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Here's when elementary, middle and high school students could return to school under proposed plan

Original post made on Sep 16, 2020

Palo Alto Unified is proposing to reopen schools in a phased schedule over the next four months, starting with the district's youngest students in the fall and ending with middle and high schoolers in early January.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 4:03 PM

Comments (38)

26 people like this
Posted by Elementary mom
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 16, 2020 at 5:13 pm

Elementary mom is a registered user.

I’m excited to see the school district is putting together a thoughtful re-entry plan, listening to the guidance of health officials and caring for the physical and mental health of our children and teachers.

54 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 16, 2020 at 5:27 pm

Paly Teacher is a registered user.

First, let’s appreciate the amazing air we have today and take a deep breath.

I’ll jumpstart what promises to be a productive and…spirited discussion by recapping what's been talked about before.

1) "PAUSD is breaking the law! Ed Code Section 43502 says 'shall offer in-person instruction.'”
-Not really. PAUSD has legal standing to start after Sep. 22 because “courts are loath to second-guess discretionary decisions of this sort, and generally do so only where the local agency decision is ‘arbitrary, capricious, entirely lacking in evidentiary support’” (Web Link)
-Shall offer could be offering a little bit on one day of the school year (Web Link)
-Other districts are starting more than 14 days after being off purple. I’m pretty sure we’re not all breaking the law
-Laws are open to interpretation. We have an amendment that says, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” Does that means I can walk into a theatre (pre-COVID) and yell fire when there isn’t one? Can I walk up to you and curse you out endlessly? Of course not.

2) "Just teach outside!"
-Do you know when the last time we didn’t have a Spare the Air Day was? Yup, the first day of school.
-“Yeah but the air’s great now!” Yeah for now. The district doesn’t have unlimited time to thoroughly plan out every possible solution, especially one it’s unlikely to use.
-Students have allergies.
-It can rain. Students can get sick.
-The sun is bright. Do you want the district to purpose hundreds of tents? How will they be protected overnight?
-“I saw students being taught outside in Idaho.” That’s good for them. Did the district have thousands of students?

3) "Online learning is terrible."
-As Dr. Austin said, if online learning was better than in person, we would have done online learning to begin with.
-I’m torn…I dislike teaching online. But I also don’t like dying. I also don’t like living the rest of my life with weakened lungs. And I especially won’t be the reason my family has to suffer through those things.
-For those that think teachers want online learning because it's absolutely is not.

@Elementary mom: I'm with you. The district will release the agenda packet here on Friday afternoon or evening: Web Link#

61 people like this
Posted by Enough Already - Open the Schools!
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 16, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Enough Already - Open the Schools! is a registered user.

January 7 to have secondary students return? The Teachers' Union is strong. We can't fire bad teachers, and now, we can't force healthy teachers to do what they signed up to do - be in a classroom full of kids and teach these kids in person. Where is the research showing teachers are getting sick directly from opening schools and suffering irreversible harm or death? There is lots of research, however, on how teens have 3x more depression and anxiety right now.. and I personally know of 1 suicide and 2 attempts. OPEN THE SCHOOLS! I don't want to leave my house and go to work either (we are all human), but I have to.

39 people like this
Posted by the way
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 16, 2020 at 6:17 pm

the way is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

I have been a teacher in this district for 24 years and how about a little humility and JUST TEACH YOUR CLASS and let the union and admin figure things out.

Who made you the spokesman for the district/teachers?

I personally know plenty of teachers who would go back in person right now, so people please know this whoever does not speak for all the teachers in the district.

27 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 16, 2020 at 6:32 pm

Paly Teacher is a registered user.

@the way. [Portion removed.]

Some commenters have previously attacked our district and us teachers so I spoke up to push back. Some said we're breaking the law so I pointed out that we aren't. Some said we should teach outside and I gave reasons why we shouldn't. What's wrong with that?

I didn't claim to represent all teachers or even most of them. What made you think I'm a spokesperson?

