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Superintendent's Update - February 12, 2020

From the Office of the Superintendent:

BOARD OF EDUCATION CALENDAR

The Board of Education calendar is subject to change until items officially post the Friday prior to meetings. The tentative calendar can be found HERE.

6TH GRADE IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION

Thank for to everyone involved in preparing for in-person instruction at the 6th grade level. As a reminder, new guidelines decoupled 6th grade from secondary schools, allowing for the reopening of in-person instruction the week of March 1. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of our families selected the in-person option for the remainder of this year. Details will be provided soon from the school sites for students in each delivery model.

7-12 IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION

Our Board of Education has stated for months that decisions could be revised if conditions changed. Fortunately, our county COVID cases have dropped consistently at an accelerated rate. Palo Alto has always been on the low side of our county, providing additional optimism.

The Board took action in 2020 to reopen secondary schools as early as January 7, 2021. The county slid into the Purple Tier, prohibiting in-person instruction for schools and programs not already open. The desire to reopen has never faded and conditions may allow for the return of students soon.

As the Superintendent of Schools, I have previously stated that I did not see a path for secondary schools providing in-person instruction this year. I was wrong. I will add that I am thankful for being wrong and believe schools should be open. I am joined in this belief by the President of the United States, the Governor of California, the Center for Disease Control, the Santa Clara County Office of Education, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, and the PAUSD Board of Education.

PAUSD is experienced in opening schools for in-person instruction. The concerns about reopening secondary schools mirror the initial concerns about opening our elementary schools. We will be prepared and students will have good experiences. We also learned from some missteps when planning for the return of secondary schools in the first semester. The plan is simple and within our capacity to implement. Some of the key components include:

  • Secondary teachers return to their classrooms on March 1 or the day after we return to Red Tier if the shift occurs after March 1.
  • Five days after we return to Red Tier (or the first Monday so we aren't doing something mid-week), in-person instruction returns for secondary students.
  • No changes of schedule and no "commitment" process.
  • Students are divided into two groups by alphabet.
  • Monday schedule remains the same (distance learning).
  • Students who wish to attend in-person would go through their ENTIRE SCHEDULE two days per week in a "Zoom from the room" model.
  • If students aren't feeling well, don't care for in-person, or need to quarantine, they can simply follow the Zoom lesson.
  • Teachers are in their rooms with some number of students while using Zoom. When they reach the "practice" portion of the lesson, they can work with kids in the room.
  • Live-streaming will not be mandated nor prohibited.

Our school sites will work with families as the start date approaches. It is important to visualize our new reality. In March, we left high school campuses with 2,000 students. Students are not returning to 2,000 peers. On any given day, a maximum of half of our students may attend. Optimistically, half of our eligible students will attend in-person. That means a campus designed to accommodate over 2,000 students will have roughly 300-500 students in-person. It is the equivalent of placing one of our elementary schools in the middle of a massive high school campus. Space will not be an issue.

CUBBERLEY / PG&E UPDATE

Thank you to over 3,000 families who have signed our petition at www.SaveCubberley.org to stop PG&E from claiming eminent domain on roughly 20,000 square feet of our property at Cubberley. New drone footage on the website shows exactly where they wish to attack our property. Cubberley is the home of Greendell and will house our entire special education department. This is in addition to the numerous programs that Cubberley has served for decades. Our district will not allow the land to be taken without strenuous opposition. Please consider signing the petition to have your voice heard. More updates are coming soon.

BUSINESS SERVICES

COVID-19 READINESS SITE INSPECTIONS

In preparation for the return of students in grades 6-12, the District has been working with California School Inspections (CSI) to conduct a thorough COVID-19 Readiness Inspection at each of the secondary school sites. The CSI team, in partnership with District staff, spent three days conducting visual inspections of each building, classroom, and physical space at the middle and high schools. The goal of the physical inspection was to evaluate the secondary sites and certify their readiness using a list of COVID-19 safety protocols to ensure staff and student safety.

The CSI team utilized a Readiness Check List based on the District's reopening policies and guidelines. They walked each site and inspected all areas to certify their level of COVID-19 readiness. Examples of categories in the Check List include preparation of the isolation rooms, availability of cleaning and disinfecting supplies, appropriate daily health screenings, and adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). Once the project is completed, a report of the site inspections will be available on the District's website.