PAUSD to offer remote learning option for 2021–2022 school year


The Palo Alto Unified School District will offer students a fully remote learning program for the 2021–2022 school year.

While all students are expected to attend in-person instruction in the fall, PAUSD’s new Remote Independent Study (RIS) program — introduced to district parents and guardians in a July 20 email — is intended for students and families who believe their health would be compromised in returning to campus.

The program will consist of “weekly synchronous instruction” for its high school participants. According to the email, these students “may likely not be taught by a PAUSD teacher,” as PAUSD plans to make use of a third-party education provider. 

Otherwise offered programs like language immersion will not be available to RIS students, and high school Advanced Placement and honors courses “may be limited or non-existent.” The district is still reviewing whether or not RIS students will be prohibited from school affiliated extracurriculars like athletics.

If necessary, RIS students will be allowed to return to a district school within five days of their request to do so.

“Every effort will be made to return students to the home school pending space availability,” the district wrote in the email. “If space is not available, the student will be considered for another school selected by the district.”

As for in-person students in the fall, a mask requirement will take place indoors regardless of vaccination status, per the California Department of Public Health. However, face coverings will not be required outdoors, and social distancing will not be enforced on campus.

As a preliminary gauge of community interest of the RIS program, a non-binding interest form was sent out to the community. A final version will be sent within the next two weeks.

New Palo Alto teen clinic offers drop-in, accessible mental health care


Teens in the Palo Alto area now have access to a groundbreaking walk-in mental health clinic, allcove, a newly-opened network of integrated youth mental health centers. Recently launched alongside a location in San Jose, allcove’s Palo Alto location provides free or low-cost walk-in mental health services for youth aged 12 to 25.

allcove — which is run by Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Services in collaboration with multiple agencies, including Stanford’s Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing — reimagines how mental health issues in the community are addressed through an approach of early intervention.

This approach diverges from traditional mental health services, specifically targeting a demographic of youth and aiming to prevent the progression of mental health issues as opposed to mainly treating patients with problems of high severity. 

allcove’s opening is the product of years of planning and preparation to bring the unique clinic model, which was inspired by similar programs in Australia, to the United States.

“Having a space for young people, up to 25, which is when many mental health conditions have sort of shown themselves, becomes an important age period to be able to do early intervention for mental health–related issues,” said clinical professor and Associate Chair for Community Engagement Dr. Steven Adelsheim. 

Each allcove clinic offers physical and mental health support through services ranging from advice and treatments regarding physical and sexual health to counseling, support groups and substance use services. Professionals provide both medical and emotional advice and treatment.

Patients may schedule an appointment with their local allcove center in advance or simply walk in, where they can tour the space and team members assist them in determining which services meet their needs. Patients are not required to be accompanied by guardians, although allcove encourages involving supportive family members. 

The majority of services offered by allcove do not require parent or guardian consent, and services which do are disclosed by team members. Visits are always confidential, unless any information shared threatens the safety of the individual or someone else.

Due to its commitment to prevention and early intervention, allcove is designed to be a short-term service, however, allcove centers work with pre-existing mental health programs, such as those in schools and within the community, and refer individuals to long-term services which will meet their specific needs.

“We also want to be able to connect people to other services they might need in the community, whether it’s support for housing, or for more intensive mental health services.” Adelsheim said. “Complex mental health [support] needs to be able to be a place where we can link people to other services and support they want.”

Local youth voices play an integral role in shaping allcove through their involvement in the decision making process. Youth advisory groups, consisting of local teens work alongside experts and have a large influence in determining allcove’s design, atmosphere and the support groups offered, among other aspects.

“What’s really critical is the voice of young people on the development of the services and the name and the design, and the idea that this space is reflective of the voice and needs and wants of the young people of our community,” Adelsheim said.

By creating “an environment designed by and for young people,” Adelsheim said that allcove facilitates a comfortable space for young people to talk about mental health and is able to better assist individuals seeking support within the community.

Through its services, allcove aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, a barrier which often leads to people to neglect their mental health issues, and not seek help until they face a crisis.

“Within many of our cultures and families, there is a lot of stigma around accessing mental health services,” Adelsheim said, “We want to break through that and create comfortable spaces where young people feel okay about going in early.”

According to Adelsheim, more allcove sites within California communities are currently in the works, and allcove hopes that this mental health model spreads beyond the state.

“We’re creating a space where young people are going to walk in and feel more like it’s for them, instead of some typical mental health clinic,” Adelsheim said.

COVID-19 Updates: California mandates universal masking in schools, diverging from CDC guidance

Saturday, July 17: California mandates universal masking in schools, diverging from CDC guidance

Students in California will have to wear masks until at least early November, the California Department of Public Health said on July 12.

The CDPH’s policy diverges from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation made three days prior, which said that vaccinated students and teachers don’t need to wear masks at school.

The universal masking policy, however, means that schools won’t need to enforce mandatory physical distancing, vaccinated and unvaccinated students will be treated the same and quarantine requirements will be more lax — which wouldn’t have been possible under the CDC’s recommendation.

The new quarantine requirement allows students who were wearing masks during a close contact case to continue attending school, as long as they are asymptomatic, follow mask requirements, get tested twice a week during the ten days following an exposure and continue to wear a mask in other community settings.

The new state guidance takes into account a variety of considerations, including stigma surrounding different mask wearing policies, difficulties in tracking vaccination status and uncertainty surrounding the highly transmissible Delta variant.

According to the CDPH, differential mask policies can lead to “potential stigma, bullying [and] isolation of vaccinated or unvaccinated students, depending on the culture and attitudes in the school or surrounding community.”

The only exception to the masking policy is that students who live together — regardless of vaccination status — will not have to wear masks around one another at school.

The CDPH will continually reassess its policy, and by November 1, 2021, will determine whether to update mask requirements or recommendations.


Friday, July 16: A step back: Santa Clara County recommends indoor masking

Given a rise in local COVID-19 transmission, Santa Clara County health officials Friday recommended wearing masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, in a step back from June’s significant ease in health restrictions. 

The recommendation falls short of a mandate, and instead asks that residents wear masks in public places “to ensure easy verification that all unvaccinated people are masked,” and as an “extra precautionary measure.”

It also asks that businesses once again adopt universal masking requirements for customers.

The county’s recommendation — which was made jointly with seven other Bay Area counties — comes as the county’s test positivity rate has risen to 1.7%, a number last recorded in February. 

From late April to early this month, the county test positivity rate has dwindled around 0.5%, while the highest rate this year was in early January, at 9.2%. 

Health officials have largely blamed the highly transmissible Delta variant — which now accounts for 43% of cases in California, and 58% of cases nationally — for the spike in the test positivity rate.

The county will revisit the recommendation in the coming weeks as health officials monitor transmission rates, hospitalizations, deaths and vaccination rates.

“Fully vaccinated people are well-protected from infections and serious illness due to known COVID-19 variants,” a county press release reads. “Vaccinating as many people as possible, as soon as possible, continues to be our best defense against severe COVID-19 infection.”


Friday, July 9: CDC says vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday said that fully vaccinated students and staff no longer need to wear masks, as part of an update to its guidance for K–12 schools to reflect the impact of now widely available vaccines.

The CDC’s recommendations should guide — if not mirror — the policy set by the California Department of Public Health, which Santa Clara County will likely default to. 