47 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 16, 2020 at 6:38 pm

Mary is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

26 people like this
Posted by Gunn Papa
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Sep 16, 2020 at 9:13 pm

Gunn Papa is a registered user.

Where is the story for this article? I was told that Todd Collins told the Duveneck PTA about the opening of school on Monday, then Superintendent Don Austin was forced to do the apology email today, two days later? Why didn’t Austin just tell us all on Monday if they had the information? I thought we had turned the corner on not being transparent. Also, is Collins going to send out an apology letter for favoring one school group over all the other schools, staff, and community?

36 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 16, 2020 at 9:50 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@Paly Teacher - We get it, you don't want to teach in a classroom, no matter what anyone says. But, please don't complain about your pay, or how others view you, or say that teachers are underappreciated. [Portion removed.]

We get it, and I don't really blame you for not wanting to be in a classroom. But, at least act like you care or you want to find a way to make it work.

18 people like this
Posted by HS parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2020 at 10:53 pm

HS parent is a registered user.

It's ridiculous returning to school not until Jan 7 for middle and high schoolers. Santa Clara county has been staying in Red Tier since Sept 8. The cases in Palo Alto is extremely low. We just need to be smart living with Covid for a while, wear masks and keep distancing.
Most of the students wanted to go back to school seeing their friends and making new friends. Looking at the screens all day are hurting their mental health.
Please reconsider going back to campus earlier than Jan 7.


38 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:28 pm

Paly Teacher is a registered user.

@Mary: “Fine, if you don't want to teach in class, stay home and let someone else take your place.”
-Not sure where I said I’d prefer to stay home. Honestly, I’m so tired of teaching online, I stocked up on PPE and was ready to go back October 12
-I think we actually have a shortage of teachers. Unless you meant you want your child to be in a class with at least 40 other kids.

@Samuel L:

“We get it, you don't want to teach in a classroom, no matter what anyone says.”
-Wrong. See above.
“But, please don't complain about your pay…”
-Where did I complain about my pay?
“…or how others view you…”
-Where did I complain how others view me?
“…or say that teachers are underappreciated.”
-Where did I say teachers are underappreciated?
“But, at least act like you care or you want to find a way to make it work.”
-Quite honestly, I don’t have to act like I care with you because my students know that I care about them. I advise clubs. I presented optional lessons even during finals week last spring. I still get emails from parents thanking me for doing that, so don’t presume to even guess how much I care or how much effort I put in for my students.

Look, I post here to provide a different perspective and some fact-checking. What’s the point of calling me uncaring or greedy? Is it because you don’t agree with what I say or because I’m an easy proxy for that teacher who left your kid in a lurch? I’m not complaining; I’m really curious where all this vitriol is coming from.

I thought about making this my last post, but then I realized this “Town Square” is just going to be an echo chamber of people making themselves feel better with misinformation when what we really need are discussions where we better understand each other.

43 people like this
Posted by BalancedParent
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 17, 2020 at 12:09 am

BalancedParent is a registered user.

When is the Board going to start meeting in person?

11 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 17, 2020 at 9:14 am

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

The district is required to get Board approval for the instructional plan this year and it is required to get community input.

[Portion removed.] Newsom stressed that California was getting kids back into the schools when it was safe. Two weeks in the red zone was deemed as safe.

Why is the Board going to approve this plan? Secondary students need live connections. If the union won't agree, Zoom in teachers who won't show up.

Have students sign up for return and then see how many there are and decide what percentage can show up. If only 50% of students sign up for return, then all of them should be able to show up every day. If 100% sign up, then let 50% return. How hard is this?

Also, let's remember January is cold and flu season. How is that a great time for a test? Right now is a great time to test out our systems.

49 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Teacher
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2020 at 9:36 am

PAUSD Teacher is a registered user.

@Facts and Figures, Test our system? What does that mean to you? Put students and staff in danger of contracting a virus when the schools aren't ready? Give people a false sense of security? Would you like to volunteer to sit in a classroom all day right now?

