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Palo Alto Unified middle, high schoolers to get later school start times

Original post made on Jul 22, 2020

When Palo Alto Unified middle and high schoolers log on for distance learning in the new academic year, they won't have to do so until 9 a.m. or later.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 22, 2020, 9:34 AM

Comments (50)

23 people like this
Posted by Jay
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 22, 2020 at 10:37 am

What is this bell schedule change related to COVID 19 safety measure? How come district is so quick to listen this request while they are so slow on safety planning and better teacher training on distance learning? SO confused to deal with all different schedule every day and what if I have elementary kid and middle school kid to deal with more complicated schedule? What If parents need to go to work in the morning? Well, I guess kids can keep growing healthy to sleep more in COVID 19...Kid gets lazy and irregular being at home and only school bell schedule will make them keep up... If they need more sleep, let them go bed early. This bell schedule will drive teens to sleep more late and eventually they will get same amount sleep with regular bell schedule...I am ok with this new schedule, but don't get the point where district is focusing right now. Safety plan and best distance learning should be the one to focus.


38 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2020 at 10:52 am

Especially during Covid, I worry this will simply mean even less instruction time.

I must admit I am in the "skeptical" camp on this issue even without Covid. Do parents really think it's healthy to tell teens they don't need to be up and working until 10am on Monday morning?

Are we sure we are really doing this for the kids?


24 people like this
Posted by Meanwhile
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 22, 2020 at 11:24 am

Once a county has come off the watchlist and schools have reopened, Newsom's plan allows schools to remain open until 5% of students have Covid. Does the district intend to follow this??? Our high schools approach 2000 students. The district will wait until 75-100 kids have Covid before closing???


22 people like this
Posted by lex22
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jul 22, 2020 at 1:46 pm

A few things. First, I hope PAUSD is planning for real education this fall. Second, this later start is an awful idea. Makes it very difficult for kids to get experiences outside the home or school, which is particularly important given the state of the world.


28 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 22, 2020 at 2:23 pm

While I support later morning times for teens, 10 am start on a Monday feels like a very late start. It is also confusing to a teen to have 3 different start times. If the instruction starts late, then will the instruction end later in the day? Or are the instructional hours being shortened by such late starts?

Is this really the best for the students? The best both academically and socially/emotionally? Somehow does not feel like it is.


12 people like this
Posted by Class of 2021
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 22, 2020 at 2:27 pm

It seems more and more likely that students will not be able to return to campus until January of 2021.

I hope the district postpones first semester events instead of canceling them. Please don't cancel homecoming.


7 people like this
Posted by Fewer hours
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 22, 2020 at 3:34 pm

Looks like high schoolers will get 3hours of class time per class per week. In person schedule last year had 7 hours over two weeks. So not only will students be online, but they'll also have less instructional time.
I would think it a better idea to at least have an equal amount of class time, if not more, given the challenges of online learning.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2020 at 3:34 pm

One has to ask the question if this is to do with the benefit to the teens or the benefit to the teachers or in other words the Unions. Does this mean that the teachers will be able to arrive at school early (or are they most likely able to do their zoom meetings with other teachers before instruction time) or is it so that they can organize their own family before they start their online instruction.

Calling this school is a misnomer. It will be instruction time. School is a place for interacting with others in your own peer group as with others, it is a place where rules and cooperation teach as much as anything that comes from way of a teacher's voice or a text book.

I can remember my own high school student learning from YouTube videos, recommended by the teacher, on topics such as math and history. I watched some of those, they were really well presented and the teacher and visual aids were excellent, probably 100% better than he was receiving in the classroom. With YouTube videos on all subjects, the value of the instruction time given by teachers is likely to be very much less than any actual person to person classroom time.

Let's call this what it is, time for checking boxes and answering questions. Let the teachers recommend the best YouTube videos, let the kids stay in bed until 5 minutes before the check in time, eat their breakfast at the screen while dressed in pjs. No new friendships will be made, no socialization or cooperation, let alone teaching younger ones how to share or take turns. Parents will either hire tutors or have to give up their own work until after school finishes.

I remember hearing about schools in the outback of Australia doing school over short wave radio very successfully way back when. I sincerely hope that this will be as successful.