Friday’s guidance also says that in general, people don’t need to wear masks outdoors regardless of vaccination status, with the exception of unvaccinated people in crowded settings in areas of high transmission.

Cases where the CDC suggests schools consider implementing universal mask usage include having high COVID-19 transmission within the school or community; lacking a system to monitor vaccine status of students and staff; having difficulty enforcing mask policies that are not universal; and receiving community feedback that teachers and students would not participate in in-person learning without universal mask usage.

Masks continue to be required on school buses, regardless of vaccination status.

On the social distancing front, the CDC’s guidance recommends 3-foot distancing between all students, but that recommendation appears to be more flexible than the masking policy; if 3-foot distancing would prevent schools from fully reopening, the requirement appears to be no-longer necessary.

“Because of the importance of in-person learning, schools where not everyone is fully vaccinated should implement physical distancing to the extent possible within their structures, but should not exclude students from in-person learning to keep a minimum distance requirement,” the guidance reads.

Ultimately, the guidance acknowledges that vaccines are the most effective mitigation measure, and encourages schools to promote vaccination among eligible students and staff.

Local school districts are expected to set their COVID-19 safety policy for the fall once the state releases its guidance.


Tuesday, June 15: Vaccinated Californians no longer need to wear masks; state lifts majority of COVID-19 restrictions

Fully vaccinated Californians no longer need to wear masks or socially distance in most settings, in a dramatic ease of state COVID-19 restrictions.

The relaxed health restrictions — which effectively fully reopen the economy by lifting capacity restrictions on businesses, and scrapping the color tier system that dictated restrictions in counties — has been planned since April.

Exceptions to the no mask policy include when on public transit, indoors in K–12 schools and childcare settings, healthcare facilities and homeless shelters. The state has indicated that it will align K–12 safety restrictions with pending guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which could include a lift on masking and social distancing requirements for certain ages.

Unvaccinated individuals are expected to follow previous state COVID-19 safety restrictions which include wearing masks indoors and socially distancing.

The state has also lifted its travel advisory, which had previously discouraged Californians from traveling outside of their local region.

As per usual, local health officers are permitted to implement tighter restrictions, but Santa Clara County health officials have fallen in line with the state’s mandates.


Tuesday, May 18: State to keep indoor mask mandate as Santa Clara County drops to yellow tier

Santa Clara County today dropped to the yellow tier of coronavirus restrictions, as the state continues to eye its June 15 full reopening that’s contingent upon “stable and low” hospitalization rates and sufficient vaccine supply.

The yellow tier is the state’s least restrictive tier of coronavirus restrictions, and allows for expanded capacities for businesses across the board.

The drop in tier assignment comes as California health officials yesterday announced that the state will keep its existing masking guidance — even in light of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s loosened mandate — until the state’s mid-June reopening.

State guidance only requires masks outdoors for vaccinated individuals when at “crowded events,” and for unvaccinated people outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Face coverings are required in all indoor settings outside the home regardless of vaccination status.

After June 15, the state expects to fall in line with the CDC’s guidance and allow vaccinated individuals to go maskless in both indoor and outdoor settings.

“This four-week period will give Californians time to prepare for this change while we continue our relentless focus on delivering vaccines,” the state’s guidance reads.

“I will admit to you, it is difficult after wearing this mask for so long to feel comfortable without it on, despite the fact that I’m vaccinated,” Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said at a press conference today. “And it’s going to take time for many of us to make that change.”

The state appears to be on track for its June 15 reopening, with a 0.9% positivity rate and a steady supply of vaccine; as of May 15, 74% of all Santa Clara County residents 16 and up had received at least one dose of vaccine, and eligibility just recently expanded to adolescents as young as 12.


Wednesday, May 12: CDC signs off on Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds; state expected to expand eligibility

In a widely anticipated move, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today gave the go-ahead for administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the 12- to 15-year-old age range.

The CDC’s green light follows the Food and Drug Administration’s Monday approval of the vaccine. Only three states — Arkansas, Delaware and Georgia — opened eligibility to the expanded age range immediately following the FDA’s approval, although all others are expected to expand eligibility in light of the CDC’s go-ahead.

Locally, some 72% of Santa Clara County residents over the age of 16 have received at least one dose of vaccine, with the 16 to 29 age range consisting of the highest number of unvaccinated residents.

In an apparent effort to combat any adolescent reluctance, teens who get vaccinated at the Levi’s Stadium mass vaccination site can apparently expect a tour of the San Francisco 49ers locker room, a live DJ, a socially distanced “dance party” and limited quantities of 49ers “swag” and Starbucks and Chipotle gift cards.


Friday, April 23: As vaccine supply dramatically increases, 62% of eligible Santa Clara County residents have received first dose

County officials today celebrated one million residents ages 16 and up having received at least one vaccine dose, a major milestone in the county’s race to vaccinate the population. 62% of eligible residents in the county have received first doses, and just above 30% are fully vaccinated, made possible by a significant increase in vaccine supply from the federal government.

“We need to take a moment and take a deep breath and really celebrate — this is a big deal,” County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said at a press conference today. “Remember, [vaccinations] started in mid-December, but with just a trickle. It’s just recently that we’ve had plenty of doses to go around.”

Cody also reaffirmed the county’s commitment to equitable distribution, citing ongoing efforts to reach communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Some of that outreach has included going door-to-door in hard-hit neighborhoods to help residents register for vaccine appointments, and providing on-site vaccinations for homeless community members.

County health officials just a month ago had bemoaned a slow and inconsistent flow of vaccine doses coming from both the state and federal governments, right as the state announced expanding vaccine eligibility. 

Today, the mood seemed to make an almost 180-degree flip, with positivity and optimism being among the pervading themes.

“After so many long and difficult months, we can now see a very clear path out of this pandemic,” Cody said. “But we are far from done. Many appointments are available to receive the vaccine. I appeal to the community members who haven’t already to schedule your vaccination as soon as possible.”


Wednesday, April 7: ‘Light at the end of this tunnel’: Gov. Newsom unveils plan to fully reopen state in mid-June

Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday unveiled a plan to fully reopen the state on June 15, given that the vaccine supply is sufficient to accommodate the 16-and-up age bracket and hospitalization rates are “stable and low.”

“With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California’s economy,” Newsom said. “We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic. We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here — wearing masks and getting vaccinated — but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”

All businesses will be able to return to usual operations following “common sense” risk reduction measures such as masking requirements, as well as testing and vaccination requirements in certain settings — specifically in large-scale indoor events.

State guidance also mandates that schools offer full-time in-person instruction at that point, subject to unspecified health guidelines.

Vaccine eligibility is set to expand to the 16-and-up age bracket on April 15,even as local counties continue to struggle with sporadic and low vaccine supply.

“The state, in partnership with local government, health care providers and community-based organizations, will continue its extensive efforts to get eligible Californians vaccinated,” a press release from Newsom’s office reads. “Equity continues to be the focus of our vaccine efforts, especially as we prepare to fully reopen.”


Monday, April 5: State to loosen gathering restrictions as Santa Clara County sees rise in COVID-19 variants

State health officials on April 2 unveiled a range of loosened COVID-19 restrictions allowing for larger outdoor gatherings and concerts, effective April 15.