Human life is precious and should not be used to "test" things. I don't get the push to go back NOW. We are not prepared yet, cases are surging across the US and Europe right now. We are in way worse shape than when we shut down. I don't particularly enjoy distance teaching, but I do enjoy my health and my life.

I say, let's wait until our county is in the green (not red) before we decide to reopen. We should have Merv-13 filtration in all school classroom (we don't), windows that open (we don't), HEPA air filtration (we don't), adequate levels of PPE (we don't), a plan for the school day (we don't), nurses at each site (we don't), and so much more. Is this asking too much?

Sorry, i really don't want to be used to test the system.

4 people like this
Posted by the way
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 17, 2020 at 10:02 am

the way is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

32 people like this
Posted by William Billiam
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2020 at 10:52 am

William Billiam is a registered user.

Maybe if the district was able to provide the necessary plan and equipment to go back safely but they aren't doing that. They've had months to gather the proper supplies and develop a plan on how to handle everything for a typical school day and have failed to do so. They simply don't have enough individual desks to fill out the safety standard they set, but they want to press forward anyways. They also don't have a proper plan to handle simple things like bathroom usage and how to wash hands for the students.

Those in charge of getting the schools organized and ready for kids to return have failed. They would rather force the issue and hope for the best with the kids and teachers safety.

14 people like this
Posted by It’s about time
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2020 at 10:55 am

It’s about time is a registered user.

I am glad the district is moving in the right step and allowing for opening schools. I am also thankful that it gives elementary school students the option of doing 10% distance learning. Social emotional health is so important for our kids who are depressed and isolated at home. It is ridiculous that they are waiting until January to open secondary schools.

42 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2020 at 12:26 pm

Brian is a registered user.

This school closure is harming kids. The science, which I won’t rehash here, is pretty clear on this.

My perception is that the school doesn’t want to reopen. Is October any safer than September? Is there any scientific proof for that?

Let's ask ourselves a question. Do we trust the Santa Clara Health Department and the California state health department? If the answer is yes, then there's no rational reason to stay closed after Sept 22. Any reasoning to stay closed beyond that is a decision based on fear and not data. If we don't trust the health authorities, then that begs the question -- who do we trust? What's the source of the data being used to make these decisions? What are the scientific papers being used to rationalize decisions? Who specifically is making determinations of "safety" and what are their credentials?

The fact is that we're making policy based on fear and not data. How can I say that? Because if we were to use data, then following the reopening permission from the county and state would be logical because those permissions are based on the data.

Either we're going to be data driven or fear driven. But let's not pretend that fears are equivalent to data. My argument is pretty simple: if we're worried about risk, then we should defer to the actual experts. And, unless some Palo teacher happens to have years of experience in public health, epidemiology, and infectious disease, then they aren't qualified to have an opinion. The county health department is qualified and if they say it's safe, then that's more valid that the opinion of a thousand teachers -- because it's a question of data and risk management.

It's a fact online school is causing social, emotional, and developmental harm to children, especially K-5. It's also causing damage to families. It's also a fact that Covid data is showing that the risk isn't as high as people thought back in March. [Portion removed.]

21 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 17, 2020 at 12:58 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

@PAUSD teacher,

There is NO green in the California reopening plan. Link here Web Link

In the reopening plan, Red is VERY safe. 4-7 new daily cases per 100K people. That's why the STATE says schools should open for live instruction.

Although Palo Alto rates are not published as daily rates, based on cumulative numbers provided, we can estimate Palo Alto's rate to be about 1/3, but not more than 1/2, of the Santa Clara County Rate. So, our rates would be 2 to 3.5 per 100K, which is moderate zone.

If you are waiting for Green, our students will not return.

13 people like this
Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 17, 2020 at 1:05 pm

iSez is a registered user.

Will the start time be still late for Paly if they return to campus? The extra sleep has been fantastic for the students.

17 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 17, 2020 at 1:39 pm

Paly Teacher is a registered user.

@"Facts" and Figures: "In the reopening plan, Red is VERY safe." No, it doesn't. Red means the county risk level is Substantial per your link.

