Palo Alto Unified School District secondary school students will not return in person second semester unless Santa Clara County leaves the state’s coronavirus “purple tier,” while elementary schools will remain open for now, according to Superintendent Don Austin.

Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom and county officials announced the move of Santa Clara County into the most restrictive purple tier as COVID-19 cases in California doubled over the last 10 days, according to Newsom. The state currently has 1,029,235 confirmed coronavirus cases with a 4.6% test positivity rate, according to the Department of Public Health.

Austin addressed how the change will affect students in an email sent out to PAUSD staff and families this afternoon. 

“Our elementary schools have demonstrated an ability to follow rules, maintain distancing, and operate within cohorts,” Austin wrote in an email. “They will remain open at this point in time, per the Public Health Department guidelines.”

If Santa Clara County remains in the purple tier, secondary schools will not be allowed to reopen, and distance learning will continue, according to the email. However, Special Education and PAUSD+ may remain open. Austin explained that if the county returns to the red or orange tier, the district will move forward with the hybrid learning plan. 

The email did not contain specifics about whether second semester courses will be changed to allow for the possibility of reopening with the hybrid model, or at what point the district would make a final call on reopening.

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