Superintendent's Update on School Closure- March 13, 2020

Sunday, March 22, 2020 - 11:14am

From the Office of the Superintendent:

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Staff,

Since the update provided yesterday evening, guidance from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and Santa Clara County Office of Education has changed.

Schools will be closed to students beginning Monday, March 16, through the end of PAUSD’s regularly scheduled spring break (which ends Friday, April 10) to reconcile new gathering guidelines with the realities of daily school life. 

We believe our schools provide a clean, safe learning environment to provide a high-quality education for all students. However, we are facing an unprecedented health crisis and new information is surfacing hourly. It is likely our community will be seeing many cases of COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months which will require a measured, sustained response.

Staff is expected to report to their normal work locations on Monday, March 16. If staff members have conditions that prevent attendance on March 16, appropriate sick or personal leave time may be used. With the exception of critical staff, all employees will remain on-call from Tuesday, March 17, through Friday, March 20, remotely from their homes. This approach guarantees our ability to continue normal compensation processes and requirements for all employees.

Additional communications with respect to the definition and availability of critical services and educational continuity options for the upcoming weeks will be distributed by the end of the day Monday. Staff should check their district email on a regular basis for future updates.

Protecting public health requires a community-wide response, and we need the help of families to help remain united in our response. Students should stay home and minimize social contact as much as possible to keep caregivers and adult family members safe. While children have not been shown to be a high-risk group for serious illness from COVID-19, they are still able to transmit the virus to populations who are most vulnerable to serious illness, such as older adults and those with compromised immune systems. Please encourage students to avoid large public gatherings such as malls, movie theaters, and other spaces, especially those that are indoors.

As parents and caregivers, you are your child’s first teacher, and you are your child’s most influential teacher. Ongoing developments regarding COVID-19 may be overwhelming, especially to younger children. Parents and caregivers can help children understand the situation better by discussing children’s questions and concerns. 

The City of Palo Alto has informed us that in anticipation of high demand, library access will be limited. We understand that implementing these changes with such limited notice is challenging and may be disruptive; we appreciate your patience and cooperation. We are grateful to community members throughout our county for their tremendous efforts during these unprecedented times. 

I know that information is changing at a rapid pace and I will continue to keep you updated. Thank you for your patience and partnership.

Sincerely,

Don Austin, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Palo Alto Unified School District

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