37 people like this
Posted by William Billiam
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2020 at 1:49 pm

William Billiam is a registered user.

If road or building were deemed unsafe due to unacceptable level as of risk of collapse in an earthquakes or car accident, then yeah we wouldn't let people use it. No duh.

How people can have such a lack of empathy for the teachers is beyond me. This situation sucks. It sucks for the students, parents, and teachers. It's gross how people just claim teachers should quit if they feel uncomfortable going back in the middle of an active pandemic. These teachers love and care about their students, but they shouldn't be forced to either risk their health and safety or lose their job. Some of these teachers are at risk or have family members who are at risk. Please just be respectful.

Instruction is improving and going back will be a major disruption. Then we will get an uptick in cases again this fall and have to return to distance learning.

Maybe if the district was able to develop actual plans and if they had a prayer of actually executing them then this would be a reasonable conversation. They don't even have individual desks for kids to space out.

20 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 17, 2020 at 4:49 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

@Paly teacher,

The State which created the chart has said live instruction should start after 2 weeks in the red zone. The State feels it is safe enough for schools who follow the county requirements. PAUSD should follow the requirements.

17 people like this
Posted by mary ann
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 17, 2020 at 8:06 pm

mary ann is a registered user.

If you don’t want your children to go back to school in person, then let them stay at home and learn, others want in person and disagree, but if the state gives the go ahead, it’s your choice. Try it and let’s learn the old fashioned way again, besides the kids will bike or hopefully walk, not ride to school and get the much needed exercise too.

20 people like this
Posted by PA parents.
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 17, 2020 at 8:56 pm

PA parents. is a registered user.

My child is a 5th grader. So far, the situation is not working. The teacher is still zooming from home with a bad internet connection. The class can barely hear her. On top of them, they added so many layers of security measures that it is difficult to get in and stay in. Students have to wait at the waiting room until they are permitted to enter. The waiting time is from five to twenty minutes. If one loses the connection because of the Internet connection or the host hit the wrong button, it will take more than 20 minutes to get back in. Classes are shortened than scheduled. They always start late and finish early.

13 people like this
Posted by DATA Driven
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 18, 2020 at 1:34 pm

DATA Driven is a registered user.

Experts (like Fauci) say we can open schools if "test positivity rate lower than 5% and fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 residents." Newsom has listened to his set of experts and says PAUSD can open after 2 weeks in "Red." Santa Clara County have their own set of experts and say PAUSD can open. Palo Alto and neighboring cities have much LOWER positivity rate and fewer cases than their "Red" status. OPEN ALL GRADES A.S.A.P. Kids who can't go back for whatever reason [portion removed] can continue to do synchronous distance learning. KIDS' MENTAL HEALTH, SOCIAL HEALTH, PHYSICAL HEALTH - along with the best possible education we can offer the kids - SHOULD BE SOCIETY'S PRIORITIES. [Portion removed.]

22 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 19, 2020 at 1:44 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

As we sadly pass a predicted milestone by Dr. Deborah Birx made back in March of 200,00 U.S. deaths, I want to ask how are billion dollar companies such as Google & FaceBook allowing their employees to work from home and not losing billions of dollars? They seem to be managing ok. You don’t see their CEO’s coming online and saying, “We need to open up our companies’ doors immediately or we will lose billions! Why won’t our employees come in? Our employees need to either come in or quit their jobs.” Of course they aren’t because they know it’s not safe to bring employees back in yet. How are these billion dollar companies managing their complicated businesses remotely and not going out of business but parents can’t manage? You currently are receiving all of the same actual instruction remotely. Distance learning has improved. The only service you are not receiving is the ability to drop your children off for the day.

There’s been a lot of talk here about students needing to socialize for their mental health, and to try to make new friends, and that they will ride their bikes back to school for exercise as if things would go back to normal even if the school doors do open. PA online just posted a story about a private school(Synapse) openings it’s doors. Students are socially distanced, wearing masks, looked to be learning outside, and there is weekly testing being done to try to keep everyone as safe as possible. The good news there is that students are receiving in person education but that is obviously nothing like “regular school.” It actually looked, just in my opinion, kind of depressing.

