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Still stuck at home: Local schools can't accommodate every child who wants to be back in class full time

Original post made on May 14, 2021

Nine-year-old Steven Brody desperately wants to be back in his Bubb Elementary classroom four days a week, just like his sister. He is one of the unlucky students relegated to coming in twice a week, stuck at home, angry and left out.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 14, 2021, 1:23 PM

Comments (24)

Posted by Raymond
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 14, 2021 at 3:01 pm

Raymond is a registered user.

I didn't realize that the teachers' union had so much scientific/medical expertise to give us; until I heard that the head of the CDC is taking AFT advice.
If plans are not revealed to open mvw completely this fall there should be legal actions planned.

Posted by MVWSD parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 14, 2021 at 3:25 pm

MVWSD parent is a registered user.

The district was very transparent about the fact that some students may only get 2 days of week in-person and they needed to see what the numbers were before they could tell parents if you got 2 days a week or 4. The district had proposed, in the past, to mix schools so that everyone that wanted in person, could be in person. This was shot down by the parents immediately as parents wanted to stay part of their school community.
From the silent majority, I think, the district has done the best that it can given a pandemic and shifting guidelines. The district has been as transparent as it can be conducting many more check-ins and principal calls than in any year that I have been with the district (this is my 9th year with a child in the district). We may not always agree, but I do feel they gave as much information in a timely manner as possible. The district, administration, and teachers have all been going above and beyond.
The district has stated that they will be fully in person next year.

Posted by Agnes Charrel-Berthillier
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 14, 2021 at 4:43 pm

Agnes Charrel-Berthillier is a registered user.

I guess the district could have made things more fair by sticking to the original plan, where everybody only attended school in person 2 days a week? But I cannot regret they gave the chance to as many kids as they could to attend full time. Or that they decided not to spend another month negotiating a new MOU with the staff, thus pushing back reopening by that much time (see MVLA). I will also note that going to the 3 feet distance is not helping MVLA avoid the issue of lack of access for some students who do want to be on campus. A few (?) students in HS have had to Zoom into class from another campus location when they were too many people attending on a given day.

As for the frustration of seeing different districts do different things... welcome to the US. I don't get it either (transplant from a country with a highly centralized education system), but people seem to like the system they have here. Meaning we can look around to other school districts where most kids are not back, or are only back for zoom in a room, and feel we got lucky.

Just as I feel lucky every day that I have a roof over my head, no worries about eviction, the ability to bubble up for a year with my family without severe adverse consequences, and that nobody in my immediate family died or spent months in the hospital after contracting COVID. Was that last year rough on my children? Yes. But a lot less rough than what many people in our school community experienced. Which is why I am grateful for every single day my kids have spent in school this year, and for the hard work of the people who made that happen.

Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 14, 2021 at 5:04 pm

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

The headline is wrong. It's not *CAN'T*; it's *WON'T*. As noted in a parenthetical comment halfway through the story, the CDC updated the guidance in March. As for the MOU with the teacher's union...adjacent districts don't seem to have the same problems. Is it that Mountain View teachers are all unreasonable? Not from what I've seen! Seems more likely the problem is district leadership...

My son is a "Roomy", back in school four days a week. Really, he's still on Zoom in a computer lab-like setting because a few kids are "Zoomies", but at least the teacher and most of the kids are together, most of the time. My sympathy for the families who wanted this but couldn't get it.

Fortunately next year will be all in person. The district sent out a really apologetic and timid email announcing this. I wish they'd own their decisions and say roughly "we pleased to say that after studying the science, we're confident your kids will be safe in our schools next year, and so we can say goodbye to Zoom and give everyone a much better learning experience." Instead, they said "Unfortunately, MVWSD will not be able to offer the Distance Learning School for the 2021-22 school year due to low enrollment. Only 199 students (K-8), or 4.4% of the district's students, opted for Distance Learning next year. Many potential DLS families said they want DLS until children are vaccinated. This would reduce DLS enrollment by 55% mid year, requiring us to compact classes and combine multiple grade levels to make up for the decrease in enrollment. " Polling and followship instead of leadership but the right result anyway.

Posted by Agnes Charrel-Berthillier
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 14, 2021 at 6:03 pm

Agnes Charrel-Berthillier is a registered user.

Some people call it "polling and followship", other people call it being responsive to parents/families/citizens feedback and building consensus. I have also noticed most people only like strong leadership when it leads the way they want to go...

