The core mission of the Palo Alto Unified School District is to provide a high-quality education for all students.
PAUSD staff continues to closely monitor the situation regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) while working with partner agencies to ensure we are providing our community with accurate and timely information. As you may be aware, on March 5, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department made statements in a press release that signaled a change in approach from previous communications. They recommended that communities, governments, businesses, and schools postpone or cancel mass gatherings and large community events where large numbers of people are within arm’s length of one another. These recommendations are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community and reduce the number of people infected, and especially protect those who are most vulnerable to severe illness. This is a critical moment in the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County when such measures can potentially slow the spread of the disease.
Effective tomorrow, March 10, through the end of the school year, the following conditions will be put into place in order to continue to provide a high-quality education for all students:
This is a difficult decision, as we know many of you have been looking forward to these events. All upcoming school and district related large gatherings (more than 100 people) are canceled through the end of the school year. This includes events where students, staff, parents, and outside community members come together in close proximity to one another. Specific upcoming events that are now canceled include:
- All field trips
- All school dances, including
- Group assemblies greater than 100 people
- Professional learning events
- Parent education events
- School open houses
- PAUSD Career Fair
- PAUSD Leadership Institute
- All elementary and middle school performances
* Update: 6:45pm
After personal consultation with State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, and Santa Clara County Superintendent, Mary Ann Dewan, the Palo Alto Unified School District has decided to postpone CAASPP testing until late April through May for all sites. The State and County leaders now fully understand our concerns about maintaining high-level instruction and the potential for low participation rates. They are also aware that any school closures between now and the end of the school year could derail any testing efforts for PAUSD and school districts across California. If our conditions stabilize, the postponed testing window could provide meaningful data. This is a rapidly evolving health situation and may take many turns before any potential test is administered.
PAUSD is also shifting revising cancelation of prom to a postponement of a decision. It is our intention to allow space for conversations with our two high schools about how to mitigate concerns related to the County Public Health Department. We fully understand the importance of prom as a culminating event and hope to find an acceptable solution. Again, our desire is to find a way to protect a valued tradition without jeopardizing the health and safety of our students.
To the extent possible, and in an effort to limit the exposure in our community, the following restrictions are now in place:
- Parents & visitors will not be permitted on school grounds during the school day. Should any parent have a question regarding whether or not they can participate in an activity, please contact your site administrator.
- Outside rentals of PAUSD facilities will be canceled until the end of the school year. Exceptions will be made on a case by case basis for groups that serve only PAUSD students.
- High school athletic events and performances will be limited to 100 people in attendance and must be held in the largest venues on campus to accommodate guidance on increased social distancing. Ticketing protocols will be determined by school administrators. (Venues to be used include: Spangenberg Theatre, Titan and Bow Gyms at Gunn; Performing Arts Center and Peery Center at Paly).
- High school sporting event restrictions may be changed if additional guidance and/or restrictions are provided by CIF.
Events Currently Scheduled to Proceed
The following events are currently scheduled to proceed as planned, however, these events may be canceled given the dynamic and rapidly evolving situation.
- Senior week events, including Baccalaureate and Senior Showcase/Awards
- Graduations & Promotions
- Summer School
At this time, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department currently is not recommending closing schools. If a staff member or student in a specific school is confirmed to have COVID-19, the Superintendent and local public health officials will consider, based on the specific facts and circumstances of that case, whether closure of that school is warranted. The Public Health Department is not recommending school closures at this time because individuals under 18 years of age have not been shown to be a high-risk group for serious illness from this virus. Should the Public Health Department determine a school closure is warranted, the duration is likely to be the length of time needed to conduct cleaning protocols and determine readmission criteria.
We will be suspending all instructional and extra-curricular activities in the event of a school closure.
Home Study Materials
Please be informed that we do not have the capacity to provide instructional support for well students who stay at home. If a student has extenuating health circumstances, please contact your site administrator to identify appropriate next steps.
Health Guidelines Remain the Same
The same simple steps that prevent the spread of ordinary flu viruses work against COVID-19 and other illnesses.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cough into a tissue or your elbow (not your hand). Then throw tissue away and wash hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Keep students home if temperature is above 100.0 F (37.8 C) or they report not feeling well, appear weak or ill.
- Consult your health care provider if you or your child has special health conditions that put you at increased risk.
Spring Break Travel
As a reminder, if our families travel to any affected international locations over the upcoming spring break, they will be subject to the quarantine guidelines and any new guidelines that may be implemented. We ask that if you travel to any affected countries that you follow all related guidelines to support the health and safety of our community.
For additional questions related to COVID-19 protocols and procedures please contact Yolanda Conaway, Assistant Superintendent.
The rapid development of COVID-19 has created significant challenges and stresses for our district family. The 24-hour news and social media cycles have contributed to our collective stress and worry. Things are changing by the day. The district will make all attempts to keep you informed and updated.
I want to reiterate that making our schools a healthy and safe environment that provides a high-quality education to all students is our primary goal. I want to thank our staff for their continued professionalism and dedication to serving and protecting our students, families, and fellow colleagues. And I want to thank our district families for their ongoing mindfulness in respecting student privacy, confidentiality, and being sensitive and supportive to each other.
Don Austin, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Palo Alto Unified School District