Notably, in the orange tier, which Santa Clara County currently sits in:

  • Outdoor gatherings may include up to 50 people.
  • Outdoor “private events,” receptions and conferences with pre-purchased tickets or a defined guest list and assigned seating may include up to 100 people. That capacity increases to 300 if all guests show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or full vaccination.
  • Indoor gatherings with a capacity of 150 people are allowed if all guests show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or full vaccination.

Notably, in the yellow tier, which Santa Clara County could qualify for within the month:

  • Outdoor gatherings may include up to 100 people.
  • Outdoor “private events,” receptions and conferences with pre-purchased tickets or a defined guest list and assigned seating may include up to 200 people. That capacity increases to 400 if all guests show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or full vaccination.
  • Indoor gatherings with a capacity of 200 people are allowed if all guests show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or full vaccination.

Just a day prior to the state’s announcement of loosening restrictions, Santa Clara County health officials warned of a surge in COVID-19 variants, signaling the region’s still “precarious” efforts to curb the pandemic.

“As of last week, every variant of concern has been detected in Santa Clara County,” a county press release reads. “All have either been shown or are presumed to be circulating in our community.”

The county noted that the rise of variants comes as its vaccine allocation has remained “flat” over the past several weeks, even as the 50-and-up age bracket became newly eligible for vaccinations on April 1, with eligibility set to expand to the 16-and-over population on April 15.

“We’re already seeing surges in other parts of the country, likely driven by variants,” County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said. “Combined with the data we are seeing locally, these are important warning signs that we must continue to minimize the spread. We can still stop a surge from happening here if we hold onto our tried and true prevention measures for a little longer while we increase our vaccination rates.”


Thursday, March 25: Santa Clara County officials warn of vaccine scarcity as state widens eligibility

Santa Clara County officials cautioned at a press conference today that California’s expanded vaccine eligibility may have a limited immediate effect in the county.

County COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said that roughly 400,000 county residents will become newly eligible for vaccination on April 1.

“That’s a lot of people to add to our list,” Fenstersheib said. “The supply of vaccine is very limited. We were told in our allocation announcement yesterday that we’d be getting 58,000 plus doses of vaccine next week. That 58,000 doses doesn’t go very far.”

He added that the county has the capacity to vaccinate some 200,000 people a week, but given the slow supply of doses, the county only utilizes around a third of that capacity.

Fenstersheib urged residents to continue to abide by COVID-19 safety guidelines in order to prevent the virus from further spreading and mutating, noting that an increase in variants could limit the vaccine’s effectiveness. 

“Please continue to be patient — we’re being told by the federal government and state that the vaccine will be flowing a little better in the month of April,” he said.


Thursday, March 25: CA vaccine eligibility to expand to ages 50 and up on April 1; ages 16 and up on April 15

California COVID-19 vaccine eligibility will expand to residents ages 50 and up on April 1, with further expansion to the 16 and up age bracket on April 15.

At the moment, high-risk individuals ages 16 and up are eligible for vaccinations as well as healthcare workers, agricultural workers, educators, emergency service workers and residents 65 and up.

“The light at the end of the tunnel continues to get brighter,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

It is currently unclear if Santa Clara County will choose to impose more strict eligibility guidelines, given the county’s historically fractured supply and distribution process.

The county health department will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. today to provide an update on vaccine efforts and availability.


Tuesday, March 23: Santa Clara County drops to orange tier

Santa Clara County has fallen to the orange tier of coronavirus restrictions along with several other Bay Area counties, just a week after San Mateo County became the first in the region to do so.

Here’s a list of businesses that are allowed to open in the orange tier:

  • Bars that don’t provide meals (only outdoors)
  • Movie theaters (50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Amusement parks and theme parks (25% capacity or 500 people, whichever is fewer)

Here’s a list of businesses allowed in the red tier, but with expanded capacity in the orange tier:

  • Shopping malls (no capacity limit provided by state)
  • Places of worship (50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Indoor dining (50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Gyms and fitness centers (25% capacity)


Friday, March 19: CDC says only 3-foot social distancing needed in schools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today relaxed its coronavirus guidance for schools, most notably changing its social distancing guidelines from 6 feet to 3 feet, a departure from the near-ubiquitous 6-foot distancing standard.

Guidance specifies that elementary schoolers should be at least 3 feet apart, with middle and high schoolers following that same requirement in areas of low, moderate or substantial community transmission. Middle and high schoolers should remain 6 feet apart in communities with high transmission rates, but only if cohorting in small groups is not possible.

Cohorts, which the CDC defines as “a distinct group that stays together throughout the entire school day,” should remain 6 feet from one another.

Currently, Santa Clara County is defined as low transmission as per the CDC’s standards.

The CDC also removed language suggesting that schools put up physical barriers between students, and added the new suggestion that schools improve ventilation by opening windows; using exhaust fans in restrooms; and optimizing heating, ventilation and air conditioning settings for maximum ventilation. Previously, critics had expressed concern that the CDC’s guidance made no mention of ventilation.

It is not immediately clear if the California Department of Public Health, whose school reopening guidance Santa Clara County follows, will amend its guidance to fall in line with the CDC.


Tuesday, March 16: San Mateo County bumped to orange tier, Santa Clara expected to follow next week

San Mateo County has fallen to the orange tier of coronavirus restrictions, the first Bay Area county to do so. Santa Clara County, which has generally lagged a week behind San Mateo, is on track to make the same move next week so long as its case rates hold.

Here’s a list of businesses that are allowed to open in the orange tier:

  • Bars that don’t provide meals (only outdoors)
  • Movie theaters (50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Amusement parks and theme parks (25% capacity or 500 people, whichever is fewer)

Here’s a list of businesses already allowed in the red tier, but with expanded capacity in the orange tier:

  • Shopping malls (no capacity limit provided by state)
  • Places of worship (50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Indoor dining (50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Gyms and fitness centers (25% capacity)


Tuesday, March 2: Santa Clara County falls to red tier, heralding a long-awaited return to school

Santa Clara County has fallen to the red tier of coronavirus restrictions, in a shift that follows a recent trend of falling case rates and subsequent relaxing restrictions across the state.

Starting tomorrow, March 3, restaurants, movie theaters and gyms may reopen for indoor business with capacity limits. Schools that had not reopened prior to moving to the purple tier in November can now offer on-campus learning, and forgo a previous mandate that put reopenings on pause until five days into the red tier.

Both the Mountain View–Los Altos and Palo Alto Unified school districts should begin their optional returns in the coming days.

Travel beyond 120 miles from the home as well as “non-essential” travel continues to be strongly discouraged in the red tier. All outdoor sports competition is allowed irrespective of coronavirus tier.

A full list of allowed operation in the red tier, via San Mateo County:

  • Restaurants indoors (max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • All retail indoors (max 50% capacity)
  • Shopping centers, swap meets indoors (max 50% capacity, closed common areas, reduced capacity food courts)
  • Personal care services — hair and nail salons, barbershops (open with modifications)
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums (max 25% capacity)
  • Places of worship (max 25% capacity)
  • Movie theaters indoors (max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Gyms and fitness centers indoors (max 10% capacity)
  • Family entertainment centers (kart racing, mini-golf, batting cages) outdoors only with modifications

Amusement parks, bars without meal service, bowling alleys, indoor playgrounds, live theater, saunas and steam rooms, nightclubs and festivals are not permitted.