17 people like this
Posted by Amy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:43 pm

I have been following along listening to the school board zoom meetings and such. Its my understanding that the reason for the change in the bell schedule is that for years parents have been advocating for a later start time for high school. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a later start time.Web Link
Initially PAUSD had the online bell schedule starting at the usual start time. But then parents wrote/called in asking for the board to push back on the union/district and ask for a later start time..that finally there is an opportunity to have a later start time and that that is one of the few benefits to online learning-later sleep more in line with the teenage circadian rhythm. Anyway, I think this was the reason for the change, not teachers asking for it.


22 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:24 pm

“What is this bell schedule change related to COVID 19 safety measure? How come district is so quick to listen this request while they are so slow on safety planning and better teacher training on distance learning?” Uh professional development was released and the decision to move two PD days to before school starts was made before the release of this new bell schedule. “SO confused to deal with all different schedule every day and what if I have elementary kid and middle school kid to deal with more complicated schedule?” Daily schedules always changed from day to day for all secondary schools. If you’re talking about times, it’s not hard to get used to it unless you actively fight it.

“Kid gets lazy and irregular being at home and only school bell schedule will make them keep up.” “Do parents really think it's healthy to tell teens they don't need to be up and working until 10am on Monday morning?” You can wake your kid up earlier than five minutes before class starts, especially since they’ll be getting, well, they’ll be able to get, extra sleep.

“Once a county has come off the watchlist and schools have reopened, Newsom's plan allows schools to remain open until 5% of students have Covid.” Just to clarify, it’s 5% of the school population, which means adults there are included. Whether the district intends to follow this is an excellent question.

“First, I hope PAUSD is planning for real education this fall.” We are. “Second, this later start is an awful idea. Makes it very difficult for kids to get experiences outside the home or school, which is particularly important given the state of the world.” School will be extended a maximum of 45 minutes and that’s only one some days. I don’t think this will make it “very difficult” to participate in extracurricular activities.

“It is also confusing to a teen to have 3 different start times.” One way to handle this is to prepare to be ready for 9 am then enjoy the extra time on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. “If the instruction starts late, then will the instruction end later in the day?” It depends on what schedule your specific school had previously. Best way to check is to look at the proposed schedule for next year. “Or are the instructional hours being shortened by such late starts?” Unfortunately, instructional minutes are being reduced.

“One has to ask the question if this is to do with the benefit to the teens or the benefit to the teachers or in other words the Unions.” For years, the push to delay start times was mostly pushed by parents and now that it’s finally happening, you think it’s because of the Unions with a capital U? “One has to ask the question if” you’re being serious or if you just have a grudge against teachers and/or organized labor.

Bottom line is many parents wanted later times and the district made it happen. Can we give them credit where credit is due, please?


25 people like this
Posted by Selma
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:34 pm

I like the later start times, it works for normal teenage sleep patterns. I think the 1 hour reduction in instruction time is acceptable under the circumstances. This is not an easy time for anyone but spare a thought for the teachers and especially for those with school aged children. Everyone is trying their best and there will never be a solution which is agreeable to everyone. We all have to make compromises and be ready to do what we can to help our kids.


8 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2020 at 6:16 pm

>>"Kid gets lazy and irregular being at home and only school bell schedule will make them keep up... If they need more sleep, let them go bed early. This bell schedule will drive teens to sleep more late and eventually they will get same amount sleep with regular bell schedule...I"

The purpose of the bell is for the needs of the school. The businesses in the world with bells and clocks are the ones people least want their children to be employed at, and they are frankly disappearing. The best jobs don't have bells, and require a work ethic and drive to go to work and do a good job.

You are right in one sense that, without the bells and the demanding schedule, many, maybe even most, students will --INITIALLY-- sleep up to the moment of class time and attend school in their pajamas. I disagree that this is a bad thing.

Giving students a chance to become more the masters of their own lives while they are still in high school is one potential opportunity of the pandemic, and it is especially important for those who will be going off to college.

I can't think of a single college that has bells to start the day, but I can think of a LOT of otherwise talented students who washed out in college because they had trouble with the newfound freedom. I can think of more still who missed out on opportunities because they lost time having to learn how to be responsible for themselves without school in one way or other directing the use of so much of their time and lives.

