "Fact Checker") when you either don't know or don't care about the facts. We see it all over the world. You are hurting the community and our kids. Please stop.


4 people like this
Posted by S mom
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 15, 2020 at 10:27 am

Just a quick comment to say that when I looked at the satisfaction survey and played with the results cross referenced with the number of hours of instruction children were receiving, it was clear that the people who were satisfied were the people whose children were receiving 3-5 hours of instruction/work per day. Satisfaction numbers went down the further the instruction/work hours went down below that. The problem is, whether kids had that much instruction was left completely up to the teachers. My kid was done at 9am most days with her "work."

So my big beef with distance learning in the spring is that some kids had a good experience and some had bad and it was entirely teacher-dependent. I hope in the fall they will impose some minimum standards so that teachers who are hiding out and slacking won't be able to get away with it. And I'm sorry to have to call that out, we've had many teachers here over the years who are wonderful, but there absolutely are also teachers who do the barest minimum, and if there is no bare minimum, distance learning is a complete failure for the kids in that class. At least with in-class the teacher is physically required to be there a certain amount of time, so something has to happen -- there's a lot more room for slacking with distance instruction so I think the district needs to mandate a certain amount of time spent.


15 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 15, 2020 at 10:55 am

@parent

Thanks for pushing back and calling a spade a spade. Your comparing this year's survey results to ones from 2015 was very insightful. I hope I've had or will have your children as my students.

@Independent

Still waiting...

@Anonymous

"Good teachers will find a way and bad ones won’t"

It sounds that simple but it really isn't. Many teachers are really good in the classroom but might not have the technology skills yet to transition. We got zero official training on how to switch to online. That's why we want to move the three staff development days spread throughout next year to be moved to before school opens so we have more time to get the training we need.

@"Fact Checker"

You make a lot of basic mistakes when you try to pass off opinions as facts. Let me show you how to fact check.

"But, at the high school level, the A/B schedule proposes 75 min per week per class..."

False. It's actually 90 minutes (Web Link, slide 15).

"100% of teachers won't agree to record and stream in a pandemic. Wow."

False. I recorded my lectures as did six other teachers I can quickly count.

"40% dissatisfaction. No comment."
"Please explain how it hurts children to call out 40% dissatisfaction..."

False. The dissatisfaction rate is 33%. The specific dissatisfaction rate for high school is 40%.

Now for my opinions.

I think you got the 75 minutes from the fully remote learning schedule. Yes, 90 minutes isn't much more than 75 minutes. But facts are facts, right?

It's sad that you think the union is solely using Ed Code 51512 to avoid streaming. Did you read the law? It says that a recording without permission from the teacher and principal "disrupts and impairs the teaching process and discipline in the elementary and secondary schools." Put yourself in a student's shoes. A lot of times they're already anxious about asking a question in class. Now, they know that everything they say could be recorded? They'll be even less likely to want to ask questions and engage in discussions. Further, you can refute my argument by saying the six teachers and I are a tiny percent of the teaching staff. Yes, 99% vs 100% is being very nit-picky, but facts are facts, right?

As for your cherry-picked specific dissatisfaction rate, maybe you went with 40% because you only have high school students. Maybe you went with it because it makes teachers look bad. Either way, it's wrong at best and willfully disingenuous at worst. One could find a small subgroup with a high dissatisfaction rate and say it represents the whole district. Get your facts straight.


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Posted by Decker Walker
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 15, 2020 at 11:55 am

+ this same issue of Palo Alto Online has an item "Construction site source of COVID infection." If a construction site cannot prevent infection, how can we possibly expect a school to do so? In-person school means COVID infections among children and teachers.
+ what do youngsters do when they are at home? Video games, phone conversations, texting, tweeting ... mediated social interactions. Why can't schools build teaching around mediated social interactions? it would take imagination, thought, and work, but we complain about children being addicted to screens, so it can be done.
+ as for parents stuck at home with their children, learn to talk, help, play, work together constructively. It's what life should be about.


5 people like this
Posted by S mom
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 15, 2020 at 2:55 pm

@Paly Teacher I think it's pretty significant if 40% of high school parents were dissatisfied. I agree no one should be misleading with numbers, but that doesn't take away what looks like significant issue with high school distance learning.