Friday, Feb. 26: Santa Clara County relaxes masking, distancing restrictions

Santa Clara County has relaxed a handful of its COVID-19 safety restrictions, through a combination of amendment and repeal of previous county mandates.

Most notable is the repealment of the county’s mandatory directive for youth and adult athletics; previous county restrictions that were more strict than state guidelines — such as the mandate that athletes wear masks even when engaged in strenuous physical activity, and always maintain 6-foot social distancing with no exceptions — are now void, and fall in line with the rest of the state’s more relaxed restrictions.

Both the county’s directives for programs serving youth as well as K-12 schools are void as well, with both similarly falling back on their respective state guidance documents.

A list of other notable changes:

  • Face coverings are only required outdoors when within 6 feet of a member of another household. The county still does “recommend” wearing face coverings at all times when outdoors, but falls short of a strict mandate.
  • 6-foot social distancing from members of other households is “recommended” but no longer required. 
  • Singing is now allowed outdoors without face coverings, so long as done 6 feet from members of other households.

Indoor gatherings continue to be prohibited until the county hits the red tier, which could happen as soon as next week.


Tuesday, Feb. 23: San Mateo County falls to red tier, Santa Clara poised to follow suit

San Mateo County has fallen to the red tier of coronavirus restrictions, effective tomorrow, Feb. 24. Santa Clara County — whose adjusted case rate, test positivity rate and health equity quartile qualify for the red tier — will make a similar drop if numbers hold for two consecutive weeks.

In the red tier, restaurants, movie theaters and gyms may open indoors with capacity limits. Schools currently ineligible for in-person instruction may begin to reopen five days into the red tier; specific reopening plans are left up to individual school districts.

Both the Mountain View–Los Altos and Palo Alto Unified school districts are slated to make optional in-person returns once permitted.

Travel beyond 120 miles from the home as well as “non-essential” travel continues to be strongly discouraged in the red tier. All outdoor sports competition is allowed irrespective of coronavirus tier.

A full list of allowed operation in the red tier, via San Mateo County:

  • Restaurants indoors (max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • All retail indoors (max 50% capacity)
  • Shopping centers, swap meets indoors (max 50% capacity, closed common areas, reduced capacity food courts)
  • Personal care services — hair and nail salons, barbershops (open with modifications)
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums (max 25% capacity)
  • Places of worship (max 25% capacity)
  • Movie theaters indoors (max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Gyms and fitness centers indoors (max 10% capacity)
  • Family entertainment centers (kart racing, mini-golf, batting cages) outdoors only with modifications

Amusement parks, bars without meal service, bowling alleys, indoor playgrounds, live theater, saunas and steam rooms, nightclubs and festivals are not permitted.


Wednesday, Feb. 17: Santa Clara County to expand vaccine eligibility to Phase 1B

Effective Feb. 28, Santa Clara County will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination tiers, which includes workers in education and childcare; food and agriculture; and emergency services.

County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said at a press conference today that now is the “optimal time” to expand vaccination eligibility, asserting that the county has enough capacity to serve more residents; she noted that nearly half of the county’s 65-and-up bracket has now been vaccinated.

“As everyone knows, the more people we can get vaccinated, the better off we all are,” Cody said. “This is our best estimation of the optimal timing to make that transition.”

When asked for an estimation of when the county will hit the red tier of coronavirus restrictions, Cody contended that it’s “difficult to know,” noting a decline in case rates since the first week of January but also the emergence of new, more easily transmissible COVID-19 strains.

“Everyone, when you do become eligible, please get vaccinated,” Cody said. “We’ve made great progress — and we want it to continue.”


Friday, Feb. 12: New CDC guidance recommends Santa Clara County schools open for full in-person instruction 

New national guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today recommends that Santa Clara County schools open for full in-person instruction, although state restrictions would prohibit that from happening until hitting the red tier of coronavirus transmission.

The centerpiece of the CDC’s guidance is a colored tier system — which is separate from California’s criteria — that provides recommendations for school reopenings according to cases rates in the surrounding community.

The CDC’s tiered system (via the CDC)

At the moment, Santa Clara County sits in the yellow tier of the CDC’s system with 21.7 new cases per day for every 100,000 in the population as well as a 4% test positivity rate.

The CDC recommends that schools in both the yellow and blue tiers open for full in-person instruction alongside sports and extracurricular activities; notably, guidance in those tiers suggests 6-foot social distancing “to the greatest extent possible,” as opposed to the “required” social distancing of the orange and red tiers. 

In all returns, the CDC recommends prioritizing in-person learning over extracurricular activities, including sports, citing social, emotional and mental health impacts.

California restrictions, however, prevent schools that had not offered in-person instruction for a full grade level prior to entering the purple tier in November from reopening until falling to the state’s red tier; that includes the Mountain View–Los Altos School District and Palo Alto Unified School District secondary schools, which both have plans to return in the red tier, although not for “full in-person instruction” as the CDC suggests.

Currently, Santa Clara County sits in the purple tier of the state’s system, needing to fall from 21.7 to 7 new daily cases per 100,000 in the population to qualify for the red tier.


Thursday, Feb. 4: County to vaccinate residents age 65 and up regardless of healthcare provider or insurance

Santa Clara County will now begin vaccinating all residents age 65 and up regardless of health care provider or insurance. 

This latest development comes after county officials just weeks ago expressed frustration with a “chaotic” distribution process, and as the county now approaches 1,500 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic a year ago. Individuals over the age of 65 account for nearly 85% of the total deaths in the county, officials noted.

“We are willing and able to distribute the vaccines and we have the infrastructure,” said County Executive Officer Jeff Smith. “However, the big caveat is that we need to get enough vaccines, and the limiting factor is the manufacturing.”

The county is implementing a “no wrong door” approach that allows eligible residents to get vaccinated at any site, whether it be with a private partner such as the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, or a public site such as the recently opened vaccination center at the Mountain View community center. 

“We still have scarcity of this vaccine, we still have a limited supply, and frankly we still have a chaotic environment with changing state guidance almost daily,” said County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. 

Eligible residents can schedule an appointment at


Monday, Jan. 25: State lifts regional stay-at-home order

The California Department of Public Health has lifted stay-at-home orders across the state, following a rise in four-week ICU capacity projections above 15% in the three regions still under the order as of yesterday.

Counties will now revert back to the coronavirus tier system, in which restrictions are determined based on coronavirus cases and test positivity rates. A majority of Bay Area counties will continue to sit in the purple tier. 

The Bay Area’s ICU capacity is currently at 23.4%, with health officials noting that the four-week projection is also above the 15% threshold.

As during the stay-at-home order, non-essential businesses are still required to remain shuttered, while restaurants are able to open for outdoor dining only.

Hair salons, barber shops, retail stores, malls, outdoor museums, zoos and essential businesses may remain in operation with limited capacity.

Additionally, season one high school sports in the Santa Clara Valley Athletics League are now permitted to begin competition on Feb. 15.


Friday, January 15: Through fractured distribution process, Santa Clara County officials blast vaccination protocol

County officials today expressed frustration with a scattered vaccine distribution process which gives the county limited oversight over distribution within its bounds.

Currently, all healthcare workers and residents over the age of 75 are eligible for vaccination. State guidance puts residents over age 65 in the eligible bracket, but as it stands, a majority of providers in the county do not have the resources to expand beyond the 75-and-up range.

