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'It is not safe to return to the classroom.' Teachers union lobbies for full distance learning

Original post made on Jul 15, 2020

After two months of negotiations, the Palo Alto Unified teachers union is urging the district against reopening schools this fall and instead is asking for a return to full distance learning.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 15, 2020, 11:46 AM

Comments (213)

151 people like this
Posted by Midtown Parent who loves PAUSD
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2020 at 12:32 pm

Many reasonable adults who have been following the news and case count have previously predicted that despite the district's hopes, opening Palo Alto schools in the Fall would be unlikely.

I know we are in unprecedented and difficult times, but I do expect Palo Alto administrators to have a solid understanding of COVID-19 so that they can make informed decisions, instead of relying on outside agencies. For instance administrators, like our superintendent, should understand all the ways of transmission rather than tweet comments about why not allowing choir classes is a "head-scratcher". (Multiple people singing without masks in an enclosed space increases aerosol transmission of COVID-19.)

I urge the Administration to first personally learn more about COVID-19 themselves, like many parents in the school district are, rather than solely relying on the County for stage level considerations - so that the Administration can make more informed plans. Then I recommend Administrators put together a solid plan for 100% online education followed by figuring out a hybrid return to school model and lastly a full return to school plan. This doesn't mean schools don't return in a hybrid fashion in the Fall, but it does mean that resources are put first into planning for a likely bad case scenario so that the district is not caught unprepared.

Large companies in Santa Clara County have anticipated remaining closed through the rest of the year with the hope that they can open earlier. Their efforts have first been spent making 100% remote as effective as possible and then on limited return to office plans. Although our schools have different priorities than these companies, these companies are making similar types of decisions. Planning for 100% remote first is practical, prevents larger community confusion, and puts the physical, emotional, and mental safety and welfare of teachers, staff, children, and the community first.

Let's give teachers the training they are asking for to teach remotely effectively and look to them as partners in getting schools back successfully instead of antagonists. Ultimately they are the ones we entrust our children's safety and education to and parents the administration should support their welfare, too. Although we are in crazy times, please remember it is the long term welfare of the administration-teacher-student-community relationship that will determine the health and success of our children.


83 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto mom
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 12:50 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


74 people like this
Posted by Meanwhile
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 12:59 pm

This is the most sensible approach and avoids promising the impossible (at best) and potential tragedy at worst. Brave and responsible of educators to face the realities. Let's not shoot the messengers; let's get busy brainstorming how to help with childcare and make distance learning consistent and the best it can be. It's the district and board's responsibility to now make the official decision.


22 people like this
Posted by Parent of 2
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 15, 2020 at 12:59 pm

@Midtown parent, yes, it's so obvious. [Portion removed.] Of course, it seemed equally obvious to many 2 weeks ago when the state legislature, the governor, and the county public health officer (not to mention everyone from the AAP and Betsy DeVos) said that in-person school was essential and schools MUST do it or the consequences for students and districts would be dire!

And btw, the issue with the county choir and band ban is that it covers both inside AND outside, with no explanation or conditions. Most districts were planning to do it outdoors (in San Mateo county, some still are). So that "enclosed space" thing - yeah, well, never mind. There may be good reasons for it (will aerosols hang around on a football field??), but as far as I know, Santa Clara is the only county in the state (maybe country, who knows?) that bans outdoor music.


19 people like this
Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:01 pm

100% Midtown Parent.

But the hybrid model is too rigid. We must be Student-Focused.

We need a model that plans to bring students back in regularly and as soon as possible, even if it's only 10% at a time. A safety evaluation should be done weekly and priority models used. This evaluation should consider the spaces / rooms, the type of classes, the type of students, and the need for connectedness for mental health. Every student should have the chance to have some class in person.

The current MOU proposed by the teacher's union is unacceptable. The County should determine whether the return is safe and how many students can be present per SF. If teachers are not comfortable, they should be able to stream into classrooms with an aide present in the in-person classroom. If students are not comfortable returning, they should be able to stream in as well.

Starting a 100% online is not a problem as long as there is a a flexible and robust return policy that gives teachers and STUDENTS flexibility. For example, if a doctor's note is required for a student to stay home, that is unacceptable in this pandemic.


57 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:05 pm

The schools should open to the full extent permitted by the governing health authorities. They are the experts, not you, not me, not the teachers' union.

Nothing is more essential than education, and the effectiveness of this forced distance-learning is pretty distressing. It will have impacts beyond the next 12 months, and the longer we do it the worse that will be. Tough trade offs... let the experts handle it.


45 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:16 pm

I have attached an email that I sent to the PAUSD earlier this morning. It includes my general support of online instruction together with my concern that the PAUSD has not shown much interest in making online successful.

I wonder what the teachers actually want. They don't want in-person classes because of safety, but they don't seem interested in online because they don't like it or something. Do they expect to be paid for doing nothing?

Email follows:
_______
Dear Board and Superintendent,

I am writing concerning the online instruction components (OL) of your plans for the coming year.

It appears that you have already committed to OL for the secondary students but are planning to have in-person instruction for elementary. My reading of the pandemic situation is that you may yet find yourself going to OL for all or part of the elementary students.

In any case, OL is going to be important in the coming year.

Here are some of my thoughts.

VALUE OF OL: I am dismayed by the disparaging and ignorant comments that some PAUSD leaders have made about the value of OL instruction. I spent the bulk of my own career working on OL instruction at Stanford, Computer Curriculum Corporation, Rutgers University, and other places.

In my opinion, the district is simply wrong about the value of OL.

There are now literally thousands of companies and other groups in the US doing OL. The content is used at many K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and training facilities. Many MS degrees are completely OL, and it is hard to find a training "class" that meets physically. These activities are growing quickly and the pandemic will bring further growth in OL , just as it is increasing telehealth and telecommuting.

I have seen enough of this future to know that it works. The proviso, of course, is that you must try it seriously. Educational techniques and materials always rise or fall on the implementation.

HOW YOU APPROACH OL: The PAUSD has made a huge mistake with how it has approached OL with the teachers, parents, and students. You have given everyone permission to fail, and your predictions are self-fulfilling.

You should be telling people that there are a great many success stories for OL, and that PAUSD can do well at this if it tries.

TRY AGAIN: If you don't have sufficient in-house expertise, find some people to help. There are plenty of them.

Set up standards, processes and procedures, including principals and supervisors following the progress of teachers and students. I have heard many parents say that their students' teachers were "AWOL" this last spring. If true, that is unacceptable.

No one should have to tell the PAUSD how to deal with educational issues in a professional way.


85 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:17 pm

We are absolutely the experts of our own classrooms. @Sally The governing bodies of science are certainly there to help us determine safety procedures, but without classroom experience, degrees in education, etc, they don't have any idea of what we would be asked to do while inside of a classroom during this pandemic.

The spring was emergency learning. I think it would be super helpful if we could reframe the conversation as whether or not to "return to campus" rather than "return to school". School has and can exist off campus and online- it has the ability to still be engaging, robust, and differentiated. To suggest that we have to be in person in order to do our jobs is a misunderstanding; Stanford Online High School just across the street is a wonderful example of that.

With regards to safety, because of all of the details and factors listed in our Union letter, there is no on campus mode that will keep students and staff safe. We are not in a normal world right now, so there should not be expectations that we should "return to normal". Please, please, parents and families, support us in returning to school, online. We can do this.


61 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:19 pm

Please don’t ask us to go back in the fall. The dangers are far too high. Distance learning works- we know it works- is it ideal? Of course not but it’s better than any of us getting sick. It’s the only smart choic right now.


71 people like this
Posted by Concerned community Member
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:20 pm

As a safety professional allow me to speak on the fact that non of what Don Austin has said speaks to the safety of their staff. His blatant disregard for what’s happening is absurd. While he is tweeting about choir, he should be making sure that the staff is taken care of and safe guarded. However, this boils down to one thing and one thing only, funding. Bodies in the classroom will ensure funding, but that funding just never reaches teachers. Why is it that teachers spend a good amount of their own money on getting supplies or books for their students? Because the funding goes to line the pockets of the people working at the district office. That’s what it comes down to. It’s not about access, it’s not about the kids. It’s about the money. If it was about the kids they would make sure that kids were safe and that the people that are going to teach them are safe, but instead they want to act as if their hands are tied. I mean how long did it take Don Austin to act, when the number of cases were rising back in March, to close the schools? He kept saying “oh we won’t until the county makes us.” He needed to make a decision to make sure kids and teachers were safe. That’s what he is getting paid for.


49 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:24 pm

@Sally
"Nothing is more essential than education"

I would argue that health is more important than the temporary setback of education. We will get through this eventually, and a temporary setback of education won't make too much of a difference in the long run.

We should divide kids into two groups: those that must attend school, and those that don't need to be there.

Kids that must be in school include those who's parents have their livelihood at stake, and those who's parents must leave the home for work (e.g. healthcare workings, manufacturing, in-person services industries not affected by shutdown). Not everyone has a high-tech can-work-from-home-indefinitely job. We need to prevent a socioeconomic catastrophe by reserving in-person schooling for those kids that need it.

Some kids live with elderly grandparents or immunocompromised parents/siblings absolutely should not be in school. Some kids have both parents working from home. These kids should do remote learning and leave in-person resources to those that need it.

By bifurcating by deciding by student/family need, I think we could better allocate the scarce teaching resources.


20 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:26 pm

@Teacher (Oaks/Leland)

"Is it ideal? Of course not but it’s better than any of us getting sick."

Sorry but this attitude is part of the problem. I happen to believe that, in many ways and for many use cases, online instruction is superior to normal classroom instruction. The PAUSD is setting the bar too low.


23 people like this
Posted by Parlay
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:32 pm

I love my district
Oh yes I do
I love my district
in spite of you
I love my district
And so should you
This fking virus
Is not the flu


50 people like this
Posted by Midtown Dad
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:38 pm

@Sally: There IS something more important than education. Life. And we are talking about a life and death consideration here.

Before the teachers' union letter, I was already questioning the idea of the elementary kids going back in-person. It seems crazy to have THEM be the first canaries in the coal mine, as they absolutely would have challenges staying apart. And you can argue all you want that they are not susceptible, but they are bringing the virus home, potentially, to adults.

The PAUSD plan seems to be the worst of all worlds for K-5. We expose them to each other enough to risk getting the virus, but 3 days a week they have to be at home with online instruction. This is planning by committee, I guess.


74 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:42 pm

Please read the letter in full before rushing to judgment. We know that many parents were dissatisfied with emergency distance learning in the spring - so were we. Expectations and guidelines were changing daily, and often teachers would be the last to find out what we were supposed to be doing. Of course that made us look unprepared, lazy, and/or punitive when the reality is that we were working 24/7 doing the job of a therapist, administrator, truancy officer, tutor, coach... while also trying to actually teach them. And without required attendance or grades, unfortunately, there was no extrinsic motivation for students to get work done (coupled with the shock of a global pandemic and quarantine). In the fall, we will be prepared because we have spent all summer preparing. We are professionals.

Cases are rising, and we don't know enough about the long term effects of the virus (for people of all ages). Please don't make elementary teachers do an impossible job - they will fail, they will burn out, they will get sick, and students learning will be impacted. Please don't make all of us travel every single day from all across the Bay to sit in our classrooms (most of us don't even have our own classroom) all day long -- there is still the problem of physical distancing and cleaning, especially common areas like our offices, lunchrooms, and bathrooms. Time + exposure. 3 teachers sharing a classroom (while masked and physical distancing) got COVID and one passed away. I'm sure you've heard of the 40 principals as well. It's only a matter of time... We ALL need to stay home and stay safe so that we aren't going back and forth between open and closed for the next two years.


40 people like this
Posted by Sensible Resident
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:44 pm

@rsmithjr
I would agree with the statement that full distance learning is not ideal for all students, especially young students and there is a large body of research that supports that statement. You are correct that online learning can be meaningful and robust and for SOME students it might work well or even better. I have heard from teachers that they wanted to start professional development for online teaching back in March but were told to deliver asynchronous instruction without virtually no clear or consistent guidance or support. Now in July they are finally being offered a course. Under the current district hybrid proposal, elementary teachers have to learn how to teach online effectively while also learning how to teach in a socially distanced classroom. PAUSD teachers want and plan to deliver quality instruction and I fear that will be impossible when being pulled in many different directions. I thank you for encouraging people to see online instruction as a high-quality option!


65 people like this
Posted by elementary teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:46 pm

DonAustin said "holding out for a return across the state until classes look and feel normal is unrealistic." I do not know a single teacher that has an expectation of "normal" when school resumes. Teachers should have the expectation that we will be safe and that none of our colleagues will die. Long term effects from Covid-19 are not known and I resent being asked to be the test subject. Until Don Austin, the school board members and even the principals have walked a mile in our shoes (and not 5-20 years ago), it is hard to believe they know what is best. Teachers cannot do their jobs if they are worried, scared and panicked every minute they are in the classroom. I did not become a teacher to sit behind a computer to teach, but if that is going to keep me and my colleagues alive, that exactly what I will do.


40 people like this
Posted by Elementary Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 15, 2020 at 1:49 pm

I think that parents would be much more supportive of online learning if we felt at all confident that our students would receive actual distance learning. We understand that spring was "emergency learning", but it's hard to come from that poor experience and expect that things will be much different in the fall. Also, if parents are going to get behind this plan, then WE need to be supported by the entire community. Single parents, 2 working parent households, families with limited learning spaces, families with lost income, families with parents working out of the home, and so many more will all have an incredibly challenging time helping their children to learn. We can not just throw our hands up in the air and say children will bounce back and parents should suck it up. That's not an acceptable answer.

Also, Sara Cody has lead our entire country with her leadership during this pandemic. To suggest that she doesn't understand how classrooms work or that she doesn't have the health of our community as the highest priority in her guidance for school openings is misguided. All stakeholders should be listened to (teachers, parents, healthcare experts), but I for one believe that our county is making highly informed decisions.


43 people like this
Posted by Teacher Supporter
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:03 pm

@Sally "They (governing health authorities) are the experts, not you, not me, not the teachers' union."
Teachers are the experts in delivering instruction. If they say they can provide a better experience teaching online than in a hybrid model in the middle of a global pandemic then you should "let the experts handle it".

Not to mention that in the United States governing health authorities are not a monolithic entity and there have been different responses at the federal, state and county levels which has has contributed to the poor containment of COVID. Now we are seeing infection rates rise much higher than in March when the shelter in place was ordered. Teachers have every right to advocate for their own safety, the safety of their families and the safety of their students because they are the classroom experts who find the governing health authorities guidance impossible to follow or too vague.


65 people like this
Posted by they are right
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:04 pm

The safety of the teachers and the students is far more important than the convenience of free childcare for the parents IMO.


59 people like this
Posted by John Evans
a resident of Escondido School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:07 pm

The teachers' union is right to advocate for its members. But we should all already be advocates for our educators and staff, and work together to keep them safe, so that they can shepherd our children back to the new normal, when the time is right and safe.

As a working single parent of three boys in the district, I am keenly aware of the very real challenges of continuing to keep our kids at home. I would like nothing more than to return to the structures and joys of our pre-Covid lives. But rushing our kids back to elementary school campuses, when there is still so little understood about this virus and how to prevent its transmission and spread, will only diminish our strength and will for the long term.

Instead, let’s pause to recognize how many interdependent communities must come together to educate our children, among different generations and geographies, as well as cultures, and so many different kinds of working people. We should take care of our communities. We must not mistake an abundance of caution for a lack of reasonable action.

During a very different kind of national crisis, H.L. Mencken noted that, "For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." Rigidly sticking to a reopening plan, come hell or high water, is just that: clear, simple, and wrong. Things can, and often do, get worse before they get better. We need to face these dynamic times with sobriety and caution, and protect those who give our children so much.


85 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:08 pm

@ Parent of 2: [Portion removed.]

Some teachers transitioned to DL easily, others were terrible (“kids, go use these Khan Academy links and log back in to our 30 minutes total of live instruction next week to tell me how that went.”)

Also, the insistence that onsite protects equity is noble. But the public health fallout from opening elementary schools will be inequitable experienced in far more devastating ways.

You want to protect equity? Invest right now in training and resources for your teachers to deliver quality DL.


32 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:12 pm

Unfortunately there is no “students union” who will advocate for education of students. If schools will close, parents should receive a rebate on property taxes so they can send their kids to schools that are actually open.


12 people like this
Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:13 pm

Please stop this either or bickering.

Teachers,

Please consider a model that brings students back to school based on the then-current safety. The number of students would be determined by County safety determinations. Students sign up attending in person. Student attendance is based on an equity model of safety, need, and connectedness.

You could stream into your classroom if you are committed to 100% shelter or from your classroom if you are committed to social distance.

Think this is crazy? Actually Northeastern University has committed to doing just this.

Also, at the secondary level, please let students take whatever classes they want out of district. This is not the time to stop students from finding things that interest them.

Please think of everyone. This pandemic is not over in January but for a miracle.


57 people like this
Posted by Another Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:22 pm

@Sally: Agreed. None of us are health experts. How I wish the county health dept were in charge instead of Don Austin, the Board, or the teachers union. Unfortunately, the health dept has punted to each district to make its own decisions as long as they can follow certain health guidelines. Given the public health officer's revelation that kids over the age of 13 in fact DO spread the virus to others, given the wiring of the teenage brain that makes them congregate and take risks, given the logistics of operating a school as big as our high schools, and all the issues with our facilties (HVAC, windows, bathrooms, hallways) not to mention the budget -- the reality is that WE CANNOT meet those guidelines. The decision to have the secondary schools 100% online is really the only viable option.

@rsmithjr: In person instruction will always be the ideal, and rightly so. Distance learning works just fine for some students. Our technology access and training has been mediocre for decades, so it is not surprising that we find ourselves struggling now. I wish the district would hire an expert to train us, and buy us iPads with Pencils, and all sorts of things I see in other (mostly private) schools. Unfortunately, the district and the Board say the budget outlook is grim, so I suspect we will continue with "teachers teaching teachers" which only goes so far. We have been assigned an online training course to complete before school starts. My expectations are low, but I will approach it with an open mind and I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

For years and years the district, the state, and the country have neglected our public schools, which is compounding the challenges of reopening schools and distance learning. Until communities decide to take real action, things will remain the same.