Meanwhile for any parent in the district whose child currently gets the 4 days a week on campus I would be careful about the way you mention that child has to be on Zoom because "a few kids" (more like a third to half of the class, depending on grade) decided to stay home. Your child is not in the situation showcased above precisely *because* those families elected to keep their student home. You should be thankful to them instead of complaining about them.

Posted by BDBD
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 14, 2021 at 6:10 pm

BDBD is a registered user.

The district's system has students in the highest-interest classrooms attending the least time in-person. This is self-imposed misery. The outside world has hit us all "like a brick" this year, but there are MANY examples of better solutions in nearby districts and private schools.

Posted by MV neighbor
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 14, 2021 at 6:30 pm

MV neighbor is a registered user.

I know other schools that faced this problem rotated which kids got four days one week and two days the next week so that the burden didn’t just fall on one group, as it appears MVWSD did. Spreading the limited in school time would have been more equitable!

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 14, 2021 at 7:04 pm

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

Teachers are heroes, and so are parents. It was a heroic year for everyone in a child's life. I hope parents look at each other with empathy for sharing their children's hardships, recognizing everyone's experiences are different, every child is different. Anytime parents have concerns for their children, never back down from speaking out.

Posted by Santa Rita Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on May 14, 2021 at 9:23 pm

Santa Rita Mom is a registered user.

I agree that the children should ALL have had to rotate so that ALL the children got time in person with their friends and teachers. The districts should have REQUIRED that any changes to guidelines be immediately incorporated without further negotiation so that the CHILDREN would have gotten priority in this situation. Not doing that was irresponsible. What they chose to do instead was to create a class of children who were not deemed to need their classes as much as others, despite their right to participate equally with the other children if they wanted to.

At least some the children got to attend in person for much of the year (ALL of them should been allowed to go). My child is a senior in MVLA and he was offered the "opportunity" to go back to in-person school starting April 19th (more than a month after most teachers were able to complete their vaccination cycles) for a 4 day week of half days, then full 4 day for the following weeks. Since seniors end their year June 1st, that was a grand total of slightly more than 5 weeks of in-person instruction. Since things have been going well on Zoom and my child didn't want to disrupt that to sit, masked up, in a classroom without any certainty that the instructor would actually BE in the classroom at all, mine chose to stay remote. With AP tests coming up, readjusting was just going to be another stress that could be avoided.

Well, I guess it could be worse. After all, schools in San Francisco are opening for one day to qualify for federal money. With behavior like that, I find it difficult to believe that the students have been put first at all this year. Those in charge need to do better and we parents have to keep pushing to make sure they do.

Posted by District watcher
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 15, 2021 at 8:42 am

District watcher is a registered user.

The superintendent of MVWSD has messed this up from the beginning. Plans changed constantly, decisions were made before survey deadlines to allow input from parents, and kids are not valued. Neighboring districts were able to figure out how to reopen much sooner so we know it was possible. It's too bad that the students are suffering because of Rudolph's failure as a superintendent.

Posted by Heartbroken
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 15, 2021 at 9:57 am

Heartbroken is a registered user.

My son in kinder at Mistral did not get any in person days, despite us begging and crying to the district to please give him a slot. I don't think those statistics in this article are correct- we got 0 days not even 2! It's so unfair and heartbreaking and he hates school now. All the neighboring districts have done so well to get partial days in the fall and full time in the spring and Mvwsd has given us nothing. We are considering leaving Mountain View.

Posted by PL
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 15, 2021 at 12:00 pm

PL is a registered user.

I have been following Rudolph's meetings with the community all year and I think he did the best he could with the situation we had. It's hard to remember how we all felt in February when we finalized on the plan to reopen. The case rate was high and hardly anyone was vaccinated. We weren't even sure the majority of kids would be comfortable to go back in the Fall. Things are different now. Our second grade class had a minority of students that came back, most opting to stay via Zoom. It just shows that everyone has a different level of risk and it is very hard to create a plan that makes everyone happy.

The mom in this article has a right to her opinion. But from what I can tell, a large majority of kids and parents are happy with how Rudolph handled this. If 4% didn't get their preferred choice for 10 weeks of school this year, that's not catastrophic, really. We will get through this and all be back in person very soon.

Posted by Santa Rita Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on May 15, 2021 at 12:27 pm

Santa Rita Mom is a registered user.

