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Superintendent's Update - March 19, 2021

From the Office of the Superintendent:

BOARD AGENDA
The agenda is always tentative until formally posted. The updated calendar can be found HERE. Notable topics for the upcoming meeting include discussions around early literacy efforts, investment in training all K-3 classroom teachers in Orton-Gillingham (OG) instruction, possible options for distance learning models for the fall, and summer school expansion.

USDA EXTENDS FREE MEALS TO CHILDREN THROUGH SUMMER 2021
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on March 17, 2021, the nationwide extension of several waivers that allow all children to continue to receive nutritious meals this summer when schools are out of session. These flexibilities are now available through September 30, 2021. The original waivers were previously extended only through June 30, 2021.

The waivers extended allow for safe meal distribution sites that serve all children for free, regardless of income. In addition, the waivers:

  • Allow meals to be served outside of the normally required group settings and mealtimes; and
  • Allow parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children, including bulk pick-up to cover multiple days of feeding children.

Summer meal sites are places where children and youth age 18 and under can receive meals at no cost in a safe environment. The meals are also available to persons over age 18 with mental or physical disabilities. The PAUSD site is a bike/walk-up/drive through meal pick-up site located at JLS Middle School. The summer meal pick-up schedule is to be announced at a later date.

CDC MOVES TO 3-FEET SPACING IN SCHOOLS
We are aware that the CDC has revised their guidance regarding spacing of students in classrooms. NPR has an article that captures some of the details and can be found HERE.

The change released by the CDC DOES NOT immediately change our model or approach. We need the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to revise their order before we can consider changing our practices. That will be true of every school district in our state. We have been planning for a potential shift for the last couple weeks and will have options if the CDPH follows the CDC recommendations. Dr. Bardach, who leads California's school reopening strategy and guidance took a moment this morning to share that they are looking at the CDC guidance very closely, but couldn't predict if and when they might act to conform with CDC.

We are excited that our employees are either fully vaccinated or in the process. The CDC shift is exactly what schools needed to reopen in the fall. There are still realities and logistics that will need to be addressed to return more hybrid students to full in-person instruction this year. PAUSD will be in contact with both professional associations and will carefully review future revised orders from the CDPH. We will keep families informed as developments occur.

STATEMENT ON ANTI-ASIAN VIOLENCE
Like many, I have followed the coverage of anti-Asian acts throughout our country. As your Superintendent of Schools, I want to reaffirm our full support of our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander staff, students, and families.

I have seen the communication efforts from our sites and have reviewed many of the discussion topics led by our classroom teachers. I am encouraged by the immediate and purposeful actions taken to support our students processing racist acts and attacks. Our middle schools provided resources for their families and teachers. I have included their links for this message as well.

Resources to Support Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders:

Resources for Teachers:

INDOOR ATHLETICS
Indoor athletic practices will resume the day we move to the Orange Tier. It is possible that Santa Clara County will move to the Orange Tier as early as next Wednesday. We appreciate the patience of our students, coaches, and families as the entire league and Public Health Department has grappled with getting kids back to indoor athletics.

DISTRICT'S BOND RATING
The Palo Alto Unified School District is one of five California school districts to receive Moody's Aaa issuer rating for their bond measures.

The March 5, 2021, article from Moody's Investor Service detailed the following:

"Palo Alto Unified School District's Aaa issuer rating reflects the district's thriving local economy within Silicon Valley and anchored by Stanford University (Aaa stable). At 190.4%, median household income is almost twice that of the national average and assessed value per capita is a robust $544,025 as of fiscal 2021. Importantly, the district benefits from exceptionally strong community support with high voter approval of bond measures as well as a parcel tax, which currently provides $16 million in revenue and increases annually by 2%. The rating also incorporates strong financial management with detailed adopted policies and consistent financial performance. While the district's leverage is somewhat elevated, this risk is reduced by our expectation for continued, strong growth in property tax revenue."