I would think if you are a parent that is disappointed that the school is closed a solution would be(if you want to go against health recommendations and if you believe everything is safe) that you would set up a “play date” with a friend of your children. I would think that may help your child’s mental health. I actually am also not really sure if it’s the students clamoring to go back to school for their mental health or if the parents need it for their mental health. I would venture to say, again in my opinion, students wanting to go back to school are more for reasons of wanting “normalcy.”

Speaking of weekly testing, where was there ANY mention of a PAUSD safety plan for students on the survey that was just sent home by the district? The big safety plan seems to be to open the school doors and to hope for the best and as usual, “go and make this work teachers.” Also, why were there no reports here about the COVID infections at the PA day cares being held at these schools?

In my opinion, I believe school doors opening would be part of the problem in and of itself. Everyone harping on “THE STATE THIS” and “DATA NOT FEAR” that does not realize once those school doors do open back up it will open the floodgates for infection again as not only will thousands of students be mixing back in together at school but everyone will think “we are back to normal” and will start socializing after school and likely start getting complacent again.

Also, @ Facts and Figures, Paly Teacher was correct and you were wrong. You are so intent on getting everyone to go back and about “THE LAW” and “THE STATE” and getting the last word in. SB98 allows for interpretation and nuance due to circumstances and is just mainly a Bill for financial purposes. There is NO “law” here that anybody must abide by. The Red Zone might have an indicator to allow schools to reopen, but the red zone still means “substantial transmission” not “SAFE” in the community. Yellow is the safest on the chart. Could it be that maybe teachers do not feel safe working while the community is in the red zone even though THE STATE says to return? Maybe the teachers union will step in. Who knows? What happened to “a decrease in cases for 14 straight days?” Well it never was going to happen so THE STATE revamped the system. It doesn’t mean it’s actually SAFE. Also, yes cold and flu season is at its worst in January but cold and flu season starts in the fall which you didn’t mention. So basically, what is being proposed here in this article and advocated by you in your comments, is for teachers to return right at the start, or in the case of HS at the peak, of cold and flu season with COVID also in play this year. With no testing in place, how will a school staff, dealing with the return of 100s of students at their schools, who are not medical professionals, determine day in and day out if a child entering the school has a common cold or Covid? What about asymptomatic carriers? Why can’t you be satisfied with Distance Learning to err on the side of caution? That’s the last word.

@ Paly Teacher & PAUSD Teacher
Do not listen to any of these people who deem things are safe to return. Only in our country have we accepted a national average of now back up to about 50,000 new cases a day and approximately 1000 deaths a day. Only in our country have people tried to advocate for a “return to normal” during an active plague/pandemic and look at other countries that have almost no disease transmission for evidence and go “see this country has schools open!” There have been 7 teacher deaths already as the school year is just starting. It has been arguable that many of those teachers did not get COVID from being in the classroom but this woman who unfortunately passed away was confirmed to be in the classroom. This link is for all who say it’s safe to be in the classroom and always compare teachers to doctors and grocery store workers, talk about the so called “small danger level” for teachers, ignore that there hasn’t been more teacher deaths since school has been out since March, and don’t understand socially distancing from and enforcing students to keep masks on in public school would be almost impossible:

Web Link

17 people like this
Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 19, 2020 at 5:32 pm

S_mom is a registered user.

"Either we're going to be data driven or fear driven. But let's not pretend that fears are equivalent to data."

@Brian -- thank you, I think this is exactly right.

"You currently are receiving all of the same actual instruction remotely."
@The Voice of Palo Alto - do you really think kinders and 1st graders are "receiving all of the same actual instruction" right now? Does my son's kinder teacher know how my son holds a pencil? How he writes his letters? How well he reads? The answer to all is no. They have two or three 1/2 hr zooms per day where the teacher reads them a story and asks some questions or goes over a math problem and calls on different students to answer it. My son gets called on about 3 times per day. There is no way he is "receiving all of the same actual instruction" right now, not even close.

