News

Menlo Park City School District students will learn from home when school starts

Encinal Elementary School in the Menlo Park City School District will remain empty when classes start later this month. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

All elementary and middle school students in Menlo Park City School District will learn online from home to start the fall semester, the district board decided in a 4–1 vote at its meeting July 30.

District schools — Encinal, Laurel, Oak Knoll and Hillview Middle schools — will start the year with distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, the district said in a July 31 statement.

In its decision, the board said it intended to reassess the health data over the coming weeks and potentially would open schools with a hybrid schedule that alternates weeks of in-person teaching with at-home learning as early as Sept. 8.

“As the board deliberated its decision it kept the health and safety of MPCSD’s students, families, staff, and teachers at the forefront,” the district said. “The concerning health data showing rising cases in San Mateo County was an overarching reason the board made the decision to open in distance learning. Providing clarity and a stable planning runway for teachers and families was also a priority.”

Public comment at the board meeting included many parents who argued for returning students to campus as quickly as possible, citing concerns about academic and emotional wellbeing.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Almanac Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

Board member Sherwin Chen said that that it was a difficult decision, and acknowledged that the virus is having “impacts on families beyond our control,” according to the district's statement.

“In the end, the safest decision was to spend at least the first two weeks of school in distance learning with the intent to open schools to small groups of students as soon as possible,” the statement said.

With its decision, the Menlo Park City School District joins a growing crowd of local elementary school districts announcing distance learning to start the fall. Portola Valley, Ravenswood Elementary, Redwood City Elementary and Palo Alto Unified school districts have all announced students will start the fall semester learning from home.

District decisions come amid a rising number of coronavirus cases over the summer, as well as Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent decision to require that schools in counties that are on the state’s watchlist can't open until they've been off the list for 14 days. San Mateo County was put on the watchlist July 29 and three days later, had to impose additional restrictions on a range of indoor business operations.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Menlo Park City School District students will learn from home when school starts

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Aug 3, 2020, 9:01 pm

All elementary and middle school students in Menlo Park City School District will learn online from home to start the fall semester, the district board decided in a 4–1 vote at its meeting July 30.

District schools — Encinal, Laurel, Oak Knoll and Hillview Middle schools — will start the year with distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, the district said in a July 31 statement.

In its decision, the board said it intended to reassess the health data over the coming weeks and potentially would open schools with a hybrid schedule that alternates weeks of in-person teaching with at-home learning as early as Sept. 8.

“As the board deliberated its decision it kept the health and safety of MPCSD’s students, families, staff, and teachers at the forefront,” the district said. “The concerning health data showing rising cases in San Mateo County was an overarching reason the board made the decision to open in distance learning. Providing clarity and a stable planning runway for teachers and families was also a priority.”

Public comment at the board meeting included many parents who argued for returning students to campus as quickly as possible, citing concerns about academic and emotional wellbeing.

Board member Sherwin Chen said that that it was a difficult decision, and acknowledged that the virus is having “impacts on families beyond our control,” according to the district's statement.

“In the end, the safest decision was to spend at least the first two weeks of school in distance learning with the intent to open schools to small groups of students as soon as possible,” the statement said.

With its decision, the Menlo Park City School District joins a growing crowd of local elementary school districts announcing distance learning to start the fall. Portola Valley, Ravenswood Elementary, Redwood City Elementary and Palo Alto Unified school districts have all announced students will start the fall semester learning from home.

District decisions come amid a rising number of coronavirus cases over the summer, as well as Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent decision to require that schools in counties that are on the state’s watchlist can't open until they've been off the list for 14 days. San Mateo County was put on the watchlist July 29 and three days later, had to impose additional restrictions on a range of indoor business operations.

Comments

Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 4, 2020 at 2:23 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2020 at 2:23 pm
3 people like this

This is nonsensical and runs totally counter to the facts and the CDC's recommendations. There is no evidence that kids are at risk of this virus (flu is 5-6x more deadly than COVID-19 for them) OR that they're transmission vectors for it (several methodologically sound studies show this: Web Link)

Even a 1% increase in suicide among kids—and we can be sure we'll see that given the tremendous effect being locked at home is having on everyone—will far outstrip the mortality rate for these kids. And that's just if you want to look at it in terms of physical health risks. Add in the mental health effects, social consequences, let alone the educational deficits we're creating…this decision is lunacy.