The Kaiser Permanente system, however, is in fact vaccinating the age 65 bracket.

Further complicating matters, the CVS-Walgreens partnership — responsible for vaccinating older residents in long-term care facilities — receives doses directly from the federal government.

Multi-county entities like Kaiser and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation — which serve a vast majority of the county population — get their shipments through state allocation.

The county has no oversight over either distribution lane.

“We recognize we’re in an environment of changing federal and state information daily,” said County Counsel James Williams at a press conference. “It’s extraordinarily frustrating for us here locally.”

Williams bemoaned a “distracted” federal government, citing the Trump administration’s focus on bogus claims of election fraud, rather than the “raging” pandemic.

“We learned a few days ago that the federal government was going to release stockpiles of vaccines that were being held for second doses,” he said. “We learned this morning that no such stockpile exists.”

Just this week, Santa Clara County surpassed the 1,000 death mark, currently sitting at 1,028 cumulative deaths since the pandemic arrived a year ago. And, in the midst of the full force of the holiday surge, the county has logged a 10.8% test positivity rate over the past 14 days, spurring an ever-dwindling ICU capacity.

County residents are encouraged to visit for more information regarding vaccine eligibility and distribution. 


Saturday, January 9: Bay Area stay-at-home order extended as region’s ICU capacity continues to fall

After failing to reach an ICU capacity of 15% or higher, the Bay Area region — Santa Clara County included — is now under an extended stay-at-home order, set to be reassessed once the region’s four-week ICU capacity projection hits the 15% threshold.

As of now, the Bay Area’s capacity sits at 3%.

“With the current surge of COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations, the County expects to be under the restrictions of this State order for some time,” reads a press release from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

Statewide, 29,233 Californians have died from the coronavirus since it first landed in January; Santa Clara County accounts for 815 of those deaths.

Just yesterday, Jan. 8, the state saw 695 new deaths, 16 of which came from Santa Clara County.


Wednesday, December 30: Newsom proposes to provide schools with $450 per student for in-person instruction

Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a revised school reopening plan this morning, the centerpiece of which is a $2-billion grant from the state government in order to aid schools in their transition to in-person instruction. 

If approved in January, the funds will provide districts that open for in-person instruction $450 dollars per student; the state will give priority aid to schools with large numbers of low-income students or English learners. 

The state is targeting mid to late spring as the timeframe for students’ return. 

The governor cited recent studies showing that schools which have implemented standard safety procedures such as mask wearing and social distance do not act as superspreader events. 

Under the purple tier of coronavirus restrictions — which much of the state is still under — schools that had not begun in-person instruction prior to the purple shift are prohibited from reopening for in-person instruction.

Teachers will be given priority for vaccination, and all staff and students will be given and required to wear personal protective equipment. A public database tracking infections and positive tests within schools will be launched in the near future. 

Newsom maintains that the priority for reopening is still to bring younger students, mainly those in grades TK–2 into the classroom first, citing lower rates of depression and both social and emotional development; older students will be phased in through the spring.

“[In-person learning] is especially important for our youngest kids, those with disabilities, those with limited access to technology at home and those who have struggled more than most with distance learning,” Newsom said. 


Monday, December 28: COVID-19 is the projected third leading cause of death in Santa Clara County

The sobering toll of the pandemic comes nearly a year after the county’s first coronavirus case.

Since the first confirmed coronavirus case in late January — with the first death following just days after — the county has seen a total of 65,288 positive cases and 652 deaths; that makes COVID-19 this year’s projected third leading cause of death in the county, behind only cancer and heart disease. 

A reminder of some the County’s coronavirus restrictions:

  1. “Social bubbles” are prohibited given the stay-at-home order, which bars gatherings with members of other households.
  2. Travel is highly discouraged, with a mandatory 10-day quarantine for travel 150 miles outside of County boundaries.

Despite warnings from public health officials and a restrictive stay-at-home order, hospitals have seen a surge in coronavirus cases through the holiday season — likely due to family gatherings and travel. The daily death toll has nearly doubled since before Thanksgiving, going from three to almost six deaths per day.

via Santa Clara County Public Health Dept.

“If you have plans to travel, go home and cancel them,” County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said in a press conference last Wednesday, December 23. “Cancel your travel plans. Celebrate over the phone, over social media, over Zoom. Cook a meal in your home and enjoy it with just the people in your home. It can save a life. It will save a life and it’s very important to do. … If we have a surge on top of a surge, we will definitely break. We cannot afford that.”

Only 39 available ICU beds remain in the county, with eight hospitals having fewer than five available beds and three hospitals having fewer than 10. Remaining ICU capacity in the Bay Area region sits at 9.5 percent, with a similar 9.5 percent test positivity rate over the last 14 days.


Friday, December 4: Bay Area falls under stay-at-home order, effective Sunday

The shelter-in-place — announced jointly by health officers from the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara as well as the City of Berkeley — is set to go in place in Santa Clara County this Sunday, December 6.

Schools that have received waivers, critical infrastructure, retail at 20 percent capacity and restaurants with take-out and delivery may remain open. Businesses that will be temporarily closed include bars, wineries, personal services, hair salons and barbershops.

Bay Area health officers made the move despite not yet hitting the 15 percent ICU capacity threshold set by the State yesterday. This is the most aggressive action taken against the coronavirus since March.

Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom mandated stay-at-home orders for regions with ICU capacities under 15 percent; none of the five California regions have hit that threshold yet, but the vast majority of the state is expected to reach it in the next few days. 

Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody did note that the county’s ICU capacity is at 14 percent, but the region as a whole is still above the threshold.

The Bay Area region is projected to fall below 15 percent capacity by mid- to late December, but county health officers jointly agreed to put the order in effect preemptively, in an effort to stave off rising cases.

“We cannot wait until after we have driven off the cliff to pull the emergency brake,” Cody said. “We understand that the closures under the State order will have a profound impact on our local businesses. However, if we act quickly, we can both save lives and reduce the amount of time these restrictions have to stay in place, allowing businesses and activities to reopen sooner.” 

The order will remain in place until Monday, January 4.


Thursday, December 3: Governor Newsom announces stay-at-home order for regions with ICU capacity below 15 percent

Effective today, regions where ICU capacity falls below 15 percent will be subject to a three-week stay-at-home order; regions include the Bay Area, Northern California, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

via Office of the Governor

Under current trends, the State projects that the Bay Area will fall below the 15 percent threshold by mid- to late December and reach ICU capacity by early January. The other four regions are expected to fall below the threshold within the next few days.

Once under a stay-at-home order, schools that have received waivers, critical infrastructure, retail at 20 percent capacity and restaurants with take-out and delivery may remain open. Businesses that will be temporarily closed include bars, wineries, personal services, hair salons and barbershops.

The move today comes in an effort to protect against an anticipated rise of COVID-19 cases following the Thanksgiving weekend.

This is a temporary moment — this is not a permanent state,” Newsom said. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are a few months away from truly seeing real progress with the vaccine … we do not anticipate having to do this once again but we really all need to step up.”


Tuesday, December 1: CIF moves earliest start date to January, scraps season one regional and state championships

The California Interscholastic Federation announced today in a press release that the earliest start date for season one sports will be Friday, January 1.

Additionally, all season one state and regional competitions are canceled, and boys volleyball has been moved to season two. A modified season two calendar will be released in January.  