13 people like this
Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 19, 2020 at 6:17 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

@ S Mom:
I can kind of agree with you that Kinder and 1st grade might be the exception for Distance Learning working, but if teachers are to go back and keep six feet socially distanced from students right now, how can they go around and help students with the way they hold their pencils? They can’t obviously. Also, will Kinder and 1st graders be able to stay socially distanced from each other all day long? Very unlikely. So how can you guarantee teacher safety in that case? Once again, it illustrates the impossibility of returning truly safely like I always point out in my comments.

[Portion removed.] I just don’t understand how it’s supposed to be safe for teachers to be mixed in with a class all day when public health experts are saying to not even meet up with family members for things like summer barbecues or just family gatherings.

Why haven’t major companies green lighted their employees to return to work? It’s because it’s not safe without a treatment or vaccine available and they don’t have to deal with this great pressure from a community to return. They also are on the cutting edge in Silicon Valley and don’t follow the same sort of “old dinosaur” model that schools do as they do not service the community.

Finally, how are students successfully home schooled or also have been successfully doing online schools without complaining pre-pandemic? I argue it’s because of the parents. Those parents want their children educated that way so “it works.” For the most part, aside from some mitigating circumstances, public school parents aren’t used to distance learning, aren’t happy about making adjustments during the pandemic, don't like their tax money being taken while schools are closed, and so therefore almost automatically say “this is not working and open the schools.”

[Portion removed.]

In my opinion, things won’t go back to some sort of normalcy until March 2021 at the earliest so buckle up, it’s going to be a long winter.

Here is a link to the IHME death projection model I mentioned. It looks like they just lowered their projections a bit today. That’s good.

Web Link

18 people like this
Posted by PA parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:05 pm

PA parent is a registered user.

For those who want their kids back physically, be careful what you wish for. I have friends who are in the east coast with much lower Covid numbers and their schools are open hybrid. They are getting 8-10 hours in-person a week and some synchronized at home but also a lot of “independent” study at home on the remote days with kids finishing 4 hours of work in a hour (or less) and playing video games the rest of the time. At least at the middle and high school levels, my kids aren’t getting time to play video games during school hours because they are on zoom for each class - for the full length of the class. I would love my kids back at school for in-person learning but I’ll choose what they are getting to what my friends kids are getting! There’s a pandemic out there and there are no easy answers!

4 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 20, 2020 at 10:39 am

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

@PA Parent,
Your friends are suffering from poor implementation.
Classes can be streamed to students at home and all students can get 5 days of live in person or virtual instruction. Let's not assume PaUSD will implement such a poor model.

21 people like this
Posted by Anushka
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 22, 2020 at 9:26 am

Anushka is a registered user.

As a junior in Gunn, I highly disapprove of this plan.
I get why the elementary schoolers should come first. But I think it's ridiculous that the middle and high schoolers have to wait until the whole year is over to go back to partial school.
First and foremost, High and middle Schoolers need in person contact too. There are literal studies saying teens are more susceptible to mental health issues and depression in this COVID time. It might not be caused by it, but someone in my school even died of SUICIDE this year during COVID. Us high schoolers take APs and Honors classes and it's extremely hard and stressful to learn and get tested on these online. At least bring the juniors and seniors if nobody else. Elementary schoolers in comparison don't have half as much stress, learning the alphabet online and how to add 1+1 is NOWHERE near as hard as studying for an AP exam. And another thing, many of us are seniors and have friends who are seniors, and with this plan there's a good chance I may never see them again in my LIFE. They're graduating this year, and it would be horrible to have another botched year of seniors because the district decided not to reopen when it was pretty safe.
They also ignore the fact that high Schoolers would also be better at social distancing than elementary schoolers. With half capacity at our big schools twice a day, it would probably be fairly safe to go in person like this. Elementary schools probably can't social distance as well. Now, high school and middle school facilities are being unused for months and when they finally get to reopen it won't even be full school.
Lastly, many scientists say COVID might get worse in winter, so bringing us back to school in winter isn't a great idea. I'd much rather be brought back in October or November, even for a month. It's stupid that the board is making this plan without even properly doing research or consulting. We are in the red zone and it would be save to open this week. Why do we have to wait 4 months? Where's the evidence it's safer? If this plan goes into effect, I'm not going to be happy.