To say that it is not catastrophic for 4% of the kids not to get to attend school when they wanted to, especially since the administration could have chosen to figure out a system to give ALL the kids at least SOME of what they wanted is missing the point here.

We pay a LOT of money to run the schools here. Didn't the district even pay for someone to train the supervisor (which seems silly, since why would you hire a person who doesn't know how to do the job)? I would expect that the district should figure out a way to make it work for ALL the kids, not just most of them. They had MONTHS to work out a solution to this problem, yet they seemed to be scrambling at the last minute to come up with plans. Did they never expect to have to go back in person? Why should ANY child have to suffer because of their poor planning and problem solving skills?

If something that the school district did has caused multiple small children to declare that they hate school when they previously loved it, I would say that qualifies as a catastrophic problem. Since the district created the problem they need to solve it.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 15, 2021 at 5:20 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

This is a DECISION of PUBLIC POLICY by the BOARD of MVWSD. They either vote or "direct" the Superintendent what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. PERIOD. He is the Board's only employee, and they (majority) are the Superintnetent's only boss! (Right MVWSD Trustee Chiang?)

At times 'I feel sorry' for the Superintendent. He means well. Usually (more often now than earlier) he has 'developed enough sense' of this particular community to ASK Questions (survey even) before he 'just does his own thing' and acts without Parents or Teachers/ or Board!

Trustee Chiang - before he was elected, and After he was elected asked his fellows (to no response) to please have an open public Vote on this / after an open public discussion between them.

-The Superintendent HOWEVER - could easily Stay within the MOU, and his (not CDC) guide lines by ROTATING that "4 PERCENT" that is Left Out. Left Out 50% of the time Every Week: by some 'magic formula' that his personal spokesperson, Hausman, refuses to answer or discuss with this publication? ????? (say what Chief Information Officier ?)

Superintendent Rudolph CAN Fix This (little glitch - but big for those "4 Percent"). [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

Posted by OMV Mistral Parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 17, 2021 at 5:33 pm

OMV Mistral Parent is a registered user.

Most of the commenters here (as well as the people interviewed) need to learn more about the concept of "equity" and also the history of the underserved population in this district. Here's a short video about what equity might really mean for Californian students: Web Link

Here are some good questions to ask your principal or the superintendent, if you *genuinely* care about equity:
1) How many socioeconomically disadvantaged (SED) students (who wanted to return) were not able to return to in-person learning?
2) How many English Learners (who wanted to return) were not able to return to in-person learning?
3) How many students who were working *below grade level* on their last 2 report cards (and wanted to return) were not able to return to in-person learning?

Our superintendent has been remarkably transparent throughout the school year. To review the MORE THAN TWENTY THREE HOURS of open community dialogue that he's made himself available for during the last year, in which parents/guardians who were concerned with equity (or anything else) could ask questions, visit here: Web Link

Posted by Santa Rita Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on May 18, 2021 at 1:23 am

Santa Rita Mom is a registered user.

It is reprehensible to talk about "equity" in a tone that implies that some children are more important than others. It is that sort of thinking that allows some children to get treated like they don't matter because they don't fit a particular demographic. That a person who identifies as a parent would think that is okay to do is deeply disturbing.

There is nothing remarkable about a school superintendent spending hours to actually get their job done. It is the least that the community should be entitled to get after the amount of money that has been spent on this person over and above what other districts pay for the same service.

What IS remarkable is that any district thinks it is okay to ignore some children because "most" of them are getting what they want. If the district came up with a "solution" that left ANY children out of the ability to share in the return to campus, then they should have been intelligent enough to realize that it was NOT an acceptable solution and they should try again. I don't care if it was complicated or difficult - it's their JOB and doing it poorly is unacceptable.

Until ALL the children are given the level of education they need, mentally AND emotionally, then the district has NOT done its job and parents have every right to be angry. To ignore those children is NOT acceptable and no sermon on "equity" will ever make it so.

Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 18, 2021 at 12:42 pm

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

Agnes, you're putting words in my mouth. I didn't complain that a few kids in my son's class decided to be home. I don't even know if they decided this or if the district decided for them, as happened to Steven Brody. Since I don't know the reason, I don't feel anything toward them—neither anger nor gratitude. If that offends you, so be it.