“By canceling regional and state championship events, more student-athletes will have the opportunity to participate in a longer season, rather than a truncated season with regional and state post-season play for a limited number of schools,” CIF’s press release reads.

The delay comes after Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement of tightened coronavirus restrictions on Monday, November 16, after which CIF announced that competition would be put on hold until further notice; today’s announcement solidifies that decision, giving coaches and athletes an earliest date of return.

“CIF is confident this decision is a necessary and reasonable action for our member schools, student-athletes, and school communities in light of the current statewide crisis,” CIF’s press release reads.


Sunday, November 29: MVLA shutters sports cohorts

In emails to Mountain View–Los Altos School District coaches last night, athletic directors at both Mountain View and Los Altos high schools announced the shutdown of all athletics cohorts until further notice; that decision comes following a rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in the county.

“Due to the increase of COVID cases in the county, we are postponing all athletic cohorts until further notice,” the email from Los Altos Athletic Director Michelle Noeth reads.

It is not immediately clear if the move is related to the County’s tightened restrictions set to go in effect tomorrow; at the time of publication, neither athletic director could be reached for comment.

“While we realize that these cohorts have been a great support to our students, at this time we feel that we need to be cautious when we return from Thanksgiving,” Noeth wrote, adding that the cohorts will not be reopened “until we hear differently from the County.”

The MVLA move follows decisions from Gunn and Paly, which shuttered their cohorts on Wednesday, November 18, after the county moved into the purple tier of coronavirus restrictions; technically, existing cohorts are still allowed to train under the purple tier.


Saturday, November 28: Santa Clara County announces new COVID-19 restrictions, San Mateo County moves into purple tier

The revisions to the existing Santa Clara restrictions, effective at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, November 30, primarily include tighter limits on sports, business capacities and travel; the move comes as hospitals in the county risk running out of beds within the next few weeks. 

The Santa Clara order states that all recreational activities involving “physical contact or close proximity” to people from other households — namely, all contact sports — are prohibited. 

The order affects professional, collegiate and youth sports, including teams like the San Francisco 49ers.

It is not immediately clear how that restriction will affect existing California Interscholastic Federation guidelines for high school sports, which allow training in cohorts so long as athletes are able to maintain a 6-foot distance from one another.

“People can continue to engage in outdoor athletics and recreation where social distancing can be maintained at all times,” the order specifies.

Tighter restrictions on Santa Clara County businesses include a 10 percent capacity limit on indoor stores and “other facilities” open to the public, and a 25 percent capacity limit on grocery stores, drug stores and pharmacies.

The order further states that non-essential travel is “strongly discouraged,” and puts in place a new mandatory 14-day quarantine for persons traveling from more than 150 miles away from Santa Clara County upon their return. Healthcare workers traveling to treat patients are exempt from the quarantine period.

The restrictions will remain in place until Monday, December 21, unless further extended.

Just to the north, San Mateo County is rolling back into the purple tier of coronavirus restrictions, effective tomorrow, putting in place a stay-at-home order between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. as well as a host of other restrictions almost identical to those already in Santa Clara. 


Thursday, November 19: Santa Clara County under curfew starting Saturday

Santa Clara County is under a limited curfew starting at 10 p.m. on Saturday, November 21, in an effort to combat the increased spread of coronavirus. 

The order, issued by the California Public Health Department, mandates that all “non-essential” work, movement and gatherings cease between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in counties currently sitting in the purple tier.

The order, however, specifies that any number of persons from the same household are allowed to leave their residence during the restricted hours so long as “they do not engage in any interaction with” members of other households; presumably, that would make activities like walking, running or any other same-household outdoor activities acceptable. 

“Activities conducted during 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. are often non-essential and more likely related to social activities and gatherings that have a higher likelihood of leading to reduced …  likelihood to adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures,” the order, signed by the Acting State Public Health Officer Erica Pan reads. 

It is currently unclear how — if at all — law enforcement would compel residents to follow the order. In March, when the State originally went under a lockdown, officials specified that police departments would not enforce the shelter-in-place, and rather, would rely on “social pressure.” 

The curfew is set to end at 5 a.m on Monday, December 21.


Monday, November 16: CIF competition postponed until further notice: December return may be in jeopardy

All California Interscholastic Federation sports competition is postponed until further notice, following Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement of tighter coronavirus restrictions today. 

For now, high school sports practices in Santa Clara County will look largely the same as they have since August, with small cohorts allowed to train under a range of safety restrictions. However, all competition, as well as more relaxed guidelines — such as allowing more contact in sports like football — may be kicked down the road.

Season one sports were originally slated to return to official practice and competition early next month, but that return is in jeopardy following today’s announcement. 

“Competitions are not allowed until new guidance is provided,” CIF said in a statement today.

Along with other restrictions to businesses and schools, Newsom disclosed today that the State will not release further guidance for youth sports until coronavirus rates drop; he did not offer a timeline or a metric for that release.


Monday, November 16: Santa Clara County has moved back into the purple tier of coronavirus restrictions

Santa Clara County has moved back into the purple tier of coronavirus restrictions, indicating widespread transmission. Here’s what you need to know.

Schools that are currently open — such as elementary schools in LASD and PAUSD — will be allowed to continue in-person instruction. However, schools that have not yet begun an in-person return — such as PAUSD and MVLA high schools, as well as MVWSD schools — may not open until the county remains in the red tier for at least two weeks. Schools not yet open can apply for a waiver from the County Health Department to bring back grades TK–6.

Under the purple tier, restaurants will have to return to strictly takeout or outdoor dining models. Bars and breweries that do not serve meals will remain closed.

Other operations that will continue to be allowed to operate, some with modifications, include hair salons and barber shops, retail stores and malls, outdoor museums and zoos and essential businesses.


RV residents file lawsuit against Mountain View to block Measure C


RV residents, represented by legal advocacy groups, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the City of Mountain View in an attempt to overturn Measure C — the ban on oversized vehicles, including RVs, on narrow streets.

As 83% of the city’s streets qualify as narrow, many members of the public have regarded Measure C as a backhanded ban on Mountain View’s RV residents fueled by a “Not In My Backyard” mentality. 

The lawsuit alleges that the ordinance was designed “to banish the City’s low-income populations.”

“It’s about the Constitution and not allowing discrimination against people that can’t afford housing,” plaintiff and RV resident Janet Stevens said. “Not only in the city of Mountain View but everywhere.” 

The legal groups leading the effort are the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and Disability Rights Advocates. They filed a six-plaintiff class action complaint under the Civil Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and the U.S. and California Constitutions, among others. 

The city’s most recent statement released Wednesday said that the ordinance is focused on traffic safety and treats RVs no differently than other oversized vehicles.

This, however, makes it worse in Stevens’ mind. 

“They’re throwing out the baby with the bathwater,” Stevens said about the ordinance. “They’re just disguising what they want to do by their title of making it street safety. This is ‘Not In My Backyard’ gone crazy.”

Stevens, the ACLU and many more have actively opposed Measure C from when it was first drafted as a city ordinance in September 2019. Mountain View Housing Justice Coalition spearheaded a petition that struck down the ordinance and forced it onto the November 2020 ballot as Measure C, where voters passed the measure with 56.6% margin.

In December 2020, city council approved the measure’s implementation — the installation of about 2,600 street signs that cost $980,000. Wednesday’s statement said sign installation, along with enforcement of the measure, is set to begin later this month.