8 people like this
Posted by Breathing
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2020 at 12:40 pm

Breathing is a registered user.

Has Santa Clara County issued clear metrics to determine when the ventilation is safe? We can’t just go by gut feelings that if doors and windows are open it is safe.

13 people like this
Posted by mary ann
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 22, 2020 at 1:09 pm

mary ann is a registered user.

Gunn junior, please have your friend in high school post their opinions too. Get your message to the school board and the candidates running for school board election too.

What is the reason middle and high school students have to wait until January? Your needs are as important as the younger student.

8 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2020 at 10:42 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.


I don't see such standards. Here are the requirements:

Santa Clara Standards Web Link

California Department of Public Health Standards Web Link

A law firm summary Web Link

How many classrooms do we have in the district 500? More? 1,000? Will it cost more than $2,000 per classroom to outfit with filters, UV lights, wiring, and video cameras? I think not? $2,000 x $1,000 is $2M. This district saved a ton of money by not being open and it got money from the state. Surely we can spend $2M to get our classrooms in shape?

3 people like this
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 23, 2020 at 10:36 am

Nancy is a registered user.

Anushka - I know you miss being on campus and hanging out with your friends. We all grieve your loss during this pandemic. This is my understanding on the delay re-opening secondary schools: tweens/teens, unlike children ages 0-9, transmit COVID19 just like adults. According to Menlo Medical physicians, 15 minutes in the same room with an asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic person is long enough for you, wearing a mask, to breath in the virus and become infected, as the virus enters through the holes on the sides, top and bottom of your mask. Your classrooms will contain asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic students, breathing out the virus into the classroom through the holes in the sides, top and bottom of their masks. "Symptom checks" will not prevent those students from sitting in your classrooms. Healthy classmates like you, sitting over an hour in a classroom filling up with virus particles, will breath in the COVID19 particles in the enclosed classroom. Infected, you will then bring COVID19 home to your family. Many families have family members who are immune compromised (for example, cancer survivors) and/or elderly, with grandparents in the home.

7 people like this
Posted by Don't Trust Don Austin
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 23, 2020 at 1:56 pm

Don't Trust Don Austin is a registered user.

Don is claiming that 63% of PAUSD elementary school families are in support of reopening schools. Don’s survey was sent shortly after 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, 9/17/2020. The survey closed less than 24 hours later at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, 9/18/2020. The survey upon which he relies was sent only to elementary school families and no information has been provided as to the number of responses received. The survey question on which he relies is misleading and ambiguous and phrased as follows: “With the understanding that PAUSD schools will follow SCCPHD guidelines, are you in favor of returning your child(ren) to in-person instruction following the proposed timeline?” How has Austin established that the SCCPHD guidelines can or will be met in the next three weeks? Since he has not done so, how can he claim that 63% of the families support returning to school next month? His survey results were premised on an assumption – that PAUSD schools can and will follow County guidelines.

Why are Don and the Board pushing for the reopening of schools? My theory is that Don and the Board are hoping that more families will elect full distance learning so that he can attempt to balance the budget by furloughing teachers. He was very disappointed prior to the start of the school year when very few families elected full distance learning. This is his second chance to force full distance learning and push students out of their neighborhood schools.

The teachers are the ones in the frontlines and they are the ones we trust with our children on a day-to-day basis. If they don’t think we should go back, we should listen to them and not to Austin and the Board. Also, what was with Ken Dauber attempting to push a Board vote on the matter of returning to schools after 11:30 p.m. especially after the Board had reiterated earlier in the evening that no decision would be made on the evening of 9/22/2020? What does this tell you?

