Midpeninsula Post

PAUSD pledges to continue in-person instruction, calls for parent volunteers amid COVID-driven staffing shortages

Paly students at lunch in November. (Emily Yao)

In response to Omicron-driven staff shortages, the Palo Alto Unified School District is calling for parent volunteers to aid the district in keeping schools open in a move dubbed “1 Palo Alto.”

“Our biggest challenge is staffing right now: [keeping] people doing the jobs that we do,” Superintendent Don Austin said in a video message. “We can’t keep up; there’s no labor pool. No amount of money can solve this issue. We need your help. My request is that until the surge passes, we need our community, ‘1 Palo Alto,’ to volunteer like never before.”

Data from PAUSD’s COVID clinic between Dec. 8 and Jan. 5 show that 141 individuals, including students and staff across all elementary, middle and high school sites, reported testing positive out of 6,001 tests administered.

“Look, we’re all tired of uncertainty and may be nervous about school districts closing,” Austin said. “So I want to be clear, unless we’re compelled by an outside agency with authority, PAUSD will remain open. We will not close. … ‘1 Palo Alto’ will make this happen.”

“1 Palo Alto” calls for parents to volunteer in COVID testing clinics, food services, custodial and office assistance, supervision and classroom support across all elementary, middle and high school campuses, through an online form.

High school students may also participate in roles that are “appropriate and do not conflict with their school schedule,” according to the “1 Palo Alto” website. All volunteers must submit their vaccination status.

The district’s own COVID clinic operates one day per week at each school site. Its daily site at Cubberley Community Center was recently closed to the general public, but will continue operating Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. exclusively for PAUSD staff and students.

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