Letter to the Editor | PUSD must commit to full-day classroom instruction

With happy kids coming home from school again, it feels like a new day in town. They’re ecstatic to have finally connected with their teachers and classmates. We thank every support staff member, teacher, administrator, and school board member for getting our kids back in the classroom.

It’s heartwarming and a relief, but we must say—we’re already worried about what school will look like in the fall. We fear that Piedmont will continue to have limited in person instruction because already there appears to be little action being taken to increase hours this spring despite teacher vaccinations and the dramatic change in case numbers. PUSD has specifically said these were barriers to reopening in the past. While districts around the Bay Area and across the nation are now making plans to open full-time this spring, parents have been told repeatedly by PUSD and the school board that the current limited hybrid model is all we can realistically count on. In the case of Piedmont Middle School, that’s a little over two hours at school for the entire week.

Parents’ concerns are heightened each time PUSD and the Piedmont school board lets another meeting pass without a commitment to offer full-time instruction in the fall. Most of the school board — but not all — say it’s their intention and hope to bring back students full-time in the fall but that they can’t possibly commit due to outside circumstances. “Hope” and “intention” are not strategies that will bring PUSD students back full time.

Parents have been told that it’s difficult for Piedmont teachers and administrators to be out of step with the other unions and districts in the rest of Alameda County. To this we ask, shouldn’t Piedmont lead by example in this county, paving the way for a safe and prompt return for all students who want and need to learn in person?  We’ve been told it’s difficult for PUSD to plan now when the guidelines may change in the future. To this we ask, why not plan for full time with the current set of guidelines that we have in place?

This March, we urge the school board to:

  • Pass a resolution to open PUSD for full-time in-person instruction to the maximum extent allowable by law for the 2021-2022 school year.
  • Direct PUSD to create a plan for full day classroom instruction and to make this shift at the earliest possible date — including this spring.

With changing public health guidelines, we understand that there are space issues depending on social distancing requirements. It’s our understanding that Alameda County does not necessarily require six foot spacing–that this is something PUSD has placed on itself.  In June of 2020, almost 800 Piedmont parents, students, and community members signed a petition calling on the district and board to utilize the time, talent, and treasure of Piedmont residents to make space a non-issue. We urge PUSD to end its use of the 6 foot distancing rule, so all students can attend school. PUSD should also begin concrete facilities planning to utilize all PUSD spaces and properties to deliver in-person education as safely as possible, regardless of guidelines.

We are grateful to every person who has worked to get our kids back in the classroom, and to our exceptional teachers for being there to greet them and continue the great education they provide. We also thank the parents who have been working on a Covid testing program for students, raising funds for air purifiers for every elementary classroom, and providing masks for the district. We aren’t enemies. We’re great partners. Let’s continue to work together.

Sincerely,

Alicia Alban (PHS)
Carin Bradley Alemania and Roderick Alemania (PMS)
Sulakshana Bala and Niko Vuori (Wildwood)
Kelly Barna (PHS)
Meredith Brown and Ray Ramillosa (Beach and PMS)
Brett Byers and Leslie Santos (PHS)
Heather Chan (PMS and PHS)
Cass Caulfield and Andy Hempeck (PHS)
Naomi Edelson and Christopher Evans (Beach)
Karina Furman
Dustin Frazier and Laura Maestrelli (Havens)
Wendy Gehardy (PHS)
Zach and Cori Kau (Havens and PMS)
Cindy Kim (Beach, PMS, and PHS)
Justin Laubach (Beach)
Sarah Laubach Gur (Beach)
Stacy Hammond and Tim Lasocki (Havens and PMS)
Allison and Alan Hampton (Wildwood)
Arielle Harris and Adam Fishman (Wildwood)
Dan Harvitt (PHS)
Stephanie and Drew Hess (Beach and PMS)
Katie Heatherington (Havens)
Stephanie and Drew Hess (Beach and PMS)
Justin Horner and Amy Lemley (Wildwood and PHS)
Erin and Adam Hupp (Beach)
Sara and Chad Ironside (Beach and PMS)
Cory Johnson (PMS and PHS)
Lisa Kapland and Tom Keeney (Havens)
Shanti and David Kim (PMS)
Kate Kittredge (Havens)
Krissy Kliszewski and Sebastien Sahuc (Havens and PHS)
Hélène Le Person (Beach and PMS)
Rachel Long (PHS)
Ben Mand and Jodi Olson (PMS)
Stephanie and Todd Marshburn (PHS)
Catherine and Gavin McDowell (Havens)
Michelle Peters McGilloway (Havens and PMS)
Priscila Yung Medeiros and Per Magnus Axelson (Beach)
Liz and Eric Mellers (Havens)
Kirsten and Micah Myers (Wildwood and PMS)
Shannon and Jared Mitchell (Havens and PMS)
Antonia Molinare (Havens)
Alison Kennedy Montes (PMS)
Blair and Kevin Paige (Havens and PMS)
Alexis and Cathy Papahadjopoulos (PMS and PHS)
Stephanie and Mark Penrod (Havens)
Rebecca and Joshua Posamentier (Havens and PMS)
Banafsheh Rafii and Robin Giguere (Beach)
Yulia Rozen and Daniel Levinsohn (Beach)
Mike and Helen Shin (Beach)
Chiaty and Andrew Schrieve (Beach and PMS)
Pamela Schwartz (PHS)
Katie and Dirk Van Den Bos (Havens)
Robin and Teja Vora (Havens and PMS)
Mary Wells and Drew Caputo (PMS and PHS)
Keira Williams (PHS)

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