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Road to reopening Pleasanton schools remains unclear

Original post made on May 24, 2020

What the upcoming school year will look like was the lingering question at an online meeting of the Pleasanton school board on Thursday that stretched until the stroke of midnight.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, May 23, 2020, 12:05 PM

Comments (32)

17 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Parkside
on May 24, 2020 at 9:07 am

All I know distance / online learning was a crock this qtr. I'll give them a pass for short notice but if things are not improved come August.... the kids are not getting educated well.


18 people like this
Posted by Happy camper
a resident of Highland Oaks
on May 24, 2020 at 11:35 am

I have been impressed with the online learning for our Foothill student. Bravo to the teachers who really rose to the occasion.


14 people like this
Posted by D
a resident of Foothill High School
on May 25, 2020 at 10:11 am

"only children living in the local geographic area would be allowed to attend"

Since when are children who live outside the district allowed to attend?


12 people like this
Posted by b
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 25, 2020 at 10:44 am

In November, an outbreak of gastritis/norovirus spread through our Pleasanton schools like wildfire. One school had about 40% of the students out sick at once and they had to bring in a professional crew to sanitize the school. Also think about the way colds spread amongst the students. If COVID takes hold, it will be a disaster for our community.

Thank you to the district for proceeding thoughtfully and being prepared to swiftly adjust course as needed.


12 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 25, 2020 at 10:50 am

D, I’m not sure what they meant. Students from outside the district are at least three groups, those served by a SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area), those who are allowed to transfer in from another district when space is available, and those who can transfer in on, I believe, the Allen Bill which allows children of parents who work in Pleasanton to attend on a space available basis. It is further complicated by the fact that the county determined once you accept a transfer in, you must allow them to stay in that school through the term (K-5, 6-8, 9-12). Districts are willing to do this because about 70% of a student’s funding follows them to PUSD.

I have suggested long before now that accepting students into the latter two groups should be put on a moratorium because there is no space in most schools. Another problem is, and this happens often, you move to Pleasanton and across the street from Walnut Grove. You have first, third, and fifth grade students. Maybe there is room at fifth, so your child walks across the street and goes to school. There are students from outside Pleasanton holding seats in both first and third grades and there is no room for your other two children at WG. There is space for your first grader at Alisal, but not your third grader. Your third grader is moved to Vintage Hills, but there is no space for the first grader. And neither can come back to WG because those seats are taken again each year as your child moves through elementary school. I haven’t checked on this in some time, but when I did, over 200 children were being moved out of their neighborhood schools.

By the way, how do you bounce currents students out of the district if they are from some other community? Seems harsh. Catch 22.


11 people like this
Posted by Wasted Opportunity
a resident of Old Towne
on May 25, 2020 at 10:51 am

This past quarter, was wasted opportunity for PUSD. Families and student are getting RIPPED OFF, by teachers mentally unprepared to leverage teaching curriculum that is available, ON-LINE, and FREE... it's really simple... Khan Academy.

The amount of time my child spent on actual curriculum learning for a school day was about 2 to 3 hours per day, MAXIMUM. That means most of school day is over priced child care. I hear the teachers complaining, work is stressful, work is difficult, WAKE UP... you have paid time off... and wasting your time too. It's time to take your entitlement of a "job" in perspective. Over-priced child care. Yeah, let's admit this and move forward with MOSTLY online for high achieving students, who don't need a baby-sitter.

An inspirational teacher is gold, but, let's get real... there aren't that many inspirational teacher for every student.

In this shelter in place learning time, my child has taken the challenge and is learning another language, taking on the next level of Math, above and beyond the curriculum.

PUSD, WAKE UP!! Cut backs are due now.... the student-to-teacher ratio is not same issue for the ONLINE shift. Embrace and extend the ONLINE capability.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 25, 2020 at 10:58 am

I should clarify, the 200 students being moved around are not because we have 200 out of town students.

b, I am concerned with budget cuts that we will not have people in place to keep schools clean. If the cuts are severe, there may not be money for professional crews to be hired. I do appreciate that this is being looked at thoroughly for fall.


4 people like this
Posted by b
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 25, 2020 at 11:13 am

Kathleen, I wasn’t making a point about professional cleaning. I was making a point about the way viruses spread in Pleasanton schools. Those kids are packed into those schools and there’s no way to distance them. Any and every virus spreads like wildfire, such as what happened in November. If school resumes as normal, and a few kids show up with COVID, we’re screwed.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 25, 2020 at 11:42 am

Truly!