Don Austin has repeatedly challenged teachers who express concern about schools reopening to give him solutions, or to suggest what it would take for us to feel "comfortable." We have answered his questions but his plan has not changed accordingly. I will reiterate them here:

1. To reduce risk to teachers, the hybrid plan would have to call for teachers to teach only group A OR group B, not both, which would require hiring more teachers, which I don't think is an option given financial constraints? Dividing students into two groups A and B for hybrid model protects students from each other only when they are on campus, and does not protect teachers at all as we will still be exposed to both groups of students.

2. The HVAC systems would need to be inspected for COVID safety (intake, filtering, circulation), assessed, cleaned, filters upgraded, and the dilapidated system that covers several older buildings at Paly would need likely to be replaced entirely (I believe there is bond money for that project but the project is several years down on the construction schedule -- is not a number one priority)

3. Install windows that open in classrooms that do not have them (again, costs money)

4. address ventilation in bathrooms and address shared bathroom safety and cleaning ($$$$)

5. Face shields and surgical masks for all staff. (again, $$$$$$)

6. Construct outdoor "classrooms"/tents -- create a plan for outdoor classes -- this should have been priority number one from three months ago. ($$$$$)

7. Address technology needs and teacher training in a meaningful and actionable way -- this needs a fresh approach and quality control. (again, $$$$$)

8. Ensure that every single student in the entire district has Internet and a Chromebook or computer. Without this, distance learning doesn't work. ($$$$$)

9. In the distance learning model, allow teachers the flexibility to teach online from the location (home or on campus) that enables them to do their best job -- we can't be in the classroom if our own children are at home, while some teachers without children or with older children might feel they can do a better job teaching online from campus.

10. Construct a model where all instruction is delivered online, everyone is working and learning from home, but each teacher comes to campus one or two days a week for individual or small group tutorials with students scheduled as needed by each teacher, with the option of meeting outdoors on campus rather than in the classroom.

11. Care and plan for and INVEST IN not just student safety, but teacher safety as well.

I am grateful for the current decision that high schools will start with the 100% distance model. However, requiring us to stream content from our classrooms rather than our homes is absurd and puts us at some risk for zero benefit, other than to pacify the parents who suspect that we are just floating in our swimming pools drinking margaritas all day. It ignores the very real challenges of those of us with children at home and the risks to our safety.


49 people like this
Posted by Pro-teacher Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:22 pm

@Elementary Parent
Under the hybrid model teachers are still being asked to deliver distance learning while at the same time having to learn how to deliver in-person instruction in a socially distanced classroom. I think you can expect less quality from overworked, stressed-out teachers being asked to do it all and deliver the moon while also struggling to meet the demands of their own families (many teachers are single parents, 2 working parent households, families with limited learning spaces, families with lost income, families with parents working out of the home). From what I have heard, teachers wanted to start training for online learning back in March but were required to deliver asynchronous learning instead with no training and I think my child's teacher did a decent job considering this. Every PAUSD teacher I know loves teaching and loves their students, would love to be in the classroom teaching and will do their absolute best to provide high-quality online/distance instruction next year. Next year will be difficult no matter what, the least we can do is keep teachers, their families and their students safe by going to full distance learning until infection rates have dropped significantly, a vaccine is available and families will make use of it, effective treatment is available or testing and contact tracing have proven effective in containing COVID.


75 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:24 pm

Wanted to throw in my thoughts. I teach at Paly but my sentiments also apply to elementary school teachers.

In May, when we were being asked by the district whether we wanted to become a full distance teacher, I thought no, I want to be around my students. Then as the past two months passed, I realized that no amount of PPE can reduce my risk of getting infected in my classroom enough where I can feel safe. Yes, education is one of society’s most important values, but health supersedes it.

These discussions are complicated, but one point I’d like to highlight is this: at this point in time, in-person education is not likely to be better than online. Class will be constantly paused to remind students to practice various hygiene techniques. Discussions will be much more limited because students now have to talk to their peers from at least six feet away. Group projects where students work together to build a structure will disappear. If a teacher gets sick with COVID-19 or something with similar symptoms, they will now be home not teaching at all, possibly for at least a week. A substitute could fill in, but let’s be real: given we already have a sub shortage, how many are going risk getting infected for $165 a day?

A better solution is for teachers to focus on developing their professional skills to teach remotely. I stand proudly with my elementary colleagues and hope you will, too.


3 people like this
Posted by More ideas, less finger pointing!
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:31 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


44 people like this
Posted by Sad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Is it me or is it the case that Superintendent Austin is in over his head?

I scarce to think what would be happening if he didn't have deputies to call on and do the grunt work that he seems incapable of doing. Ridiculousness has never been more apparent than his comments about the music and choir programs. It's disappointing that this gentleman was the best we could do.

[Portion removed.]


40 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:51 pm

Don Austin is making sure that PAUSD is not prepared for the situation when schools shut down completely due to a pandemic. Teachers want support and preparation for preparing the best online program possible but it's clear elementary schools will be left unprepared once again.

Perhaps it's time Don Austin and the Board members are replaced. Todd Collins and Jennifer di Brienza are up for re-election this year. Think carefully about how Todd Collins and Jennifer Di Brienza did or did not demand Don Austin to do better with online distance learning plans in March, May, June and July board meetings.

Did they sit back and praise Don Austin, or did they ask for more plans, more rigor, more teacher support.


31 people like this
Posted by Distance Learning Supporter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:53 pm

@Covid-19 ready
Livestreaming into a classroom is NOT the same as being there and being there is not safe for teachers, their families or their students given the risk and current infection rates, the needs of young students and the impossibility of implementing all of the guidelines recommended by governing health agencies. Online/distance teaching requires specific and distinct tools from in person teaching and PAUSD teachers are finally receiving some specific training and support in this area.

I don't understand this obsession with livestreaming from some parents. Have you ever volunteered in your child's class? Does watching that class all day on a computer screen sound like an effective way to learn? I seriously hope you say no. BUT a no answer does not mean we should return to in person instruction when it is not safe for ALL participants.

While I would support pursuing the ability to offer outdoor small group instruction- I don't know how teachers can do that while also teaching online. There are not enough hours in the day to offer ALL students some in person instruction while also teaching other students online.

Full distance learning while making use of quality online pedagogy and some synchronous instruction (because no one can just sit in Zoom meetings all day long) is the only way to ensure safety and quality learning.


57 people like this
Posted by Elementary Teacher
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:54 pm

Everyone is in this boat together and we need to unite. We need to stop arguing and do what is needed. Science tells us what we need to do. I’m not going to rehash those facts, they are everywhere for people to read. Right now those facts tell us what we need to do, and opening schools is not it.

So, let’s focus on solutions. Schools can’t be the only one to provide those solutions. We neither have the funding nor the systems and structures in place to solve all the problems caused by schools staying closed. Schools and teachers need to focus on teaching online well. Schools and teachers need to focus on addressing special education students (addressing IEP needs) and low socio-economic students (food, internet, materials, etc) in a safe socially distant manner. Schools and teachers need to focus on how we will reopen safely when the numbers show it is reasonable. That’s it.

The state and federal government and businesses need to focus on supporting families that need to work away from the home. For example, they could ensure that parents who have school age children have the flexibility and are paid for 40 hours a week even if they only work 32 hours. This would allow for families that have to work outside the home to band together in groups of 5, each family taking one day to support the children in that group, and not worry about how they will pay bills, fees their families, and pay for housing.

This requires parents to participate in the solution as well. Those having to work away from home, will need to work with others in the manner described above. Those working from home need to support the community by figuring out how to balance working from home and supporting their children’s learning. Businesses will have to give these parents flexibility as well.

This pandemic requires ALL OF US to work together. It is impossible for any one sector or group of people to solve this alone. Let’s stop arguing and acknowledge the reality of this situation and start working on the solutions. We have very little time to implement them.

One last thing, teachers love their students and their communities. We hate this as much as the next person. Our entire professional efficacy is based on the success of our students. We are watching the effects of this pandemic on our students and dying inside a little more each day. Keeping schools closed is the last thing we want, but we know that our schools do not have the capability of keeping our students and communities safe right now.


38 people like this
Posted by Eric Bloom, parent and teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2020 at 3:02 pm

Yes! @JohnEvans “clear, simple, and wrong” hits it right on the head and what we need now is a willingness to engage, revise, adapt. It’s futile to look for the perfect school opening and not futile to open as our letter suggests and adapting as we trudge through. We don’t need Dr Austin and admin teaching our most vulnerable and struggling students w PAUSD+, we need them to coach and support us as we create learning environments that engage and help kids learn - that’s a teacher’s job. We need admin, both site and district level, to be educational leaders. Get in our virtual classrooms and watch what's happening, experience what teachers, parents and students experience, then offer advice and share best practices (and even insist on some common practices) that’s the admin’s job.
We’re all in the same boat; I’ll trim the sails and man the rigging (that keeps the ship moving), so I’ll need someone else to chart the course, avoid the rocks and keep the galley stocked.


12 people like this
Posted by Elementary Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 15, 2020 at 3:08 pm

@Pro-teacher Resident I'm actually pro starting the school year with distance learning. I disagree that we can't go back until we have a vaccine, but certainly until our numbers have declined and stabilized. My issue is not whether or not we do distance learning (I think it's inevitable at this point) but how it's implemented. One of my children had teachers who did an amazing job in the spring, the other one didn't. I don't have confidence that the teachers who couldn't transition well in the spring will be ready with minimal training and planning when school starts. This is not all on the teachers, it's on the district as a whole to provide a solid plan for distance learning so that not only the more flexible teachers succeed. I also think that distance learning for young kids changes the dynamic from teacher-centric to teacher-lead, team learning. Parents of young children will become an integral part in success of distance learning and we need a plan that acknowledges and includes the many different levels of access or we will have HUGE learning gaps. These issues weren't well solved for in the spring. I hope they're being worked on now, but even though this letter touches on teacher training, it still worries me.


36 people like this
Posted by Joseph
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 15, 2020 at 3:29 pm

The school board approves spending thousands of dollars hiring a "safety coordinator", installing cameras and fences to keep our staff and children possibly safe from a potential nut case terrorist attack; Yet the Board has no problem sending children and staff back to a school site in the middle of a pandemic. Brilliant Thinking. One is even running for the County Board.


37 people like this
Posted by bml
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 15, 2020 at 3:33 pm

@Sally
"Nothing is more essential than education"

Try being alive or not having damaged lungs for the rest of your life. I had an aunt that contracted polio, ended up in an iron lung, and died young. She and the family would gladly have lost a year of school to avoid that tragedy.

There are many more important things in life. Maybe not transmitting COVID-19 to one of your parents, grandparents, or teachers and killing them would be one? Maybe not wasting away on a breathing machine for two months could be another?

In classroom teaching is not the only solution for education. Online classes can work and there are many ways to supplement them. This is more work for the parents, but if "nothing is more essential" they will gladly put in the effort.

The problem with "let the experts handle it" is that this is a political issue. I'm not sure who the experts would be right now. Certainly not our government that turned a manageable situation into a large-scale disaster. Even the leaders in the medical community must play the political game. They will say we should be teaching in the classroom. But when pressed will elaborate on the need for proper protocols which aren't defined, aren't funded, and don't exist.

Without COVID-19 under control any talk of putting children in rooms together is pointless. The data, the science, and what we're seeing in other countries supports waiting until we have control. Otherwise we will increase the spread of the virus, kill or damage children, teachers, and parents. We will continue to prolong the disaster which has the potential to get much worse in the fall.

Kudos to the teachers standing up and making themselves heard. As a parent the daily chaos and insanity is maddening. It's crazy how so many school districts across the country are having to create plans on their own. They are rushed, flawed, full of bad comprises, incomplete, fragile, and just not going to work. It's nice to see more groups wake up and take intelligent action.


65 people like this
Posted by PAUSD teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2020 at 3:38 pm

To the parent community,

A little known fact is that PAUSD teachers, as of June 30th, have no choice but to go into the classrooms. It is too late to retire or resign.

Why is that? The PAUSD district has informed instructors that if we did not tender our resignations by June 30th and we did not show up for work then the district then has the OPTION to report the instructor to the California Teacher Credential (CTC) Board. An instructor now faces the very real possibility of having his or her credential being suspended for a year or more. Any suspension would also be noted in any future teaching applications.

In any other profession, one can refuse to work due to unsafe working conditions. At the very least, employees can give a two week notice. Once more, they would not face future career damaging consequences for doing so. Not so for public school teachers.

In Santa Clara county, as of the early days of July, new cases of Covid have jumped from 20 per day to 100 (as referenced in the PAEA open letter to PAUSD). It stands to reason that these numbers will be even higher in the fall.

What are teachers, who are north of 40 years of age (quite a lot of us) with underlying health conditions to do? Go to a classroom and take our chances in not contracting this disease OR resign and face not only a lack of income but worse, a possible suspension of our CTC and face career damaging consequences?

Of course we miss the students, we would never have pursued this profession if we did not love working with young people. However, we do NOT want to risk our lives nor their lives, nor their families' lives.

Please support virtual learning until it is safe for teachers and students to return to the classroom.


24 people like this
Posted by bml
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 15, 2020 at 3:41 pm

@Elementary Teacher
Yes, 100%.

As a community we should all be working together to get through this. This is not just a problem for the schools to deal with. Parents, businesses, government, etc should be pitching in to help. We live in one of the wealthiest communities, with some of the most brilliant minds, and greatest innovators yet we're still reacting and showing little leadership.


41 people like this
Posted by District Teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2020 at 4:10 pm

To add to what @PAUSD teacher posted:
The union asked for an extension of the June 30th date to make decision so teachers could make informed choices about their future because no place was in place and news about the pandemic was changing every day. Austin and the Board did not grant an extension. Oh, and they told us on June 30th that there was no extension being granted. *June 30th.* I am a district teacher, PA taxpayer, and voter and can't wait to vote.


42 people like this
Posted by Secondary Teacher
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 15, 2020 at 4:12 pm

When we started training for code red drills and active shooters, I knew I would place my body between a bullet and child. No second thoughts. No hesitations.
When our community faced the most heartbreaking streak of suicides, I put my emotional health on the line to be there for my students. No second thoughts. No hesitations.
But with cases rising every day, the reality of this virus is asking me to do something I cannot do: place my family at risk in addition to myself. I have more than one family member who would not survive a COVID-19 infection.
When asked to choose between my safety and my profession, I choose my profession - every time. Do not ask me to choose between my profession and the health and safety of my loved ones and my students.
If we cannot deliver fast, non-invasive testing to children, we cannot contact trace and we cannot safely deal with the virus.


24 people like this
Posted by got all the story?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 15, 2020 at 4:12 pm

agree only distance learning after all Palo Alto is a hot spot of Covid, hold on let me check latest stats . oh yeah Palo Alto is a hot spot , sort of , not really, .....not at all.

Good luck to all of you in K-12 as our school teachers attempt to take the easy way out, online will be a disaster as it was in the spring for our son.


50 people like this
Posted by Educator
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2020 at 4:26 pm

I spent 8+ hours a day and worked weekends through distance learning, in addition to taking care of my own children including two PAUSD students and a toddler.

My 1st grade students received a video of every lesson they would have had in class, as well as some kind of virtual assignment to accompany each. I checked in and responded to each of these assignments. All of this was done through Seesaw. It was definitely a rocky start, but as we neared the end, I felt like I gave my students almost the best education possible. The only way it would have been better is more synchronous learning, but due to inequities, we were asked not to do that. This time, they are asking us to do synchronous learning if we are distance teachers. I am tired of reading things about not wanting to work. I worked harder in those three months of teaching than ever before in my entire career!


47 people like this
Posted by Teacher 2
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 4:31 pm

@PAUSD teacher. Yes. Good for the community to know that we are being forced back into the classroom. Shame on the school Board and the disgruntled parents for expecting us to put ourselves at risk despite our repeated rebuffed attempts to find safer compromises. Does the community know that we also forfeited our raise for the upcoming year due to the current financial crisis?

In return, PAUSD refused to listen when teachers said we don't think this is safe. They refused to take our suggested actions that might have enabled us to provide better instruction in the fall. When some of us realized that all the planning for schools opening was centered mostly on parent demands, loosely on student safety, and not at all on teacher safety, some of us were willing to take an unpaid year off to protect ourselves. But PAUSD refused to allow it.
Since the deadline to take a leave of absence had passed before schools had even shut down in March, we asked that the deadline be extended. We were told no. We were told that if we didn't feel safe returning to campus with the current (yet constantly open for revision) plan, our only option was to resign by June 30th. When we asked if we would be given additional sick days if we got COVID we were also told no. Believe me, if I could afford to resign I would have.

The disrespect we have been shown in PAUSD internal email communications, union negotiations, and on all of Palo Alto Online's forums is shameful. When Don Austin was hired, he came in with a reputation for being a "bully" and that seems to be holding true. To be treated like indentured servants, ignored or dismissed each time we express concern or offer solutions, and then being blamed for the district's many failings has been hard to watch. Sadly, I suppose that's exactly how Don Austin and his supporters want it.

I hope they're hiring 200 substitutes. They're gonna need 'em.


25 people like this
Posted by Kindergarten mom
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Jul 15, 2020 at 4:31 pm

The idea that my 5-year old will be able to meaningfully learn online - or even sit at a screen watching some person he has never met before - is laughable. My middle schooler is focused, loves working on computer, but even he felt that he was getting very little out of school last spring. We had to supplement significantly. In Europe, opening schools was an absolute priority and schools were opened, safely, in April and May, while still tackling with Covid. We kept our schools closed and are in a worsening mess nevertheless.


72 people like this
Posted by Elementary School Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 15, 2020 at 4:38 pm

This is to all the teachers who read this:
I am sorry parents are bashing on you and claiming that you don't want to go into the classroom because its easier for you to teach remotely. I know this is entirely false. I know that every or almost every teacher in our school district - as well as in others - did not become a teacher for the salary or the benefits or any such things; I know that teaching children is your calling and thats why you do it. I know how hard it was for teachers to teach the children remotely because I have seen how dedicated everyone was to trying to do the best by our kids. I also know how horribly frustrating it was for the parents because it was not very well executed - not the fault of teachers. Its the fault of our district's administration.
I know that your reasons for not going into the classroom is to protect your students - and their parents who are bashing at you right now. I am so sorry about this.
I am not alone. We are a lot of reasonable parents out there who understand this and appreciate you very much. We are grateful for all you do for our children especially during this horrible time.
Anger at teachers is misplaced. Being angry at the administration and the board is very much justified, but not the teachers.
I hope you read this. Thank you for your amazing work. I, for one, will bake and hand deliver boxes of cookies (once it is safe of course) to all the teachers my child had last year and all he will have this year.
I would also encourage everyone who thinks they have something to bring to the table to consider running for the school board. Board we have now is not willing - or not able - to keep administration accountable. Well, lets replace them with one that will.


