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PCS Newsletter 11/5/21

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PCS Newsletter
Dear PCS Community,

I hope that those who celebrated had an enjoyable Halloween and/or Día de los Muertos and related festivities. My family and I went to the Petaluma Wildlife Museum’s Spooky Outdoor experience. My children loved speaking with high school students about their museum management class and interacting with snakes, lizards, and tortoises. Thank you so much to Mr. Tacata, the students, and the staff at the museum for their innovative idea to host this event. We are all so fortunate to have the Petaluma Wildlife Museum on the Petaluma High School campus!

As many of you are aware, the FDA gave emergency authorization for pediatric vaccines and the CDC just cleared the way for vaccines to be administered for children ages 5 - 11 (12 and above already have access to vaccines). The Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) did a press release with further information about the vaccine and clinic sites. I’d like to highlight one benefit to vaccination from an educational perspective - per the CDPH guidelines, once students are vaccinated, they are notrequired to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus at school and are not symptomatic. For more information about the vaccine from a local pediatrician, I found the following videos helpful: Please note that SCOE will host an English-language community webinar on Tuesday, November 16th at 5:00 PM and a Spanish-language community webinar on Wednesday, November 17th at 5:00 PM. During these webinars, families will have an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the pediatric vaccine for students ages 5-11 from local pediatricians. These webinars will be streamed live on the Sonoma County Facebook page.

Vaccines are currently available throughout the area, including at local pediatric offices and health clinics. Here in PCS, McDowell Elementary School will be hosting a clinic for families on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 from 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM, and no appointment is needed.

With all of this said, as always, please work with your pediatrician to make the best decisions for your child.

I have been asked at several sites about Governor Gavin Newsom’s vaccine mandate announcement. I realize that these medical decisions are highly personal for all of us with children. What I can do is give you the information I have with a commitment to keep you updated as things evolve. On October 1st, Governor Newsom announced that California would be mandating vaccines for students. From what I know at this moment, the mandate would not go into effect until the first semester following the FDA’s full approval of the COVID mandate for each age group. Please note the difference between emergency authorization and full approval. At this point, the only fully-approved vaccine is the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 and older. The Pfizer vaccine currently has emergency authorization for children ages 12-16 and now 5-11. Please also note that because the mandate comes from the governor, and not the legislature, it would allow exemptions for medical, religious, and personal reasons.  

Lastly, I wanted to end with a memory of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who died on October 18th at the age of 84. Secretary Powell was a four-star general and the first Black person to serve as Secretary of State and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Secretary Powell, who is often quoted for his Thirteen Rules of Leadership, was memorialized today at Washington National Cathedral. I hope you enjoy these “rules” as much as I did. I love this quote, which is attributed to Secretary Powell: “We always need to treat people with a little more respect than they deserve, because we don't know what's going on with their lives.”

In partnership,

Matthew Harris
Superintendent, Petaluma City Schools
COVID-19 Updates
Our district is focused on two significant milestones this month that we hope will enhance our efforts to keep students in school and all members of our PCS community safe.

COVID-19 Testing: New Developments on the Horizon
We are excited to report that on October 26th, the Board of Education approved a service agreement with HQ Esoterics. HQ Esoterics is a COLA-accredited, CLIA-certified COVID-19 testing provider. With this approval, we have begun planning to integrate their services into our PCS COVID testing strategy. The implementation of HQ Esoterics will take some time, so there are no immediate changes to our current testing solution. We will keep our PCS community updated on our progress moving forward. We believe that this step toward hiring a professional testing provider will allow us to shorten turnaround times for PCR tests to 24 hours, broaden the types of tests we can use (e.g. rapid antigen tests), and allow us to offer tests to more members of our PCS community.