As anyone who has read my posts by now knows, we ended up homeschooling for high school. It is a process to take a student who is used to school bells and get them to a point where they get up and go like anyone who has worked for a living. It is unreasonable to expect every student who has acted only from external direction to suddenly transition to getting up, getting dressed, and getting on with their work every day at a reliably early time. But the only way they are going to grow into their own independence about getting up and using their days wisely is if they have the chance to do that within REAL-WORLD boundaries.

Enterprising kids will be able to do their work in less time and realize they have the best part of the day at their disposal -- IF schools don't do something ridiculous like enforce 3 hours of "class" time per class per week ONLINE. Going online is a chance to reduce the mandatory seat-time of students and give them more leeway to do creative and substantial work, including getting help when they are struggling with something.

This is an opportunity to give students more leeway to be in charge of themselves and their time like in college (or the work world). Initially, they will react to the freedom as if they are still "rebelling" against all the constraints. Understanding that, and knowing how to support them to self-sufficiency is an opportunity now that will help them later.

Most homeschoolers realize that it's possible to do all the work in school within a very short period of time before lunch, and that leaves a day of possibilities that aren't possible if kids have to shuffle around the maze of school. When they are learning online, students will need MORE not less chances to create social connections. Give them time and support to do that. This pandemic can be an opportunity to foster a lot of traits that school makes difficult to support, but that will make positive changes in school possible when they return.

Please, for the love of God, do not try to reproduce the seat time of school online! Have one really great synchronous meeting during the week per class (longer than 1 hour if necessary), a day in which students can schedule in one-on-one time to ask questions later in the week (for several classes at once) or just connect with a teacher/mentor, and asynchronous work that will take the rest of the required instructional time with opportunities for students to delve deeper (in interesting, collaborative ways that don't waste their time).

Find a way to integrate classes so that students can get 2 for the time of 1. Find a way to give students more freedom and support to follow their passions.

Really reflect on what is for the sake of the students' learning or just for the sake of constantly measuring them. It could be different from child to child -- this is a real opportunity to individualize education and take that into the classroom in the future.

I support this move to 9am, and hope for more moves to treat all students like autonomous human beings and less like gauntlet-running rodents... I am not suggesting that anyone, from parents to teachers to even administrators, does anything because they overtly envision students as rats in a maze. Disruptions like this have a way of helping people challenge their underlying assumptions, though, and hopefully make the way they behave in the future more in line with their stated values.


8 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:57 pm

Everyone--and research--acknowledges that remote learning is much less efficient than in person learning. NWEA puts it at about 40% loss of learning, not to mention the almost 100% loss of socialization.

Some parents offer dozens of reasons why they can't do what your parents and their parents routinely did before them and take care of their own children and in this specific case, help educate and temporarily take care of their children while the schools are temporarily closed.

Perhaps the reasons are sincerely felt, yet one suspect that some--or even all--are strongly driven by the guaranteed free day care. After all, parents have similar reasons, yet they are parents and have a job to do.

So here is a suggestion. The pandemic emergency is a perfect opportunity to break the labor agreement with the teachers' union and improve it, granting more guaranteed job safety and security to teachers, and increasing the salaries of teachers being vastly underpaid to take care of, socialize, and educate your children on a daily basis by 40%, the same fraction of learning loss between remote instruction and in person instruction by increasing parcel taxes.

This will allow us to see how many of those proffered reasons by parents of appreciating teachers for in person instruction are sincere.

Life is made of trade-offs and compromises. No reason why parents should be excused from having to make them.

Finally, just as a reminder, Palo Alto school district just recently voted to put a new parcel tax on the ballot this November.


5 people like this
Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 22, 2020 at 10:28 pm

Parents have been advocating for YEARS for a later start time. There's fantastic data on why later start times are good. When Paly tried to get a later schedule approved, there was an uproar from the sports teams (field and practice time) and even speech and debate, which said it would conflict with their middle school club.

But now in the middle of the pandemic, the District agreed? Hmmm. It's suspicious. I wonder who else it worked for other than students. BTW I support later start times, but I don't think the District is "listening."