8 people like this
Posted by Very Concerned Amador freshman parent
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 25, 2020 at 1:06 pm

First to preface my comment. I find many people who provide comments On PWeekly can be very mean and I find them to be upsetting to me even when the comments are not directed towards me. It distresses me a lot. I welcome dialogue that is helpful. Please know I am only trying to help and provide some insight. I watched the board meeting myself and submitted a comment to the topic..I just want to try and effect positive change for my daughter and all the other kids who are going through nothing we ever have.

I’m a Mom trying to look out for her daughter as the best I can and, yes, I don’t have all the right answers. But my comments are coming from my heart to try and help her and others and be a part of the solution in any positive way I can. Join me if you’d like, but just be kind.

Plus I am going thru some very hard times right now myself and I know I can’t take any personal attacks right now because of my own mental health and other things..

Now to my Comment:
I have to say I give our district a fail on the remote learning. My daughter did not learn anything but she wanted to. When she asked some teachers questions, she became more confused. Other students had established group chats together to attempt to help each other and the same thing was repeated by them all. Assignments were given out without any teaching for the most part. I was shocked as that was not what I was expecting.

In addition, my daughter is on a 504 plan for stress and anxiety, and I would have thought her counselor would have reached out to her to see how she was doing under this stressful and anxiety inducing schooling situation. Nothing. I have been too sick to do anything about it unfortunately.

Results of the remote learning on my daughter who is an excellent outgoing social student:
1. She tried the way it was being done and became very frustrated by it. Ultimately, gave up on many assignments not for lack of trying.

2. She has developed depression and stays in her room most of the time, which we are monitoring. This is a combination of not being able to be with her friends and teachers, but also with the frustration with the remote learning. In her own words, ‘Remote Learning does not work for me.’

3. There MUST be clear policies and ‘monitoring’ that the teachers are following of these policies. If they deviate, this causes extreme stress on already confused and stressed out kids. This happened with one of my daughters teachers with regards to how she was going to be going to be graded for Q4.

4. Do not assume that students are trying to skirt the system, or cheat or whatever just because it is remote. Our students are some of the smartest, most diligent and most overachieving students around. If anything, they need to be cut some slack and recognized that they are trying their best in a very trying time. As they do in the school setting, in a remote setting, they want to do well. We just need to give them the tools and support to allow them to do this. They are good kids. Don’t assume they are going to do the worst. That insults them.

5. Recognize that these older high school kids are scared about what their future holds for them. Ask them what can help them. And err on the side of doing what they say. They are the ones most effected.

6. The slide with thought exchange input mostly should already be things that are being done. And the 3-4 top thing quotes as top priorities where all elementary school comments. Middle and High school students change classrooms every period, so their answers are more relevant than elementary school teacher responses. A virus is more likely to spread in a middle/high school environment. Those slides were a no op.

7. In any type of remote leaning scenario, you must include stress management into the program. Talk to the Zcaresfoudation about how they can help. And anyone with an IEP or 504 plan with depression, anxiety and/or stress in their plan must be given a priority to be revised. We need to show caring and to show we are listening to them more than ever. Their stress is through the roof.

8. And to acknowledge something someone said above in the comments, my daughter also said positive things about Khan Academy. Note we don’t send her on her own, so I guess it was through a teacher.

9. Finally on a social note, my daughter is very worried about the Homecoming dance being cancelled. So please bear this in mind that for the high school students, this social activity is a big deal for them. And they desperately need social activity. She also said last year’s ‘sucked’. Her words not mine.

I have much more I can say, but will end here. I will be attending the virtual Town Hall with my daughter hopefully.

Thank you for your time.

Very Concerned High School Parent


Like this comment
Posted by D
a resident of Foothill High School
on May 25, 2020 at 1:46 pm

Thank you Kathleen.

I have known several people who move to Pleasanton and have elementary-aged children attending 2 or 3 schools. That's not good for the families, the schools, or the environment. I never knew about the "space available" policy. It seems very unfair to Pleasanton students.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 25, 2020 at 1:54 pm

Very concerned, I have a suggestion and a comment. I think all board members are approachable to varying degrees and may be able to assist you in getting the help you need. Steve Maher has the broadest experience when it comes to our schools, having taught and been an administrator here. Valerie Arkin always responds. I would suggest you write to them individually. As to dances, social gatherings are certainly a key component of high school, but being a freshman is difficult even at a dance. It gets better and it helps to attend with friends, skipping the added pressures of dating. Best wishes for you and your daughter.


