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Return to School Message from Superintendent

Dear PAUSD Families,

I am writing this brief message to clarify some items related to our return to school next week. Let me begin by wishing everyone a Happy New Year's Eve as we prepare for 2022.

PAUSD will return next week with expectations for full in-person instruction. Since March of 2020, we have anchored our decisions to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD). Both agencies, joined by President Biden and Governor Newsom, have advised in-person instruction for schools.

The Omicron variant presents different challenges for schools. Symptoms mirror the common cold for many people. We are asking families to treat cold-like symptoms as Covid. This means students would stay home if experiencing any symptoms and test for Covid. Regardless of the results, we need students experiencing any illness to stay home.

PAUSD will distribute take-home kits containing two tests for all students. They will be distributed during our first week back together as part of the CDPH plan to slow the spread. This is in addition to our robust testing program on all school sites and the Cubberley property on Middlefield Road.

We strongly recommend families who have traveled, attended gatherings, experienced symptoms, or suspect exposure to obtain a negative test before returning to school. If there is any doubt about your student's health, please keep them home.

PAUSD cautions families considering Independent Study that the decision should not be taken lightly. Unless a student expects to spend the entire semester in Independent Study, the shift will be significantly disruptive. Please contact your counselor or principal if you have specific questions. With less than 100 students currently in Independent Study, it should not be seen as a short-term option.

We appreciate the opinions, thoughts, and questions shared by our families. They reflect the diverse thoughts regarding Covid and schools across the country. As cases in the community potentially grow, we should expect the same in our schools. Schools could be closed in the future for two reasons. While unlikely, the CDPH or SCCPHD could close schools as an order. If schools are unable to remain open due to employee illness, we could see temporary closures. If we are forced to close, each grade level and site will be evaluated individually. Closure of a site will not automatically close the entire district.

From the start, we have prioritized the health and safety of our staff and students. That is as true now as ever before. Please stay home if ill, test regularly, and follow existing protocols. This approach has served us well in the past and is our best path forward.

Don Austin Superintendent of Schools
"Ambassadors of Hope"