If the District and Board were listening, we would have had synchronous instruction in the spring in a minimum fixed amount of more than ZERO per grade level. If the District and Board were listening, elementary parents would have the option of sending their kids to school or keeping them home using social distancing at school and having a flexible schedule. If the District were listening, it would have applied for a waiver for elementary. If the District were listening, it would have installed cameras and wiring in all its classrooms this summer? If the District were listening, we probably wouldn't have a pod frenzy in Palo Alto.


16 people like this
Posted by Not possible
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 22, 2020 at 11:15 pm

@voice of PA - how is it possible to give teachers MORE job security? The only way to fire a teacher is if they molest a student. Even then the district will just allow them to resign.

[Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2020 at 11:25 pm

Elementary at 9am or later for any synchronous online, too, please!


16 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 23, 2020 at 12:31 am

"But now in the middle of the pandemic, the District agreed [to later start times]? Hmmm. It's suspicious. I wonder who else it worked for other than students. BTW I support later start times, but I don't think the District is 'listening.'" Speak your mind and stop casting doubt on people's intentions. If you want to think something shady is going on, lay your claim on the table so it can be addressed or debated. Otherwise, just be happy that your wish to move start times was granted and move on.

"If the District and Board were listening, elementary parents would have the option of sending their kids to school or keeping them home using social distancing at school and having a flexible schedule. If the District were listening, it would have applied for a waiver for elementary." They are listening to you and to everyone; they simply decided to choose the best option out of many bad ones.

"If the District were listening, it would have installed cameras and wiring in all its classrooms this summer?" I'm not sure they heard this question because this is my first time hearing it. Also, I hope they don't do this because 1) state law severely limits classroom recording and 2) it's really creepy.

"Lay off the idiot pills for a while. And no more commenting while under the influence of them." Your words are unnecessary and don't meaningfully add to the discussion.


5 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 2:36 am

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Sleepy Joe
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 23, 2020 at 7:11 am

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Not possible
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 23, 2020 at 9:13 am

@Paly teacher - it's not a discussion. It's people trying to prove they know more or are better than someone else.

I've also noticed that the teacher's on these forums all seem to come from Paly, as do most of the parent complaints (and legal ones). I wonder why.


17 people like this
Posted by Bf
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:40 am

Maybe paly teachers are responding because they are constantly under attack by members of this community who doubt their professionalism and sincerity. Take a good look at yourself Palo Alto


9 people like this
Posted by But Not Gunn
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 23, 2020 at 11:43 am

@Bf - I think that's kinda the point. Why don't we see Gunn teacher's professionalism and sincerity being questioned or attacked? Seems to point to a deeper cultural issue with the Paly staff and administrators. Maybe the Paly staff members should be taking a good look at themselves.


7 people like this
Posted by Recording is allowed
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 23, 2020 at 12:08 pm

@Paly Teacher,
So glad you raised this recording issue.
Recording is 100% allowed, but there was a misunderstanding in Palo Alto. Glad to clear it up for you.
See this article Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Kathy
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jul 23, 2020 at 12:16 pm

The focus does not seem to be on instruction and education and student learning. Also, the teacher's union demands discussed in this article do not comply with the law just passed, SB 98, or with Governor Newsom's recent guidance. PAUSD - please don't agree to any labor agreement that doesn't comply w the law - that's a lawsuit waiting to happen.


3 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 12:19 pm

[Portion removed.]

"If the District were listening, it would have installed cameras and wiring in all its classrooms this summer.”
That would be weird. I don’t understand this comment at all. Are you planning on tuning in to your child’s class all day long? Why? So you can judge instruction or make sure people are doing their jobs up to your standards? I don’t get this. Were your high school classes video taped or live-streamed when you were in school? Isn’t there anything else to do during the day?

“Kid gets lazy and irregular being at home and only school bell schedule will make them keep up... “
How about getting these kids to do some good old fashioned chores? That might help get them on a regular schedule. Just a suggestion.

Do parents really think it's healthy to tell teens they don't need to be up and working until 10am on Monday morning? Are we sure we are really doing this for the kids?
Good point. We AREN’T really sure. I have already written above that I believe this probably had to do with a bunch of Union nonsense. Your instincts about this situation might turn out to be correct. Even Don Austin said, “We will test our assumptions.” I feel like this will be sort of like a real time experiment and I know for me personally, I am not totally comfortable with this either. Good work here for noticing this also!