40 people like this
Posted by District Teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2020 at 4:59 pm

@Elementary School Parent:
Thank you so much for your post. I certainly can't speak for any other teachers, but I am so grateful for your kind words. We (other teachers and I) have wondered how we can reach out to parents to ask for their help and understanding and your message is reassuring. Thank you!


37 people like this
Posted by Paly teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 5:00 pm

@ Got the whole story. Stop laying the pandemic at teachers feet.

Stop saying we're lazy because we don't want to be part of a grand social experiment to see how many teachers/ students contract the virus if we open up schools even in a hybrid model.

[Portion removed.]


24 people like this
Posted by ??
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 15, 2020 at 5:06 pm

@gotallthestory?

Wait so because Covid hasn’t affected PA it’s not an issue that teachers should be concerned about? Talk about privilege! You know who has been disproportionately affected? A little town just a few miles East of you. East Palo Alto. Those kids are going to be coming to the schools and while you sit in privilege with your “whole story,” teachers will give them the best education they can while being at risk. I don’t know maybe get all the story before you opine?


50 people like this
Posted by Another Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 5:10 pm

@Educator: Ditto. I worked 10-12 hour days while taking care of my elderly at risk parents and my kids, while sitting in on pointless Zoom meetings and reading 50+ emails a day. I could not the coaching I needed from the district, only from fellow teachers. It was so hard.

I wonder if the community knows the myriad things we had going against us - all the things we wanted to do that we were told we were NOT ALLOWED to do:
- establish a Zoom schedule
- require students to attend live online Zoom sessions
- record Zoom sessions for those who couldn't attend
- require students to do anything (for the first 2+ weeks)
- deliver books to students
- ask parents to buy books for students
- require students to open any additional online accounts or download any apps
- return to campus to pick up teaching materials, notes, document cameras, books or make photocopies to send to students

So, basically, to do a quality job last spring was near impossible. I'm not surprised that some teachers "gave up" and dialed it in. However, moving forward, I would like to remind the entire community that:

1. This is a public school -- we cannot possibly deliver the same quality of online learning that your friend's kid in private school is getting. We have financial and legal constraints that private schools do not. We have class sizes twice the size of private schools. We cannot require students to purchase books. We do not have iPads with Pencils that allow us to write in real time on a virtual whiteboard. We do not have an education technology specialist to create a 60 page teachers manual for us to follow when creating online classes and converting our curriculum. If you demand these things, you need to apply to private schools immediately.

2. PAUSD has a large number of students with IEPs and 504s, which adds to the challenges of teaching remotely and following rules for equity and access. (Again, private schools don't have the same restrictions).

3. Unless every single student in the district has Internet and a Chromebook or computer, we can't require students to do as much, if anything, in a remote model. Again, aside from the obvious issues of ethics and fairness, there are actual laws around equity and access that we must follow. So please start donating to PIE or reach out to the PTA and make sure every single student is equipped to participate in online education. This should have been addressed years ago and constantly monitored.

4. Please VOTE YES to bonds and parcel taxes geared toward renovation and replacement of HVAC systems on all school campuses. Ventilation is KEY to reopening safely. Our facilities have been neglected for far too long, and teachers' and administrators' concerns about campus safety (fires, shootings, and now airborne(?) pathogens) have long been ignored or minimized by the district.





35 people like this
Posted by PA Teacher
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2020 at 5:17 pm

Dear Elementary School Parent,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Sincerely, A Teacher


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2020 at 5:19 pm

One problem that I see is that the -virus- discriminates. COVID-19 risk goes up quickly over age 50, and, there are a lot of teachers over age 50. I think it is -fair- to have different job requirements right now for younger teachers vs older teachers. I'm not sure how I think it should work, but, it makes sense to me that young teachers could be in the classroom with young students, and, older teachers might be better assigned to remote learning. Just a thought.


14 people like this
Posted by Science only
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2020 at 5:38 pm

If we’re following the science then why aren’t we opening schools up as recommended by pediatricians?

Web Link

If is unfathomable to me that people do not see this entire situation for the extreme political diatribe that it is. Not just the back-to-school but the business shut downs, the increased pressure to SIP, it is all POLITICAL and has not been based on science for months. And I thought this was such an intelligent and educated community. [Portion removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Secondary Teacher
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 15, 2020 at 5:40 pm

Only secondary level questioning here: I'm so confused. Before the signed letter it had switched from hybrid model to online. Around the month mark we reassess. Regardless of negotiations we go back to empty classrooms right? That's where we are recording our synchronous sessions? I've seen four different models now and I have so many questions.....


15 people like this
Posted by Sad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 15, 2020 at 6:02 pm

[Post removed.]


31 people like this
Posted by Teacher Supporter
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 6:05 pm

@got all the story?
PAUSD serves children from Palo Alto and East Palo Alto (and other cities) and has employees from all over the bay area. Conveniently forgetting that reflects a certain level of privilege. Are you aware of the infection rates for all of the cities our PAUSD community members live in? How about just Palo Alto and East Palo Alto? Since you are incredibly unaware I doubt you realize that the infection rate in EPA is just over 6x what it is in PA. Are you saying that because Palo Alto isn't a hot spot there is no risk to the teachers and students?


19 people like this
Posted by Another Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 6:15 pm

@Secondary Teacher: Yes -- online at first. My concern is that they are requiring us to stream from our classrooms. I have safety concerns about shared bathrooms, poor ventilation, windows that don't open, HVAC that doesn't work or isn't well filtered. They are putting us at risk for no benefit to students. Also, being required to be on campus is challenging if not impossible for working parents when our kids' schools are closed and childcare and carpooling options are extremely limited now. And given how this first two months of negotiations has gone, I doubt we will agree with the district as to when it is safe to allow students to return.


21 people like this
Posted by Another Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 6:25 pm

@Science Only: The AAP retracted its recommendation, I believe. Web Link

Many healthcare experts now believe that kids aged 13 and over transmit COVID to each other and to the adults around them at a rate similar to adult-adult transmission. Either way, "there’s no scientific consensus on the infectiousness of children — and that has many health officials urging caution." Web Link


17 people like this
Posted by What's good for the Goose
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 15, 2020 at 6:30 pm

No one should be forced into the classroom. If the district requires that, then I'd say all senior administrators need to spend AT LEAST one full day a week in a classroom helping the teachers, including the board and Don Austin who seems hell-bent on putting students in seats.

Given that, I'm not a fan, by any means, of how the vast majority of Paly teachers handled the spring. Given that those teachers already have a pass for the fall, I think it's imperative to hear from the PAEA EXACTLY what they've been doing to prepare for August. Demonstrate to the parents and the district that you are more prepared and committed to providing quality online learning. Streaming does not have to occur from a classroom. You can stream from your kitchen, living room, bedroom, garage, patio, etc...

What is frustrating is that PAEA acts as if it can't be done from home, and they don't want to go into school, yet they don't seem willing to put in the extra effort to try make it work doing it from home. Teachers can't just refuse both options.

Don Austin stated that over half of the teachers have signed up to prepare "or some degree of distance / hybrid learning in August." Why haven't all teachers already been preparing for online learning?


15 people like this
Posted by Chris C.
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 15, 2020 at 6:52 pm

@Teacher Supporter: Thank you. I honestly never thought about the difference in infection rates in East Palo Alto. It is because I only obsess over the Santa Clara Covid Dashboard, and of course that doesn't show EPA.

The numbers, as of now: Palo Alto has had 19.2 cases per 10k population. East Palo Alto has had 111.0 cases per 10k population.

Given the number of VTP students in our schools (and I would expect those students to choose the hybrid option at a higher rate), that difference in infection rates is important.


16 people like this
Posted by Josh
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 15, 2020 at 6:53 pm

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by Joan
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 15, 2020 at 7:06 pm

@Another Teacher, Palo Alto High School:
The AAP did not "retract its recommendation" of sending children back to school this fall. It just clarified some of its points to ensure a safe return. Read their actual statement, not NPR's spin on it.

Web Link


25 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 7:08 pm

Regarding the American Academy of Pediatrics' "recommendation" to open schools: They never said schools should open. They said "all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school." Of course that should be the goal. It's what everyone from teachers to parents to kids wants. But it's just a goal, not a mandate, not even a recommendation. Media outlets, even NPR (Web Link), twisted their words and said doctors are calling for the reopening of schools. Then in a statement linked by Another Teacher, they seemed to walk by their statement. Bottom line is they didn't recommend schools reopen in their first statement and they're not saying to do so now. This is a prime example of what we teachers tell our kids: read the source, not what someone thinks of it.

@What's good for the Goose: I empathize with your frustrations but I think you're expressing them in the wrong way:

-"Given that, I'm not a fan, by any means, of how the vast majority of Paly teachers handled the spring..." That's a pretty broad statement that depends on a lot of anecdote and speculation given your children, if you have any, have at most 15% of Paly's teachers.
-"Given that those teachers already have a pass for the fall..." What does this even mean?
-"I think it's imperative to hear from the PAEA EXACTLY what they've been doing to prepare for August." Why are you blaming the union for us teachers being unprepared for remote learning? If you're unhappy with an employee, you go complain to management, not the union. If you insist on blaming PAEA, two things they have been doing to prepare us are pushing the district to move professional development days to before school resumes and fighting to get us the quality professional development we need to teach our kids.
-"What is frustrating is that PAEA acts as if it can't be done from home..." What? By it, do you mean teaching remotely? Where has PAEA said teachers can't do this from home other than we need training to do so?
-"Why haven't all teachers already been preparing for online learning?" Basically because we weren't provided such preparation in the spring. Sure, during the fall we were provided some informal Schoology primers but many of us were busy trying to convert our lessons to remote ones. During the summer, many of us are learning from an online professional development course the district put together.

@Residents and others calling for or suggesting board members or Don should be replaced: I generally don't share that sentiment. I think it's natural to find people to blame for any disaster but I don't think anyone is at fault here. It's just a terrible situation. There is no playbook to follow, not even morsels of hints to work off of. I think Jennifer DiBrienza and Shounak Dharap have been particularly thoughtful and responsive to all parts of the community. Todd Collins less so, but he did create a pretty important committee on Halloween 2018 so I'd vote for him in November. Melissa Baten Caswell threw her weight behind getting the Visual Performing Arts instructional leaders funded but let those of other departments wither away so she's a no go from me for her run at the county board of education. As for Don Austin...I don't agree with all of his decisions nor how he reaches them but I believe he's doing the best he or anyone can.


30 people like this
Posted by Another Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 7:18 pm

@What's good for the goose:

Everything you are upset about is based on your misunderstanding of the facts:

1. We ARE being forced back into the classroom, to stream lessons from our classrooms for no good reason other than to pacify parents like you who blame us for everything.

2. PAEA has, unfortunately, had to spend all summer trying to negotiate compromises with little success. Preparing for school to open is not PAEAs job. Training teachers to teach online is not PAEAs job. Negotiating for teacher safety and compensation is. PAEA has succeeded in getting all teachers to agree to forfeit the raise we were going to receive for this upcoming year. They have also succeeded in getting the district to agree to offer teacher training, but are still trying to convince the district that we should be compensated $684 doing that training over our summer "vacation" when we are not contracted or paid to work at all.

3. You are correct -- streaming does not have to happen from the classroom. HOWEVER -- it is the district that is requiring it. Please speak to the Board and Don Austin because THEY are the ones telling us we will be required to stream from our classrooms. PAEA has spend countless hours trying to convince the district that we should be allowed to teach from home. Requiring us to report to campus exposes us to some risk even though students are not present -- there are safety concerns with shared bathrooms, old and broken HVAC systems, and poor ventilation in classrooms.

This requirement also ignores the very real challenges for working parents whose kids will be at home because their schools are closed, and parents with small children who now have very limited childcare or carpooling options available during this time. Don Austin said we should all just put our kids in childcare for essential workers. Even if this were available, that would expose our children and therefore our entire families, to more risk.

I think it is outrageous that we are being forced to expose our selves and our families to additional risk for ZERO benefit to students.

4. ALL of us are required to complete the online training that the district just last week began to offer. However, as I said above, the district is still bickering with PAEA as to if and how we will be paid for doing so.

Please direct your concerns and criticisms at the Board and Don Austin. They are the inflexible ones here, not PAEA. Thank you.


35 people like this
Posted by Another Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 7:41 pm

@Josh:
Why only 300-400 signatures?: probably because we only had one day's notice and many of us didn't know about it in time. I signed the letter two hours after the very quick deadline but it had already been sent out.

Also, we are not paid 12 months a year -- we are on a 10 month contract. Our UNPAID summer is 9 weeks long. Our "paid vacation" is then one week in April, one week over Thanksgiving, and two weeks over the Christmas holidays. And I'm not complaining -- 4 weeks paid vacation per year is wonderful. In case you are curious (you seem like the type), I make about $75 an hour after 20 years of teaching. And in case you think that's too much since I also get "free healthcare" on top of that (again, you seem like the type), I do not subscribe to any healthcare benefits from the district (because my spouse's benefits are much better and cheaper) nor do I get any "cash back" from declining benefits, so it can't be argued that benefits supplement my seemingly either already exorbitant or deceptively low salary. Thanks for your support.


22 people like this
Posted by Josh is CORRECT
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 15, 2020 at 7:48 pm

@Josh.

As Josh stated a few comments ago why did only 500 or so teachers sign?! Oh well I dont know I mean because employers have never not once been known to retaliate? How obtuse do you have to be? Come on buddy you’re making Josh’s all over sound bad.

Also now that I have your attention you should know that teachers do not get paid for the time they don’t spend in the classroom during the summer. They only get paid for the school year. However, there’s this wonderful thing we’re teachers can divert some of their pay so that they can get a check during the summer, cause you know, just because it’s summer vacation that doesn’t mean bills stop, but you wouldn’t know anything about that because you choose to believe a fairy tar that you’ve carried from your days in grade school.

To everyone claiming teachers just want to work less, yeah you don’t know how much teachers work so your opinion means nothing in this conversation.


14 people like this
Posted by Midtown51
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 8:01 pm

Teachers lives matter. Teachers' lives are at stake. Also in-person education will stop for everyone the instant the first teacher falls ill.
* All students and staff should wear cloth face coverings in accordance with state of California requirements. Everyone admits that this is safer than no face coverings.
* Classrooms should be outdoors. Everyone admits this is safer. What's the hold up on it?

Please work this out, board. Please do your job.


7 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 15, 2020 at 8:48 pm

The Science and Data is constantly evolving:

Web Link

Protect the children.


10 people like this
Posted by a community member
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2020 at 8:54 pm

While I agree with their conclusion, the tone of the letter highly underestimates the children at all ages they teach. It's rather insulting as a parent.

Wish they would focus on the COVID-19 spike and safety resources not yet available, rather than presenting children how they did.


33 people like this
Posted by Teacher Supporter
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 9:05 pm

@Josh
Teachers aren’t given 3 months paid vacation. They earn a 10 month salary. Many take other jobs during the summer to make ends meet. When I was a teacher in another district (that actually paid better than PAUSD) I had to teach summer school every year. I’m glad @Another Teacher dropped some knowledge on you. You are uninformed and cruel to suggest that teachers don’t want to go back. Teaching online is much more challenging than teaching in person and I know teachers will work hard and do their best because I used to be one (btw I make way more money in the private sector with far less stress) and I NEVER met a single teacher who didn’t care about providing the best possible experience for their students. (I’m not suggesting every teacher is perfect and I’m aware I’m using my availability heuristic but its ridiculous to think people become teachers because they like having summers off or try to make kids miserable. Teachers on the whole are caring, passionate, intelligent people who want to make a positive difference in the lives of children.)


29 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 15, 2020 at 9:19 pm

@Paly Teacher - You act as if you have no control over improving your own ability to do your job. Are you just sitting around waiting for the district to provide you with the training and even if they do provide it you need to haggle over the payment? That's fine. Just don't wax on about how you love teaching and miss the kids and it's all about the kids.

How will three days of training immediately preceding the school year prepare you sufficiently to, as many teachers claim, stop on a dime and train in an entirely new way? Why did PAEA not ask to have this training done at the end of last year when there was little to no teaching being done? That would have given you all summer to work on ways to improve.

@Another Teacher - Same thing. Have you just been sitting around waiting to be told what to do? Is it all about money and contracts? Are you not allowed to do something extra that is not specifically spelled out in the contract? Heaven forbid. Do you really think teachers deserve a raise for this year given last quarter's fiasco and the fact that expectations will end up being pretty low this year? Will the union also negotiate no evaluations for teachers this year?

Are you serious that teachers will not take the training because they might not get paid $684? That's what 3 days worth of pay?

You replied to one commenter that you're being forced back into the classroom "for no good reason other than to pacify parents like you who blame us for everything." Wow. Reading that person's comment, they actually said that they don't think you should go back into the classroom and that the board and Dr. Austin should be made to sit in a classroom.

Can't wait to hear PAEA's statement supporting the new parcel tax and Prop 15 and how each and every teacher cares deeply about all students and families.

Stop blaming the district and/or the union for not being prepared. Everyone knew this was coming.


27 people like this
Posted by JD
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2020 at 9:26 pm

Teachers don’t want to teach, fine with me.

How about we just blow up the system and furlough most of the PAUSD employees and give our kids a year off? Pick it back up fall of 2021. Keep free lunches running and offer day care on campuses in small not-intermingled groups for people who need it.

That would be preferable to me for my middle schoolers than the travesty that was distance learning last spring.

My kids have two full time working parents that do not have time to also be teachers.


3 people like this
Posted by some other information
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 15, 2020 at 10:19 pm

Some of the comments about East Palo Alto above can be read in a distressing way -- that teachers (who are mostly white) don't want to teach (in person) reduced size groups of elementary school students in part because some of them live in EPA (and are mostly students of color), where case numbers are higher. We shouldn't lose sight of the racial and economic inequality of all remote learning (as studies show that lower income children don't do as well in that context). I know wealthier families who have hired tutors in response to remote learning, which further worsens inequalities. (I will pay for childcare for my elementary school child so I can work: I will be teaching young adults in person, in small groups and with appropriate safety measures). There are clearly important and complex health assessments to be made for students and staff (and their families) in any decision. I trust Dr. Cody will help in that. But there are additional assessments that matter to me as well. For instance, I am curious what percentage of families who qualify for free or reduced school lunch prefer the hybrid option for their elementary school students.