Source: Web Link


MACA
Registered user
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 4, 2020 at 2:52 pm
MACA, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2020 at 2:52 pm
6 people like this

This is about protecting everyone, including the teachers and staff. I agree that until our state has it under control (the number of cases has not remained steady or declined) we must continue to shelter in place as best as possible, wear masks in public, continue using good hygiene procedures, and use online education. A school setting includes indoor group settings and physical contact among large numbers of people from different households and neighborhoods.
We know these are dangerous to the spread. It may sound very conservative but sometimes taking strict disciplined methods are the speediest methods to recovery and elimination.


MACA
Registered user
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 4, 2020 at 3:11 pm
MACA, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2020 at 3:11 pm
2 people like this

Here is a letter from Dr. Khasho of the Children's Health Council

Dear Friends,
I’ve lost count of the number of days we’ve been sheltering-in-place. I can barely keep track of what month it is. All I know is that this feels LONG. And isolating. And seemingly never-ending.

As an adult, I have decades of experience to remind me that hard times do pass, and that things will, eventually, get better. I have a certain sense of control over keeping myself and my family safe. I can turn on the news when I’m in the right headspace, and turn it off when I’ve had my fill. I can express my emotions to my loved ones and put into words how I’m feeling. I can have hard days and hopeful days, take a deep breath and move forward, one foot in front of the other.

Children and teens, on the other hand, and don't have the benefits of life experience and learning on their side. A recent TIME article highlighted the fact that while Coronavirus largely spares kids from serious physical illness, the effects on their mental health are more daunting. Feelings of anxiety, loneliness, fear, depression, loss and isolation are exacerbated by uncertainty around when school and social lives will resume. According to the New York Times, this is especially true for children with developmental differences. When you and I feel emotionally dysregulated, we can go for a walk, meditate, read or talk to a friend. For kids, these emotions often manifest as withdrawal, outbursts, defiance, sadness and/or disruptions to sleep and eating patterns.

Thankfully, there is hope. During shelter-in-place, teletherapy has provided families the care they need from the safety of home. CHC has been offering support for everything from anxiety and depression to dyslexia, ADHD and autism. Even our RISE Intensive Outpatient Program for high-risk teens has been fully operational via telehealth, and our online DBT Skills Groups have created a forum for middle and high schoolers to receive both peer and professional support. We’ve regularly hosted Parent Education webinars and Parent Support Groups, offering advice on Parenting in a Pandemic, Family Dynamics During Shelter-in-Place, and Responding to Your Child’s Challenging Behavior. In fact, we’ve been able to reach more families than ever, without the limitations of geographic boundaries.

Teletherapy offers families safe, secure and convenient access to care while giving clinicians a more comprehensive glimpse into the home and family lives of their clients.

In fact, our most recent blogposts asks, “Is the clinician’s couch a thing of the past?”
Whether in-person or online, CHC is helping to lead the emotional recovery in the Bay Area and beyond with courage, connection and compassion. We’re in this together.

In solidarity,

Ramsey Khasho, PsyD
24-hr Crisis Lines: 855.278.4204 (Santa Clara) | 650.579.0350 (San Mateo)
415.781.0500 (San Francisco) | 800.273.8255 or Text BAY to 741-741 (National)

Copyright © 2020 Children's Health Council, all rights reserved.


Forward to a friend | Update Email Preferences | Email Us | Unsubscribe


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 4, 2020 at 6:20 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2020 at 6:20 pm
3 people like this

Case counts are almost meaningless metrics, and it's irresponsible for public officials to use them to justify continuing coercive, destructive policies. The metrics that matter are hospitalizations (vs capacity) and deaths—both of which are mostly flat.

These public policies amount to little more than continued panic and fear. This isn't science, it runs counter to the evidence we have now, and it's unacceptable. Locking people up until the risk is near-zero is an interminable, un-American goal. The list of activities and disease that are more dangerous for nearly everyone than COVID-19 is almost endless, and includes activities like driving 4 miles a day in your car.

If these policies ever had a rational justification, it was ensuring hospital capacity wasn't exceeded. We now know with high confidence that that isn't a legitimate concern anymore. Continuing these policies is just an abuse of power (whether bureaucratic, or democratic, if they're widely supported).


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 4, 2020 at 6:23 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2020 at 6:23 pm
3 people like this

And I should also add: by all means, we should help those legitimately at risk stay safe—by helping them isolate *at their discretion*. Sacrificing everyone else's lives to (theoretically, though not realistically given their life expectancy regardless is low) save the folks at risk is wildly, wildly immoral.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.