[Portion removed.]



3 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 12:45 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Pot, meet Kettle
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 2:03 pm

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2020 at 2:33 pm

“ Everyone--and research--acknowledges that remote learning is much less efficient than in person learning.“

100% Disagree, as someone whose child actually used remote learning in high school. There CAN BE a lot of advantages. Remote learning that tries to reproduce in person school is inferior. Don’t do that.

One of the big reasons people homeschool is because in person school is so inefficient for learning. Starting with the premise that it’s less efficient is just wrong.

Our teachers are trying to improve the online learning situation. One important factor is the expectations of the public. If you want in person school and you expect your child to have equivalent seat time online, everyone will be miserable.

The district probably should create at least one new program. For some people, the idea of their child having the freedom and support to do independent project work would make them negatively judge the year because they expect good learning to involve suffering. For others it would be life changing in a beneficial way to realize their kids can get a better education without the stress and have time to work on more substantial projects/passions. Expectations will affect how families assess the same opportunities, it’s why we have Ohlone and Hoover elementares.

While I do think distance learning can serve all ends of the spectrum really well, I think there has to be at least two options when it comes to the approach.

Me, personally, I’ve seen Homeschooled kids get to Ivies who spent most of their education at the public library reading. I’ve also seen plenty who did by taking a lot of online APs and College Courses. Given the responses people had when the closures began, that the students couldn’t continue to learn on their own, my feelings is this is an opportunity to learn how to foster independent learning. If that’s all schools get out of this, everyone will be better off when it’s over.


3 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 2:42 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 3:14 pm

“100% Disagree, as someone whose child actually used remote learning in high school. There CAN BE a lot of advantages. Remote learning that tries to reproduce in person school is inferior. Don’t do that.”

Great points Silver Linings! I always love reading your homeschooling posts! Keep up the good work!
I understand your points but how do you explain the NWEA saying it’s a 40% learning loss? Are you daring to say the NWEA is wrong? That’s bold! I am not saying the NWEA is right and that you are wrong, but how do you explain this statistic? Maybe the learning loss would have been less if they would have measured the way you obviously have expertly homeschooled your children or if they would have measured other people such as yourself who have more experience in homeschooling? Why do you think the NWEA measured 40%? Could they be wrong?
Just curious. Keep up the good work on here as I always look forward to your homeschooling posts, and you really do bring a lot of positivity and are able to see the “Silver Lining” in everything.


8 people like this
Posted by Gunn Mom
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 23, 2020 at 5:07 pm

I have a current Gunn student and a ‘18 grad. The bell schedule changed many times in the 4 years my older child was at Gunn. It was kind of a joke at our house. Even last year, every week we checked whether it was an alternate or regular schedule week. Okay-everyone adapted just fine. We have noticed that nearly all teens are staying up later during this time. Our own 15 year old is finally sleeping in more. I think the students will like the late starts and will be extra pleased on the days they have an extra late start. I am not sure why this is such a problem. I can understand that for parents that will leave their homes much earlier, it might be a concern that your teen might miss their school start and you wouldn’t be their to prompt them. Other than that, it could be really nice for the teens.


5 people like this
Posted by We don't like the late start
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 23, 2020 at 5:54 pm

@GunnMom in our case it's because we are a "morning person" family. We are most productive in the morning. My husband and I are awake at 6 exercising and walking the dogs, and then to work by 8. Our kids have always gotten up early. This new policy has the effect of encouraging our kids to sleep in which we don't think is a good habit and which we think will make them less productive overall.

In addition, both kids do after-school sports and this is going to squeeze their afternoons even further. It compresses their "get stuff done" time and we much prefer when it is spread out. That is why I am unhappy about this new much later start. It is not good for our kids or our family. Parents and kids will now have very different schedules and less time together.


Like this comment
Posted by Pot, meet Kettle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 23, 2020 at 6:46 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 7:13 pm

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2020 at 10:12 am

I am confused by the comments about distance learning. Can someone clarify something for me?

Are these comments here (in the conversation about later start time) just because distance learning is on eveyone's mind due to covid?

