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Superintendent's Update - October 2, 2020

From the Office of the Superintendent:



Tuesday, October 13, 2020
(Items due: October 2)
(Board packet review: October 6)

  • Uniform Complaint (Williams Settlement)
  • Developer Fees
  • Physical Safety and Start of the Year Procedures
  • A-G Report
  • COVID-Related Budget Update
  • Athletic Conditioning/Competition
  • PAUSD+
  • Layoffs, Furloughs, Temporary Releases

Tuesday, October 27, 2020
(Items due: October 16)
(Board packet review: October 20)

  • Districtwide Systems for Student Success Using an MTSS Framework
  • School Impact Fees Annual and Five-Year Report for 2019-20
  • CASSY Counselors
  • Disciplinary Practices and Student Outcomes
  • Preliminary Information - First Quarter D/F Report
  • District Alignment to Goals Update
  • District Finance Committee
  • Bell Schedules/Later Start Time/Common Schedules
  • Enrollment Trends and Projections

Each TK-1 classroom will have a posted checklist to review safety measures weekly. Our site principals are responsible for going over the list with each teacher before signing and dating the checklist. Principals will report issues or needs through a streamlined ticketing system with accountability steps in place to ensure rapid response times. PAUSD ordered PPE for all of our teachers prior to the decision to close secondary schools for the semester. We have also essentially reduced our elementary schools by half through distance learning. The combination of actions means we have a stockpile of PPE and shortages should not be an issue. The weekly checklist will expand as additional grade levels return.

All of our elementary school principals worked together on Thursday, October 1, to problem-solve staffing and class lists. The group included our Human Resources division and our distance learning lead. The team was charged with prioritizing decisions in the following order:

  • Work together as a team of principals for the greater good
  • Honor the family's choice of hybrid / distance learning
  • Stay with teacher
  • Stay with school
  • Stay within the cluster

After a full day of work, the team was able to make decisions as a whole and began the task of creating class lists. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlines some of the criteria for teacher selection for distance learning. The process is in motion and will be finalized by Monday, October 5. Parents will receive notification of their class placement by Monday at 5:00 p.m. As expected, our schools will average a little under 30 (TK-1) students on campus during the day beginning October 12.

Families with students in 2nd and 3rd grades will receive a message on Monday, October 5, to select between hybrid and distance learning. The deadline for selections is October 12. Questions should be directed to site principals.

Given the guidance to utilize open doors and windows as a COVID prevention measure, outdoor air quality has taken on new importance. The District will evaluate next-day projections at 4:00 p.m. each afternoon. Schools will temporarily revert to distance learning on days when AirNow projects the "red" category or 150+ Air Quality Index (AQI) for the following day. You can see the exact site we will use for decisions HERE.

If a school was not projected for 150+ AQI by 4:00 p.m. the previous day, schools will be open. If conditions slip into the red category during a school day, schools will remain open and students will be moved to the most acceptable locations on the campus. Parents may remove students from school if they are concerned about air quality that worsens during the day.

We selected the 4:00 p.m. time to avoid creating issues for families with very short notice. Using this approach, families would receive notification in the early evening the night before a school temporary closure.



Fifth graders are learning how to play their instruments and zoom is proving to be a tool that is working. Students attend weekly live zoom classes, play together, and receive one-on-one instruction when needed. They also have asynchronous slide decks to access throughout the week as they continue their practice. This student is quite proud of his progress!


Members of the Middle School English Literature Selection Advisory Committee held their first meeting of this school year on Wednesday, September 23. The 25-member Committee, which includes teachers, specialists, parents, students, and administrators from across the District, met virtually. Topics included an overview of last year's work and a preview of this year's timeline, as well as a discussion of Chimamanda Adichie's 2009 TED Talk, "The Danger of a Single Story." The Committee seeks to diversify the middle school reading list and to provide students with a multitude of mirrors and windows into their own and others' lived experiences. During the second half of the meeting, members divided into grade-level reading groups to continue vetting new titles for possible inclusion in the 6th-8th grade English/Language Arts curriculum. The next meeting is scheduled for October 21. There is still an opening for a JLS parent and a JLS student. Interested applicants should contact Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA), Karen Logue, .

As part of PAUSD'S continued efforts to support the DreamBox Learning (Mathematics for K-8) rollout this year, DreamBox partners offered a Q&A session on September 28 for elementary teachers and specialists who requested additional assistance.

The District requires that all students in grades K-5, and qualifying students in grades 6-8, use DreamBox. This program was approved by the PAUSD Board of Education and will be used as one of the data points for progress monitoring required by the State this year.