16 people like this
Posted by Kathy
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jul 15, 2020 at 10:25 pm

How about everyone follows the law that the teachers' union agreed to at the state level? AB77. It calls for 'In person instruction to the greatest extent possible.' Distance learning is permitted if there's an order from the public health officer - and there is no such order in Santa Clara County.


26 people like this
Posted by Another Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 10:48 pm

@Samuel L.: That is not what either of us were saying. Every teacher is required to do the training, whether we get paid for our time or not. I don't think it's unreasonable for the teachers to ask to be compensated if we are told we must complete the training over our summer vacation.

The training was not offered earlier because the district was not prepared until now. None of us were. We taught ourselves and each other how to do EVERYTHING last spring. But we are not technology teachers, and most of us had never even heard of Zoom, digital whiteboards, or Screencastify before. I believe 98% of teachers did the absolute best we could to fend for and educate ourselves with very few resources and constantly changing rules. Now it is up to the district and the community to support us as we try to do a better job in round two. PAEA is not in charge of or in control of the training -- that is the district's job. Yes, I do believe the district has a responsibility to train its employees when the job description completely changes mid-stream (no pun intended).

I would think it would be hard to blame us for not seeking out and paying for our own additional training in the middle of a pandemic when our employer forces us to use the same online platform and kept insisting that, despite all indications otherwise, schools would be opening in the fall.

As for "we all saw this coming," yes we sure did! Teachers have been BEGGING the Board and Don Austin for WEEKS (actually, since May) to start preparing us for online teaching rather than wasting everyone's time and money planning for the unrealistic and unsafe plan to return in person. They have not done so until now.


13 people like this
Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 15, 2020 at 11:10 pm

1. Preschools have been open through the shelter and there has not been a surge. If preschools can be open, why can't elementary schools?

2. Masks are extremely effective and we can mandate masks. Why does the CTA think that masks are not effective?

3. UV lights, open windows and doors, and air filtration can improve safety substantially. Why is district admin not all over capital safety improvements? We have capital funds from the bond measure.

4. Where are the students in all this?


37 people like this
Posted by Mother of three
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 15, 2020 at 11:11 pm

It is simply not safe to have children return to school. Not safe for teachers, students or parents at home. I would like to see the district enact a more stabilizing plan to keep everyone at home through the first half of the year. The plan to send children or not based on a weekly evaluation will cause everyone more stress and uncertainty in an already stressful time.


37 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 15, 2020 at 11:18 pm

I support the teachers. Let's do what we can to minimize the spread of the virus this fall and keep our teachers and our families safe. Oh, and if you are calling our teachers lazy or selfish because they don't want to get sick, or get their own families sick, you should look in the mirror. There's something not right with you.


31 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 15, 2020 at 11:24 pm

How about everyone follows the law that the teachers' union agreed to at the state level? AB77. It calls for 'In person instruction to the greatest extent possible.' Distance learning is permitted if there's an order from the public health officer - and there is no such order in Santa Clara County.
No. That will not happen.
How about we just blow up the system and furlough most of the PAUSD employees and give our kids a year off? Pick it back up fall of 2021. Keep free lunches running and offer day care on campuses in small not-intermingled groups for people who need it.
No. Again...that is not happening.
Amazing how far people will go to avoid going to work! Especially for people who get a paid three-month vacation every year.
Not true. That is misinformation. Your child will be provided with online instruction. Schools are only required to provide an education.
Can't wait to hear PAEA's statement supporting the new parcel tax and Prop 15 and how each and every teacher cares deeply about all students and families.
Taxes.... We are in a dangerous year and we will be in distance learning for the foreseeable future.
Make the necessary adjustments for this school year and try to be more supportive of these wonderful teachers.
The schools should open to the full extent permitted by the governing health authorities. They are the experts, not you, not me, not the teachers' union. Nothing is more essential than education, and the effectiveness of this forced distance-learning is pretty distressing.
Just...no.

Peoples lives are at stake.
Web Link

Newsom shut down indoor activities again and yet you want classrooms to open up.
Web Link


27 people like this
Posted by Another Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2020 at 11:32 pm

@ Covid-19 Ready:

Yes, please to: UV lights, open windows and doors, and air filtration can improve safety substantially. Why is district admin not all over capital safety improvements? We have capital funds from the bond measure.

These projects take time and money, and the time to get started is now while campuses are empty. What if the vaccine isn't 100% effective? What if it takes two years? Herd immunity seems like a very distant dream. None of us want to be doing distance learning any longer than necessary, and addressing ventilation and filtration issues has been "on the list" for years but has never been more important than it is now.


18 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 15, 2020 at 11:40 pm

Preschools have been open through the shelter and there has not been a surge. If preschools can be open, why can't elementary schools?
Then they got lucky at those preschools.
Web Link

2. Masks are extremely effective and we can mandate masks. Why does the CTA think that masks are not effective?
Will parents argue about mask mandates? Will students keep their masks on correctly and perfectly for hours at a time indoors?
Web Link


38 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2020 at 11:44 pm

@Teachers - sometimes I wish it were possible for everyone to organize something major or even take your classroom for one day, I think some of the attitudes would be very different.

I heard a young woman express her concerns about going back to school in person this way: She said, This feels like an experiment, and I don't want me and my family experimented on.

And she's right. We don't know what will happen with Covid in the fall. We do know that online instruction can be just fine (Stanford Online HS is ranked among the best schools in the country now.)

We have 12,000 students. Let's say they experience a 5% rate of infection, that's 600 students. If just 1% of those infected die, that's 6 kids dead. I don't think that's worth it, but of course, that's a hypothetical that wouldn't happen. What's more likely to happen is that there is a cluster somewhere and a child or a teacher dies or is severely ill, and the reopening that we put so many resources into has to be disrupted and we're no better off than in the fall.

We should just put everything we have into making sure this is the best fall of distance learning anyone can imagine, and that people for whom it absolutely cannot work are provided for (working with the county health department to ensure safety).

Good thoughts to all teachers and parents facing the difficult choices.


15 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2020 at 11:46 pm

What's more likely to happen is that there is a cluster somewhere and a child or a teacher dies or is severely ill, and the reopening that we put so many resources into has to be disrupted and we're no better off than in the fall.

Sorry, of course I meant "spring"...


40 people like this
Posted by A Teacher
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 16, 2020 at 12:31 am

Thank you to all the people who support teachers. It's really disheartening to read comments that accuse teachers of being lazy and not wanting to go back to work. We love the children and we are very passionate about teaching them.

In fact, many of us worked 10 to 12 hours a day teaching, planning, and preparing before this pandemic started. We also prepared on the weekends and many of us worked in the classroom on Sundays. The last 2 months of school, the teachers often worked 14 to 15 hours a day to give our students the best education we could considering many of us were not tech savvy. We didn't have a spring break because we spent that entire week learning about Schoology to prepare for phase 3. The district did a pretty job at providing training for the asynchronous teaching under such short notice. The long days also included zooming with kids who struggled. The asynchronous teaching was not ideal, but during these unprecedented times, we did the best we could. I'm super proud of our work and the parents were supportive. I'd never worked so hard in my teaching career and many of my colleagues would say the same.

We want to be back in the classroom and teach our students, but we want to make sure that it's safe to do so. Unfortunately, the data is not giving us peace of mind at this point. I also have a husband and my own children to go home to. In addition, if I get infected and survive, the studies are showing that my lungs might be permanently damaged. We don't know enough about the virus to take these chances.

PAUSD is currently offering a course to help teachers be better prepared for distance learning and I'm enjoying it so far. I'm looking forward to learning more tips and strategies to improve our online teaching skills. Online learning will be different from the experience the kids got in April and May.

Again, to people like @Josh, it's pretty rude to say that we're trying to avoid work and that we get 3 months of paid vacation. Don't post uninformed comments like that. Thanks @Another Teacher for schooling this guy. Teachers choose this profession because we love teaching children, interacting with them, and seeing them grow. We didn't sign up to sit at home and teach them from a computer. That's not fun for us, but that's what we'll do to keep our families and the greater community safe. That's why we're spending a chunk of our summer taking this course and collaborating to provide a solid online learning experience for the kiddos. We love them and miss them!


23 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 16, 2020 at 12:40 am

Online classes have positives:

Good for introverts who may not participate in person but will online

If taped, good for kids who need a rewind and playback.

No such thing as asynchronous or synchronous farts in online classes.

Good teachers in person will be good online

The real problem was the teachers who did nothi g but send work on multiple sights and did not check for understanding or care.

Also the district needs to stop ignoring parents reporting critical info and act on negative feedback instead of calling it fake news.

The superintendent has good policy and thinks it is being followed because he is asking the wrong people. Like asking a kid if their room is clean but never looking . They can look now.


28 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 16, 2020 at 8:32 am

I am ok if teachers are not willing to return physically to campuses. PAUSD should then look into staff reductions, pay cut and reallocate resources to household so parents can take over teaching our children while earning a living at the same time. We should also expect our property tax be either reduced or any special tax parcels be defeated this November. Meanwhile our wonderful and dedicated teachers cannot have their cake and eat it too.


6 people like this
Posted by CantBelieveThis
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 16, 2020 at 8:53 am

We are still discussing this?
It’s so simple to resolve this: it’s mandatory that all district members move to school to do in person services.


24 people like this
Posted by Educator/Health Care& Palo Alto HS Supporter
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2020 at 9:01 am

I encourage administrators to learn more about COVID and evidence-based mitigation from our healthcare experts. This is separate knowledge from state or county re opening plans. We are currently in a surge and do not have sufficient data and knowledge about spread and infections in children but do know that high school students spread much like adults. Opening schools for in person instruction would be irresponsible and dangerous for students, families, educators and staff and all those they come in contact with. Let education be a part of the solution by committing to teaching remotely until there is a vaccine or treatment.


14 people like this
Posted by Curious Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 16, 2020 at 9:14 am

@Silver Linings said:
>We have 12,000 students. Let's say they experience a 5% rate of infection, that's 600 >students. If just 1% of those infected die, that's 6 kids dead.

@Silver Linings, while I mostly agree with your conclusions, your math is way, way off. Kids do not have a 1% mortality rate. In fact, in Santa Clara county there have been 2100 confirmed Covid cases in people under 30 years old and 0 deaths. In California, there have been 29K confirmed cases in people under 18 and 0 deaths. Nationally, there have been 29 Covid deaths of people under 18. If you assume that 5% of kids nationally have already gotten the virus (and it is probably much higher than this in reality), you are looking at a death rate of approximately 1 in 100K for those under 18 who catch Covid. So, to use your numbers, if 600 kids in PAUSD get infected, we would be looking at 0.006 deaths. Even if ALL 12000 kids get infected, we would expect 0.12 deaths. If you think that any number above 0 is too much, or if you think it is immoral to talk about numbers when looking at risk to kids, then these numbers are still too high. But death among our students is low probability.

Having said that, the danger to teachers and family members of our students is much higher. Also, if opening schools will cause a surge of cases and deaths among other groups then opening schools is a bad idea...I have seen conflicting studies about whether this is true.

If you are an older teacher (60+) or have health issues or live with a family member in a high risk group, you have a very valid reason to be concerned. Perhaps, when we start thinking of how to go back to school, we can find a way to have kids return even if there are fewer teachers physically present. Maybe it would be a good time for us all to re-read "Lord of the Flies" :-).


39 people like this
Posted by Caring Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2020 at 9:22 am

If PAUSD board is only conducting meetings online.. it is hypocritical to suggest that teachers can risk their lives to teach. Online schooling is the only option.


38 people like this
Posted by Believeit
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 16, 2020 at 9:22 am

@cantbelievethis
If it’s really that simple...you can come and teach in my no opening window, one door classroom (which I share with another teacher) and instruct the 150+ students I have each week. Oh, and of course you will be exposed to the students’ families as well making your risk contact list 400+ per week. Also, you should know students always come to school sick so if you are counting on them staying home...that’s not how it works. Oh, and you share a bathroom with 25+ colleagues. And don’t forget going to the copy room that everyone uses. Most likely you’ll be sick with Covid within the first month of school. Do you have any at-risk family you might take Covid home to? Do you have any pre-existing conditions? Auto-immune diseases? Are you in an age group where these is a chance you might not survive or if you do survive have lung damage for the rest of you life? Are you are willing to be around 150+ students for 8 hours a day with little/to no PPE? I doubt it. I’m not willing to sacrifice my and my families health for the rest of our lives. That is not selfish, it’s rational. Not so simple.

We can do our job from home and many of us did last spring under no leadership/training. To be clear, many of us worked 10-12 hour days learning new technology and trying our best to connect with students in a meaningful way and we will continue to do so. This is not ideal, it’s not normal, it is necessary. Protecting our teachers and students is necessary. Stop blaming the union. They are trying to protect the health of their members when no one else is talking about it. Our district has major work to do in creating an actual plan that is safe for all. Until then...we distance learn.


12 people like this
Posted by PA cases-low
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2020 at 9:23 am

I wish the governor/county/distrist/teacher union look at the cases by cities. Positive cases in Palo Alto is very low. Most people here wear masks when in indoor and outdoor(if hard to keep 6 ft distance). We could utilize the open space and nice weather for the hybrid format. It's way better than online learning for hours everyday.


28 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Fletcher Middle School
on Jul 16, 2020 at 9:59 am

While the Palo Alto cases may be low, East Palo Alto cases are 6x higher.
Let's not forget that most teachers do not live in Palo Alto. They are commuting from all over the bay. Some from areas with much, much higher cases.


9 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 16, 2020 at 10:20 am

@SilverLinings,

"I believe 98% of teachers did the absolute best we could to fend for and educate ourselves."

I don't think I have ever encountered any group of humans where 98% did the "absolute best" that they could at anything.

We only have anecdotal information about how things went down last spring but the parents are not at all happy. So many stories have that "not even trying" feeling.

I support the teachers' desire to have online this fall. I have grave doubts about whether many teachers will give it a real try or have much success.

One thing that bothers me is that teachers want to be paid to learn about OL. It seems to me that teachers should be clamoring to give up their vacation to improve their collective performance and show the community that they can do their jobs. People are watching like they seldom do.


8 people like this
Posted by Please Stick with the Science
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2020 at 10:24 am

PAUSD already had the best science-informed approach, elementary school in-person under safe reduced conditions, and older kids at home fully remote. That plan made developmental sense too.

Any shift away from that is ignoring our best science. Teachers should be listened to on how to teach, but their cherry-picking of medical data isn't science, and isn't helpful. Ignoring science is why we are in a mess.

See UCSF's update on COVID-19 and children, and you'll see the current PAUSD plan is best, please don't change based it on emotions and fears.
Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by Fool me once
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 16, 2020 at 10:38 am

I'd be more sympathetic to the teachers' concerns if they had actually educated my HS student this spring, but instruction was an utter joke.


24 people like this
Posted by A Teacher
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 16, 2020 at 10:40 am

It was a pleasure reading all the different viewpoints. These times are hard for us all and taking time to write a response is cathartic at least. First I just want to say that I love teaching and It is a huge part of my life. I can’t wait to get back in the classroom and teach the way I know is best for students. Having said that, we cannot go back to school with the risk of death being so high. If we can get our numbers in control, like New York has done, we can go back and celebrate and learn together again. In the meantime, we must learn remotely. This is a temporary blip in all our lives. It is tough on all of us. The loss of independence and loved ones is astronomical. We must follow the CDC guidelines and social distance a while more. Then, when it is safe, the school will be there for all families and we will rebuild what needs fixing. We will be a stronger community because of all the sacrifices. Also, know that the teachers will work tirelessly, as we always do, to support families. Your children will still learn. They will learn how to use technology to be better readers, writers, scientists, mathematicians and even artists. All these subjects will continue to be taught plus a whole lot more. They will learn different social etiquette for online learning too. We will continue to communicate, just differently. I can’t wait to see what all the children learn and how much better the world will be with students who know multiple ways of learning and ways of communicating. They will be empowered to make the world a better place through multiple small actions including wearing a mask or learning remotely. It will be hard. But as a community we can do it. Let’s beat this virus and keep all our people safe.


9 people like this
Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 16, 2020 at 10:41 am

Maybe the school district should consider only having K-2 or K-3 in person. That would reduce risk even further from a public health perspective (fewer teachers and kids mixing), and that's the age for whom distance instruction isn't actually possible. They could then do some shuffling among elementary teachers to take high risk teachers out of that age group as an added precaution (though the rate in Palo Alto is so low that the risk is low right now -- if that were to change then they should move everything to distance).

I also think that if they do in person they should mandate masks for kids, and just say that kids who cannot abide by that requirement will need to join in the distance learning option. Many kids will be able to wear masks the whole day -- my 6-year-old can, and from what I've seen so can his friends.

No option is going to be perfect but given the low prevalence in Palo Alto and the fact that daycares and summer camps here haven't caused big outbreaks (and daycares here have been full of the kids of essential workers for a while now), this seems like a reasonable option.


9 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Grandmother
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 10:41 am

Fascinating to see just how many "experts" posting on this story have definite opinions and even expertise in the on-line learning area. BUT - I do not see any indication that these people are doing anything other than crying in the wind and demanding immediate action. Have any of you actually gone to PAUSD management or to the school board and volunteered to help? Throwing angry words and demands at problems does not solve them. If you have developed extensive on-line learning and communications tools - step up!!! I hold no brief for the teacher's union, but it sounds as if the teachers themselves need help with this. Sooooooo what are you going to do?


19 people like this
Posted by John Evans
a resident of Escondido School
on Jul 16, 2020 at 10:48 am

It is a false premise to say that we are choosing between "the science" and "emotions." Neither is settled. Both are changing, as we gather more information, in this first stage of the pandemic. A quick internet search of "long term effects covid children" will turn up some terrifying unknowns from reputable sources. The virus is new, so long-term effects in children are unknown. The linked COVID infection targeting children primarily, MIS-C, seems to be causing scarring in the lungs of asymptomatic children. I would hate to expose my children to so many terrifying uncertainties. I would hate also to unwittingly spread the infection to the staff and teachers who will teach, protect, and support my children in school in the coming years. In this way, science and emotion come together to motivate me toward an abundance of caution when making this decision.


