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Superintendent's Update - February 4, 2022

BOARD OF EDUCATION AGENDA CALENDAR

The agenda calendar is tentative until posted. The calendar can be found HERE.

OUTDOOR MASKING AND PROACTIVE DISCUSSIONS

As previously shared, outdoor masking will be optional at all levels beginning Monday. Students who prefer to remain masked may continue as long as they would like. The optional masking only applies to outdoor areas. We are still under a statewide order to remain masked indoors. The order expires on February 15 unless amended or extended. The county told us that the rules from the fall that included outdoor exposures as close contacts no longer apply. Contacts at schools are only for indoor exposures now. I know…things change rapidly.

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD) confirmed in writing that they will not impose any additional restrictions on schools beyond California Department of Public Health (CDPH) orders. This is important and means our schools will follow CDPH announcements closely. As a reminder, counties may exceed CDPH orders although they may not create policies less restrictive. With over 50 counties in California, we should expect to see disparity in future rules.

I spoke with two superintendents in states with less restrictive rules this week to learn from their experiences. They both suggested asking our staff and families to start thinking about possible changes to policies and practice before they become a reality. They shared that students and staff members were not prepared for sudden changes in practice and it led to increased anxiety. They shared stories of young students who had never been in a school setting with a mask and how some struggled to understand why it was acceptable to do something they were taught was not allowed in the past. They also said that some teachers also struggled with the transition.

I am not suggesting that indoor masking is coming to an immediate end. I have no inside information on the topic. It is predictable that it will come to an end at some point in time. Families have written me about vaccination mandates and the possible exclusion of students. Again, I don't have any inside information to lend certainty to the conversation. I am confident that the topic is going to gain a lot of attention and will elicit strong feelings on both ends.

With decisions heading our direction, it is probably a good idea to start thinking about how each potential outcome will impact us and our families. The impact of decisions will be interpreted differently for each person. It is time to start having conversations to prepare for whatever comes our way.

EARLY LITERACY

Elementary teachers continue to refine their craft and share their new learning with colleagues. This fall, implementing the Orton-Gillingham (OG) methodology encouraged teachers to open their classrooms for observation by colleagues and principals from across the District. In addition to this powerful practice, teachers share their processes via video to assist colleagues in preparing and planning their lessons. The OG video library facilitates continuous support for teachers as they develop, implement, and reflect upon the next steps for delivering explicit, systematic, and multisensory phonics instruction to their students. These videos provide a unique opportunity for teachers across the PAUSD to share their perspectives with fellow educators who can learn from their peers at their own pace. Elementary teachers are growing readers and transforming lives through innovative professional learning.