Commentary | An open letter to PUSD district and staff representatives

We are writing on behalf of the more than 250 parents in the Advocates for Full-Time, In-Person Piedmont School group, as well as the students in the Piedmont Unified School District who have been suffering as a result of distance learning over the past 365+ days. 

First, we would like to express our sincere gratitude for the many extra hours that all of you have put into our schools throughout this unprecedented year. COVID-19 has been hard on all of us, but we recognize and appreciate that as educators and as education administrators, you have experienced a level of stress and exhaustion that many of us cannot fully comprehend. We hear you when you say you are exhausted and burned out. We write to you today because of our respect for what you have taken on, and because of our shared commitment to the students in our district.

We are grateful that most PUSD students now have an opportunity for some in-person instruction. Students’ time on campus under the current hybrid schedules, however, presents issues of inequity across grade levels and compared to neighboring districts, as well as significant logistical challenges for working parents, and thus remains insufficient. 

  • Our students are receiving less in-person education vs. their peers in surrounding districts despite PUSD’s modest size and sizable resources.
  • PUSD has established significant inequities in access to in-person instruction across grade levels within the district.

Recognizing that negotiations are currently underway and that there are a variety of options for expanding in-person hours this spring, we would like to propose the following for expanding in-person hours for all grade levels: 

  • Elementary – convert async Mondays to hybrid for a total of 11 hours in-person instruction per week.
  • High School –  convert current bi-weekly schedule into a weekly schedule for a total of 9 hours of in-person instruction per week. 
  • Middle School – match the revised PHS schedule for a total of 9 hours in-person instruction per week. 

We believe that ALL PUSD students deserve the opportunity to be on campus, in-person to the fullest extent possible. Middle schoolers only receive 12% of their instructional minutes per week in-person, while elementary students get 30% in-person. High school students only see their teachers in-person every other week, whereas elementary students see their teachers 4 times a week. It is not clear why elementary students are spending a full school day out of the classroom on Mondays when they could significantly increase their in-person time with little-to-no disruption of classes and cohorts. 

As Superintendent Booker has acknowledged, the current hybrid schedules were created under very different virus conditions. With teachers now being prioritized for vaccinations, with upgraded classroom ventilations systems, a new state-of-the-art multi-million dollar high school facility, $1.3 million in federal funds plus additional promised state funds, and updated safety guidance from the CDC and the state, PUSD has everything it needs to provide our students with more of this critical in-person time. 

We believe that all PUSD students deserve the opportunity to be on campus, in-person to the fullest extent possible, but we also recognize the disruptive impact of major changes to rosters and cohorts at this point in the year. We believe the proposal above is reasonable and achievable for expanding hours this spring. Please consider these incremental increases to in-person student hours this spring. While modest in numbers, they will have a tremendous impact on the social and emotional wellbeing of our kids as well as Piedmont families overall.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss this proposal with any one of you via Zoom or on the phone. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

One thought on “Commentary | An open letter to PUSD district and staff representatives

  1. Piedmont prides itself on its excellent school system. These three charts are definitely not a good look. Since it is unsupportable given the resources our community has, it is all politics.

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