4 people like this
Posted by @John Evans
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2020 at 10:54 am

Watch the 14min from the panel of world-leading Children health scientists at UCSF and then I would much value your insights:
Web Link (it's only 14min long, part of the problem is we rely on social media+traditional media's interpretation of science, lets go straight to the science, otherwise, we are part of the problem)


17 people like this
Posted by Stickwiththescience
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 16, 2020 at 10:54 am

@pleasestickwiththescience
I believe in science, but let's be very clear...the science is continually evolving and we do not have absolute confirmation that elementary age students do not spread the virus. We do know a small percentage of younger students do suffer and have auto-immune reactions. We also do not know the long term effects of this virus both for adults and children. Will this cause lasting neurological damage, cardiovascular damage, lung damage? I think I would rather be cautious and protect all. A death of one teacher or student is unacceptable. We need MORE science before we proceed.


2 people like this
Posted by @resident of Fairmeadow
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2020 at 11:09 am

There is still a lot to learn about COVID-19 and we need to listen to what scientists are already reporting. Web Link

Also, we already do know the dangers of developmental delays for younger children. Most of PAUSD families provide enriching environments but not all. What is the unions position of PAUSD+ for the most vulnerable?


21 people like this
Posted by Broken McLaptop
a resident of Addison School
on Jul 16, 2020 at 11:36 am

Really? Teacher's union is suggesting I try to plug my kinder into a laptop everyday at home, try to get him logged into 15 separate websites and then watch some dance-math videos? Like we tried in the spring. Holy hell.


9 people like this
Posted by Paly mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2020 at 11:39 am

I prefer going back to high school for 2 days a week for my kid. It's more for mental wellness than academic. When you go to stores, customers and workers wear masks and cashiers work behind the plastic panels/shields all day. It works. How come our public schools can't do this?

Casti kids are going back in person this Fall.


7 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 11:41 am

I am ok if teachers are not willing to return physically to campuses. PAUSD should then look into staff reductions, pay cut and reallocate resources to household so parents can take over teaching our children while earning a living at the same time. We should also expect our property tax be either reduced or any special tax parcels be defeated this November. Meanwhile our wonderful and dedicated teachers cannot have their cake and eat it too.
Taxes.... No. Things will not go your way. Teachers will not lose their jobs and they will be paid. We will be online for the foreseeable future. Please make the necessary adjustments and please work on being more supportive. Also, your taxes will likely increase. That has nothing to do with the teachers so stop playing the blame game.
We are still discussing this?
It’s so simple to resolve this: it’s mandatory that all district members move to school to do in person services.
No. No it’s not. You are not allowed to make mandates regarding people’s lives. This is life or death so stop it.
So, to use your numbers, if 600 kids in PAUSD get infected, we would be looking at 0.006 deaths. Even if ALL 12000 kids get infected, we would expect 0.12 deaths
Too much math here to try to prove a point. Children have been mostly shielded from the pandemic. There are too many unknowns.
I'd be more sympathetic to the teachers' concerns if they had actually educated my HS student this spring, but instruction was an utter joke.
No one needs your sympathy. We will be back online for the foreseeable future. Get used to it and make the necessary adjustments.
Maybe the school district should consider only having K-2 or K-3 in person. That would reduce risk even further from a public health perspective (fewer teachers and kids mixing)
No it would not. Teachers would still mix in and be exposed to all of their contacts.
Any shift away from that is ignoring our best science. Teachers should be listened to on how to teach, but their cherry-picking of medical data isn't science, and isn't helpful. Ignoring science is why we are in a mess.
No it’s not. No one wants to risk their lives or the lives of their family members over your “science” that is currently evolving with a new disease. 3 months ago they were reporting that children were “immune” from COVID and we found out that wasn’t true at all. Please stop “citing the science” to try to get your way. We will be online for the foreseeable future.


15 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2020 at 11:46 am

My heart goes out to the teachers, parents and the kids. I understand their concerns. There is inherent risk in everyday living. Teachers need to be in the classroom, and kids need to be in school. Distance learning is putting the ball in the parents court to teach their children, and education belongs in the hands of the teachers. That's what they're paid to do, despite the pandemic. A lot of parents are working at home or perhaps essential workers. Teachers... please keep the kids in mind, and set your fears aside. You owe it to the children... and thank you for all you do.


18 people like this
Posted by Let's be real here....
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2020 at 11:47 am

Schools need to re-open. Our kids need it. If you are a teacher over the age of 50, or a teacher with a co-morbidity, you should opt to be the assigned "distance learning" teacher - and you should request that you "distance teach" from home. If you don't fall under the above category, feel comfy with the fact that the American Pediatrics folks say it's safe to be around kids as they are not "spreaders", put on your mask, get some Lysol, and our kids look forward to seeing you - bright eyed and bushy tailed on August 17th.


5 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 11:53 am

I prefer going back to high school for 2 days a week for my kid. It's more for mental wellness than academic. When you go to stores, customers and workers wear masks and cashiers work behind the plastic panels/shields all day. It works. How come our public schools can't do this? Casti kids are going back in person this Fall.
For your mental well being or your child’s mental well being?
It’s already been stated repeatedly that High School students will spread COVID like adults.
Here is a link to an article about COVID spread with High School students playing outdoor sports.
So what do you think will happen when student’s are indoors for hours at a time?
To your point, about Grocery store workers, they have died of COVID and customers are in and out of the grocery stores in 10-20 minutes. Let’s see how quickly Casti opens and closes.
We will be online for the foreseeable future.

Web Link

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 16, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Community,

1. Santa Clara County has said primary and secondary should reopen with precautions. See Web Link

2. There is no reason that classrooms cannot be open and students cannot attend at least 10% at a time. Starting with ZERO students in class teaches us nothing about the complexity or safety issues. It just stalls the decision until later in the year.

3. Teacher's should be safe, but teacher safety does not equate to the current union position that schools should be closed. Everyone must show flexibility.

4. If the District cannot manage a flexible system that gets every kid back in the classroom at least 1 day every 10 days, then students should have the opportunity to opt out entirely and come back in their current grade next year.

5. Households are not equally equipped to home school. Dual working households and single households are at a clear disadvantage regardless of their ability to pay for tutors and classes. Low income households may have more workers who must leave the house to work vs. white collar workers who are working from home, but that doesn't mean the stress on white collar families isn't real or meaningful.

Please work to teach our students 100% of the curriculum and get them in class as much as is possible with safety precautions in place.

Thank you.


12 people like this
Posted by Marj
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2020 at 12:04 pm

If you are a teacher you might be asking these questions and need answers before you start sending children to school:

If contract COVID-19 from a student who tests positive in my classroom or a co-worker will I be eligible for disability payments because I run out of sick leave or vacation time since it may be months before I can return to work or on I left on my own to figure things out?

Will I received hazard pay as many other essential workers since working in these close quarters
puts me at higher risk for contracting the virus?

If we are to have students online and in person when do I have the time to do lesson plans, post information necessary for parents and students, correct actual tests, and such within my 8 hour work day? Will I receive overtime?

Who will be doing the extra disinfecting of classrooms during the day so I can teach my students?

Who will be paying for the disinfecting supplies as the schools budgets are low? Schools cannot even afford to have regular school supplies available to my students. Teachers cannot afford to pay for them as well as some parents cannot afford to send these items to school either.

Do you realize that you are putting your child at a higher risk of being infected with COVID-19 by sending them to school with so many other little kids who cannot follow the rules of social distancing or cannot or refuse to wear their face mask all day?

Will the school districts be exempt from law suites if your child catches COVID-19 from another student or a faculty member?

There are so many other questions that none of us have thought of since this is an entirely new era. Listen to what the science based facts are. Do not listen to the guesses or ideas of those who are not educated in the medical field who have no training or complete understanding of the disease.


13 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 16, 2020 at 12:16 pm

Like I have stated previously, parents like myself are prepared to both teach our kids and earn a living at the same time. I know I have the intellectual bandwidths to handle multiple tasks - it will be very tough but I will manage with all my best. What I am asking respectfully here is that we should reduce staffs, teachers and reallocate these resources to parents. Also proposed parcel tax for school funding in November should also be defeated since the rationale for passing is getting to be be absurd. This is a free country and no one should be forced to take on a job that they feel it’s dangerous. But to maintain this present status quo is like saying I want to have my cake and eat it too!


6 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 12:18 pm

Distance learning is putting the ball in the parents court to teach their children, and education belongs in the hands of the teachers. That's what they're paid to do, despite the pandemic. A lot of parents are working at home or perhaps essential workers. Teachers... please keep the kids in mind, and set your fears aside. You owe it to the children... and thank you for all you do.
Teachers do not owe anything to the children. They owe it to themselves to stay healthy and keep their family members healthy at this time. Teachers will be able to provide an online education and that is what they will be paid for. Parents will have to add to their duties as parents during this time and figure out child care. It is a false analogy to compare teachers to physicians who have sworn the Hippocratic Oath to perform their duties.
If you don't fall under the above category, feel comfy with the fact that the American Pediatrics folks say it's safe to be around kids as they are not "spreaders", put on your mask, get some Lysol, and our kids look forward to seeing you - bright eyed and bushy tailed on August 17th.
It is an airborne virus. Lysol will not do anything. Why are you talking about this so lightly when this is a life or death situation? Lysol.
All indoor activities like bars and restaurants were just shut down by Newsom on Monday and you want all classroom opens for hours at a time I’m a small gathering with 10-12 students and 1 teacher plus all of their contacts?
The pediatricians distanced themselves and basically retracted their statement or at least added a lot of caveats to what they initially said if you don’t want to call it a retraction. In other words, they put their collective foot in their mouths. Also, you can point to a possible conflict of interest as if children aren’t mixing in together with school closures and getting “regular” sick they will lose some business. Many of them are parents also.
Please stop citing the pediatricians. They aren’t experts like Dr. Fauci is on this topic.

Web Link


22 people like this
Posted by Bean
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Remember when PAUSD said that of course they would not close schools, and less than 24 hours later the County overruled them?

I would put good money on something like that happening here.


14 people like this
Posted by Addison_PA
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 16, 2020 at 12:49 pm

Dear neighbors,
It’s important to realize that this virus is here to stay and is not going anywhere. We have to adapt to it and learn to minimize risks while carrying on with grit and determination. We should expect Covid up/down waves for sometime. Nothing can change that. We all have to learn to sacrifice for each other and do the best we can. Keep calm and carry on.


9 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 12:53 pm

1. Santa Clara County has said primary and secondary should reopen with precautions. See Web Link
So what? Teachers don’t feel comfortable or safe, and do not want to work under these dangerous conditions when they can work 100% safely from home. They are not frontline medical workers and so therefore their Union is advocating for health and safety.
2. There is no reason that classrooms cannot be open and students cannot attend at least 10% at a time. Starting with ZERO students in class teaches us nothing about the complexity or safety issues. It just stalls the decision until later in the year.
Teachers do not want to be guinea pigs for your grand experiment of “Will I become infected with an incurable disease that can kill me or my family members?”
3. Teacher's should be safe, but teacher safety does not equate to the current union position that schools should be closed. Everyone must show flexibility.
Teachers do not need to be “flexible” for you in a life or death situation.
4. If the District cannot manage a flexible system that gets every kid back in the classroom at least 1 day every 10 days, then students should have the opportunity to opt out entirely and come back in their current grade next year.
No one is stopping you from opting out. Please do so if that is a possibility.
5. Households are not equally equipped to home school. Dual working households and single households are at a clear disadvantage regardless of their ability to pay for tutors and classes. Low income households may have more workers who must leave the house to work vs. white collar workers who are working from home, but that doesn't mean the stress on white collar families isn't real or meaningful.
Yes. Everyone will have stress. It is now up to you to figure out Child Care as schools will be closed. Good luck with that since this happened in Child Care Facilities and will obviously happen next at schools were they to open which you are advocating for.
Web Link

What I am asking respectfully here is that we should reduce staffs, teachers and reallocate these resources to parents. Also proposed parcel tax for school funding in November should also be defeated since the rationale for passing is getting to be be absurd.
So why do you get to make the decision or advocate for teachers either potentially losing their lives or their livelihoods? You are blaming the teachers and the teachers union for the parcel tax obsession you currently have. You own property and you pay taxes. Teachers will be providing an online education this year and doing their jobs safely. They will be providing the only education service they are required to do. They will be delivering instruction remotely for everyone’s safety including the safety of the community. Free Day Care, free meals, counseling, surrogate parenting, and other services will not take place this year along with the school being open for stability for families and economic purposes as we are currently going through the greatest public health crisis in over 100 years. You do not get to put teachers between Scylla and Charybides for choosing their lives or their livelihoods because of a potential raise in parcel taxes.


8 people like this
Posted by JD
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2020 at 1:04 pm

You all have seen the numbers right? Palo Alto has had a mere 129 cases. In Total. We are obviously being careful as a community. We are exactly the kind of town that should be carefully opening our schools for in person learning.

Web Link


16 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2020 at 1:06 pm

@Curious Parent,
>@Silver Linings, while I mostly agree with your conclusions, your math is way, way off. Kids do not have a 1% mortality rate.

Thanks for your thoughtful response. Just being precise here, my math was entirely correct, the numbers I chose were for the purposes of illustration and conservative.

The reality is that this thing is a new virus to humans and changing. Infections among young people are rising. Promoting the idea that you can rely on old numbers (or from other places) or it's not serious among young people is fueling more exposures and cases in that age group along with collateral infections, and increasing the odds that it could become virulent in the younger/healthier population as happened in 1918.

By the time we catch on, it's too late. It's simply not worth taking a risk (because we simply DON'T have all the knowns to work with), especially since we would be putting all of our efforts into creating in-person school that could be upset at any moment and set everyone back like in the spring.

There are communities around the globe where precautions have changed everything, resulting in very little disease spread or death overall, but that, unfortunately, is not happening within our national borders.

Additionally, some of the teachers have mentioned indoor air quality issues in their buildings, and in my experience, there are far more who notice than those willing to complain. Over the years, families who have complained have been rebuffed instead of our district adopting evidence-based mainstream frameworks for effect indoor air quality management. There's a real we-suffer-physically-for-a-life-of-the-mind ethos in our district, and many parents really did not seem to care whether our district facilities were healthy or not. It's sad, really, since improving indoor air quality just from putting good filtration in regular classrooms has been shown to result in sustained improvement in student performance equivalent to reducing class sizes by 1/3 or providing intensive tutoring. (It also reduces absenteeism.)

There is a way to collect data to establish what I'm saying if people need it, but it's not necessary. Our school facilities are across the board not in a state where they would support the best infection control. Mainstream environmental health science tells us that many types of problems with indoor air quality that our district has, cause a higher level of infections going around, including upper respiratory, because they increase susceptibility. Our teachers (and students) do not need an added burden to their immune systems at this time. Instead, the time COULD (should) be used to implement an effective framework for indoor air quality management for when kids return.

This is not a choice between two bad options. We can 100% protect our teachers during this very uncertain time, AND we can deliver a good education to our kids online. Okay, so the sudden forced crisis schooling was not optimal. The district is working on changing that for the fall. What can the community to do both support that and ensure the district delivers? I think first the community has to understand what a good online education for their child would look like.

(If it were me, I'd wish for some on-site instruction, but with proper measures like masks, and only focused on improving community and interpersonal relationships. Learning can happen just fine through remote instruction, and in some ways, can be better. For this temporary hiatus, that would be my own preference.)


13 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2020 at 1:18 pm

I meant:
>>>(If it were me, I'd wish for some on-site OUTDOORS ONLY instruction, but with proper measures like masks, and only focused on improving community and interpersonal relationships. Learning can happen just fine through remote instruction, and in some ways, can be better. For this temporary hiatus, that would be my own preference.)

@Fool me once wrote "I'd be more sympathetic to the teachers' concerns if they had actually educated my HS student this spring, but instruction was an utter joke"

Again this makes me really sad for the kids in Palo Alto whose education, while good, has done such a poor job at supporting them to be self-directed learners. The best outcome from school is for students to have learned how to learn and be eager lifelong learners. If that had truly been the case, the students would have been in some ways better off when the shutdown began, since they already had their textbooks, remote contact with everyone, and more time and flexibility to do their work. It was, in some ways, a dry run for college.

This situation is not forever. It is an interlude. Trying to make it look like school is going to mean it will be inferior. If, instead, we consider that there are some aspects of online instruction that can be, in fact, better. There are some aspects of students having more flexibility and time that can promote a richer real-world learning. No, it's not the same. Some things can be better, some not. But we know that it's not necessarily all inferior or Stanford Online High School wouldn't seriously outrank Paly and Gunn in national high school rankings. They also teach Middle School, by the way.

It will only be lost time if we let it be. I know I sound like a broken record, but the way that you make it something better is you say, what if the district chose this? What if I chose this interlude for my child, where is the need in my child's life and education, the hole that we could fill, or the platform we could build for future success? Many kids in Palo Alto get out into the world and can't take care of themselves, a class on "life skills" is a joke.

What if every high school student came up with a project, a research study, a long-term research paper, a passion to learn about, explore, or build, and during this hiatus, the efforts of educators centered around supporting students to do those, with teachers acting as mentors and coaches? I promise you that having a thing that differentiates your child from everyone else will not only give them a better shot at college, they aren't going to be any worse off educationally by graduation.

There are in fact things about remote instruction and "homeschool" that can be better, and things about in-person that can be better. If we let ourselves optimize the former when we can’t be on site, then some of those benefits can be carried over when the district resumes the latter. Just being angry that things aren't the same and demanding that they be isn't going to make the pandemic go away. If we put our efforts into a great online education in the spring, then kids will get a great uninterrupted education even if the pandemic gets worse.

I think @Covid-19 has a great idea in asking the district to basically give kids who want it a "gap" year and allow them to come back next year to the grade they would have gone into this year. Let them learn soft skills this year, become more independent, learn how to take care of themselves. I personally wish the district would do this through independent study, so the students would have the benefit of their teachers as guides, and connection with their friends online. @ Covid19, I hope any parent who does this will give the decision to their child -- if staying home and developing their cooking skills, programming skills, tutoring of others online, etc, is their choice, and they have to bargain for it, they will be more likely to do that.

There is a great documentary called Most Likely to Succeed which the district showed to overflow crowds during the height of the suicide clusters. It’s on Amazon Prime or Netflix right now. It’s worth watching, because it demonstrates just how hard it can be for people to give up on old ways of thinking about K-12 education, but it also shows the possibilities. If it gives you ideas about the possibilities this fall, please post!



17 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 16, 2020 at 1:22 pm

So basically you want a paycheck without having to work?
Hmmm... all concerned parents are seeing through all of this charade. Enough said. Sad!


