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Superintendent's Update - January 15, 2020

From the Office of the Superintendent:

The Board of Education calendar is not an exact representation of future meeting topics. It is subject to change, but it serves as a general guide for upcoming items. The most accurate source of information is always the official agenda that posts on the Friday prior to each meeting. The calendar can be found HERE.

Heading into observance of the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is important to hear from the man himself. On April 9, 1967, Dr. King delivered what is commonly referred to as "The Street Sweeper" speech. This speech was often taught and repeated in my home growing up. It is as true today as it was in 1967. You can hear his words HERE or read the script below:

"What I'm saying to you this morning, my friends, even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; (Go ahead) sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, "Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well."

If you can't be a pine on the top of a hill

Be a scrub in the valley-but be

The best little scrub on the side of the hill,

Be a bush if you can't be a tree.

If you can't be a highway just be a trail

If you can't be the sun be a star;

It isn't by size that you win or fail-

Be the best of whatever you are.

And when you do this, when you do this, you've mastered the length of life. (Yes)

This onward push to the end of self-fulfillment is the end of a person's life. Now don't stop here, though. You know, a lot of people get no further in life than the length. They develop their inner powers; they do their jobs well. But do you know, they try to live as if nobody else lives in the world but themselves? (Yes) And they use everybody as mere tools to get to where they're going. (Yes) They don't love anybody but themselves. And the only kind of love that they really have for other people is utilitarian love. You know, they just love people that they can use. (Well)

A lot of people never get beyond the first dimension of life. They use other people as mere steps by which they can climb to their goals and their ambitions. These people don't work out well in life. They may go for awhile, they may think they're making it all right, but there is a law. (Oh yeah) They call it the law of gravitation in the physical universe, and it works, it's final, it's inexorable: whatever goes up can come down. You shall reap what you sow. (Yeah) God has structured the universe that way. (Yeah) And he who goes through life not concerned about others will be a subject, victim of this law.

So, I move on and say that it is necessary to add breadth to length. Now the breadth of life is the outward concern for the welfare of others, as I said. (Yeah) And a man has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow confines of his own individual concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."

I believe strongly that rushing to send messages to respond to events in the moment almost never achieves the desired goal. Our nation has experienced turmoil from multiple sources and conditions. I have played speeches from Dr. King in the background of my work throughout the week. Among other topics, Dr. King spoke of social change, magnifying callings, advancing the lives of those less advantaged, respect, and personal responsibility. He spoke of the importance of actions that align with beliefs for the betterment of all. He spoke of dignity, love, and lifting others up. I can't think of a message that resonates more for us at this moment.

The following updates were provided earlier in the week. As I was taught long ago…redundancy builds fluency!

Governor Newsom recently shared his proposal for schools in California to reopen for in-person instruction. PAUSD is already open for in-person instruction at the elementary level. The governor's proposal, as it currently stands, has no practical impact on our schools. The Legislature will develop funding details that may lead to discussions in Palo Alto. The governor's proposal is silent on secondary schools.

There are no changes to our elementary school program expected for the second half of the year.

We are developing options that may include a path for 6th graders to return in late March. There are many things that need to occur to make a 6th grade return possible. Middle schools are working to create opportunities for students to return to campus for activities. School sites will communicate with families throughout the process. We do not expect a full hybrid return for our middle schools this year.

We do not expect a full hybrid return this year at the high school level. High schools will communicate with families about opportunities for students to get on campus for some activities. Sites will begin working with students and staff to brainstorm ideas for end-of-year activities, including graduation.

Plans are underway to expand summer school if in-person instruction is allowed. The Board of Education will have a discussion regarding summer school at our next meeting scheduled for January 19. Many surveys and focus groups have already occurred to give us a sense of the demand we may expect. Again, it will be important to find a path for in-person instruction prior to finalizing our summer school plan.

The Board of Education will discuss decision points for reopening in the fall at an upcoming meeting. Staff recommendations will include providing a distance learning option for families, creating a deadline for families to choose a learning model, and prioritizing in-person instruction for five days per week, or the maximum allowed. PAUSD will begin surveying staff, students, and families after the February 2 Special Board Meeting.

School personnel are prioritized for Group 1B vaccinations. Santa Clara County has not released a schedule for the vaccinations at this point. Vaccinations are not currently required for staff or students and it is not known how vaccinations will impact our ability to reopen. We consistently interact with our Santa Clara County Public Health Department for guidance and information.