Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Editorial: Returning to campus: Successes, shortcomings of reopening


Following a shift in Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 risk level from the purple to red tier on March 3, Palo Alto High School students and teachers began to return to campus on March 9. The county has since moved to the orange tier on March 24 and Paly is now an open campus.

The vast improvements in the current hybrid schedule compared to last fall’s reopening plan must extend to better communication and inclusion of teacher’s voices in future district decisions.

However, we recognize the difficulty in reimagining a long-standing learning model and thank the Paly staff for their contributions during the pandemic, and suggest that Paly continues to increase opportunities for on-campus student activities.

Staff behind the scenes

Verde is grateful for the staff at the forefront of in-person learning — including admin and teachers — as well as those behind the scenes whose diligent work made our return safe and possible.  

Story continues below advertisement

We’d like to shine a light on the exceptional food service workers within the Paly staff and outside volunteers who have worked tirelessly to deliver meals directly to student homes, classrooms and the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park since schools closed last March.

Additionally, with the reopening of in-person school, the workers are providing free lunches on campus to any student in need.

“It’s really heartwarming to be able to see students back having fun and enjoying this beautiful campus and being able to have a community again.”

Greer Stone, history teacher and student activities director

Food Services has served 66,745 breakfasts and 232,175 lunches during the pandemic, according to district Food Service Consultant Alva Spence.

Verde would also like to thank the hardworking custodians across all PAUSD schools who have been instrumental in students’ and teachers’ safe return. From disinfecting classrooms at the end of the school day to meticulously arranging desks and shields to be spaced six feet apart, custodians have been the backbone of on-campus activities. 

Finally, we are immensely grateful to the Paly nurse and Wellness Center personnel who ensure that the Paly population is as low-risk as possible for COVID-19 spread.

Building connections

The district’s current plan for students to participate in on-campus learning has been mostly smooth and successful in beginning to revive Paly’s school culture.

“It’s really heartwarming to be able to see students back having fun and enjoying this beautiful campus and being able to have a community again,” history teacher and Student Activities Director Greer Stone said. “That’s been something that’s really been missing and it feels like we’re starting to get that back.” 

Though students now have opportunities for further interaction with teachers and activities such as science labs, classes remain fairly similar to at-home learning and remain on Zoom for the majority of the day.

“It’s still really in this weird stage right now, where we’re talking to the teacher through Zoom, even though they’re right there,” junior Benjamin Antonow said.

We commend teachers for continuing to foster a positive learning environment for students and hope that safely expanding opportunities for in-person learning remains a top priority in the district as COVID-19 cases decline.

Increased communication

Last fall, the PAUSD Board of Education’s approval of a hybrid learning plan to bring students back into physical classrooms was met with bitter debate.

“I do know that there was pretty heavy teacher objection to the board’s plan, and those objections didn’t appear to be considered in the decision,” Stone said.

The current plan in the spring semester resolved some of Verde’s previous concerns of safety and flexibility and garnered greater support in the community by addressing opposing opinions. We appreciate the ability for students to choose to attend school in person or stay home on a daily basis, but criticisms remain.

“I would have liked to have seen a plan that as far as the timing of its implementation, to be more flexible with the timeline of vaccines,” Stone said.

Given that teachers are most directly affected by the board’s decision to reopen schools, as they come into contact with several different groups of students throughout the day, the district must prioritize teacher opinions and concerns for their safety to a greater degree in future board decisions.