4 people like this
Posted by There's headroom to take more virus risk
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 25, 2020 at 9:47 pm

There's room to get some on-campus schooling going. The Alameda County COVID data online shows that infection rates have leveled off (even with increased testing), death rates are dropping, and Pleasanton is less infected than most of the County's population. In fact, with the current precautions we've driven COVID down to the point where it's less deadly than the usual flu season. Since we tolerate flu with barely a second thought each year, there's headroom to restore some level of education activity.

The Middle and High Schools could tolerate a college-style hybrid model, with students on campus 2-3 days/week (different days for different kids, so school on-site population is always low). With few students on-site, they can be in smaller classes, wearing face coverings, and spread-out within the rooms. Holding some classes outdoors (in good weather) would help too! Bell schedules could be staggered as well, (by grade or some other grouping) to avoid crowding as students go between classes. Then have the the kids stay home the rest of the time, so it's less crowded overall. With hybrid model, teachers would have 12-15 in the classroom instead of 30-35, so the in-class time would be more effective. And with some planning and more effective online tools, one teacher could potentially serve a larger pool of students, spread out among more class sections. That might even help to alleviate some of the budget issues.

One tricky part is that teachers are also parents, and coordinating everyone's diverse schedules will be challenging for a bureaucracy - a touch of free enterprise & flexibility could help a lot though! Maybe allow people to trade schedule slots to get to what works for them?


Like this comment
Posted by There's headroom to take more virus risk
a resident of Ruby Hill
on May 25, 2020 at 9:51 pm

P.S. In this system, teachers are potential asymptomatic spreaders between class groups. Protecting teachers is important to prevent spread between student groups too. One could consider some clear plastic shields similar to those now used at grocery stores, to reduce the risk. If the data show that the precautions being taken at grocery stores are sufficient, that's a good example of what schools could work towards in terms of population density and protecting those who stay in the store all day.


6 people like this
Posted by Naveed Khan
a resident of Stoneridge Park
on May 26, 2020 at 9:45 am

PUSD must do a better job starting Fall if remote learning is the way to go. I must say PUSD teachers dropped the ball, left many courses curriculum unfinished. They lacked the skills to impart instructions remotely, they lacked preparation, they lacked the will power to give challenging homework for effective learning. I give PUSD an "F". They should realize that not educating our children is a serious threat to our well being.


8 people like this
Posted by Lance M
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 26, 2020 at 10:24 am

@wasted opportunity

"school day was about 2 to 3 hours per day, MAXIMUM." - that was the requirement as established by the school district during this time, so don't blame teachers for that.

"That means most of school day is over priced child care." - really? Do you know how much child care is? Do you know that a childcare facility has to have a maximum of 14 to 1 student/teacher ratio? I don't think you want to start paying teachers at the rate of child care. Schools are the cheapest by far.


Like this comment
Posted by I'm Not Dave
a resident of Birdland
on May 26, 2020 at 10:33 am

I highly suggest that people with facts, information, experiences, suggestions, etc submit them to the school board and the school district. We like to assume that these decisions makers always have the best information but that is not always the case and more information is always better than less information.


6 people like this
Posted by BD
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2020 at 11:47 am

I am grateful our teachers pull it off. However, I think we can still make more improvements. There is too little teaching, too much homework. My daughter stays up late doing homework and then doesn’t wake up until after 10am. I hope teachers can host more Zoom lessons following typical class schedules. Having Zoom classes can also help kids cope with depression and anxiety during these difficult times. If distance learning can be improved, I don’t think re-opening schools is necessary. The situation hasn’t changed much: still no vaccines, no cure.

Regardless of PUSD re-opening decisions, I believe schools have to be better prepared in case distance learning is needed for longer time.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jake Waters
a resident of Birdland
on May 29, 2020 at 7:49 am

I have no dog in this fight anymore, my children and grandchildren are grown and have graduated from college, and on to their careers. I do have a family member at a Title 1 school, where I am informed on the problems presently and going forward. In California, we are rated at 39 out of 50 states for education. You can argue maybe 40, but it doesn’t change the significance of our teaching ability, the student body in general, and the foothold of politics involved in this process. I fear and predict that if it is decided to create a complete program of online teaching between K-12 than we will fall further below our present position of 39.

Bright students, and bright parents of students will always find a way to overcome and succeed. Average to below average students, students that struggle and their parents work, students in single parent homes, low income families, and ESL students will find it even more challenging and overwhelming under these programs. Many students and even many more teachers have difficulty just logging on, and now the pressure overnight to become technologically proficient is asking a lot. I fear they won’t check in, but check out.

Two good articles from the ‘American Thinker’ should give pause and thought to where it is all going:

Web Link. (Stick with this article, it makes the point. BTW, I have really reached a point I like Elon Musk. Smart guy.)