Also I don't think it's fair to compare satisfaction rates from prior year surveys with the remote learning surveys -- I absolutely filled out the remote learning surveys keeping in mind the inherent limitations and difficulties with emergency distance learning -- my bar was super low. Distance learning is a kabillion times worse (technical term ;-) ) than regular in person learning, but when I was asked to rate my satisfaction with it I was not comparing it with in person learning, but rather with my own belief about whether my kids could have received better instruction via distance learning. I think most parents would have viewed it that way as well - with baseline low expectations but looking to whether it seemed like it could be better.

And I've said before, the real problem in my mind was the huge disparity between individual teachers -- I'm sure some people did have a great experience with distance learning, because their kids happened to have teachers who were great with it. But nothing prevented teachers from doing very little if they wished -- my 5th grader did about 30-45 min/day of assigned schoolwork, with a single 30-minute non-instructional classroom zoom per week, and no feedback on any submitted assignments by the teacher. Even understanding the limitations of distance learning, that seemed pretty bad to me and like the teacher was doing as little as she could get away with.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but I would hope something could be done to ensure a minimum amount of time spent teaching, with some required academic interaction/feedback.


10 people like this
Posted by Poor HS experience
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 15, 2020 at 3:05 pm

I agree. In my ninth-grade son's history class, they were assigned four pages of reading from the book FOR THE ENTIRE THREE MONTH PERIOD. That's an average of one page a month. Each week they also had one other thing to read (a few pages) or watch (not both) and one online discussion to participate in. And that was all. Their book is terrific and cost the district a pretty penny. They could have had the kids read it, if nothing else. This class took him at most 30 minutes per week. There is no way that Gunn High School came close to teaching him the curriculum he was supposed to have, and it is very hard for me to imagine in what way the teacher was putting in adequate effort.

This level of teaching - online or offline - is, in my opinion, inexcusable. No meaningful effort was made to cover a bare minimum curriculum.


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Posted by Elementary Parent
a resident of Hoover School
on Jun 15, 2020 at 6:05 pm

This article is specifically for *elementary*, but lots of commentary here on *HS*. Just here to voice my total support for full in-person *elementary*.

We've learned quite a bit over recent weeks. 1) Worry more about indoor spread through air than spread outdoors or spread through surfaces. 2) Masks are very effective if everyone is wearing. 3) Supportive evidence that *younger* kids do not spread to adults (yay! for worried teachers and parents thinking their kids are going to bring something home to them)

Let's take reasonable risk/reward type measures, and let's not get carried away with hygiene theater just to put some naive folks at ease. But give them distance learning if they want to stay home. Non-live instruction didn't work at all for us -- youngers need a live teacher or group to stay engaged, or a dedicated parent to take the place of the teacher which defeats the whole purpose of having a school.

Day cares and summer camps are in full swing now with varying measures of distancing and hygiene -- we'll know soon how extreme we need to get.


5 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2020 at 9:33 am

@roger dodger
>>"You couldn't ask for a better vector for encouraging an ideal scenario for viral spread than a school. If we go into this with the clear expectation that people are going to get sick and die, *including possibly some of our students,* that might be one thing (not great for the staff who are being asked to sacrifice themselves, but what the heck, those old teachers and the ones with other health issues had a good run, right?”

You bring up a really good point and that is: this should be a community decision. In Sweden, where they asked vulnerable people only to shelter, it didn’t work out that well in terms of reducing death.

It might be different if our kids had learned basic good hygiene in schools, and if the schools paid much attention to the spread of infectious diseases or how the environment affected health before, but we’re talking studied ignorance that is hard to overcome on such short notice. Especially since I see little evidence of any attempts to overcome it.

One thing they didn’t teach in schools before the pandemic was basic good hygiene. It was hard not to notice that every time the elementary kids had a project involving TP rolls, some gastrointestinal or other poor-hygiene-related bug would go around. It was also hard not to notice that kids were spreading preventable illnesses because they didn’t just teach them to wash their hands before they went to eat.