Or, is it that Covid aside, the district is planning on increasing distance learning or "blended" remote learning even in normal as part of this change in schedule?

I really hope it's not the latter. We already short our kids on instructional minutes (even pre-covid). Unsupervised remote learning isn't the same, practically or legally. (I am talking about normal times when the state isn't making exceptions due to covid.)


3 people like this
Posted by Covid-19 ready
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 24, 2020 at 12:03 pm

@Sally,
It is my understanding that pre-Covid-19 (possibly in 2019 or even 2018), the District applied for an instructional minute waiver for Blended Learning classes. This was disappointing to me as a parent. I like that students can watch the lecture at home or in the library. Flexibility is great. But, I see assigning lectures as homework as a way to have more hands on time with students, not less.


3 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens, PhD
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 24, 2020 at 5:17 pm

[Portion removed.] To control the Covid-19 contagion, shut down shared school classrooms until there are both multiple highly-effective vaccines and also multiple effective covid anti-viral oral meds. And, just as important, enough doses of those vaccines and meds that, unlike TESTING, anyone can get them immediately and at very low cost. IMHO? No sooner than Sept 2021. Get ready for a loooong ride for ALL OF US to stay safe.

Do the same with all shared public activities even outdorrs, including restaurants, bars, churches, and public parks and other activities. And no family reunions or holiday gatherings. Shut it down, hunker down, and wait for the meds. Don't be stupid and greedy. Be patient.


Like this comment
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2020 at 6:59 pm

@Covid-19 ready

Thank you. That context is helpful.


6 people like this
Posted by MISS
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 25, 2020 at 10:13 am

Is PAUSD trying to create more stress and mental disorders for the students and parents in this already depressive pandemic time?

Having a REGULAR daily routine can be a stress- and sanity-saver during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only can certain repetitive actions benefit your physical health (such as regular exercise and nightly flossing), but they can also improve your mental health by reducing your stress levels.

What are the benefits of regular routines?
- Start your day off right. Instead of jumping from time to time and trying to figure out what time you need to set your alarm on different days, create a set routine, and stick with it. You'll waste less physical energy and brain space.
- Make better big decisions. Save your brainpower and focus on big decisions, like whether or not to take the SAT or ACT this fall semester.
- Sleep better. A regular bedtime routine is essential to good sleep hygiene.
- Enjoy quality time with loved ones. Even if your family's schedule is busy, creating a weekly family routine is a great way to ensure you and your loved ones have time with each other at the end of the day. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this is more important than ever.
- Have more time for activities you love. By creating a regular routine schedule, you'll leave room for activities you truly enjoy.
- Students most likely won't miss any classes or homework if they following regular routines.
- Fixed start time also makes parents' (and teachers') lives much easier during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PLEASE, starting school at the SAME TIME every day if you want to avoid more suicide in PSUSD! Fixed start time is good and healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and academically.


12 people like this
Posted by PT
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 25, 2020 at 3:40 pm

I teach in another district and live in this one and have a few observations. Other districts are managing to work these things out without turning on each other this way. Stop it. The BOE and DA are not being cautious enough on health. And portions of this community are so aggressively anti-teacher and anti-union that it's pathetic. It's like you have hundreds of teachers here knocking themselves out to help you, no gratitude at all for them, and you can't help bringing up that "some teachers are bad!" And there's a comment above about 9 am starts and they just want to assume the worst, it's "becuz the yooonion!!!" --and in fact it was a suggestion by the BOE and with no effect on teachers and the union didn't bat an eye, but don't let facts mess up your story


7 people like this
Posted by Sigh
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 27, 2020 at 11:48 am

Finally our students can get some sleep, but only because it's more convenient for teachers. During the school year, they usually want to leave school as early as possible to avoid Rush Hour.


21 people like this
Posted by Teacher and Parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 28, 2020 at 8:27 pm

Covid has brought out the true colors in so many people, especially in Palo Alto. It is so disappointing. As a teacher, I would do anything to go back and teach my kids in person. I now am going to teach all day from home while making sure both of my kids get their work done. I have not taken one day off this summer because I have been working and improving my online craft so I can give everything my students deserve. Teachers have always been underpaid and given so little respect, but with Covid Palo Alto parents have showcased how truly little respect they have for us. I could say so much more on how disappointed I am to live in a community that treats their teachers like this. You all have no idea.


