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Superintendent's Update - December 10, 2021

The agenda calendar is temporary until posted the Friday before each meeting. The tentative calendar can be found HERE.

There is nothing more important than maintaining safe and predictable learning environments for our students. PAUSD has taken steps over the last four years to improve campus security. Several of those steps are in motion currently and more are on the horizon.

Cameras exist on all sites currently. Unfortunately, they vary in quality and compatibility. Some schools have used site funds or fundraising over time to place cameras in public locations. PAUSD used a third-party safety evaluator to assist in proper placement and invested in new technology to significantly upgrade camera quality and smart technology to alert people if there are issues. All sites will have the same cameras, training, and access. None of the cameras require constant monitoring or additional personnel.

Some schools have secure entrances and others have multiple access points. PAUSD has done some fencing work in strategic locations and will continue to evaluate proposals for fencing. Gates are only as effective as the one that may be left open. Although true, fences in specific areas send the signal that unwelcome entry is prohibited. Unsupervised entry points that lead directly to classrooms of our youngest students, restrooms, or isolated areas are under consideration for work.

Matters of safety often intersect between the desire to be free to move about sites and the need to protect students from harm. As your superintendent, I have personally seen what happens when tragic or violent events happen on sites and want to take reasonable and responsible steps to protect our staff and students. Site principals will communicate with families about upcoming projects and any questions that may arise.

On August 30, 2021, the City of Palo Alto adopted an ordinance to require safe storage of firearms in Palo Alto residences to prevent improper firearm access. While personal gun storage in homes is outside the purview of PAUSD, we fully support the ordinance. Accidents, theft, and improper use of guns can be reduced through proper storage. We will be discussing potential avenues for parental education programs with our partners soon.

PAUSD will reevaluate masking practices in mid-January. Specifically, we will reevaluate outdoor masking for students in grades K-8. Surrounding districts have already tied back to the CDC guidelines to "strongly recommend" outdoor masking. We are moving a little slower and want families to have time to vaccinate and enjoy the Winter Recess.

As we read more about COVID transmission to and from vaccinated individuals, we expect testing to become more important. Most of the transition bumps have been mitigated with COVID Clinic and our testing program is serving staff, students, and the broader community. As always, please do not send students to school if they are ill.

Our 2nd dose pediatric COVID Vaccination Clinic will be hosted this Sunday, December 12, at Palo Alto High School in the Tower Building from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Individuals coming for their vaccinations can park in the main parking lot at El Camino and Embarcadero and enter through the Tower Building side entrance on the Haymarket Theater side. The outdoor hallways are covered in case of rain.

Pfizer boosters will also be available for individuals who are 16 years and older and it has been at least six months since their 2nd dose. If you are eligible for a booster or need a pediatric 2nd dose, please make an appointment HERE. When you click on the link, you will be brought to the pediatric attestation page. Please select "Parent or Guardian" to get to the next page to select Booster Dose. Safeway is currently updating the age restriction to allow people under 18 to sign up in their system. For now, to bypass the system to make an appointment for a 16- or 17-year-old, please select the immunocompromised option.

Every Student is expected to attend school on a daily basis, unless there is a valid justification for the absence (Education Code 48200).

Excused Absences

  • Illness or injury verified by parent, guardian, or medical professional;
  • Funeral of immediate family member (includes anyone residing with the student): one (1) day in state or three (3) days for outside the state or country;
  • Medical, dental, optometric, or chiropractic appointment verified by written note from medical professional;
  • Quarantine - verified; and
  • Exclusions by school nurse: immunizations or lice (should take one day to clean up and only one day is excused).

Unexcused Absences

  • Running errands for family;
  • Vacations or trips;
  • Unverified illness;
  • Transportation problems;
  • Inclement weather;
  • Babysitting; and
  • Any absence without documentation or note from parent, guardian, or medical professional.


  • Absent from school without a valid excuse three full days in one school year, or tardy or absent for more than a 30-minute period during the school day without a valid excuse on three occasions in one school year, or any combination student will be classified as a truant.
  • It is the parents'/guardians' responsibility to provide documentation within the three day after the student returns to school in order to prevent absences from being converted to truancies.

The Adult School is back! It is great to have students return to in-person instruction at the Paly and Greendell campuses. A renewed sense of community is fostered by in-person English as a Second Language, PreSchool Families, and Community Education courses. Students learn content and skills in the company of others, a much-needed panacea to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we continue to offer several online courses that have proved to be a good match.

This winter, the Community Education Program is pleased to provide a record number of new classes that include Belgian Chocolates Galore!, Comedy Sportz Improv, Vietnamese Cooking, Electric Cars Demystified, and Estate Planning to our lineup. Learn a language, parenting skills, or make something new while enjoying the fun and camaraderie of Palo Alto Adult School programs.

Link to Website and Catalog:

Link to Register:

Each month the Elementary Principal Collaborative observes the implementation of the Orton-Gillingham (OG) methodology. This month, the TK-5 grade instructional leaders visited Addison Elementary School, and they had the opportunity to observe K-3 teachers and their students. Following the classroom walkthroughs, the team discussed the creative and efficient pedagogy used to instruct primary students in these foundational phonics skills, the art of teaching. Principals examine instructional areas for growth and replicable equitable practices for all school sites.

The visit highlighted differentiated instruction to meet student learning based on formal and informal assessment. Teachers work with small groups while other students work with PiE funded instructional aides on high leverage phonics skills, or reading independently, which is the transfer of their phonics practice in OG to reading a continuous text. A positive outcome of school closure, teacher use of video recording, is used particularly effectively: the classroom teacher can provide small group instruction live or via recorded video on specific letters, sounds, words, or dictation to particular students simultaneously.