Also hard not to notice that they were teaching really abysmal personal care habits and life skills by giving them no time to eat or play. By middle school, my kid just could not be convinced to eat lunch no matter what it did to mental acuity and mood by the afternoon. Basic things like wash your hands before you eat, eat right, get enough sleep—as essential for both good learning and healthy immune systems-- these were drilled right out of my kid through years of it being made practically impossible in school.

In the elementary school debate of eat-first versus play-first at lunch, one major argument against eat first was how much time it would take to have kids wash their hands before and after eating.

When I asked about just having kids wash their hands before they left the classroom to go eat, I was told that teachers expected the kids to take time out of their very short lunch breaks to run over to the restrooms and line themselves up to wash their hands on their own time. They didn’t want the kids washing their hands in the classroom sink right there before going to lunch because the teacher didn’t want their lunch break cut short (but they expected the little kids to cut theirs shorter by doing something they were never taught to do).

I managed to get a pediatrician at the children’s hospital to offer to teach basic hygiene, but was rebuffed. I was treated as if the idea of teaching basic hygiene in school, as happened quite normally for years after the polio epidemics, was crazy.

With that as a backdrop, teaching social distancing is going to be a fool’s errand. It’s like erecting giant ramparts to ward off an invading army while leaving the backdoor open and casually showing the enemy troops where it is. There is really a LOT of bad habits that have to be unlearned, and it’s not just as simple as bringing kids back to school.

There was this underlying assumption that with little kids, there were going to be lots of illnesses going around and you just couldn’t help it, and no recognition of how that could be prevented by basic hygiene.

I remember looking at preschools when my kid was younger and one that had wonderful facilities and a lot of our friends took their kids to, had unfortunately poor hygiene. It was obvious when we were there on tour. They had the kids wash their hands before playing to keep the equipment clean, but not before they sat down to eat afterwards. And the WAY they washed (and didn’t dry) their hands was also not particularly sound. The kids were constantly sick. The parents, our friends, were constantly sick with all kinds of terrible stuff, and they told themselves that it was just how it is with small kids. And no, it didn’t get better as kids “adapted.” Our kid’s preschool up the street, by contrast, had the kids wash their hands properly before they ate. The kids washed their hands properly when they used the restroom. The kids were healthy and rarely sick. I don’t remember my kid getting sick in preschool once, actually, and that included the kids always staying and playing for hours after school was out.

All the studies of what does and doesn't happen generally aren't very helpful when you have thousands of kids who don't have it down to practice basic good hygiene, and I can tell you they haven't been learning in school. And there is just such a resistance to teaching it, half out of ignorance of what it is and why it needs to be taught and practiced. Like the first preschool I brought up, our teachers and the community are going to remain at serious risk, and it comes down to how hygiene is practiced, not whether data shows x,y,z somewhere else where they did teach the kids how to wash their hands before they eat, etc.

On the other hand, if kids wear masks and school mostly happens outside -- we are so fortunate to have good weather and indoor-outdoor schools -- AND they learn good hygiene, it sure seems like the risks could be almost entirely mitigated. Now if only we could get the district to let go their death grip on worksheets and imagine learning in the outdoors for a semester. Focus on science. Focus on play. Focus on reading. Tactile math. And let go the idea that kids need to have the same amount of instructional minutes when they are home as in school (talk to a homeschooler about that).


6 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2020 at 11:17 am

@Ugur Ayan,
"I dont think that it is a qood solution. Health is more important then education.
I dont want my kids to die. Sorry but I cannot send my kids if the environment is not healthy."

I hope you and parents like you can come together to ensure our district makes health AND education priorities. I don't think the school environments were healthy before. We had significant problems with indoor air quality, and our district really intent on basically hiding and avoiding dealing with it, when it affects both student health and performance.

JLS has a really significant history of moisture problems and flooding. The district didn't nearly remediate that and there were always problems when Panther camp began because of kids going around the campus and newly stirring stuff up after summer. I can remember getting messages from the school, like the day after school started in mid-August (without any time for a real incubation period) that flu season was here and describing kids going home with symptoms that were almost certainly not flu but predictable consequences of stirring up all the unhealthy stuff and breathing it in.