17 people like this
Posted by Very vocal minority
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 28, 2020 at 9:26 pm

@TeacherAndParent: If it helps, I get the sense it is a very small but very loud (on this forum) set of people who are so obnoxious. I am also disgusted by it. Most of us highly value our schools and teachers. It is true that education was not great at the end of last year, but neither was work, neither was parenting, neither was pretty much anything. It was a pandemic for crying out loud, and we all had to juggle far too many things. The year continues to be stressful for all, and school will continue to be imperfect, if only because we are pretty much stuck in our homes with no break. There are also no perfect options. All we can do is stay positive and make the best of it or at least try not to go crazy.

Hang in there, ignore the haters, better yet don't even read this stuff. It's not worth it and it gives a false impression.


9 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:55 am

@The Voice,

I can't argue with a vague allusion to NWEA. If you could be more specific, we could discuss it.

There is nothing inherently worse about online education. As I have pointed out before, Stanford Online High School is now ranked a lot higher than Gunn or Paly, and it's...online.

Homeschoolers can typically be more flexible and nimble in how they use online education as part of customizing a child's education. If an online course really isn't working, unlike in school, the student and parent have the ability to pivot and find something that is working. If the spring wasn't working out, for example, and you were a homeschooler, you would have switched gears quickly and done something that worked better for your children's learning goals and life. But if you were measuring how well students continued to learn something they were learning in the classroom that got interrupted and went online, sure, lots of people complained that they weren't learning. To me, this is a wake up call that schools are not teaching students to be lifelong learners.

That said, what was being measured? This is a pandemic, and teachers had to deal with their own problems when school suddenly ceased, too. What kind of online learning was being studied, in what context? A good resource for learning more about online learning and instruction is The Christensen Institute. Here's an article that just discusses some of the nuances of what people lump into "online education."
Web Link

When a researcher looked at how unschoolers turned out -- unschoolers being the most unstructured kind of homeschooling -- they turn out pretty well. Web Link
But if you were to test them the year they left school rather than when they went off to college, and comparing them to what they would have learned in that exact school program, it's likely they wouldn't compare well because they're all deschooling that first year. This is how I know our kids are going to be fine. I have been immersed in a different way of education that regularly includes stretches of freedom, gaps, etc., yet students can do as well or better.

An incidental article:
Web Link

Here's an Atlantic article that points out a study of Canadian homeschoolers, that they got higher test scores than kids in school. It also points out that students who were more on the unschooler range scored less well -- but again, this wasn't at the end of their journey, it was an attempt to measure them by school standards over a shorter period of time.
Web Link

I am using homeschoolers as a proxy for online learning, since a high percentage of homeschoolers use at least some online learning.

There is plenty of evidence that online learning can work as well or better, but the context, the educational model, has to change. Trying to reproduce the school experience and benchmarks exactly online, sure, that's not going to be as good. As I keep saying, don't do that.

My kid never had time to take a statistics class in high school, but because of a self-directed research project, needed to learn some statistics. Having the need from the research project, but not enough time to sign up for a formal course, meant my kid found a textbook and an online course and worked enough of the way through it to get what was needed. We never gave credit for statistics on the transcript because our student never finished a formal course, but what was learned was retained because it was applied, and I'm guessing it probably was enough to help on standardized testing. It was all online. If you were to compare my child's statistics performance to someone who finished a whole course, maybe you would conclude that online doesn't work?

It seems really ridiculous to make blanket pronouncements because of so many variables. As I've pointed out before, a large comprehensive study of air filtration put in 18 schools after a local gas leak, in which they found the exterior pollution never really made it into the classrooms but the the reduction of typical indoor pollutants improved student math and reading scores so significantly, it was the equivalent of 1/3 reduction in class sizes or intensive tutoring for everyone. And the benefits were retained year over year and in students to moved but to other filtered classrooms.

If you have that kind of a factor in the mix, which also affects absenteeism, and you return everyone to physical classrooms after they've been closed up all this time, that could be the overwhelming influence on performance.