All students are initially placed in their grade-level standard. The program monitors each student's progress, with content rigor adjustments based on need, which will vary with each student. DreamBox Learning recommends that students complete at least 5-7 lessons per week. Each K-2 lesson take about 10-15 minutes to complete, and each 3rd-5th grade lesson takes about 15-20 minutes.

The CSU/UC Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP) was jointly formed and supported by California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) in 1977. The purpose of MDTP is to promote and support student readiness and success in college mathematics courses. MDTP achieves its purpose by developing diagnostic assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and supplying these tools to secondary schools in California.

MDTP assessments were administered to all middle school and high school students enrolled in Algebra, Algebra 1A, Geometry Advanced, or Geometry Honors. MDTP reports were sent out to middle school families this week. High school students enrolled in the classes listed may consult with their teacher.

The MDTP report includes: your child's score, the critical level, and the total possible score for each topic assessed. The critical level for each topic is what MDTP considers to be the minimum number of correct responses for your child to show adequate preparation in that topic. Critical levels provide the most valuable information in identifying a student's area of mathematical strengths, unfinished learning and misconceptions, and gaps in content instruction. Each MDTP administration (fall, winter, spring) provides a different purpose.

Both in-person and distance learning rely on the formative assessment process for success. Using the formative assessment process, teachers and students can monitor and adjust learning together. PAUSD administers MDTP diagnostic tests as part of the formative assessment process to collectively shape instruction, support and intervention, and policy.

  • The fall administration informs preparedness for the mathematics in the current course, provides baseline data, and identifies students' strengths, misconceptions, and gaps. For the fall assessment, the MDPT only indicates readiness for a student's current course. It is not an indicator of readiness for acceleration.
  • The winter administration provides a measure of student progress since the fall, as well as related to interventions focused on identified misconceptions and/or gaps related to current content. These data provide early indicators as to readiness for the next course, identify strengths, misconceptions and gaps, and are not an indicator of readiness for acceleration.
  • The spring administration serves as one measure to inform preparedness for the mathematics in the next course, and to inform program reflection and design. It is not an indicator of readiness for acceleration.

It is important to note that formative assessment is a process, not a thing. Data from this year-long formative assessment process (1) helps teachers and students identify the gaps between what students know and are able to do, and (2) helps students reflect on their own next steps for continued learning.

On September 28, the Special Education Department reopened for in-person instruction for some elementary students in the moderate severe programs and secondary Futures programs. The Directors visited each site and are happy to report that all Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safe measures are in place. Students and staff seemed very excited to be back at school. Phase II of reopening for elementary grades will be effective October 5, and Phase III for secondary will follow on October 19.

Also, on October 19 the secondary Therapeutic Services (TS) program, located at Greene Middle School, will reopen for in-person instruction. Parents completed a survey and were contacted by staff to determine which students will return. The department met with Greene's school site administrators on September 29 to discuss reopening. The following day, Special Education staff joined the Maintenance and Operations team to determine classroom location/s and ensure that signage and other safety measures would be in place. The Secondary Special Education Director, Coordinator, and Program Specialist met with the TS site team to discuss, plan, and gather input from staff regarding reopening. A follow-up letter will be sent to parents next week with detailed information.

The Department is also continuing to work on the plan to address the District's significant disproportionality designation. The Secondary Director has attended multiple required California Department of Education (CDE) webinars in the past few months, and also met with the assigned CDE Analyst and Technical Assistant in June, July and August. The designated leadership team will meet on October 1 to review what has been completed thus far in preparation for another meeting with the CDE on October 6. Future stakeholder meetings are in the process of being scheduled for October and November.


The Office of Equity and Student Affairs is encouraging all Site Councils to develop a strong commitment to equity. Like our Board of Education and Executive Cabinet, the members of Site Councils must be willing to commit to creating a school culture that embraces and implements an equity-centered focus, and to establish goals that will assist the school with meeting the needs of all students. Below are ten ways Site Councils can be champions of equity:

  1. Develop an Equity Impact Statement that will serve to provide a framework to focus on equity, and establish an equity-agenda for the development of the School Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA).
  2. Commit to developing SPSA goals with a strong equity lens.
  3. Use data to discuss and ask questions about achievement patterns that flow along the lines of race, income, disability status, and other demographics.
  4. Explore your own personal biases and engage in a personal journey to build racial consciousness; book clubs and seminars are a great way to ease into the conversation.
  5. Challenge the policies and practices that uphold the status quo.
  6. Ensure the allocation of resources addresses the needs of traditionally marginalized groups
  7. Identify areas of inequity in student success and participation, and review disaggregated data by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, disability, and English language proficiency.
  8. Help promote parent involvement in decision-making.
  9. Solicit school community support for racial equity.
  10. Consult with the Office of Equity and Students Affairs to assist with developing an equity agenda.

