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Coronavirus Prompts Palo Alto Unified School District To Cancel All Large Gatherings

PALO ALTO (CBS SF) -- The Palo Alto Unified School District announced Monday that it is canceling all upcoming school and district related large gatherings through the end of the school year over coronavirus concerns.

Large gatherings of over 100 people are canceled, including all field trips and all school dances.

Athletic events and performances will be limited to 100 people in attendance. These events must also be held in the largest venues on any given campus, "to accommodate guidance on increased social distancing," district Superintendent Don Austin said in a blog post.

All elementary and middle school performances will also canceled.

However, after consulting with State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, and Santa Clara County Superintendent, Mary Ann Dewan, PAUSD has decided to postpone CAASPP testing until late April through May for all sites.

Initially, the school district said proms would be canceled, but the district is revising its cancellation of prom to a "postponement of decision." Since there are only two high schools in the district, the district will further discuss with the leaders of those schools about how to mitigate concerns over coronavirus.

"We fully understand the importance of prom as a culminating event and hope to find an acceptable solution. Again, our desire is to find a way to protect a valued tradition without jeopardizing the health and safety of our students," the district said in an update Monday night.



As of Monday evening, Santa Clara County health officials are not recommending any school closures, but Austin said they will reassess that decision if any student or staff member is learned to have contracted COVID-19 in the future.

"The Public Health Department is not recommending school closures at this time because individuals under 18 years of age have not been shown to be a high-risk group for serious illness from this virus. Should the Public Health Department determine a school closure is warranted, the duration is likely to be the length of time needed to conduct cleaning protocols and determine readmission criteria," Austin said.

Students whose families travel to areas heavily impacted by the novel virus outbreak over spring break will be subject to quarantine guidelines and any new guidelines that may be implemented, Austin said.

The district plans to proceed with the following events, though this may be subject to change: senior week events, including Baccalaureate and Senior Showcase/Awards, graduations and promotions, and summer school.

PAUSD consists of twelve primary schools, three middle schools, two high schools, and an adult school.

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