Mayor Ellen Kamei and Council Member Margaret Abe-Koga were both unable to comment, citing it as an active lawsuit.

Newsom declares drought emergency in Santa Clara County, asks residents to reduce water use by 15%


Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday urged Californians to cut water use by 15%, and further expanded the state’s emergency drought declaration to include Santa Clara County, along with eight others.

50 of the state’s 58 counties — home to 42% of the state’s population — now fall under the emergency declaration, which essentially allows state agencies to move more quickly and effectively to support drought response measures.

Newsom’s plea for residents to cut water use comes as part of a separate executive order, which the governor stressed is voluntary. 

“I’m not here as a nanny state,” Newsom said at a Thursday press conference. “We’re not trying to be oppressive — again, these are voluntary standards.”

The voluntary 15% reduction applies to residences as well as industrial and agricultural operations.

But while the state’s order may be voluntary, the Santa Clara Valley Water District early last month voted to impose a mandatory 15% reduction in water use compared to 2019 levels; the order leaves it up to local municipalities and private water companies to decide how they’ll impose the 15% cutback on customers.

“We can’t afford to wait to act as our water supplies are being threatened locally and across California,” said Valley Water Board Chair Tony Estremera after the vote to impose the restriction in June. “We are in an emergency and Valley Water must do everything we can to protect our groundwater resources and ensure we can provide safe, clean water to Santa Clara County residents and businesses.”

By voluntarily cutting water usage by 15% compared to 2020 levels, state officials estimate that residents could save enough water to supply more than 1.7 million households for a year.

Newsom urged residents to take “common sense” measures to reduce water usage, including cutting back on lawn irrigation, reducing time in the shower, checking for leaks on properties, installing efficient showerheads and only running full loads of laundry and dishes.

“By the way, [if] you do those things, you also save money,” Newsom said.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is offering residents up to $3,000 dollars in rebates to replace high-water using landscapes with drought-resilient ones.

Those measures have worked before: In part thanks to the same water conservation practices, per capita state residential water use during the 2013–2016 drought fell by 21%, and still, 2020 per capita residential water use was some 16% below 2013 levels.

State agencies will track California’s monthly progress toward the voluntary 15% reduction.

Locally, the state of the drought is dire.

The U.S. Drought Monitor labels Santa Clara County as being in “extreme drought,” the second-highest ranking on the six-tiered scale. 

Among other symptoms, regions experiencing extreme drought generally see intensified, year-round fire seasons; wildlife encroaching on developed areas in search of food and water; a hard-hit livestock industry; and extremely low reservoir levels.

The county’s largest surface reservoir has been drained and put out of commission for a decade to allow for the Anderson Dam project, which officials say is crucial to protecting against floods in the future.

Imported water supplies, which account for 55% of the county’s water, have also seen a “significant reduction” this year, spurred by the depleted Sierra Nevada snowpack.

“If the drought continues into next year, we could face the possibility there will not be enough water to meet basic demands without serious risk of subsidence in 2022,” Estremera said in a statement Thursday.

Subsidence occurs when large amounts of water are removed from ground, which causes it to sink because the soil was partially supported by the water.

“The proclamation by Gov. Newsom amplifies how important it is for all our communities to reduce their water use during this extreme drought,” Estremera said. “Many people reduced their water use significantly during the last drought. Valley Water thanks them for their conservation efforts and encourages everyone to keep up the good work.”

MVLA adopts LCAP, targets inequity over next three years


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The Mountain View–Los Altos Union High School District board approved its latest Local Control Accountability Plan, a goal setting and budgeting document for school districts on June 21.

The LCAP lays out broad goals for the next three years which include ensuring equitable access to high-quality education, increasing community engagement and offering wellness and mental health support.

All local educational agencies in California — which include public schools, county offices of education and charter schools — are required to adopt an LCAP on a three year cycle.

The LCAP is part of a state education funding model known as the Local Control Funding Formula, which essentially ensures that schools receiving state funds budget the money in a way that aligns with state and community priorities; a large part of adopting each LCAP includes revising after meeting with various stakeholder groups across the district.

Each LCAP allocates a portion of the education agency’s budget to specific actions expected to help achieve those goals.

An LCAP must also offer target metrics that can track progress in reaching those goals, which in theory holds educational agencies accountable to goals they set and the funds they use to get there.

A key goal outlined by the district’s LCAP continues to be to ensure “academic excellence for all,” by offering equitable, high-quality education. 

The district’s 2017 LCAP identified many of the same problems acknowledged in the 2021 document, specifically lagging GPAs, low math grades and failure to meet A–G requirements in the Latino, students with disabilities, English learner and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.

Key remedies to those inequities include continuing to offer credit recovery and summer school options as well as intervention services, which target students at risk of not graduating with additional academic support within or even after the school day — that can be done within a student’s assigned classroom or in a separate room specifically for support instruction.

Offering internet access, Chromebooks, exam fee support, academic counseling, mental health services and “culturally relevant education” are also stated actions.

“Many of our classes have a Euro-centered view of the world when half of our students do not see themselves reflected in the point of view,” the LCAP reads. “Teachers will increase the amount of culturally diverse texts, lessons, and materials they use in the curriculum. This is partially supportive for our [English learners and foster youth] because they historically are our students of color.”

One part of that could include the district’s planned ethnic studies course, which is set to make its debut in 2022.

The LCAP offers a number of metrics for determining success in ensuring academic excellence, some of which include higher scores on state assessments; an increase in the percentage of students completing A–G requirements; higher GPAs in Algebra I; and a higher percentage of student body enrollment in Advanced Placement courses.

Specific metrics can be found starting on page 11 of the LCAP.

A separate goal titled “life long learners” — which details supports for teachers — goes hand in hand with the goal of “academic excellence for all.”

Of a number of actions, the LCAP lists a “teacher induction program,” in which new teachers are paired with a mentor from the instructional support team, specifically to help teachers focus on supporting at-risk students.

The district also plans to continue offering professional development opportunities, including “anti-bias/anti-racism” training.

Increasing stakeholder communication and engagement is another goal, similarly created with equity in mind. The district hopes that by increasing community engagement — specifically with parents of at-risk students — chronic absenteeism, dropouts and suspensions will decrease, while graduation rates increase.

Another part of that includes working closely with the Mountain View Whisman and Los Altos school districts to align common practices, which in theory ensures that rising ninth graders transition into high school as smoothly as possible.

The recently appointed community outreach specialist should play a large role in that.

The only goal on the LCAP not explicitly tied to equity relates to safety and wellness, specifically mental health support.

“Effectively using data to identify specific student needs and connecting them to the appropriate resources/services is necessary to ensure their access to standards-aligned instruction and support them in becoming college and career-ready,” the LCAP reads.

A key part of that is the newly created intake coordinator position, which will be responsible for assessing and directing mental health referrals to the correct support — whether that be therapists, administrators or school counselors. 

The district had previously contracted with the Community Health Awareness Council to offer an intake coordinator, but Wellness Coordinator William Blair said in an email that the district decided to transition to doing so internally. 

A sizable portion of the funds — some $1.1 million — are also slated to go toward providing mental health services to students through counselors and therapists.

“To strengthen this work in mental health, we will better define our roles, practices, protocols and services within our clinical team,” the LCAP reads.