In the words of Robert F. Kennedy, "Each time [a person] stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, [they] send forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." Site Council members have the opportunity to stand up for an ideal. Contact Yolanda Conaway to learn how to get started.

Join a read aloud and conversation with Meg Medina, Newbery award-winner and New York Times best-selling author, who writes picture books, as well as middle grade and young adult fiction. Her works have been called "heartbreaking," "lyrical," and "must haves for every collection."

Ms. Medina will read and discuss "Mango, Abuela and Me," and "Hablar," her essay which is part of "The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love and Truth," a new collection of essays by children's book authors.

This event will take place on October 14, 2020, at 12:00 p.m. (PT)/3:00 p.m. (ET). To register, please visit their Zoom event page.

Changing the World One Word at a Time - poster

PAUSD teacher librarians promote diverse works and diverse authors all year, and observances, such as Hispanic American Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15), provide additional opportunities to spotlight various cultures and communities. Greene Middle School teacher-librarian discusses Hispanic/Latinx authors and their works in this blog post. Elementary teacher librarians included choice boards during weekly library instruction.

Most elementary and secondary libraries began checking out and distributing (print) library books to students in September. The program is well-liked by students and families. It is also modeled on Palo Alto City Library's Sidewalk Services program. Students (or family members) can request books through their site library catalog and pick them up at designated times and locations at their schools. Staff members may also request library books. Check with your teacher librarian for access and instructions.

The Paly Library has gone a step further and partnered with the English and Social Studies departments to provide students with access to school materials throughout the semester. Assigned books for English and Social Studies classes, along with reserved library books, are picked up at the Performing Art Center's ticket window, which faces the parking lot. This allows students to get materials without entering campus. Books are pre-checked out to students, minimizing interaction at the pick-up point and keeping the process as safe as possible. Hundreds of students have already picked up books. Paly's checkout program also supports other departments with distribution of materials to students.

While print check-out is popular, demand for online library materials is greater than ever. The middle and high school libraries have circulated eBooks and digital audiobooks, via Overdrive, for several years now. The elementary library team is currently rolling out its new digital collection using the MackinVIA platform. In the first two weeks, over 500 titles were checked out! The collection primarily serves students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. The next step is acquiring titles for younger students.


All PAUSD staff have been assigned the following training courses regarding COVID-19:

  • COVID-19 Awareness
  • Individual Control Measures and Screening
  • Safely Returning to Work
  • Testing and Contact Tracing
  • Social Distancing

These brief, but informative courses were created by the PAUSD Safety, Security, and Disaster Preparedness Department using data and guidelines from Santa Clara County, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO). Currently, the District is at 91% completion, and expect to be at 100% by the end of next week.


The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional and varied worries, stressors, and concerns for many. These may feel overwhelming at times and can cause strong emotions for adults and students. Just as we remind students to practice self-care, we also want to remind our staff about the importance of focusing on their own well-being.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to all PAUSD employees. EAP provides a wealth of resources that can support employees in leading a healthy and more balanced lifestyle. Some services EAP provides include emotional health support, work and life services such as assistance in finding childcare or eldercare, financial services, and personalized wellness coaching.

At the site level, our administrators, wellness teams, and psychologists are working to help employees practice mindfulness and self-care. Site staff members have had optional group events, from online yoga sessions to cooking classes and staff trivia games. One school creates a different theme for each staff meeting. They showed up on Zoom at their last meeting with Hawaiian attire and decor. Another school is planning to create secret morale booster pals.

Our Human Resources department is here to support all of our employees. Please reach out to us with questions or needs, or to tell us about positive activities you're doing at your work site that could be shared with your colleagues!

This year it is especially important to protect yourself and those around you from the flu by getting a flu shot. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone six months and older should be vaccinated annually. The vaccine is particularly important for those at high risk of severe complications from the flu, such as pregnant women, children under age five, and adults over age 65.

Kaiser has set up safe, convenient outdoor drive-up or walk-up flu shot locations. To find Kaiser locations and resources click here, or you can contact the Kaiser flu hotline 1-800-573-5811 for recorded flu shot information.

Sutter Health has flu shots available at flu shot clinics, Sutter Walk-In Care, and your doctor's office. Sutter Health locations and resources can be found here.

Here are a few other local resources for flu shots:

Is it the seasonal flu? Sutter Health has created a symptom checker where you can compare your symptoms between COVID-19, flu, cold, and allergies. The symptom checker can direct you to the right health care for your symptoms.