What I do know is that the situation you're describing—in which my son would only be able to go to school two days a week if some folks hadn't ended up at home every day—was the school district's decision. I also know that the CDC has said for two months that this is unnecessary. And I haven't ever seen any evidence at all that closing elementary schools has had any significant effect on the spread of the coronavirus. It was understandable to take that measure without evidence early in the pandemic, when so little was known and it seemed natural to assume COVID-19 spread easily through kids as we all know regular colds and flus do. It's still understandable now if some parents have chosen to be cautious, particularly when the district hasn't done much to educate them on risks. It's less understandable that public officials—who should be totally on top of the latest public health guidelines—are degrading kid's education because of out-of-date knowledge.

As for your complaint about my use of the word "few". I think it's four kids out of 20. I'm not 100% sure, thus the imprecision.

Posted by AnnPH94654
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 18, 2021 at 1:57 pm

AnnPH94654 is a registered user.

I've also gotten more involved this year, watching many board meetings and attending some superintendent check-ins. Given the extraordinary circumstances of a global pandemic balanced by a much more disparate socioeconomic population in Mt View compared to Palo Alto/Los Altos, I think the board/Superintendent/staff/teachers have done a wonderful job.

At the beginning of the school year, Superintendent Rudolph ensured that each student got a laptop, and for those who needed it, received wifi hotspots as well as an option to go into learning pods. MVWSD distance learning is very high quality and consistent, compared to other schools both domestically and internationally, because it is live and not only includes the general subjects, but also art, music, science, living classroom, etc. My niece in Hong Kong only attended her private elementary school less than half of the year in person and 2 hours/week distance when it was closed. Even Palo Alto and Menlo Park have only half-day live distance instruction and many asynchronous activities which has been difficult to learn consistently for DL students.

Did the parents cited in and the reporter writing this article do their research? Los Altos School District has been on a 2-day hybrid schedule since fall and only began a 5-day schedule on 4/26 with 6-feet distance, other than Bullis; they can do this because they have more funding and much fewer students. Another neighboring district, Sunnyvale, is on a 2-day 2-hour schedule. Cupertino School District is also on a hybrid schedule, having only reopened on 4/5, and is now planning to close some elementary schools due to lack of funding. Comparatively, Mountain View's 4-day reopening for 96% of the student population has gone smoothly.

Given the diverse school population with many differing needs, Superintendent Ayinde and the board have managed the budget and needs of the students well, and I appreciate their diligent work.

Posted by jackson
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 18, 2021 at 2:59 pm

jackson is a registered user.

Where is the 96%? It's not 96% at my son's school... can someone share the data that shows 96% actually got back into school? We have 1 of the 3 kinder classes remote.. that's definitely more than 4% remote?

Posted by Tal Shaya
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2021 at 5:01 pm

Tal Shaya is a registered user.

Sure because everyone knows that kids LOVE school....

Safety first. Declaring schools safe does not make them safe. Remember when Governor Newsom wanted to open schools in August? He sent his kid back to private school, and the whole family had to quarantine because of an outbreak at the school. These people are NOT FIT to lead our state in a health crisis like this. Politicians are only in it for the money.

Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 18, 2021 at 11:32 pm

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

Declaring schools safe doesn't make schools safe. Following CDC guidance makes schools safe. A few quotes from that guidance:

"K–12 schools should be the last settings to close after all other prevention measures in the community have been employed, and the first to reopen when they can do so safely."

"In elementary schools, CDC recommends all students remain at least 3 feet apart in classrooms where mask use is universal — regardless of whether community transmission is low, moderate, substantial, or high."

"Lower susceptibility and incidence among younger children compared to teenagers suggests that younger students (for example, elementary school students) are likely to have less risk of in-school transmission due to in-person learning than older students (middle schools and high schools)."

Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 18, 2021 at 11:43 pm

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

I'll translate that first quote from CDC public policy speech to common sense speech: you don't reopen bars while forcing elementary students to stay home (some of them all the time, or all of them some of the time, or both) if you care even a little about public health, education, or the well-being of kids and working parents.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2021 at 11:54 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

The difference between bars and schools is that the bars just got permission to reopen with limited capacity based on the yellow status. The schools have had permission to reopen for MONTHS now. Bars aren't run by school boards. It's up to the school boards. Every district is different.

Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 19, 2021 at 12:39 am

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

Of course I'm aware different people are involved. I expect them to collectively make coherent decisions.

That's expect in the sense of "require (someone) to fulfill an obligation", not "regard (something) as likely to happen".

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