35 people like this
Posted by Elementary Teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2020 at 1:29 pm

Thank you to all the supportive & understanding parents out there who know that teachers are doing the best they can. To imply otherwise, is ludicrous & insulting.
Teachers had zero experience or training for teaching remotely, so it should not be an expectation to be perfect at it, but I can assure you, we are all improving!

During crisis teaching, we were following the directives from “higher up” in terms of how much instruction can be delivered, when, in what format, along with what was “acceptable” participation, etc. I understand families had different wants/ needs during that time.

What we need to do is have a MIND SHIFT on what online learning CAN be! It can be a positive, SAFE solution that is purposeful and meaningful. We can do this more effectively now that some of the major bumps have been worked through. We continue to get more training.

Because it is not in our current school plan, there isn’t much discussion around full online learning for elementary and what that could look like. It can be quite different from what was experienced in the Spring! Also, please remember that teachers are from all over the Bay Area, so talking about cases just in PA doesn't really make sense. We are in those rooms, too!

Imagine you have a destination but there are two ways to get there. One is a field of landmines (risk/ danger, uncertainties, even possible death), the other is rocky terrain with ups and downs, yet you know it is safe. Wouldn’t you spend your time clearing the path and mapping out how you will proceed on the safe route? This is how we feel about going back in person—it is too risky right now.
Let’s focus on continued growth and learning to be more effective online teachers until it SAFE to return in person, which is what we all would like to see!




20 people like this
Posted by Come on!
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 1:29 pm

@Tom thinks that remote work is not work. What does Tom do for a living? Does he bag groceries? Or does he distance work?

@Tom wants the parcel tax defeated and to take away more money from schools. Does @Tom know how school budgets work? Does @Tom know that schools need more money not less now?

I say let’s not listen to @Tom. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Plus, he’s sounds mean.


5 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 16, 2020 at 1:38 pm

@Comeon- I have a lot of respect for our local grocery personnel. These are hard working individuals that keeps us fed. You should show some respect to them. This group don’t pretend to be a “high class” welfare bunch.


4 people like this
Posted by Come on!
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 1:43 pm

@Tom, nice try there. Of course, we all respect essential workers who can’t do their jobs remotely. Are you one of them? If so, thanks for all that you do! Or can you work remotely like teachers can?

Also, nice try at the class warfare thing. You have shown your true colors. You are obfuscating and conflating.


18 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2020 at 1:55 pm

@Elementary Teacher,
BEAUTIFULLY said. If the Weekly wants to compile some of the most helpful posts in these education discussions, I nominate yours at the top.


8 people like this
Posted by concerned parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Gavin Newsom is having a press conference at noon tomorrow to address school opening state wide according to some news outlets. I will be he will side with Tony Thurmond and recommend distance learning for most of the state.

Given Newsom walked back most indoor business re-openings, it doesn't make sense that it would be safe to open schools.


10 people like this
Posted by Expect 100% Online For The Entire Year
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2020 at 2:02 pm

I highly recommend everyone read the Open Letter from the teachers. It has very few facts or credible data and lots of ridiculous histrionics. The teachers would be better represented by someone with a credible business approach. Seriously, they are bringing up chicken pox? Smallpox? A teacher in AZ teaching remotely who died from exposure to a family member (which the letter fails to mention)? And of course the union doesn't list all the rest of the schools around the country, which is the majority of schools in the U.S., including NYC, or around the rest of the world, returning in person or with a hybrid model. The PAEA union conveniently left that part out.

Based on this teachers union petition you'd think our hospitals were overflowing in SCC. Yet we have lower than 2% infection rate, with numbers inflated by as much as 50% bc our county is bringing in the overflow cases from other counties and LA (google it, it's in the news). Sadly, the SCC county dashboard does not break out in-county vs. out-of-county cases! San Mateo does break it out and they have 40% of their hospitalizations from out-of-county! So our reward in SCC for helping other counties by bringing their cases into Stanford Hospital (they had an empty covid unit and expertise) is the teachers screaming about the rise in cases in SCCounty!

Funny thing is that this petition references kids not following guidelines or wearing masks all summer as being a problem saying "“We’ve already seen our students off campus this summer ignoring these guidelines”. And guess what, they're not getting sick! So that point actually undermines the crux of the teachers union own argument that it’s not safe to be around these kids who are not distancing or wearing masks -- because they are not getting sick!

Teachers, your union leadership is really not very smart. If they wrote a smart letter, with compelling facts and data instead of histrionics, and didn't undermine their own argument by saying kids aren't distancing around town (the same kids who aren't getting sick), then I might listen. But this is a poorly written petition with no compelling data and arguments that undermine the main premise.

Mark my words Palo Alto families. If school starts 100% online, students will stay online for the entire year. The ENTIRE YEAR. The longer something stays in effect, the longer it stays in effect. It becomes normalized and there's no incentive to change it to in person school once it begins. Even though the stats say it's safe to return to school in person now, if students go back 100% online, the goal posts will constantly change in terms of what teachers need to feel safe to come back in person. And it will never happen this year. No matter how many students get left behind. Parents should prepare now for the crisis this will create in your families and community, all the fallout this entails, and long term deleterious effects on your students, all while you continue to do the job you were hired and paid for. This includes many of you who are essential workers in healthcare or other industries (thank you), workers who cannot work from home, supporting these very teachers claiming how unsafe it is to go into work (how ironic). Good luck.


39 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 16, 2020 at 2:02 pm

We do not have the infrastructure to go back safely right now. This may exist in the future...but right now the district doesn't have an actual plan. We are wasting precious time pretending we have a plan when we could actively be putting resources into high quality distance learning.

@Tom The amount of time I worked the last 3 months of school was not worth the amount I was paid. 10-12 hours a day to be bashed by the Palo Alto Community and people like you. This community needs a reality check.


8 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 2:10 pm

So basically you want a paycheck without having to work?
Hmmm... all concerned parents are seeing through all of this charade. Enough said. Sad!
I no longer want to continue the back and forth with you as you are just wanting to get the last word in. I have already explained to you in my previous post that teachers will be working online for their paychecks this school year and will be delivering instruction remotely to receive their paychecks. Delivering instruction is their only requirement. All other roles the school and teachers take on will be put on hold for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic. I also explained to you that you do not have any power to put teachers between a rock and a hard place (lives or livelihoods) if you didn’t understand Scylla and Charybdis. Who cares what “ PA parents think” in this situation? This is life or death. That just seems like arrogance on your part that you would think that you have the power to, number 1, make the teacher lay-off decisions and that, number 2, teachers would actually be hurt that you and parents think it’s “sad” they don’t want to risk their lives in an indoor setting on a daily basis. Newsom just shut down indoor settings again on Monday and yet you are currently advocating for teachers to jump back into an indoor setting in a small gathering daily? Meanwhile, all board meetings etc. are being done on ZOOM. Again, why should a teacher die(or their family members) or get incredibly sick because your taxes may increase? No teacher cares about your taxes. Also, again teachers aren’t physicians that swore the Hippocratic oath and are used to working under dangerous conditions in PPE. As you may know, there is no vaccine and no known medical treatments. Think about what you are actually saying please and try to be more compassionate. It Isn’t all about you and your selfish wants and needs. Continue to pay your taxes and make the necessary adjustments for Distance Learning. Teachers will be getting paid and keeping their jobs regardless of the nonsense you are advocating for. Teachers do not feel safe that’s why the title of the article is this:
'It is not safe to return to the classroom.' Teachers union lobbies for full distance learning

Finally, to your newly updated grocery store worker analogy, grocery store workers have died as I have linked to an article to a previous post.
Here it is again:

Web Link

Also, let me preface this by saying I can’t stand class warfare as I do not believe in saying anyone is better than anyone because of their vocation or for any other reasons, but comparing teachers to grocery store workers is another false analogy. Teachers have worked for a higher level of education with many teachers earning Master Degrees. Teachers just aren’t here to “serve you” or “risk their lives for you” like you seemingly want.


2 people like this
Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 16, 2020 at 2:23 pm

@The Voice of Palo Alto,

So what?

AB 77/ SB 98 So What. That same law that is preventing paycuts and layoffs for teachers actually mandates a return to in-person live teaching unless there is a County closure.

It's the law. The district should abide by the law and not agree to the MOU. Teacher's should be able to teach in person to the extent the County deems safe and that will change over the next 10 months. The MOU should reflect this flexibility.


24 people like this
Posted by Yet another PAUSD teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2020 at 2:31 pm

I for one put in 15-hour days, including the weekends, during school closure in the spring. And, I consider myself tech savvy. I have also been spending an average of 8 hours a day since the beginning of summer break to continue to tweak my curriculum, all that time with distance-learning in mind. Good teaching is good teaching, whether face-to-face or not. That said, a lot of planning and preparation needs to happen prior to the first day of school in order to teach effectively in an online environment. 

I do think that Don Austin and the Board are failing the teachers, the parents, and the students. The perfect time to train teachers and to encourage experimentation under the new teaching model was the spring. And since we missed that window for a myriad of different reasons, the district should have been offering training and support to teachers as soon as the school year ended at the beginning of June. I do not think it’s reasonable to demand teachers -- or anyone for that matter -- to work without compensation, even though plenty of teachers, including myself, do that on a regular basis, pandemic or not.

There might have been teachers who took advantage of the situation and have gone AWOL in the spring. But honestly, those "opportunists" exist in all organizations. While I feel I am in a good position to distance teach in the fall, I do worry and wonder whether all my colleagues are feeling the same. I am a Palo Altan and my own children went through PAUSD, and honestly I would have been very upset at the district if I had the same awful experience as some parents have been voicing.

What boils down to is this -- Collectively we need to do much better. Parents and our students have a right to request that we DELIVER.


17 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 16, 2020 at 2:33 pm


"Nothing is more essential than education."
Not even health, avoiding permanent disability or death? How selfish you are!

"Low income households may have more workers who must leave the house to work . . ."
Yes. High-density households are far more likely to expose themselves and others to contagion. Covid infections have gone up about 60% in the last week July 4 celebrations?) in EPA, Fair Oaks (MP & RC) and another area of Redwood City with lots of apartments with high-occupancy numbers with many adults (and kids) sharing close quarters, working at retirement homes, child care facilities, restaurant kitchens, etc. These are 'hoods where the 1 or 2 parent + kid(s) isn't the norm.

I am disgusted by people who insist that their kids absolutely must have in-classroom instruction. This is a national pandemic which is surging again, thanks to all the people ditching masks, eating out, celebrating in groups, etc. Palo Alto has minimal infection? Just wait until those LVNs, child care workers, kitchen help, etc. who work various gigs & have house mates share those pooled contributions to your incoming viral mix. Or do you think they all live in sterile Palo Alto?

Yesterday a gardener & his helper had a screaming fight outside a house 3 doors away from me. The helper was sick but refused to leave work & go home because he "needed the money." The boss was a wuss who lost the argument. After going outside to see what the ruckus was about, I stayed inside. It was breezy & now we know that covid is not just droplet carried but air-borne.

The district needs to provide top-notch hardware, software & training for all teachers. There should be online training sessions for parents, showing them how to help their kids who aren't so tech savvy. Even working single parents must be willing to watch a 30 minute training video & find an hour to help their kids when necessary.

If K-2 must be in front of a teacher once or twice a week for 2-3 hours, the teacher must be behind a plexiglass panel. Masked kids can approach the panel to show their work & get help. Again, if a kid can't mask, s/he stays home. No exceptions.

There'd also be nothing wrong with delaying the start for a month so the district could better develop a plan which addresses the concerns of teachers & parents.

Let's stop crabbing about whether some kids didn't have an optimal spring experience. Teachers didn't either. The district wasn't ill-prepared & didn't have systems or training in place. Maybe by mid-September, they can?


Like this comment
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 16, 2020 at 2:35 pm

Re above - meant " district was ill-prepared. . . "


7 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 2:46 pm

So what?
AB 77/ SB 98 So What. That same law that is preventing paycuts and layoffs for teachers actually mandates a return to in-person live teaching unless there is a County closure.
It's the law. The district should abide by the law and not agree to the MOU. Teacher's should be able to teach in person to the extent the County deems safe and that will change over the next 10 months. The MOU should reflect this flexibility.

It’s the law that no one cares about in this life or death situation during the pandemic. That is why the Union is advocating for the health and safety of their members during this unprecedented time. That is why I said “So what?” Teacher lay offs, pay cuts etc. don’t mean anything to a teacher once they are dead of the Coronavirus. If you keep advocating this position about “the law” to force teachers into danger, I hope the teacher’s union advocate for a strike to protect everybody’s safety. Health and safety is the priority here and no teacher wants to put their lives in danger on a daily basis when they can be teaching the material online. Even if the county says it’s safe to return, there are absolutely no guarantees of safety at this point. It’s just that parents here won’t accept the new normal and are demanding the old routine and in turn jeopardizing everyone’s health. It is not time to return this fall. Again, Newsom just shut down all indoor activities and you are advocating for teachers to be indoors in a small gathering on a daily basis? All other meetings are currently being conducted via ZOOM. Think about what you are actually saying please and stop robotically advocating “the law.” Maybe you can show some compassion also? I sent you the link to the day care outbreaks earlier, why don’t you think these same thing outbreaks will happen in PA classrooms if the doors open?
Here is the link again:

Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 3:01 pm

Here is another article for everyone who “cites the science”:

Web Link

Maybe this article also helps to further explain why teachers are afraid to return? So much for the “kids are immune” and “it’s under 2% for kids“ arguments.


12 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2020 at 3:06 pm

Teachers DO owe it to the children, and the parents. Once again... the inherent risks of everyday living. Hold class outside if you have to. We all have to earn our check. If minimum wage essential employees can do it during a pandemic, anyone can. If they want to, and they care about others.


11 people like this
Posted by online tool
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 3:11 pm

There is an online planning tool, updated in real time, that allows one to predict the likelihood that at least one member of a group of a particular size in a given county (both of which you select) is COVID-19 positive: Web Link Currently the risk for a group of 25 in Santa Clara County (which, admittedly is dominated by San Jose) including at least one COVID-19 positive member is 27%. I don't think this is a risk we want PAUSD teachers and students to take.


15 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 3:25 pm

Teachers DO owe it to the children, and the parents. Once again... the inherent risks of everyday living. Hold class outside if you have to. We all have to earn our check. If minimum wage essential employees can do it during a pandemic, anyone can. If they want to, and they care about others
I have already explained to you in great detail why teachers don’t owe you or the parents anything. Please see my previous post to you and my other posts here about the dangers of being indoors in small gatherings, how teachers haven’t sworn a medical oath, how all other meetings are being held on Zoom and yet parents are expecting teachers to appear for in person instruction during a dangerous pandemic. Teachers can deliver instruction online and meet their only real job requirements. All other child care issues will now need to be solved by parents and your parental role must also expand with helping to deal with your child’s education. The fallacy is in your own thinking that anyone owes you anything in general, that it’s time to “return to the old normal,” or that the teachers should be putting their lives and the lives of their loved ones in danger to service your children in person. This isn’t the inherent risk of everyday living. This is a new disease that is completely deadly.
Here is more information for you to read about it’s lethality:

Web Link

Here is a snippet:
Using a more sophisticated calculation called the infection-fatality rate, paired with the past few months’ worth of data, the latest best estimates show that COVID-19 is around 50 to 100 times more lethal than the seasonal flu, on average.

Please rethink about what you are advocating for.
Thanks.


25 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 16, 2020 at 3:30 pm

@Jennifer
We owe students a high quality education which we can provide online. We DO NOT owe students and parents our lives (contrary to popular belief on this thread). Until the infrastructure is in place to protect all students and teachers we will be online learning. Spoiler alert...it might be awhile. Do you think we have an adequate number of subs for when teachers do get sick? Our district cannot get subs in a normal school year so I doubt it. @Jennifer, are you going to sign up to be a substitute teacher?

Also, class outside is easier said than done. Are we going to have 2000+ students at Paly sitting in the quad/football field with teachers on loud speakers trying to out yell each other while wearing a mask? And here is a dire thought that only teachers have to think about...what if we are outside and have an active shooter?


7 people like this
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 16, 2020 at 3:32 pm

Articles in NY Times and SJ Mercury and editorial from WSJ this week all making cases for the opening of schools this fall:
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link




18 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2020 at 3:44 pm

I teach elementary in PAUSD and my wife works with the homeless in San Jose. My kids (who also attend PAUSD) visit their dad when he flies up from San Diego. Their dad isn’t great at taking this seriously. I just want to be clear that if you are signing up your child for in person learning, you can not assume they won’t be exposed to covid from the teacher or from peers. I will wear a mask, but little ones will need their shoes tied, and they will need help getting their masks on or putting a band-aides on. There is no chance I can stay 6 feet away and teach a child that needs extra help. That’s truly not possible.
Masks will not stay on kids all day in those un air conditioned elementary classrooms. Those rooms are boiling in the afternoon sun in late summer. Boiling.

Know the risks you are signing your family up for. Understand that the family you are putting your child next to in a classroom or shares a ball with at recess, the student they touch the sink after or flush after, the aide, the PE teacher, the librarian, the bus driver, the lunch lady, the spec Ed aide, the substitute... they all have lives. Many of which are not living it the way you may dream they are.


10 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2020 at 3:49 pm

Once again -- if minimum wage employees can get out their and earn their check during a pandemic, anyone can. The teachers I know (middle aged) can't wait to get back to the classroom to teach children. They're in the right profession.


7 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Articles in NY Times and SJ Mercury and editorial from WSJ this week all making cases for the opening of schools this fall:
Here are articles to add to the discussion that are rooted in the reality of the current situation:

Web Link

Web Link

Here is a “cite the science” article:

Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 4:18 pm

Once again -- if minimum wage employees can get out their and earn their check during a pandemic, anyone can. The teachers I know (middle aged) can't wait to get back to the classroom to teach children. They're in the right profession.
This will be my last post directed to you as you also seem to want to get the last word in. Most teaches do not feel comfortable being in an indoor gathering at this time. All meetings are being done on Zoom and Newsom just shut down indoor activities again. They will “get out there and earn their living” by teaching online to keep themselves and their family members safe.
I also explained in a previous post why comparing teachers to minimum wage workers is a false analogy. Please reconsider what you are advocating for during a dangerous pandemic and make the needed adjustments for a year of distance learning. Thanks.


