The Palo Alto community is on edge this afternoon after the district sent home a Palo Alto High School student and a Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School student today as a result of their parent’s potential exposure to COVID-19, which has been referred to as the novel coronavirus, according to an email sent by the district office around 3:30 p.m. this afternoon to district families.


Read the email here:

Dear Parents:

Earlier today District officials received a report that a parent of two PAUSD students may have been exposed to COVID-19. As a precautionary measure, the district immediately took action and the two students were sent home and will be excluded from attending school until we receive more information. One child is a Paly student and the other attends JLS.

It is probable that additional reports will be received by the County Health Department and other entities during this time. PAUSD has formed a core team designated to assess and provide information on updates as received.

As mentioned yesterday, we are continuing to follow the guidance of the California Department of Public Health and the CDC.

We recognize that the unknown can be concerning and will continue to provide regular updates as we have them.

Sincerely,

Don Austin, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools


Palo Alto Unified School District officials were meeting in a closed-doors meeting late this afternoon at the district office, and were therefore unavailable for comment.

Also this afternoon, the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department held a press conference regarding the county’s third case of the virus at 4 p.m., shortly after the PAUSD email was sent.

“Today we’re reporting a new case of novel coronavirus in Santa Clara County,” Director of Public Health and County Health Officer Sara Cody said at the conference. “This is the third case to be identified in our county but it is different from our other two cases in an important way. Like the California case reported two days ago, our third case did not recently travel overseas or have any known contact with a recent traveler or infected person. The individual is an adult woman with chronic health conditions who was hospitalized for difficulty breathing … We’ve been working to identify the woman’s contacts and to understand who she might have exposed while contagious.”

Cody said that schools should plan for absenteeism, explore options for learning at home and enhance cleaning of surfaces. According to Cody, members of the California Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working with the county to control the spread of the virus.

Paly junior Gaurav Tyagi said he is concerned about how the school would be able to contain the virus if the students involved were indeed exposed.

“I would wonder ‘Do they have a safety measure in place for this kind of thing? Or have they thought about this at all? Or is this something they’re completely unprepared for?’” Tyagi said.

Junior Hallie Faust said the PAUSD case may serve as a wake up call to the community.

“People really weren’t taking it that seriously, and now it’s interesting to see people start to realize like wait, this might actually really affect us,” Faust said.


Additional reporting by Andie Tetzlaff

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