With 90% of Palo Alto Unified School District staff vaccinated and new social distancing guidance, Palo Alto Educators Association President Teri Baldwin joins the district in supporting the five-day-a-week elementary school reopening on April 19.

In the recent months, elementary students who selected hybrid learning have been attending school two days a week. However, with the California Department of Public Health’s new three-foot social distancing requirement, elementary students may now attend school full time.

“At the request of PAEA and our site principals, we are reversing our staggered approach for the return, meaning when we started in October, we started the return with our younger students and we’re going to turn that around this time,” Superintendent Don Austin said at the March 23 PAUSD school board meeting.

One of the reasons PAUSD decided to postpone the full time elementary return is to allow for more teachers to receive their second COVID-19 vaccine dose.

“Good news, now we are trending at 90% of our staff that have either completed or have taken their first vaccination shot, which is a real big change in conditions and part of the reason we are waiting until April 19 to come back fully,” Austin said.

During public comment, Baldwin stated her support for the April reopening.

“We’re very glad that we won’t be bringing more students back until after the majority, if not all, of our educators and staff are vaccinated,” Baldwin said.

According to Austin, students who elected full distance learning in October will continue to learn at home for the remainder of the year.

During public comment, PAUSD parent Heidi Volkner voiced her gratitude for the full time return for Grades K-5, but requested that the same be done for secondary students.

“I do feel that there is the flexibility and perhaps the capacity for us to bring back more of these students,” Volkner said.

Austin plans to revisit more options for 7-12 grade students at a later date, and does not foresee any changes to the sixth grade student’s current four-day-a-week schedule.