Danielle Ritter 0

Reopen Pleasanton schools NOW, following county guidelines

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We, as parents, teachers and residents of Pleasanton, CA, want the option to send children to in person school, as outlined with the phased plan approved by the PUSD School Board and communicated to the community on July 14, 2020. Alameda County as of October 1, 2020 has approved elementary schools to open and Pleasanton needs to move forward.

In light of the June survey in which ~80% of parents selected to send their children back to school (Hybrid being the only option) for the 2020-21 school year, we would like the PUSD to support and represent this number by giving us the option of sending our children back to school.

The board has had seven (7) months to prepare for a safe return to school. These protocols should have been put in place in advance of the county’s school re-opening approval and we demand every effort be made to swiftly execute the remaining requirements to return to school.

The school board needs to provide more frequent and transparent communication as to the requirement status and timeline for completion (eg, how many HVAC filters need to be purchased, have they been purchased, when are they being installed; what is the teacher’s union agreement; status of submitting reopening plan/request to the county, etc). Items that have not yet been completed need to be done immediately.

We support mask-wearing, social distance protocols, cohort schedules, and other precautions as outlined in the July 2020 approved return to school plan.

We support distance learning options for immunocompromised students and teachers. Students or teachers that do not want to return to school should be given the option for remote school. All teachers have an iPad that can easily stream zoom to students that for whatever reason feel they cannot be back in the classroom. Teachers that are compromised and cannot be in the classroom can be matched with students who also prefer not to be in the classroom.

We would like to see the district ensure experts in other fields of study relevant to administering a community based public education institution are consulted should the board on October 8th decide not to reopen schools immediately. The risks from Covid-19 are but one source of risk facing our community at this time.

Dr. Redfield, Director of the CDC, has publicly warned of the very significant public health consequences of continued school closures. According to Dr. Redfield, over 7 million children in the United States receive both their mental health services and nutritional services from the public-school system. Additionally, our country is seeing alarming increases in youth suicides and youth overdose deaths that can only logically be tied to prolonged closure of school and youth activity. While COVID itself may present less statistical risk to children than influenza, prolonged school closures are likely to result in death, mental health deterioration, and substantial educational gaps. The long-term consequences of prolonged school closures will not be known for some time, but we do know that right now some children are at risk due to the Alameda County decision to focus exclusively on COVID risks. We know that right now some children are suffering alone in abusive environments with no lifeline. We know that many children are being left behind educationally as their parents haven’t the financial resources for private schools or tutors. And as parents, we know that the mental health of our children is deteriorating every day they are prevented from accessing their schools and activities.

While we as parents, teachers and community members are completely aware of any inherent risks of Covid-19 on our children and staff, our children’s health—their mental and physical health as a whole being—is our top priority. We want there to be an option for staff and children to return to school based on a balance of the factors described in this petition, plus any other the district feels are relevant. The decision to go back to school, learn distantly or otherwise should be made by each individual family on a case by case basis. We urge the PUSD School Board to ensure future plans represent the majority of parents in PUSD, and does so IMMEDIALTEY following the release of county guidelines. Finally, we request that any further communication to the community include a cost benefit analysis that compares the risks of COVID to the risks from NOT returning to school.

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