7 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2020 at 4:53 pm

Please quit trying to force your opinion on me. You're quoting me (without quotes) so if you don't want me to respond, ignore my comments in the first place. Agree to disagree, and keep in mind that not everyone is a worry wart (thank goodness). Thank you.


Posted by Jennifer’s right
a resident of Mountain View

on Jul 16, 2020 at 5:02 pm

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3 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 5:16 pm

To clarify, I am not “forcing my opinion on you.”
You are absolutely entitled to your opinions. Instead, I disagreed with your opinions of teachers “owing” the parents and kids, teachers needing to be in an indoor setting in a small gathering, and you comparing teachers to minimum wage workers and I stated the reasons why I disagreed. Finally, your “not everyone is a worry wart” statement just proved for all how uninformed your opinions actually are in this dire situation even though you are absolutely entitled to those opinions. Thanks.


11 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2020 at 5:36 pm

I understand this pandemic. I'm working from home (unfortunately) but my husband is an MD, and he works in a hospital. We're the same age (middle aged) so I know what it's like to be "exposed." He could bring anything home, but we're both in excellent health. I'm not someone who worries. I keep things in perspective, and maintain a healthy mindset.

Please understand you're arguing with a few people, and then you're making it look like we're to blame. You are entitled to your opinions as well, but you don't understand what "agreeing to disagree" means. I do wish you well, and I understand we're all under a lot of stress.

Stay safe teachers!


7 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 6:00 pm

You as well. I am not blaming or arguing, I am just disagreeing with you. You may be ok with risk and that is fine, but based on the fact that the teachers union is advocating for distance learning the teachers do not share the same “ok with the risks” feelings you do. Also, if you are going to continue working at home your two contacts for exposure would be your husband and your child (and their contacts), while teachers would have 24 exposures if it is an A/B Hybrid of 12 students in each cohort to start, and all of their contacts- parents, daycare, siblings etc. that could be exposure to 200-300(or more) contacts. For you individually, you may arguably have more exposure to contacts because your husband is an MD than other parents here. Stay safe.

This happened today:

Web Link


32 people like this
Posted by Teacher Supporter
a resident of Addison School
on Jul 16, 2020 at 8:51 pm

I can’t wait to see how many of you that are bashing teachers sign up to to be a substitute teacher. Shame on you for thinking teachers are lazy and looking for the easy way out. I don’t know anyone working from home that is being shamed and raked over the coals like teachers are. I truly feel for the poor children that have role models like you.


4 people like this
Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 16, 2020 at 9:25 pm

@Teachers and Voice of Palo Alto,

Here's what I'm guessing most parents want to see in the Secondary MOU:

1. A commitment to instruction of the quality and challenge substantially equivalent to in-person live instruction (in AB 77 / SB 98);
2. A commitment to 1 year of curriculum (in AB 77 / SB 98) covered in instruction;
3. A return to the pre-pandemic schedule without 30 minute Mondays which on their face appear to be useless (this was a hasty attempt to make the hybrid schedule work);
4. A commitment to synchronous instruction as much as possible (in AB 77 / SB 98 is the directive to have live daily instruction with teachers and peers);
5. A commitment that students will get hands on time for classes that are hands on in small enough groups to be safe.

Is this really not possible?


7 people like this
Posted by Tiki
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 16, 2020 at 9:27 pm

Blah blah blah! Teachers union is the biggest! Don’t want charter schools! they make more money in Palo Alto then any other district! And a lot are just lousy! Read the facts on corvid it Palo Alto!


13 people like this
Posted by Will
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 16, 2020 at 9:45 pm

Most of the funding for K–12 education comes from the state. In 2018–19, California public schools received a total of $97.2 billion in funding from three sources: the state (58%), property taxes and other local sources (32%), and the federal government (9%). These shares vary across school districts.

So salaries for teachers of public schools are all tax funded and their jobs are to hold classes and teach. Please resign ASAP if you think it’s not worth your time. No one owes you a living here. No other industries that I know of could pull shenanigans like the teachers union. Not even my USPS local mailman. So either show up to work in order to get a pay check or leave and let others step in and do your job. Can’t have it both ways! Thank you


8 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 10:35 pm

So either show up to work in order to get a pay check or leave and let others step in and do your job. Can’t have it both ways! Thank you
Your tax money will be paying for an online education this year and it’s called Distance Learning. Teachers will show up to work online. The teachers union will protect the healthy and safety of staff members while you continue to pay your taxes. Teachers will also not resign and will keep receiving their paychecks for delivering instruction remotely and safely in the comfort of their own homes while you continue to pay said taxes. All other “free” services such as child care that schools and teachers provide will not be taking place this year. Nice of you to try to demand teachers to risk their lives in an indoor setting in a small gathering on a daily basis when all other meetings are currently taking place on ZOOM, and also doing it a few days after Newsom shut all other indoor activities down That showed a lot of compassion and nuanced understanding of this situation. What makes you think schools will actually even be able to stay open when there are COVID outbreaks in the schools? The schools do not run in a vacuum. Even if you believe the whole “kids aren’t as effected by Covid,” adults are, and the adults are needed to run the school. What happens if 1 member of the staff exposes 10 staff members and 30 students to COVID? What’s your plan? It is outrageous for you to try to put teachers between Scylla and Charybdis for having to choose between resigning or literally putting their lives in danger every day over your property taxes. Finally, comparing the role of teachers to your USPS Mailman is another false analogy. Can’t have it both ways? You actually won’t get it your way.

Tony Thurmond said this today so go ahead and keep blaming the Union:
Web Link

Thank you

5. A commitment that students will get hands on time for classes that are hands on in small enough groups to be safe.
Nothing in person right now but everything else you wrote looked pretty reasonable and should be done in the distance learning model.


19 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 16, 2020 at 10:45 pm

Sounds good. Now give me my taxes back.


2 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2020 at 11:07 pm

I understand your frustration. You own property and pay taxes. I obviously can’t get you your property taxes back, but you can opt out of paying those taxes if you would like. Another option would be to move to an area with lower property taxes if the high tax payments bother you so much. Either way, the teachers and administrators will still cash their pay checks.
Just an FYI:
If you don't pay your property taxes on time, the government can charge you interest and penalties, and gets a lien on your property. A property tax lien can result in the government taking your house and selling it.
It’s your call.


11 people like this
Posted by Secondary Teacher
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 16, 2020 at 11:22 pm

Question for colleagues-
Are there those who even in distant learning who DON't want to go back to even EMPTY classrooms? I would think to start off with this would be the safest thing to do anyways right? I would be comfortable going back with just teachers-after all we all have been going grocery shopping, etc out in public. So again, WHY CAN'T WE LIVESTREAM OUR CLASSES? Assuming they get all of the prep materials beforehand? Why do I keep hearing synchronous AND asynchronous instruction? I AM STILL SO CONFUSED.......if they can put those special speaker setups in the World Lang departments why can't they set up livestream equipment? Or is livestream equipment just Zooming in an empty classroom? Someone fill me in.......


54 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 17, 2020 at 7:35 am

Everything in life carries a risk. The data clearly indicates that the overwhelming majority of kids will never get or spread Covid, especially if properly distanced and masked. The risk to teachers is literally infinitesimal, but everyone in our privileged town extrapolates that to “it’s not safe”.

Admit it: if Joe Biden (or anyone other than our President) were the one asking you to assume this risk, and to make a small sacrifice for the better of society, you would do it.

The point: the teachers’ position here is really not based on science or data. It is more of an emotional overreaction to a deeply unpopular and hated president. I get it.


10 people like this
Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2020 at 7:41 am

@The Voice of Palo Alto and ALL teachers,
I was blown away by the commitment of the 42 volunteers to teach special needs kids. So, it turns out we are running a high risk test already in Palo Alto with the Special Needs program as reported in this paper. And, in this test, teachers are not following social distance protocol, as they could in a typical secondary classroom. Many of these teachers appear to be next to and right in front of students in masks.
In-person is possible if the community has low numbers and masks are worn. We should be looking at Palo Alto numbers blended on a percentage basis 5% of students from East Palo Alto and making decisions about the number of students who can be in a classroom with a teacher.
At a minimum, START from empty classrooms and move in 5% of students. Meet your students face to face. Give them connectedness. Stream.
Yes, I know Gov. Newsom may set standards for opening today at noon, but I am saddened because in AB 77 / SB 98 gives this authority to a public health officer. Santa Clara has great numbers. We are not LA County. We should not be thankful we are not and do whatever we can for all students.
Thank you.


7 people like this
Posted by Zack
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 17, 2020 at 9:22 am

[Post removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by mom
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2020 at 9:36 am

What are the legalities of identifying a known risk and then an employer forcing workers to take a known risk when there are other options available?

Any lawyers out there?


2 people like this
Posted by 2-time Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2020 at 10:25 am

Thoughts:
1. While we argue about what the teachers want, I wonder if we will ever learn what % of elementary parents opted for distant learning in the survey. It is not black and white, teacher vs parent vs district admin. I would expect % of teachers not wanting to return to the classrooms and parents preferring distant learning to be similar; this is a litmus test of how people view the current environment.

2. I wonder if the district admin plans to have teachers sign waivers to protect the district from liability if a teacher contracts the virus.

3. This who claim kids do not catch or transmit the virus, please check the experience of other countries around the world, especially the ones that have similar societal habits and cultures.


2 people like this
Posted by 2-time Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2020 at 10:34 am

@Zack from Embarcadero Oaks/Leland

Quoting you re @voiceofpaloalto:
"Dr. Don Austin, please root this bad apple out and get rid of her. "

Her?
Is this an assumption?


5 people like this
Posted by The Voice Of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 17, 2020 at 11:27 am

@voiceofpaloalto - [Portion removed.] You will receive the services for your tax dollars via distance learning this school year. The teachers and the teachers union are absolutely correct to fight for the health and safety of their members. Teachers are not medical professionals that need to put their lives on the line when they can deliver instruction over the internet safely no matter how many parents demand in person instruction because of their property taxes. [Portion removed.]
This is not a political issue. It is a health and safety issue. If you say it is because of Trump, Trump has been incredibly wrong about the pandemic. He advocated opening back up quickly for economic purposes, undercutting the advice of his own health experts, and the states that listened to him like Florida, Arizona, Texas are currently experiencing massive outbreaks. [Portion removed.]
Web Link
That aside, the science and data you are citing is evolving. More kids are getting infected. It is becoming more and more apparent the kids were initially shielded from the pandemic due to the initial school closures. Now that they are socializing again, more kids are getting infected.
Web Link
So, it turns out we are running a high risk test already in Palo Alto with the Special Needs program as reported in this paper. And, in this test, teachers are not following social distance protocol, as they could in a typical secondary classroom.
That’s great news that it’s working and no one has gotten infected. That sounds like a small amount of students so it is a bit of a different scenario. But what happens when say 1000 district students from PA/EPA and 100s of staff members drive in from different counties and start mixing together again? What happened all across California when bars, gyms, restaurants opened up? We closed again because numbers exploded. Yes. Our county might be a “best case scenario” as you described but If you were a teacher would you risk getting infected yourself or getting infected and then also infecting your family members? Maybe you would, but I would assume the teachers union has surveyed their members and most don’t feel comfortable doing so and now they are advocating for distance learning.
What are the legalities of identifying a known risk and then an employer forcing workers to take a known risk when there are other options available? Any lawyers out there?
[Portion removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by Newsom Speaks
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 17, 2020 at 12:36 pm

Gavin Newsom just ordered schools in 55 counties on the Watch List (including SCC) to remain closed: Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2020 at 12:48 pm

I suggest that we get on with getting our teachers more prepared for OL instruction.

The teachers can do their part and take it seriously and not expect to get more money for doing what they should have been doing anyway.


18 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 17, 2020 at 1:35 pm

Thank you to Gavin Newsom today for not caving to political pressure, economic pressure, and pressure by parents to reopen schools prematurely in the beginning of a pandemic with rising case counts throughout California, and in turn keeping all students and staff members safe. As he mentioned, schools are an “ecosystem” with adults running the schools. They do not exist in a vacuum and should not be run on a gamble of unproven data and so called science that “the kids don’t spread coronavirus” as the disease is only about 6 months old and there are too many unknowns. Also, thank you to Newsom for taking all decisions away from local authorities such as Don Austin who clearly was not up to the task of generally making a sound decision, and who was about to blatantly disregard the health and safety of all students and staff members by forcing a reopening with all Elementary schools. Thank you to Newsom for mandating masks in schools by students (although it should be for ALL students) when a return to in person instruction Is feasible, and for also requiring students to be 6 feet apart when said return is possible. None of the “well 4ft distance between students is ok” talk to try to get more students in the door and other such “rule bending” that puts staff and students in incredible danger will work anymore. It is also no longer a fight for the teachers Union to take on, so they can no longer be blamed here. For all of you here that demanded schools reopen because of your tax dollars, argued that educators were essential workers comparing them to grocery store workers, the mailman, or medical workers, or demanded staff members take incredible risks to their lives and the lives of of their family members to service you, Newsom just effectively ended your arguments and put everyone’s health and safety first.

The teachers can do their part and take it seriously and not expect to get more money for doing what they should have been doing anyway.
Teachers will provide distance learning and they will continue to cash their paychecks regardless of these kind of negative posts. Thanks.


11 people like this
Posted by Martha
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 17, 2020 at 1:51 pm

Now I know for sure that distance-learning-only is a big mistake - Newsom just ordered it for most of the state, including SCC. I'm sure all the teachers union people are thrilled. And our children will pay for it.


7 people like this
Posted by Sighs
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2020 at 2:10 pm

Just wish I put my kid in private school instead of staying in public. At least the online learning work in private schools, teachers really taught in last quarter per my friends who have kids in Casti, St. Francis and Nueva.


9 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 17, 2020 at 2:16 pm

[Post removed; excess and redundant commenting.]


4 people like this
Posted by some other information
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 17, 2020 at 2:18 pm

Santa Clara County is currently on the watchlist only because of its hospitalization rate -- not for its case counts, testing positivity, or other watchlist factors (though that could easily change). The Governor announced that a county needs to be off the watchlist for 14 days to have in person schooling and that he wants kids to be in person soon thereafter. It is an approach that will not please many of the remote learning commenters above. I hope PAUSD keeps preparing now for *safe* in person schooling (for students and staff) once the county comes off the watchlist. And I hope all of us will do our part to flatten the curve and help keep the watchlist metrics at bay.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident DTN
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 17, 2020 at 2:35 pm

I hate this idea. HATE IT, HATE IT, HATE IT. Have 2 school age children and full time jobs, no flexibility to assist with guiding distance learning, specially with the 6 year old... Was looking forward to the hybrid model where kids would go to school 2-3 days a week. BUT, in all likelihood, this model is almost certain to run into forced quarantine situations quite often, and turn into quite a mess. Lets get some perspective and face the Fall with a sense of resilience, we will get through this, we will just have to suck it up, wear our masks and exercise tons of peer pressure at all levels such the folks were their masks, and let's hope for those numbers to change direction.


2 people like this
Posted by some other information
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 17, 2020 at 2:46 pm

I made a mistake above. Santa Clara County is now on the watchlist for two factors--hospitalizations but also case rate. Let's get those numbers down!


5 people like this
Posted by Let's be real here....
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2020 at 3:43 pm

@The voice of Palo Alto - You should limit your posts to 1 Paragraph each- your messages would read more efficiently. Using more words does not equal intelligence.
***
@ResidentDTN - Totally with you, it's a mess and you are right...we have to be reslient for our kids....I like your attitude!
****
But let's be real here....Parents support teachers who "show up"....and in my personal experience, last spring, my daughter's elementary school teacher did not show up. So, it's a bit of an open wound...with salt poured aaaallll in it....

After reading @ResidentDTN's post, I am going to turn my frown upside down and make it work...and yes @voice of Palo Alto......I already have my bottle of Lysol.....and here is a great CNN article (which I am sure you will appreciate me citing CNN - the best and most honest media outlet to have ever touched this earth) whereby they indicate that the EPA has approved two Lysol products that kills the corona virus on surfaces.
****
See you "virtually" on the 17th....Bright eyed and bushy tailed.


6 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2020 at 3:45 pm

@Resident DTN,

"we will just have to suck it up, wear our masks and exercise tons of peer pressure at all levels such the folks were their masks"

This is a great attitude for all of us to have. There is a growing body of scientific evidence (including watching how other countries that we disparage have dealt with this) that wearing masks in particular together with distancing is really effective.


8 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2020 at 3:54 pm

@Sighs,

"Just wish I put my kid in private school instead of staying in public. At least the online learning work in private schools, teachers really taught in last quarter per my friends who have kids in Casti, St. Francis and Nueva."

Yes.

My granddaughter goes to Casti and they were online on Monday March 15 (the first day!) and did a great job. I had to eat humble pie because I had been saying that there was no reason to go to private school.

Seriously, there is no reason that PAUSD cannot do a good job. They had a very poor attitude, which I think the board and administration fostered by making negative remarks about online instruction.


Like this comment
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jul 17, 2020 at 5:19 pm

It is a good thing all these comments did not require trees to be printed on paper. It was always going to be the case that the State would at least offer guidance. As things have been getting worse since Memorial Day, this outcome became more likely. How will our economy do now? Even if more jobs open up, how many parents will be at home supervising distance learning? For those whose jobs cannot be done remotely, but are available to them otherwise, the greatest challenge still lies ahead.


Like this comment
Posted by How to help
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2020 at 5:56 pm

What we can do to avoid total shut down back in March? Where do people need masks? Where we can donate? I want to do something instead of sitting at home watching all the bad news!!


14 people like this
Posted by Broken McLaptop
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2020 at 7:40 pm

Sorry, teaching 6 year olds on a laptop is not realistic.
For the little ones?
There ain't no learnin, in distance learning.


18 people like this
Posted by Samuel
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 17, 2020 at 8:17 pm

Are ALL the teachers in the PAUSD on board with this? Not all teachers signed the letter. If not, why not let those who want to do safe in person teaching return to the classroom and resume the hybrid model.

This is devastating for the children; not sure what they mean by “on line learning works”. Maybe kids are perky for the 1h a day zoom meeting, and they may even learn some things, but they are paying dearly in emotional well being.

And man, if we cannot open schools in Santa Clara, with a positivity rate of less than 4%, we are seriously doomed.


2 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Jul 17, 2020 at 8:51 pm

The countries that successfully brought students back to classrooms brought the spread of cases down to a low level. SCC has been going the wrong direction in the last month. If the citizens are serious about reopening schools, they will reduce the spread and get off the state’s “bad” list.