Pediatric Vaccines: Information and Access

Information: Vaccine Charla / Parent Forum
The County of Sonoma is hosting an informal conversation about vaccines on Tuesday, November 9th, at 6:00 PM. This conversation will be in Spanish with English translation. The discussion will include a local pediatrician to provide updates and answer questions about the vaccine in a supportive environment on Zoom:

Access: Vaccine Clinic at McDowell Elementary on 11/10/21 for Ages 5+
The County of Sonoma is partnering with McDowell Elementary to hold a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic. This opportunity is open to all students, staff, families, and members of the community ages 5 and up. Children under 18 must have parental consent. Social Security, citizenship, and registration are NOT required. We welcome our community to walk in and get vaccinated. No appointment needed. Please try to wear a short-sleeved shirt, if possible. Here are the details:
  • When: November 10th, 1:30-4:30 PM
  • Location: McDowell Elementary
    421 South McDowell Boulevard
    Petaluma, CA 94954
You can find a full list of vaccine clinics in Sonoma County here. Feel free to share this information!
Make a Difference for Children in our Community: Career Opportunities with PCS
Have you ever thought about working in education and making a difference in the lives of children in our community? Consider a job with us at Petaluma City Schools! We have multiple openings in a variety of jobs throughout the District, including full-time and part-time opportunities. For us to best serve students, we need the community's help in getting fully staffed. If you yourself aren't looking, please share this information! We have both full-time and flexible, part-time positions - linked here is a list of our Open Positions.

Check out this week's highlighted jobs:
Program Interest Survey: Tell Us What You Want to See in Petaluma Schools by 11/12/21
We are asking to hear from our families with young children ages 0-5 by Friday, November 12th. We want to make sure that the programs we offer at the elementary level are in line with what you hope your children will experience in our schools. Please take a moment to respond to this brief PCS Program Interest Survey, as your input will help drive future planning for our schools. To complete the survey in Spanish, select Spanish from the drop-down menu on the top right-hand corner of the survey.
Wellness Corner
Student Voice Forums 11/16
PCS is organizing secondary student voice forums to allow students to share their life experiences with our community of learners. The first of these student forums will take place on November 16, 2021 at 6:00 PM and will highlight our Black Indegenous People of Color (BIPOC) students. Thank you to the students who are participating in the panel! For any questions please contact our District Wellness Coordinator, Jimena Gomez, at You can find all of the information on how to join the Zoom on our calendar.

Substance-Abuse Support for Teens Update
PCS and our community-based organizations are collaborating to address the current opioid/fentanyl crisis that impacts the youth in our community. PCS will be hosting a parent information night in regards to the opioid/fentanyl crisis on December 9, 2021 via zoom. More details will be provided as we get closer to the date. Additionally, PCS has applied for the Free NARCAN Nasal Spray High School Program and we have been awarded NARCAN by Adapt Pharma, Inc., which will be delivered sometime in December, 2021. Training on how to administer Narcan will be provided to our staff. PCS continues to work on its partnering with Narcotic Anonymous to start a substance-abuse support group at our high schools.

Community Workshops
Please note: These are not school or District events. As such, Petaluma City Schools District does not sponsor, staff, supervise, support or endorse the information, activities, or events posted.
  • Learn about the Petaluma SAFE (Specialized Assistance for Everyone) Team and mental health responses by registering for NAMI's Zoom Information Night Reimagining Crisis Response in Sonoma County: Changes and Challenges on Wednesday, November 10, 6:00-7:30 PM.
  • Learn about eating disorders including the patient perspective, treatment considerations, and more by registering for Severe and Enduring Eating Disorders presented by Laura Machado, Psy.D, Saturday, December 4, 9:00-11:00 AM.


Student and Family Engagement
Community Clean Up 11/13
All PCS students and families are invited to participate in a community watershed clean-up at Penry Park on November 13th from 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM. We invite everyone to join us in learning how to help our watershed and participating in a day of action. Hear from a guest speaker to learn about how trash affects our water life, along with instructions for our digital clean-up app and plans for the day. We will then explore our community and work together to pick up garbage and recycling to reduce trash on the ground.

Family Holiday Fun Run
We are so excited that 475 students, families, and staff are registered for our first ever PCS Family Holiday Fun Run. We look forward to Orange Theory leading stretches and a warm-up at 8:00 AM, our 1 mile event at 8:30, and the 5K and 10K at 9:00 am.

Boundary Setting Zoom Webinars
Our Elementary and Secondary boundary setting parent nights went well. Thank you to all who attended. For those who were unable to attend but would like the information, please see the recordings below.