Emergency PUSD School Board Meeting Occurred Friday, March 13

Casey Chang, Photo Editor

On March 13, 2020, the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak prompted an emergency PUSD school board meeting, which discussed the options for potentially enacting a district-wide school dismissal and moving towards an online learning platform for all students and staff.

The PUSD board presented two options for a school-dismissal. The two options differed only in the time-frame of the school dismissal, but both agreed on complete online learning to allow both teachers and students to work from home.

After a vote, the board determined that they would implement Option One, which called for school to continue on Monday, March 16, but then be dismissed and move to online learning until the return from Spring Break on April 14. Sunday morning, however, Superintendent, Dr. Haglund, sent out a district-wide email informing students and parents that school on Monday would be canceled as well.

The board’s decision came after a lengthy forum open to students and parents alike to share their opinions on the school-dismissal. While some felt that this harsh of a decision would be “overreacting”, others thought the district hadn’t been quick enough to this decision and must implement the dismissal immediately.

“I would like graduation to not be disrupted. I believe that in this critical situation option one is better. Since this is now a pandemic, we would all rather look back saying we overreacted rather than regretting not taking immediate actions,” said Bryan Green (‘20), one of the speakers at the emergency board meeting.

Students seemed in agreement that they would be much safer from fear of infection at home rather than at school.

“Schools are a hotbed of germs and waiting until one case is confirmed can cause exposure for a multitude of students. The lack of hygiene in many students is appalling and many do not wash their hands even after using the bathroom,” said the Pleasanton Middle School representative.

In the week of March 16-20, teachers will be working on moving their classes online. The district seems very confident in teachers’ ability to shift to an entirely virtual classroom.

“We need to think of the work that has been done in the past several years. Staff [members] are trained to use digital learning plans. Teachers believe this is doable,” said Janelle Woodward, PUSD Assistant Superintendent.

The district is also providing a device checkout and flexible learning on platforms such as Google Classroom. 

“Distribution of Chromebooks for students without technology and 30-50 [WiFi] hotspots are ready to be given,” said Woodward.

Spring break shall continue to occur on April 6th to the 10th, but there has been no confirmed end-date to this dismissal. 

The board clarified the difference between “dismissal” and “closure” in determining the extent of a school shut-down. Dismissal refers to students not attending school, but continuing learning in alternative forms. While closure would be the next step when all educational opportunities are suspended. This would only occur if this becomes a level 4 threat. For example, if any staff member is confirmed positive. 

“We not only expect students to learn from home, but to make sure you’re not closer to getting sick. This is not a gift, it’s a desire to protect students. We ask families that they please do not go on an adventure because you could expose others,” said Steve Maher, Board President

The board stressed the fact that the PUSD school dismissal was implemented to help ensure the safety of all students, staff, and Pleasanton community members, and that it should not be considered a “vacation.” During the school dismissal, students should continue to focus on their learning just as they did in the physical classroom.