9 people like this
Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2020 at 10:34 pm

@rsmithjr,


The administration and Board simply had to demand instruction, but they did not.

Why? Other public districts made it happen.

Who knows why? Maybe Don Austin didn't want another claim made against him by the unions like in his last district. He earns well over $300K, not including his housing stipend, and he hasn't offered up an admin pay cut. It's hard to imagine that he has the best interest of all of PAUSD students at heart.

And, what about our School Board? Where is their directive for instruction of a quality and challenge substantially equivalent to in-person live instruction? Where is their leadership in setting up every Palo Alto school for live-streaming this summer? Where is their leadership in demanding that every site and classroom be evaluated for safe Covid-19 social distance learning and then transparently sharing that with the community.


24 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto mother
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 17, 2020 at 11:50 pm

We should just cancel school for k-8 instead of pretending "online learning" is anything at all for most young kids.

Then lay off the teachers, since they so desperately want to be safe. We shouldn't be paying them for services not performed.

Then let's put the money we save toward some training for parents who have been de facto homeschooling their young kids.

"Distance learning" for most kids is just nonsense justification for keeping idle teachers on the payroll.


2 people like this
Posted by Hello
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 18, 2020 at 1:09 pm

@PAmom- It’s called universal basic income. This is our new reality get used to it....


13 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2020 at 2:18 pm

@rsmithjr

>>@SilverLinings,
>>"I believe 98% of teachers did the absolute best we could to fend for and educate ourselves."

@rsmithjr, I never said the quote above, a teacher did.

That said, I disagree with you that teachers should have to learn how to become best online instructors on their own time. No. Exactly the opposite. They have built their careers on certain ideas about and practices of education that have been suddenly disrupted. We want them to learn how to do this next thing according to best practices that they bring to our district now (which is hard and the deserve pay because it is their work), so that when everyone goes back to the physical sites more normally, they can transform education with what they have learned.

If we are to take advantage of this disruption for the sake of our teachers and students, the last thing you want is everyone fending for themselves in their spare time. The school district should be pulling in expertise and resources and training the teachers in best practices and communicating with parents (learning what positive communication is and that they do not have to fear it). The school district needs to work on a culture in which all stake-holders including parents are treated with respect and students are supported to become more autonomous.

I've mentioned Stanford Online HS and other resources before, but there's also the Calyton Christensen Institute, based in the Bay Area, which has been studying education innovation for a really long time. I don't agree with everything they espouse, but the articles they put out demonstrate a really solid understanding of how we could be optimizing the current constraints.

Getting the benefit of things like that is going to have to start with the organization, expecting teachers to do that ad hoc on their own time while they are dealing with the pandemic themselves is nuts and wouldn't be constructive. The conditions under which the organization is operating have changed and the workforce needs retraining for an entirely new direction. Typically, the organization needs to ensure the workers are properly trained and supported to make the transition.


6 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 18, 2020 at 5:18 pm

@SilverLinings,

I actually don't care very much if they are paid for the time or not. Given that the district has paid them throughout this mess, it would have been a nice concession to not ask for money for the training time, and both the teachers and their union are missing a chance to look good.

Speaking of chances to look good, my guess is that a number of parents watched the online teaching of some of their students' teachers. The teachers should try to move beyond the poor attitude and performance exhibited by many last spring and look good for the parents and taxpayers this fall. This is much more important than the small issue of the money, both for the students and also for the impression that the teachers give.


13 people like this
Posted by Family
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 18, 2020 at 8:54 pm

Good teachers will be good online or offline. Think of creative ways to be cheerleaders and confidence boosters.

A dream of mine to have sone of the teachers who never did and still will not deliver content but test on it totally outed and called out by colleagues who do work hard. These few teachers and counselors who were absent and left families hanging and seniors especially alone should be shamed. Everything should be transparent kids should tape all lectures and all communication

So many teachers did a great job and worked twice as hard and all teachers are being maligned for the ones who went on break


13 people like this
Posted by Secondary Teacher
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 18, 2020 at 11:10 pm

@Family-
I'm ready to do that. Because it is these PRIMA DONA ASSHATS (AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) who made the rest of us look lazy. While the rest of worked hard, answered and made countless emails, gave responses to endless discussion posts, showed up to countless Zoom meetings that had no purpose, counseled one on one our special eds, attended impromptu pd, YOU SAT BACK AND DID NOTHING.(BUT, you PROBABLY had time to TWEET.) THIS, THIS is why we look like idiots. Root these dial it inners out. AND, maybe show up to a meeting once inawhile. For real!


12 people like this
Posted by Family
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 19, 2020 at 1:38 am

Why not call them out? Why are they allowed to do this to kids? If you see this what is the reason you don’t ?


7 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 19, 2020 at 4:54 pm

Isreal had roepend their schools under strict standards of safety, probably stricter than would ever be applied in Palo Alto, and they had a sharp spike in covid infections, 47 percent of which is attributed to the school opening. They had to re close the schools. We are also finding now that children over a certain age actually transmit the virus faster than adults.

The great majority of people haven't been tested yet, so we have definitely many more covid carrying people, including children, even in PA than we realized.

Opening the schools is foolish and nothing more than fool's gold, it would end up in another catastrophe. Student CAN study online, and the socializing issue can be addressed through small, mask using groups.


3 people like this
Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 19, 2020 at 8:25 pm

@Secondary Teacher.
100%.
But we all know this is an administrative / leadership issue. As we all know, the administration did not mandate teaching in the spring, and so far there is no mandate for the fall.
Even the phrase daily interactive instructive does not promise instruction for even 1/2 the period.
Please work with your principal to push the administration to mandate instruction. That is the only way.


9 people like this
Posted by PAEA rules
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 19, 2020 at 9:02 pm

Principals have little power in comparison to the Palo Alto Educators Association. Do you think the Palo Alto Management Association could dictate to Don Austin that their schools would not be opening? Of course not. The PAEA could, and did. PAEA runs PAUSD. But now what? When will PAEA allow our kids to go back to school?


3 people like this
Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 19, 2020 at 10:08 pm

@PAEA rules,
Your post may be 100% true, but it should wake parents up.
Where I'm from, we let unions strike.


2 people like this
Posted by Secondary Teacher
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 19, 2020 at 11:07 pm

@Covid 19 Ready-
As I read it there is a structured schedule with synchronous instruction. Austin stated that school sites themselves do not have to be closed. I have no problem going back to campus during distance learning. If I'm out grocery shopping why should I have a problem going to campus with colleagues who are only going to their classrooms? We are not LA Unified- kids will show up.

@Family-
One, I'm too busy, Two, they are so clueless they are bad and the unions would defend a banana sloth if the right teacher jargon came out of their mouth. Bad apples usually front their rot with something else that gives them topical accolades. Meanwhile they are too good to answer an email.


2 people like this
Posted by Family
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 20, 2020 at 2:38 pm

@ secondary teacher

No excuse for complicity.


21 people like this
Posted by Greene Momma
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 20, 2020 at 4:07 pm

Fact: Teachers this spring wanted to do more. I happen to know that several 4th grade teachers had an ENTIRE synchronous all day online teaching plan ready to go in March. Instead of spreading this best practice to the rest of the schools, they were forced due to the equity card (which is so much easier to oversee, isn't it Don?) to just do asynchronous minimalist teaching.
Fact: I happen to know that my son got the BEST music teaching he ever had for the first month of the lockdown due to the independent energy and efforts of our music teacher, again--completely shut down by administration. He then got basically nothing. I don't blame the music teacher for this as I already saw what his efforts produced before he was forced to stop.

Folks in the community- parents or otherwise-- You should ALL be the teachers' advocate. I know I am. The admin IS the problem. I am furious to know that they were forced to do asynchronous mumbo jumbo and then get blamed for it. I am furious to know that they were told take it or leave it with respect to resignation deadlines and no extension.

I know from the responses I got from educated informed emails I sent to Don Austin as a scientist and as a physician that he is NOT a leader prepared to handle such a crisis. He is NOT someone whom I would trust to make a decision regarding my child's or a teacher's life. He is a stubborn, 'my way or the highway' person based on my interactions and he does not understand science and can't really manage effectively in this type of scenario because he gets defensive instead of taking constructive advice from experts. He's way over his head. He was one of the last holdouts in the spring to close schools and did not use the extra time to prepare a better plan.
The school board and Don Austin remind me of Mr. Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life" when he's on the draft board-- 1A, 1A, 1A, 1A. Easy for you to say, Potter-- you're not the one being asked to storm Normandy. This is a war- lives are at stake. The school board is far too pie in the sky theoretical and are missing the forest for the trees. I have first hand experience and I have corresponded with them and I have been an advocate for the teachers since the spring and will continue to be. As a physician, I see the big picture with all of this and it is life, it is health. Do you think in WWII everyone got a perfect education, that people didn't get behind? We have the ability to fix it in this day and age if we focus on the right things. We live in the heart of Silicon Valley where there are tons of technology experts-- let them help with the online issue and help bridge that gap everyone is worried about-- be part of the solution not just whining about the problem. Creating the best learning plan should be the focus-- stop wasting time. My multi-specialty medical group leadership worked their you-know-whats off in March and created a totally new infrastructure to manage COVID and segregate all respiratory care from other care and we've been tweaking it ever since--that is what the district should be doing. The admins stepped in and did that work because the front line docs were too busy. We put makeshift emergency rooms in parking structures. We created whole new departments and processes. Health care is our business and so yes, we put ourselves at risk. Teachers should not have to do so. Their administrators should work nights and weekends as we did in health care to create the best most safe situation for their employees (teachers) and their clients (kids). Yes, we all mourn for the old "normal" when we could shake hands, hug our teachers goodbye, wipe away tears of the kinder. The teachers more than anyone- that is what gives them strength and keeps them coming back day in and day out. But we can't go back- we have to find a new way forward. My child is not doing well at home. I don't blame the teachers for this-- the situation is what sucks. If you're going crazy with 1-4 kids at home, try the 20 something the teachers were used to managing every day. Just think about that, and know that they are not "lazy." They deserve your thanks and your support.


7 people like this
Posted by Yet another PAUSD teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2020 at 4:32 pm

@Greene Momma -- THANK YOU for your post. I've begun to lose hope in this parent community, given the fact that I have worked my tush off since spring and continued to do so in the summer. I've tried to describe to the community my position through my posts, but all I hear is teacher bashing. Would you please consider re-posting what you just wrote to the discussion under the Palo Alto Online article "Newsom: Schools in watch-list counties cannot reopen in person"?

Again, MANY MANY thanks for advocating for the teachers.


Like this comment
Posted by Enforce county rules
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 20, 2020 at 4:37 pm

Thanks for the last post

I wonder if admin ate mask wearing in public or on campus.

Why are sports practicing at paly!!!??


7 people like this
Posted by Another PAUSD Teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2020 at 5:00 pm

Thank you, Greene Momma. I should know better than to take anonymous online comments personally, but I have, it's hurtful, and I appreciate your recognition of the reality that teachers WANT to be in the classroom with your children, our students, again as soon as it's safe.


4 people like this
Posted by A lot of us are teachers
a resident of Barron Park School
on Jul 20, 2020 at 5:37 pm

Greene Mama’s post was too long and it pandered to many by taking pot shots at Don Austin. I am embarrassed by my fellow anonymous colleague(s) who claim to WANT (their capitals not mine) to return to the classroom yet only when it is safe. The majority of Palo Alto teachers are white and I suspect it is their privilege which blinds them to the reality of Latinos in particular showing up to serve them at restaurants, grocery stores, and a number of other places. How about we acknowledge as a union that we are scared to return? It is certainly not safe to return, and I doubt it will be safe to do so in 2021. Then let’s acknowledge the courage of our Latino parents who I have seen at Safeway, Home Depot, et al for the bravery and selflessness that we lack?


18 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 20, 2020 at 5:49 pm

"let’s acknowledge the courage of our Latino parents who I have seen at Safeway, Home Depot, et al for the bravery and selflessness that we lack"

Umm, that's not bravery and selflessness - that's economic incentive/necessity; they want to work and are willing to tolerate the risk (are Safeway workers getting sick? If they were, you'd think we'd hear about it, hmm...). Teachers' would feel the same if they weren't getting paid no matter what, courtesy of the state legislature (a wholly owned subsidiary of the CTA).

It was shocking seeing in the NYT that most districts across the country are using a 5% test positivity rate rule to judge whether to open. Santa Clara County's rate is ~4%, but nope, not good enough for our teachers (Miami, by contrast, is ~20%). What will be good enough? Literally nobody knows. Teachers won't say. They'll know it when they see it. Which will be ...?


1 person likes this
Posted by Tikki
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 20, 2020 at 7:25 pm

I say Gov. Newson give each family $10,000 too teach your child at home, since PA. Parents and Teachers are so paranoid about corvid here! Since a child is worth a lot financially too each school. Have a blessed day!!


2 people like this
Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 20, 2020 at 10:24 pm

Pods are forming so rapidly in Palo Alto, especially in elementary. Why is Superintendent Austin not requesting an elementary waiver (allowed by Santa Clara County)?

Some of families are starting to spend thousands of dollars per child or the equivalent in parent or grandparent time. Wouldn't it make more sense for our elementary schools to offer small pod learning outside for as long as possible?


8 people like this
Posted by Secondary Teacher
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 20, 2020 at 10:56 pm

@ A Lot of us are teachers-
**See, that's the problem with the climate right now. I'm not white (not that is it relevant OR any of your business.)I am Latino SO PLEASE DON'T SPEAK FOR ME.
Signed,
YOUR COLLEAGUE


14 people like this
Posted by Greene Momma
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 20, 2020 at 11:17 pm

@alotofusareteachers
I can make a post as long or short as I like. You don't need to read it nor tell me how to write. I am not pandering to anyone- I am speaking from experience based on my personal interactions with Austin and my reading of his messages. Period.
I feel safe at work because advocacy and effort from my colleagues has created a safe environment in my medical office. We work together toward a common cause-to keep ourselves and our patients safe. I don't see that collegiality happening in the school district and so putting myself in a teacher's shoes, I would not feel there was a safe plan being put in place for me to go to work. All the messages said -- yes, we'll need to restructure the buildings and vents and yada yada, we'll address that later. I read that as -- too busy doing lots of other stuff-- no plan. Believe me-- that part takes is critical, expensive and it takes a lot of time and energy and planning.


5 people like this
Posted by A lot of us are teachers
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 21, 2020 at 9:05 am

Nice of Greene Momma to dictate to us what we "don't need to read" but they should watch out for length and number of posts as I notice that PAO is now deleting posts for those reasons. I am also happy that they "feel safe." However, feeling safe and being safe are two different things. A medical office is not safe. It can be made safer, but it is not safe.

Also nice of Secondary Teacher to write in capital letters to make a point and asking me not to speak for them. I will not be revealing my ethnicity online, and I never was speaking for Secondary Teacher. But I will continue my advocacy for Latino workers who are being disproportionately affected by Covid19 despite our friendly Parent ally from Adobe-Meadow's assertion that Latinos are not working due to courage, but only because they financially need to. I respect their right to that opinion, just as I know they will respect mine that dismissing that kind of dedication and bravery reeks of privilege.


26 people like this
Posted by nita
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 21, 2020 at 9:58 am

Do you people actually read this hate-filled commentary that you spew? You may distrust your doctor, lawyer, accountant, mother and father, sister and brother, and children, but clearly reserve special venom for teachers.

Who in their right mind would want to serve this ungrateful, seemingly out of touch community? Who would care to cultivate conversations at the dinner table between students and parents inured from the intolerance of their own caustic views?

Hopefully, your kids will see you for what you are sooner than they might already have, and achieve independence from your controlling, hyperbolic hate speech.


10 people like this
Posted by BF
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 21, 2020 at 10:06 am

...and as far as Don Austin goes...it's hard to believe that some us long for the says of Mary Frances Callan...what was it 14 years as Superintendent? At least she was attentive and professional.... Austin's defensiveness is such a hindrance to good leadership. Geez...why does he feel that any criticism has to be taken personally? If he would simply admit that he seems to not understand science well, the community might be much better off. A quick look at his dissertation shows that when it comes to the science of education, his is not a nuanced understanding.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2020 at 11:20 am

This is going to come back and hit PAUSD hard. Parents are already forming pod groups/bubble groups and hiring teachers/tutors privately. School will be done at home and quite possibly the private schools will fill for 21/22.

PAUSD has failed many families during the pandemic and is set to fail them again when school restarts.

Whether it is the Unions to blame, or the ones who decide to do everything that Trump says is OK just to show they don't like him, the children will be the ones who suffer most.

It isn't just the academics, it is the socialization and mental health of our children at risk.


23 people like this
Posted by Not PAUSD
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2020 at 1:56 pm

I don't understand why parents are blaming PAEA and PAUSD for Newsom's decision that schools in counties like Santa Clara County, which are on the CA COVID-19 watch list, must be held online.


11 people like this
Posted by it's cause they are haters
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 21, 2020 at 5:26 pm

It's cause they are haters...


6 people like this
Posted by Ugh
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2020 at 10:56 am

Why doesn't PAUSD apply for the elementary school waiver that I bet all the private schools will be definitely applying for?? Kids that age need the social contact, and teachers and parents could opt out of in person instruction.


9 people like this
Posted by A lot of us are teachers
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 1:49 pm

I now see why this forum was so skewed for PAEA: they don't want to teach until next year, according to their proposal to PAUSD. They are asking to not teach until January 2021 at the earliest, but is something magical supposed to happen by then so that they will actually return to work? I think PAEA and the teachers that support them should just get honest with the community and let us know that they are not teaching the entire school year because of virus fears. That would be a more honest approach.


3 people like this
Posted by Thank you, Sherry..
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:04 pm

Teaching professionals should be offering alternatives if they don't want to be in the classroom. How will they deliver robust, effective learning experiences to students online? What's their plan to do the job that they are paid for?

EVERYONE is struggling with the challenges of being productive while staying in place. This is really hard. Some teachers did a great job upping their game. Others failed miserably.

If you don't want to come to school and you want to continue being paid, how will you deliver excellent learning experiences in this new environment? This is what everyone's supervisor is asking us. "How will you be productive without being in the office?" It's really hard, but it is the challenge we are faced with. If you won't support kids going back to school (and I have to agree that is risky for everyone as we have seen in Israel and other countries), what will you do to help improve online learning? Last year was not good. Yes. It's hard, but we can do better, and we must. This could go on for some time.


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