PAUSD approves 2021–2024 Local Control Accountability Plan, reorganizes Department of Equity and Student Affairs


The Palo Alto Unified School District approved its 2021–2024 Local Control Accountability Plan, a goal setting and planning tool required for educational agencies in California at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Key highlights of this three-year LCAP include goals for early literacy, equity, additional social-emotional development support, wellness and home-school connection. Specific steps in order to achieve these goals are also outlined, which include training elementary teachers in teaching phonics, expanded summer school programs and providing devices and hotspots to families. 

The plans were initially introduced and given a public hearing at a June 8 board meeting along with district staff’s annual LCAP update for 2019–2020.

Along with the LCAP, Assistant Superintendent Yolanda Conaway announced structural reorganization of the Department of Equity and Student Affairs, which focuses on the experiences of historically underrepresented students in the district.

The department was established by Superintendent Don Austin in 2019, and now plans to reorganize in order to avoid “duplicative efforts around student support.”
“This allows us to look at student services through the lens of equity,” Conaway said. “And it also allows us to really be creative and innovative about some of those initiatives that will be coming out of the department. So in the future, you will be hearing lots about mental health, a lot about attendance.”

Economy sees full reopening — but some businesses see little practical change


The State of California this week underwent its full economic reopening, lifting major COVID-19 restrictions that have long been the norm for the past year.

But despite the changes on paper, many in Downtown Mountain View haven’t noticed any immediate change.

“To be honest, it looks the same as it normally is,” Ben, a Crepevine employee said.

He cited outdoor seating on Castro St. as a factor in keeping restaurants like Crepevine busy throughout the pandemic, allowing for the hustle and bustle of pedestrians and diners on the street since last summer. The restaurant noticed little-to-no impact in the days following the state reopening, because the flow of customers was essentially the same.

And while the state has rolled back restrictions, private businesses are still free to mandate masking and social distancing, which some businesses like Books Inc. have opted for by continuing to require masks upon entrance. The bookstore did remove sneeze guards from the countertops of the registers, and an employee predicted that mask usage will become more open-ended in the future.

Jericho, who works at Gelato Classico, noted the same effect of outdoor seating as observed at Crepevine. Customers at the gelato shop — which was hit heavily in the early pandemic — had “gradually increased because [of] outdoor dining” until the store bounced back. 

Like Crepevine, Gelato Classico’s minimal adjustment in response to the state reopening included updating employees on mask policy which now stipulates that while employees must continue to wear them, they no longer have to enforce a mask usage on customers.

But that hasn’t changed much.

“I haven’t seen a lot of people who are going inside without a mask … so I don’t see any changes,” Jericho said.

Hope’s Corner hosts virtual 5K, ‘Five by Five by Five for Hope’


Hope’s Corner is hosting its annual 5K event virtually this month, unshaken in its battle against homelessness and economic inequality despite the pandemic’s restrictions. 

The fundraiser centers around a theme of fives: Alongside the 5K itself, participants are asked to donate $5 and recruit five other people to join, hence the name “Five by Five by Five for Hope.”

The event aims at fundraising for the Mountain View–based nonprofit’s key initiatives, which include providing meals, showers and other basic necessities to the community’s homeless and low-income populations — demographics that have grown since the pandemic began. 

Participants are able to complete the 5K through any mode of exercise, including running, skateboarding and even kayaking, later reporting their participation on the Five by Five by Five website. Creativity is certainly encouraged: In last year’s event, one set of participants ran a trail spelling hope, while another rollerbladed backward.

“It’s just a fun kind of thing, and the idea is to recruit other people to do it with you so it becomes kind of a group effort and hopefully takes off and expands from there,” Hope’s Corner Board Member Mike Hacker said.

Last year’s 5K was also virtual, but turnout was less than the group had hoped at around 100 participants, Hacker said. The organizers hope that the extra year of experience and more participation in the event will help them surpass the $10,000–$12,000 that they raised last year, he added.

Run almost entirely by volunteers, Hope’s Corner is able to funnel the vast majority of funds directly into its core programs.

“Virtually all the money goes towards food items, supplies, bicycles, other items like clothing and the like,” said Phil Marcoux, a member of the Hope’s Corner board and a participant in previous events.

But money isn’t the only motivator behind the event. The Five by Five by Five is also part of Hope’s Corner’s effort to build a sense of community for those who have lost their homes. Hacker said the organization hopes to bring together all parts of the community through encouraging an appearance from the Mountain View mayor at last year’s event and having new collaborations with fire and police departments, as well as myriad local businesses.

Before the move online, Hope’s Corner’s 5K began as the Tour de Hope, named after the famed Tour de France. Participants met at the YMCA and competed on stationary bikes, and the event saw high levels of participation.

Following reduced risks of transmitting COVID-19 and laxened restrictions, Hope’s Corner has gradually begun reopening some of the programs it was forced to put on pause, including its showers. But while things have yet to completely return to normalcy, Hope’s Corner is continuing to use events like the 5K to bring awareness and resources to its cause.

“Just the fact that they are doing something healthy is great,” Marcoux said of participants. “And the fact that they’re doing something good for local people in our society, I think, just adds to the rewards. And the excitement as well, you know, it gives them an extra boost of endorphins in what they’re doing.”

Entries for the 5K close on July 5. Register before then at The 5K website.

Tuesday, June 22: This article was updated to more accurately reflect the details of the 5K.

Local activist group Justice Vanguard to host Juneteenth celebration in Los Altos


Local activist group Justice Vanguard is set to host a Juneteenth celebration at Lincoln Park in Los Altos from 1–5 p.m. on June 19, with the goal of raising $10,000 to fund the group’s initiatives. 

Juneteenth celebrates the day that the last slaves in the United States were liberated in Galveston, Texas in 1865 over two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Since 1866, communities have celebrated the day through food and art, and municipalities — including Santa Clara County — across America are increasingly recognizing the day as an official holiday. 

This event is the second annual Juneteenth celebration Justice Vanguard has hosted, with the goal of education through conversation being at the front of mind for the organizers.

“We are stoked,” Justice Vanguard founder Kenan Moos said. “The goal of Justice Vanguard has always been education through conversation. We want to learn, and we want to have fun.”

The celebration will host a variety of local Black businesses, including food trucks, an African jeweler, a pastry shop and a cocktail bar, among others. There will also be opportunities to hear slam poetry and speeches about Juneteenth, and to visit Justice Vanguard’s education booth to learn more about the history of the holiday.

Events such as the upcoming Juneteenth celebration are a part of Justice Vanguard’s push to involve the community and raise awareness in local initiatives. Moos pointed to the push for ethnic studies curriculum and the discussion of replacing the school resource officer on Los Altos High School’s campus as examples of issues that require community support.

“The point of this is really to explain what this holiday is, and give a little bit of history,” Moos said. “Let’s have [the community] celebrate and uplift Black people and Black culture, but also be excited to do it. We are not here to be depressed, but to celebrate freedom.”

At the event, Justice Vanguard will hold auctions and collect donations to fund their operational costs, as well as the further the group’s efforts to implement ethnic studies curriculum and the creation of a “Blackalaureate” scholarship fund to help local Black students pay for college expenses.

“Come out and join us,” Moos said. “This is not just for Los Altos, it is for whoever wants to come, from whatever city, whatever community, whatever group, whatever race, ethnicity, come and join us.”