Web Link


13 people like this
Posted by Ptown
a resident of Birdland
on May 29, 2020 at 8:29 am

@wastedopportunity

What a strange assumption you make about your child’s learning experience, expecting for the rest of the district to fall in line with it. You are teaching ONE child, not 30 at a time. 30 kids at different stages, with different needs and abilities. Go try it. How insulting and more so, how ignorant of you. If your child as that intelligent, then I’m sure you are as well so why the profoundly ignorant accusations? If learning another language and the aptitude for doing exceedingly well in her current environment, then your best choice would be to keep her there and not send her back. Looks like you’ve found the key to education, now go forth and tell it to the masses. Have you read the book "Tales from Swankville?" It’s set in Pleasanton, written by a nom de plume. Read it and humble yourself.


9 people like this
Posted by It's Always A Challenge
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on May 29, 2020 at 9:25 am

It is funny to see comments praising the virtues of Khan Academy and like services now, but in the past when teachers would integrate "video learning" into the curriculum - the complaints came quickly... teachers are not teaching - just making kids watch videos!

I think Jake was explaining the reality of education. Irregardless of the "delivery" method, a certain percentage of kids will thrive, some will struggle and some fail. There is a reason why the "bell curve" has existed for so many years. It is the same at work.. there are high performers, middle of the road, and then the lower end.

The challenge of education has always been to move as much of the herd as you can to higher levels. Schools don't get to pick what children parents send, and parents send the best kids they have. Unlike work, you can't fire a kid for underperforming in school.

I would guess the percentages of student performance are very similar, probably with the same kids, of who succeeds and who struggles with "remote" learning vs. "in person" learning. It would be a great statistic to review.

If you are looking for positives.... suddenly teaching in a different way, may have resonated with some kids and moved them from the middle of the pack to the more successful student group, and now that have experienced new success that had not with "traditional" learning, for all sorts of reasons.

The hybrid method that PUSD is suggesting, and I think will most likely be what happens next year, will give students two very different learning experiences at the same time. It will be a great testing ground. Maybe it will be the "best of both worlds" in just the right amount... and we will see a huge movement of the herd to the high performing watering hole :)

We will find out soon enough.


5 people like this
Posted by Anonmom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 29, 2020 at 12:51 pm

On a positive note, I’d like to give a high five to Ms. Prasad at HPMS! She went over and above what was required and held Google Meet classes EVERY SCHOOL DAY without fail, provided feedback to her students via chat, and aassigned homework every day (though not to the same extent as before SIP, to the relief of my child haha).

Sadly, she was the only teacher who did this for both of my kids, but my point is that online classes can be done well!! Many reputable colleges do this already and grant degrees solely based on a virtual format.

I, however, support a hybrid model because my kids are craving human interaction, and it’s important for their emotional development.


10 people like this
Posted by No Name
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 31, 2020 at 9:30 am

@ Naveed What were you expecting? The same as being in a classroom? LOL. I think the teachers, and the PUSD did the best they could do on such a short notice. Bravo to the AVHS teachers!!! Don't be surprised if it continues in the fall. I hope it doesn't


4 people like this
Posted by hpicfail
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 1, 2020 at 7:42 am

+1 for Mrs. Prasad at HP.
She has shown what is possible with online learning. When SIP was announced, she went into high gear to modify curriculum, created study materials for the kids, did not miss a single day of school work.
She even spent extra time after class for kids who needed additional help.
Hats off to her.

Another one was Mr. McHone, surprisingly for PE. He asked the kids to workout at home, log it in a journal, reviewed it regularly, etc. He did what he could.

Rest off the teachers, IMO - even if they had the ability, lacked the will.


9 people like this
Posted by @hpicfail
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Jun 1, 2020 at 8:56 am

@hpicfail

Not sure you really know what you are talking about. After the first two weeks of "Remote Learning" - the message from the community to PUSD secondary schools was to dial it back, too much work, less interaction requirements... the kids are overwhelmed.

Additionally, all block teachers at HP held daily Zooms with their students at the same time as class.


2 people like this
Posted by hpicfail
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 1, 2020 at 11:10 am

@ ‘@hpicfail’
If all block teachers at HP held daily Zoom meetings with their respective classes, why not Math, Science, etc.?

