Superintendant’s Update

November 16, 2020

To All Families,

Governor Newsom has designated Santa Clara County to the Purple Tier due to an increase in cases.  We were previously told to expect a move to the Red Tier tomorrow, November 17.  Instead, our county moved two levels without notice.

With limited time, I wanted to share the best information available.  PAUSD has followed the Public Health Department guidelines since March and will continue in the future.  I have been in communication with our PAEA president and our principals prior to writing the letter. 

Our elementary schools were open to 2,100 students prior to the county shift to the Purple Tier.  As previously shared, the rise in cases are predominantly due to areas of the county far from Palo Alto.  We will follow California’s localized solution to measure the spread of illness in our schools and determine when a school or District closure is required.  Our elementary schools have demonstrated an ability to follow rules, maintain distancing, and operate within cohorts.  They will remain open at this point in time, per the Public Health Department guidelines.

Our secondary school families are selecting between the hybrid and distance learning programs this week.  Our secondary schools are not considered open to the same degree as our elementary schools.  Special Education and PAUSD+ may remain open.  We would like families to continue the selection process in the event we return to the Red or Orange level before the second semester.  If we remain in the Purple Tier, secondary schools will remain in the status quo (distance learning only). 

I understand there will be many questions.  I will be in contact with the agencies who guide us and will provide updates throughout the week.


Don Austin
Superintendent of Schools



excerpt from 10/23 Friday Memo by Dr. Don Austin, PAUSD Superintendent

  • Oct 19 –Planning day with all secondary principals
                  Preliminary survey sent to all secondary students and families
  • Oct 21 – PTAC meeting
  • Oct 22 – Visitation of secondary schools already open for in-person instruction
  • Oct 26 – Superintendent with secondary school PTA Presidents
  • Oct 27 – Secondary teachers survey
  • Oct 29 – Second survey to students and families
  • Nov 2 – Secondary principals planning meeting
  • Nov 10 – Regular Board of Education meeting
  • Nov 11 – Secondary instructional model window opens for families
  • Dec 14 – Students receive schedules
  • January – Students begin return to school prioritizing grades 6 and 12

The calendar does not reflect site communication and outreach efforts. The timeline also does not reflect meetings and work done internally with Instructional Leads and individual teachers. Informational webinars with site staff will occur prior to November 11. 


excerpt from 10/23 Friday Memo by Dr. Don Austin, PAUSD Superintendent

We appreciate the 5,493 responses to our recent survey, including 1,748 from our students.  Roughly 2/3 of respondents are interested in some form of live streaming, although we did receive requests for more information and clarification of terms. About half of our respondents indicated they need more information. When pressed for a non-binding response, roughly 60% indicated a desire to return to some form of in-person instruction. The complete survey and results can be found HERE. Use the tabs at the top to navigate.