Bottom line: the move to online education can be positive, and there are plenty of models/circumstances/platforms/best practices to be confident it can be. It can also be worse. Choose the circumstances, tools, and models that make it better, and then hopefully the experience will teach everyone something new to bring back with them when this is over.


3 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2020 at 1:24 am

Just another old agenda being slipped in. Same with no grading.


9 people like this
Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2020 at 1:50 am

@Parent from another community,

Was that directed at my comment? What is the "old agenda" you mean?

Indoor air quality? Because yes, the indoor air quality problems in our district are nothing new and shameful for a district this rich and well educated. A Paly teacher on these lists says they and colleagues have been complaining about them there for 10 years. I could cite other examples. The knowledge that indoor air quality has direct and significant impact on student and staff performance is also nothing new in environmental health science. The EPA has a pretty old "agenda" to get schools to voluntarily take easy steps that would make everyone who occupies schools healthier, but many, like ours, simply don't.

Do you mean I was suggesting an agenda of "no grading"? Perhaps you were commenting about something else, or to someone else? I haven't really brought this up. But since you have, I will comment that students need feedback to learn and grow. Not all feedback is equal, but I disagree with the movement of late in which teachers don't read or give feedback for the writing assignments they assign. But I taught my child to write more like professionals do, with learning to edit being a major aspect of the writing, not just a last-minute clean up.

On the other hand, here's an article about the no grades movement
Web Link

I am definitely on board with it. When my kid was in middle school, there was school orchestra and outside orchestra. The latter was WAY more advanced, and they didn't give students grades to get them to work hard. They worked hard to learn how to play orchestral music at a high level. The way they did things in school made my student want to quit playing altogether, I never saw my child practice less than when it involved practice self-evaluations and grades. See the film Most Likely to Succeed.

I thought this was interesting: a history of grading in higher education
Web Link

Grades can impede learning. That said, if students were in graded courses, it's understandable they would be disappointed if they didn't get a grade after the shutdown. It's a pandemic. They are adjusting.


16 people like this
Posted by Come on!
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 29, 2020 at 7:39 am

I’ve come to the conclusion that when it comes to pandemic politics, the white liberal left and the maga right have a lot in common. One side doesn’t believe that Covid exists because they don’t believe in science and the other doesn’t understand it because they are sheltered from it and their portfolios are growing.

It’s horrifying to read some of these comments from anti teacher parents. Bottom line, they don’t care about teachers’ well-being, just about their ability to participate in leisure.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:23 pm

Posted by Silver Linings, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> It seems really ridiculous to make blanket pronouncements because of so many variables. As I've pointed out before, a large comprehensive study of air filtration put in 18 schools

I don't see the citation above. Could you please re-post it?

>> Was that directed at my comment? What is the "old agenda" you mean?

>> Indoor air quality? Because yes, the indoor air quality problems in our district are nothing new and shameful for a district this rich and well educated. A Paly teacher on these lists says they and colleagues have been complaining about them there for 10 years.

Indoor air quality is an old agenda item. It is still there because not much attention is paid to it. High-quality air and lighting (LED usually much better than fluorescent) seem like obvious upgrades anyway, but, in the new, post-COVID era, we really should fix classroom environmental issues as much as possible.


17 people like this
Posted by Be Positive
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2020 at 5:33 pm

Please educate me - why can't teachers simply teach and broadcast their class online at least at the middle and high school levels. Example - 7th grade English, teacher Ms.Great Teacher. For 45 minutes she and all her students are on Zoom doing whatever she would have done in the classroom. Talk to the students, have them read something, write something down, discuss things. I can understand that art, music and other hands on classes are much harder to do online, but English, Math, History, etc. seem to translate quite well to teachers talking to their students in the same way they would in the classroom.


6 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 4, 2020 at 6:04 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

@Be positive,

Of course this can be done, but the State union position is against streaming and recording. This "synchronous" instruction is exactly what is needed. The teacher does not have to be "teaching" every minute.

Our Board and Administration simply need to call the bluff.

The bonus is that live streaming also works when some kids can attend school and others can't.

Oh, and at one college at least (Northeastern) professors who are at risk can choose to stream into the classroom. Clever.


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