Indoor air quality problems are also associated with increasing the incidence of not just asthma but also infectious diseases going around. That is well-established science. I remember JLS had some of the worst flu and even pneumonia episodes going around that I had ever seen in a school in my life. And the administration was so studiedly ignorant about what they could do to fix it and why they should, I would hope the community would be far more involved now since their lives and health are at risk, too.

It wasn't that long ago that the message I got was that only education was important, and maybe sustainability, but not health, forgetting all the evidence that minding health is so tied to educational outcomes. (I hope one of the people who told me sustainability was important and health was not now gets my point that caring for health is the holistic way to be sustainable, and living in a way that is more vulnerable to epidemics and hospitalizations is not the most sustainable.)

I remember hearing from an experienced scientist at the EPA, that when students return to school after it's been closed up, whenever that is, wherever that is, there are spikes in upper respiratory problems and infectious diseases going around. This could be prevented through an effective framework for indoor air quality management, but our district is too far gone for that, even if they did have a road to Damascus epiphany about what to do about it today.

My ow concerns would be: teach good hygiene in general along with pandemic hygiene. Stay outside (while working to fix the insides) and make education outside an opportunity. Plastic sheets between students in classrooms with poor indoor air quality already are going to backfire.


4 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2020 at 11:54 am

Ok, last long comment.

@Ugur Ayan,
"I dont think that it is a qood solution. Health is more important then education.
I dont want my kids to die. Sorry but I cannot send my kids if the environment is not healthy."

Ask the district to begin an independent study program based on homeschooling best practices, otherwise the education for those who stay home will not be good. Our district has a long history of inferior offerings to anyone not in the mainstream, such as home hospital, various special needs, etc. There was an article awhile back in the Weekly by a family whose kid had Crohn's or colitis, and how badly they were treated because of it.

If you insist on staying home, even though they say it is an option, they will offer your child online instruction but you will find they will justify problem after problem on your insistence on staying home, and it's therefore your fault. The whole thing will be geared to pressure you to send your kid in like everyone else or go somewhere else. You can file a private school affidavit and homeschool, but I don’t think you or anyone else should have to if that’s not what you want.

I think the district cannot satisfy all the families with their different perspectives on learning, but that also doesn't mean they shouldn't try. I think creating a new program that allows families willing to take educational (not health) risks to find what may be a better educational model for their children would be the way to go. (And children should get a say in which they do.) That way, only people who want to try will be involved, and everyone else can stick with trying to reproduce school in whatever way they think is best. A hybrid school could be an unparalleled opportunity to do something new and different, but it won’t happen if everyone has to do it.

This pandemic won’t be forever. If there really were no choice but between a compromised education and going to school again, that would be one thing. But that is simply not the case. Everyone is still so stuck on how to reproduce school at home, and yes, that’s going to be inferior to school and inferior to what the schools could be doing to educate their kids even better than before if they understood how to do online and hybrid school well.

I can tell you as someone who got a child back from our school district after 8th grade who could barely, through great effort, print by hand, was never taught cursive at all and couldn’t keyboard except to hunt and peck (and hence was up late into the night, stressed, bored with educational content and still doing badly in school, with many bad memories of abusive practices because our district doesn’t recognize dysgraphia and as a consequence it wasn’t caught until really late), and who wouldn’t have even been able to take calculus on the district math track my child was on, that said child was able to take accelerated and college calculus (with credit) before senior year. Two quarters were online. The math my kid did in between to catch up was alone, out of books, a little over one year of math per semester.

The district told my kid in 8th grade that said kid was not a candidate for independent study when my child asked. Melissa Baten Caswell told us that the district offered independent study in math only to kids on either end of the spectrum. So you see, a kid can be an “average” student in the district’s eyes and still do far better with online instruction, with no teacher or tutor, than in school. My child would have benefited from a tutor, but we couldn’t afford it. Our child was also resistant to getting help from others because of how the district taught kids not to ask for help. It took a long time to undo that, and it’s still something of a struggle.

I honestly can’t think of anything really good the district imparted to my child in terms of major educational areas (that school could uniquely provide) and a lot of really major negatives we spent years trying to undo and heal from during homeschooling high school.

