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Superintendent's Update - February 5, 2020

From the Office of the Superintendent:

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

The Palo Alto Unified School District took unanimous action on November 10, 2020 to reopen secondary schools as early as January 7, 2021. A short time after the vote, Santa Clara County moved two levels to enter the Purple Tier. The shift to the Purple Tier prohibited PAUSD from opening schools not previously open for in-person instruction. As a result, secondary schools have remained in distance learning.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) developed a new framework (published on January 14, 2021) to support school communities as they decide when and how to implement in-person instruction for the 2020-21 school year. This framework is intended to provide an update to the COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Framework for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-21 School Year (July 17, 2020) guidance. It also provides a consolidation of content from other CDPH COVID-19 and school-related guidance and supersedes previous CDPH COVID-19 and Cal/OSHA school guidance. The PAUSD required website posting occurred on January 26, in front of the February 1 deadline.

Return of 6th Grade
Families are choosing between distance learning and a modified hybrid program to begin the week of March 1. Santa Clara County aligned with the State guidelines to decouple 6th grade from secondary school regulations. Staff will provide "real time" data from 6th grade family requests. Information about the program, including a SAMPLE schedule, can be found HERE.

There may be some variance in scheduling between our three middle schools for programmatic reasons. PAUSD plans to make every effort to accommodate all requests for in-person instruction. Final implementation plans depend upon the total number of requests received. Site principals are the best source of information for remaining questions.

Return of Grades 7-12
Santa Clara County has an adjusted COVID case rate of <25 per 100,000 for more than five consecutive days. There is growing optimism that the County could return to the Red Tier sooner than expected. Teams of teachers and principals are being formed to discuss options for students to participate in classes held in-person. It is premature to detail delivery models or concrete timelines. The ability to return to in-person depends on many things outside the control of PAUSD. Staff will share brief thoughts about concepts under consideration for surrounding school districts.

Potential returns for grades 7-12 should not be compared to our elementary in-person program. Efforts will be made to get students back on campus for small periods of time. The current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) allows for a return, although details will require additional discussions. Timing, capacity, and logistics are all considerations for our principals and teachers to work through.

Elementary Full-Return Pilot
PAUSD has identified 15 elementary school cohorts across the District that contain 17 or less students. A small number of classes will be asked to serve as pilot returns for in-person instruction five days per week beginning as early as February 16. The classes have already been identified and are not open for transfers. This is an important step in the direction of a full return in the fall. Information will be shared with selected classes.

Fall Planning
The default academic program for 2021-22 is in-person instruction five days per week. Adjustments will be made if conditions or regulations mandate alternative models.

Surveys for families, secondary students, and staff members will be distributed within two weeks to measure key elements of reopening plans and to frame focus group discussions. Focus groups may be formed after survey results are analyzed.

PG&E is proposing to acquire three separate easements at our Cubberley site:

  1. A 1,680 square-foot permanent pipeline easement for the placement of the vault,
  2. An 18,807 square-foot non-exclusive testing easement to be used as a workplace during construction and testing, and
  3. A 6,307 square-foot temporary construction easement which would be used to install the permanent easements.

Based on its commissioned appraisal, PG&E has made an offer to pay the District $154,100 in total for the three easements as just compensation. The proposed easements will severely impact the current use by the District and community. Further, it will preclude the District from redeveloping as per the Cubberley Concept Plan (Master Plan) that the District has worked on with the City of Palo Alto. PAUSD has hired eminent domain attorneys from the firm Wendel Rosen to represent the District in this matter.

PAUSD will vigorously oppose PG&E's attempt to take land at Cubberley. The District has launched a dedicated website at A petition against the eminent domain movement is embedded on the website with additional information and pictures.