STORY AND PHOTO BY TOMOKI CHIEN
Palo Alto Unified School District secondary schools will not make an in-person return this school year, as announced by Palo Alto High School Principal Brent Kline in a letter to the community today.
Last week, the PAUSD Board voted to move forward with a hybrid learning plan that would’ve allowed Palo Alto secondary schools — namely, Paly and Gunn — to resume in-person instruction for English and social studies courses; Superintendent Don Austin had previously indicated that the return plan could accommodate 30 to 40 percent of the student population.
Now, in light of Santa Clara County’s move into the purple tier of coronavirus restrictions, that plan has been scrapped. According to Kline, only 10 percent of students at both Gunn and Paly expressed interest in participating in the hybrid return.
Last Monday, prior to Kline’s announcement today, Austin said that secondary schools would remain in distance learning only if the county remains in the purple tier, and asked families to continue with the selection process — opting in or out of the hybrid return — in the event that the county moved back down to the red or orange tiers.
In place of the discarded hybrid return plan, the District plans on expanding the PAUSD+ program — which provides targeted support for English learners, students from low-income backgrounds and other vulnerable groups — to allow students to visit campus two times a week for academic and emotional support.
The new plan is set to be further developed after the return from Thanksgiving break, and Kline said that he hopes to have the program up and running by the start of the second semester.
“We have experienced a lot together in my first few months at Paly and I continue to try and step back from each moment … and move forward in a manner that honors the voices of all of the stakeholders of our Paly community,” Kline wrote.