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Board voices concerns over reopening of elementary schools

At its Sept. 29 board meeting, PAUSD board members cast their votes on whether to approve the school reopening plan. Below are their rationales and their votes voiced at the meeting.

Board President Todd Collins: voted yes

“I’m very attentive to the fact that 443 of the 1283 TK through 1 families have already indicated that they want to go to hybrid … one of our important functions is to try to create options that work for families and students … And it seems that there are many people who want this option.”

Board Vice President Shounak Dharap: voted yes

“The bottom line is if the recommendations we follow are sound from the county –– and we’re being assured they are –– to a certain degree we have to trust them. And if our implementation of those is sound then I expect we should be able to expect that any community spread of Covid will be mitigated by our processes within the school system.”

“I feel confident –– I’m not happy about it –– but I feel confident that we have a safe plan and that staff has worked really hard to make sure that it is safe, and that the issues raised by the PAEA have been answered to my ear, with respect to PPE and safety measures.”

Board trustee Melissa Baten Caswell: voted yes

“I don’t think moving this decision point to January makes it any better. We’re going to have the exact same conversations in January, and it will be at a time where it’s much harder to use the outdoors –– it’ll be at a time where we do have the flu mixed in. So let’s try it now where we have these ways to stretch out and see how we can get it to work. If parents are not comfortable with going back –– well, that’s why we have the distance learning option.”

Board Member Jennifer DiBrienza: voted yes

“All along, we’ve taken our guidance from (the county health department). We were ready to open with this hybrid mode at the beginning of the year until the governor shut us down and said that we could open once we were off the watch list, which is now the purple list. And now we’ve been told we’re able to have open.”

Board Member Ken Dauber: voted yes

“I think the question remains: ‘Why is it important to do this?’ And I think it’s important because it is our fundamental mission to teach every child and help them reach their full potential. And we believe that in-person school is better than online school, no matter how great a job our teachers are doing … Teaching every child and helping them to reach their full potential means doing our best to get them back to school. The hybrid model is far from perfect –– we definitely know that –– but it does represent a real alternative that many parents want for their students to have.”

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