Your comment about community feedback to PUSD: Checkout results of ThoughtExchange survey sent on behalf of Dr. Janelle Woodward on 4/13 here:
Web Link

These were some of the highly rated thoughts:
* It is important for the teacher to still be "teaching" even if it is "virtually" and for the students to feel like they are still in "class"
* Zoom time even if only once a week for 10 minutes for each class I think is important.
* I think that teachers need to engage with their students and not just post the assignments online and not communicate for the rest of the time.
* I would encourage teachers to tape and upload lectures for viewing. Otherwise kids who learn best through oral instruction miss out
* I like when teachers are having video chats and group meetings with students because they need that human interaction with their teachers still
* In low touch situations, clarity of communication and check-ins need to be more frequent and purposeful to keep everyone on track.
* If possible have more online class sessions on zoom or per-recorded lecture videos to make it more interesting.

This is a tough time fo everyone. Yes, we had to dial down things a bit but not drop it to 1/10. Was that the charter given to PUSD? If so, please share relevant info.

Why is it that many in the community are dealing with layoffs, pay cuts, struggling to retain their jobs but many PUSD teachers did the bare minimal, few hours worth of work a week, but got a pay raise?
Will PUSD cover lost ground, curriculum wise, next year gratis?


6 people like this
Posted by unhapphy
a resident of Happy Valley
on Jun 1, 2020 at 2:37 pm

To be honest, I think most teachers have checked out whed the SIP was in effect. They pretty much take advantage of the system and did the minimum. I know some went on family hikes or did other activities during school days/hours. Shameful as that's the time for teaching the students. They some how think their jobs are "entitled" and should not have to work as much. Wake up to the real world - many private sector employees work from home, but they still need to complete their work loads just like if they were in the office. So no excuses for teachers not to do the same. Very disappointed.


7 people like this
Posted by @@hpicfail
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Jun 1, 2020 at 2:45 pm

Things were never dialed down to 1/10.... hopefully that is your attempt at mathematical hyperbole... if not, then once again you just don't know what you are talking about, though that does not seem to inhibit you in anyway.

From the start, the PUSD Superintendent clearly stated that recreating a synchronous online learning environment in two weeks was not going to be possible and it is not what was going to happen (which sounds like what you wanted regardless of reality).

Additionally, there were serious concerns of equity, and having to take into consideration so many different and unique family situations.

Expecting kids to dedicate 6 hours per day in front of their computer following all their classes in a "business as usual" environment was not going to be possible for so many families that are struggling - and is just not fair to all, so that was not the expectation that was established and explained in many community meetings at the very beginning of this remote learning experiment.

It sounds like you missed those meetings :(


2 people like this
Posted by hpicfail
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 1, 2020 at 5:43 pm

@ '@@hpicfail'

Can you share facts and evidence instead of resorting to personal attacks?
You said that community asked PUSD to 'dial it back'. I just furnished proof that community, overwhelmingly, asked for regular Zoom sessions where teachers 'teach'.
Community's ask was ignored.

You yourself said block teachers at HP had daily Zoom sessions. Again, why couldn't rest of teachers?

If I have to take care of my kids, do my job and tutor the kids coz teachers are not doing it then why should the teachers get a raise let alone a paycheck.
I have seen teachers playing tennis during the school day, before parks were closed.

IMO, this is not teachers issue, it is PUSD administration or lack there of.

Can you share minutes showing community asking PUSD to be hands-off? Coz that's what happened -there are teachers who sent one email each week with online links. If teachers were in a meritocracy like the kids are, most of them would get an F.


5 people like this
Posted by PUSD teachers - step up!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2020 at 5:53 pm

There are summer camps all across the Bay Area that are figuring out how to create engaging and educational experiences for the summer for kids. And these are not credentialed teachers.

Every company in the Bay Area has employees learning how to conduct business, remote meetings etc through Zoom.

So why can’t PUSD teachers do more than Khan academy and quizzes? I am 100% certain my daughter’s Math 6/7 PMS teacher did 1% of her job and 99% kick back and relax. All she assigned was Khan academy and quizzes.

By the fall - teachers need to be on Zoom every day with their classes TEACHING!


2 people like this
Posted by Open
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2020 at 9:23 am

How many Alameda County kids died of Covid 19? None How many are anxious because of all the “ fear mongering” ? Open up the schools on time for all kids and do what is required for all of us......a mask and hand sanitizer in each classroom. It will cut down on flu too, seeing as flu actually kills children even with a vaccine.


4 people like this
Posted by Karl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 4, 2020 at 9:59 am

Fear mongering, no

Being realistic about the fact that schools may be shutdown again in the fall and kids will have the same unacceptable learning experience again, yes

Kids could become carriers without knowing it, why not be smart about how to reopen schools and smart about having real, effective distance learning ready and available if needed?

I don’t have kids in the schools, so I guess I could say who cares?

Unfortunately I do care.....


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