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Superintendent's Update - January 29, 2020

From the Office of the Superintendent:

BOARD AGENDA ITEMS
Board agenda items are considered tentative until they are officially posted. The tentative calendar can be found HERE.

KEEPING UP WITH IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION PROGRESS
It is challenging to keep up with changing regulations, rules, COVID rates, and PAUSD work. We thought breaking some of the news into smaller chunks may be helpful for everyone. Here we go:

POSTING OF SAFETY PLANS
All school districts are required to submit several safety plans with specific criteria. PAUSD posted the required documents on January 26. The plans can be found HERE.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE "OPEN"?
Our TK-5 classes are considered "open" by definition because in-person instruction was available for students prior to the recent changes proposed by the governor. Our secondary schools are not considered "open" because grades 7-12 were not available for in-person instruction for all students at each level.

CAN SECONDARY SCHOOLS OPEN NOW?
No…for grades 7-12. Secondary schools have different requirements than elementary schools. This is set at the state level. The system is confusing. Secondary schools not already open (which includes all of our secondary schools) may not open until our county is in the Red Tier for a minimum of five consecutive days. We are currently in the Purple Tier.

WHERE DOES 6TH GRADE FIT?
Until recently, 6th grade was considered "secondary" if the school served students in grades 6-8 (like PAUSD schools). That changed in the new guidelines - sixth grade is now eligible to return once the county COVID rates are <25 per 100,000 for five consecutive days. That happened this week. Our plan to bring 6th grade students back at the end of March may be accelerated. Luckily, we have been planning for this day for several months. The Board of Education will consider an accelerated path soon that could have students returning as early as March 1. Parents will be resurveyed in February.

CAN WE EXPAND SECONDARY OPPORTUNITIES TO GET STUDENTS ON CAMPUS?
Yes. This week, we added 12 new cohorts of students between our two high schools. This is in addition to the return of high school athletic conditioning cohorts. We will continue to expand as allowed.

ARE VACCINES GOING TO BE REQUIRED FOR STAFF AND STUDENTS TO RETURN?
No. I was in a setting with our governor on January 28 and he confirmed that there is not an expectation that everyone receives the vaccine and that schools can open for in-person instruction without them. There is no talk about requiring the vaccine at the state level. It is not currently allowed for people under 16 years old.

ARE OUR TEACHERS RECEIVING THE VACCINE RIGHT NOW?
Vaccinations are not available for Group 1B (school employees) in Santa Clara County at this point. The county has not released a schedule for Group 1B.

WILL WE HAVE A "REOPENING" COMMITTEE?
We expect to form focus groups with specific charges and timelines. As everyone has seen, the rules and regulations change by the minute. Additionally, collective bargaining with our associations is defined by statute. Stakeholders should expect surveying soon and targeted focus groups quickly following.

PANDEMIC ELECTRONIC BENEFIT TRANSFER (EBT) PROGRAM EXTENDED
The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and the California Department of Education (CDE) are excited to announce that Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) has been extended through the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act. This law extends P-EBT benefits through September 2021.

The next round of 2020−21 P-EBT benefits cards (October and subsequent months) are anticipated to be distributed beginning in mid-March 2021 through mid-June 2021. Benefits will include any missed August and September 2020 benefits not received. Families that require assistance with existing P-EBT cards can call the P-EBT Customer Service Center at 877-328-9677.

In order to be eligible for P-EBT benefits, a student must be enrolled at a school participating in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program and be eligible during SY 2020-21 for F/RP meals based on: (1) an approved F/RP meal application or Alternative Household Income Form, (2) participation in a benefits program (CalFresh, CalWORKs, Medi-Cal) as identified through direct certification, or (3) a status of homeless, migrant, or foster. To apply for the National School Lunch or Breakfast Program, please go to our Free & Reduced Meals webpage.

Pending USDA approval, the anticipated timeline is to begin sending P-EBT cards to families in mid-March 2021. More information will be coming soon.