I am actually not trying to slam the district. I actually think we have a wealth of really smart, hardworking teachers who have developed some fantastic courses, and really smart, caring parents. But I am slamming the educational model — I think the educational model is not very efficient at teaching, and it certainly doesn’t foster a spirit of kids being able to learn themselves when they graduate.

Why would you want all teachers to create their own recorded lectures, for example? What a waste of time for a likely poor/uneven outcome. I can’t think of anything more misguided than suggesting kids should spend the same amount of instructional time at home in front of a computer. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

There are professional organizations for online instruction. Teachers should be able to spend more time connecting with students individually and ensuring they have what they each need. My kid took online AP courses, and kids typically got 4s and 5s with no preparation, and they absolutely did NOT teach to the test or prep them at all. They did use university textbooks and didn’t teach down to anyone. These were synchronous classes that met only once a week, with really well-thought-out engaging work, that also happened to be optional. The philosophy was that the teachers made the kids WANT to do the work (and they did, I was able to stop standing over my kid and could easily see in the end the work that had been done).

If you have kids who want to sit on their phones and want to just look like they did the work, that’s a problem of the educational model. My kid used to do that, too, by the way, and it was because of school. It doesn’t have to be that way. But finding their way out of that will have to involve working with families willing to be the pioneers, not forcing everyone to basically experiment at the same time. I feel strongly that the district should create a new program that is intended to exist even after the pandemic, that optimizes the self-directed educational model, including for younger kids.


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Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2020 at 10:11 am

@Weekly,
I think the need for basic hygiene education and habituation at our elementary and middle schools is an overdue story.

I think our teachers have had to take on more and more roles with larger classrooms, without a full-time aide or even part-time aide in a really long time. Teaching hygiene practices and habituation would have been the role of an aide way back when.


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Posted by Clean machine
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2020 at 10:28 am

I have been teaching hygiene in my classroom since I began over 20 years ago, and I will keep on teaching hygiene. All good teachers teach these routines and procedures at the start of the school year to ensure that they can focus on instruction. Yes, teachers are asked to solve too many of society's problems, but hygiene has never gone out of style. It may be the only positive to come out of this pandemic.


2 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2020 at 4:40 pm

@Clean machine
"All good teachers teach these routines and procedures at the start of the school year"

I was a regular volunteer, and I'm afraid I witnessed no such thing at my child's elementary school.

Well, I should qualify that. It might have been possible that they also covered something at the start of the year, but unless you teach to habituate children to practice good hygiene, and make sure kids have the time, support, and direction, it doesn't happen. Kids had lunchtime, and I'm sure lessons about eating right, but with a setup that pitted precious playtime against lunch, very few would sit and eat. it was a constant stress for parents who would get their low-blood-sugar exhausted cranky kids at the end of the day, with the food spoiled and uneaten. (Our child had allergies so this was money and work down the drain, too). There was discussion in a Weekly article about the debate of which first, so common was the issue across the district.

Our kid's school told us that kids should have learned to wash their hands at home by the time they got to kindergarten, so it wasn't necessary to teach hygiene. I have already described why they didn't let kids wash their hands in the classroom before getting lunch.

Their attitude seemed consistent with a belief that covering it once would do the trick, and then just assumed that kids did the right thing despite circumstances never being conducive, such as the kids already not having enough time to eat and play at lunchtime, so many of them did not eat, and almost none of them visited the restroom much less washed their hands before eating.

I'm just curious: how much of the time do you teach a habit to a little kid and assume they go off and do what they were told without reinforcement? The reason hospitals and clinics use hand sanitizer, even though hand washing is superior for infection control, is that even doctors who KNOW the consequences of not handwashing and learn to do so for important professional reasons, have difficulty doing so reliably. Readily available handsanitizer is a good compromise. It reduces infections because there is more compliance--and here we're talking ADULTS in the medical profession. The point is, if something is difficult, unpleasant, or someone doesn't have a habit, you can't just assume that telling them at the start of the year is going to make it all work out.

Did you just tell kids what they needed to do and then expect they would so you could focus on teaching? Or did you work to habituate your kids to good hygiene practices? If so, why didn't my kids' school do that and why were they so antagonistic to doing so compared to your school?


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