If Austin and the Board think it is so safe, why don’t they meet in person? Why don’t they volunteer in person as classroom aides? It’s easy to take a position from the comfort of your own home or your private office.

Finally, from Don’s twitter we know he doesn’t follow the social distancing rules. See his 6/24/20 tweet. “Hired two teachers nearly 20 years ago in Riverside. They got married and have two beautiful kids. Successful coach and principal. Equity leaders in every sense. Took them out to dinner in Palo Alto tonight. My heart is full. Love these two!”

Hellooooooo, Don, that’s all well and good but outdoor dining at that time was limited to families in your own household! If you can’t even follow the County’s own social distancing protocols, how can we trust you to keep the PAUSD teachers, staff, and students safe?

5 people like this
Posted by Why Now?
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 23, 2020 at 2:31 pm

Why Now? is a registered user.

I am not sure I understand the need for the expedited reopening timeline. Why not wait until the new year to assess whether schools should reopen? With 10/12 as the first return date, there are very few instructional days remaining in 2020 with Thanksgiving break and the holidays. Why not take a more measured approach and reevaluate in the new year? Is there something I am missing? In all honesty, will a few extra instructional weeks make that much of a difference? Please remember that the hybrid model is a mix of both synchronous and asynchronous learning. We must also take into account the potential COVID-19 exposure risks from families traveling during the holidays.

2 people like this
Posted by Sarah
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 25, 2020 at 3:13 am

Sarah is a registered user.

Hello! I am an alumni of the PAUSD system and the daughter of a PAUSD elementary school teacher. Tonight I am up late, stressing about the fact that these administrators are willing to risk the lives of staff, my mother included, and rush a reopening plan that they are not equipped or prepared to handle. Teachers have gone above and beyond for your students, pouring hundreds of additional hours into adapting lesson plans, building out their digital classrooms and working through the growing pains of transitioning to a virtual classroom (with very little notice I might add, because the school board waited to make a decision about reopening at the beginning of the school year, giving teachers almost no time to prepare!!!!!!!!!) The comments on this article, suggesting that teachers “need to get back to work”, implying that they are currently profiting from virtual learning and shirking their responsibilities, are despicable. I have seen first hand how hard my mom and others have worked to create these digital classrooms. I have watched how stressed and worried they are about their students, and to imply otherwise is abhorrent.

One glaring omission from the board’s plan is specialty teachers- who have been told they have to visit each class every week. This puts the staff and students at such a huge risk!!!!!! These teachers (library, art, PE, music) are what made my Palo Alto education so great. Any single staff getting sick or dying, is a failure and is absolutely avoidable.

This town has so many issues, the biggest being mental health. Before this pandemic, for decades Teachers in this district have had to shoulder the burden of student mental health, while a revolving door of PAUSD administrations have failed to support students and solve our district wide mental health crisis. Going to school in this town is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and unnecessarily losing one of my teachers, an aide or a librarian would have sent me over the edge. We put these students through so much, and the world is already so heavy. They cannot handle the stress of disorganized emergency quarantines or the potential of losing a teacher or classmate (children have died from COVID too!!). It’s about time that the board stepped up to support its staff who have been on the front lines of this mental health crisis for years. I owe these teachers my life, and PAUSD should value theirs.

Forcing teachers, back into the classroom when they feel unsafe and uncomfortable is sending the wrong message to our students, who are always watching and learning. I am using my “nationally ranked education” that these teachers helped me earn to speak out about how wrong the school board is. I am extremely frustrated and upset with the disregard for the humanity of the PAUSD teachers and staff (and their families). A reminder to all who are feeling just as frustrated that school board members are elected positions and there is an election in 39 days. We have the opportunity to vote for new leadership, and for candidates who have our teachers backs. It is the least they deserve.

Thank you to all those teachers who have been going above and beyond to make lemonade out of some rotten freakin lemons. Your hard work does not go unnoticed and your students love you.

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