Superintendent’s Update

November 19th, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

The table and Frequently Asked Questions sections (below) are cut directly from a presentation from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department presentation to all superintendents on Tuesday.  I have not changed a single word from the presentation information.



What does it mean for a school to be “open” under the school reopening framework?

  • The school reopening framework set the rules for when “Schools and school districts may reopen for in-person instruction.”
  • The term “open” or “reopen,” as used in the framework, refers to operations that are permitted only if the county satisfies the eligibility requirements for schools to “open” or “reopen” (i.e., red tier for 14+ days).
  • This is in contrast to activities permitted under the Cohorting Guidance even for schools that are not permitted to reopen under the July 17 school reopening framework. Schools that were operating only in the manner permitted under the Cohorting Guidance are therefore not “open” under the July 17 framework.
  • For example, a school serving 10 students for in-person instruction under the cohorting guidance is not “open” for in-person instruction, since such operations are permitted regardless of the school reopening framework.

When will school sites that have not reopened be eligible to reopen for in-person instruction?

  • Under the State’s K-12 Reopening Framework and the State’s Blueprint, a county must be in the Red Tier (equivalent of being off the County Monitoring List) for 14 days for schools in that county to be eligible to reopen for in-person instruction.

If my county is in purple tier, what can my school do to serve students in person?

  • Small Cohorts: Under State’s small cohort guidance, schools can offer “limited instruction, targeted support services, and facilitation of distance learning in small group environments for a specified subset of children and youth.”
  • Waiver: Schools may apply for a waiver from the Local Health Officer to open for in-person instruction to students in grades K-6.


As previously stated and confirmed in the information from the Public Health Department (above), our elementary schools have already opened and will remain in operation.  Our local cases are very low and schools are functioning at a high level with established routines.  Parents will hear from their elementary school sites soon to discuss the transfer window for families interested in returning to hybrid or moving to distance learning in January.  Details about the process will come from our site principals.

We have asked our elementary principals to assess the need for additional PAUSD+ spots for students.  We will have additional staffing in place within the next few weeks on sites or clusters.  Expect more information from our site principals.

High School
The move to the Purple Tier was unexpected by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and the Santa Clara County Office of Education.  We have 30 days from today before our Winter Recess.  Before schools can open, they need to be in the Red Tier for 14 consecutive days.  Our Thanksgiving Break is only a few days away.  This is all to say, despite our local low transmission rates, it is highly unlikely we can navigate a return for our high school students by January 7.  Due to the enormous hurdle of scheduling that existed prior to our move to the Purple Tier, I want to foreshadow the reality that we may be headed for a second semester in distance learning.

Our principals are meeting this week to review the data from our instructional model (hybrid/distance learning) process.  We will look at ways to increase on-campus access for those who had hoped to return to hybrid.  We are requesting a little space to evaluate our current conditions, work with our associations, and regroup.  More information will follow our Thanksgiving Break.

Middle School
Like our high schools, middle schools were also not open prior to our move to the Purple Tier.  As a result, our middle schools are also currently prohibited from opening. Middle school scheduling of students is also complicated.  We may have an opportunity to explore options to return some portion of middle school students at a later date during second semester.  Again, problem-solving is in motion. 

We have an eye to the future and believe we have an opportunity to reimagine summer school and the fall.  We have time to prepare and gather input.  We have started conversations with our associations about how to reach out beyond the traditional negotiations process.  We will do the same with our families.