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PCS Newsletter 9/17/21

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PCS Newsletter
Happy Friday! In the past couple of PCS community newsletters, I shared information about the approach we are taking as a District, in accordance with the California Department of Public Health's (CDPH’s) foundational principle, to ensure that “all students must have access to safe and full in-person instruction and to as much instructional time as possible.”

Through the hard work of our COVID-19 team, our fabulous nurses, custodial staff, and all District staff working together, it has been no small task to ensure that our students are kept safe and can focus on learning in their classrooms. I want to share with you an update as to what we have accomplished, what we have learned, and how we are evolving.

What we have accomplished: 
  • With a now 90% vaccination rate among those 12+ in our local zip codes (over 95% vaccination rate among our PCS staff) and strong safety and prevention measures in place, we are fortunate to have had a relatively small number of COVID-19 cases in our schools. As of writing this, per our COVID-19 Dashboard, we have recorded 43 positive COVID-19 cases out of about 8,300 students and staff members since the beginning of school. 
  • Generally speaking, we believe our modified quarantine approach is working. While it is impossible to determine precisely where transmission occurred, of the 43 cases thus far since the start of school, there have been only 4 instances where in our modified quarantine testing resulted in an additional positive result.  
  • Starting Wednesday, September 14th, our District Office testing center has been up and running between the hours of 7:30 AM - 12:00 PM, meeting the needs of symptomatic students and staff. Again, if you have not already registered on our COLOR platform, please register now in order to be ready in the event your child needs to be tested. 
  • Staff have the opportunity to receive twice-weekly surveillance testing if they want or need it. Beginning September 24, weekly surveillance testing will be required for all unvaccinated staff. 
  • Since the beginning of the school year, our staff have been administering surveillance response tests for students at their school sites when they are placed on modified quarantine, resulting in over 2,000 tests administered on school sites to date.  
What we have learned:
  • With the onset of cold and flu season, disruptions to in-person learning are unavoidable. We appreciate all our families for keeping your children home and getting them tested if they have any symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Speaking from personal experience, I know very well the disruption this causes for families, but this is the best way for us to keep each other safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. 
  • As a community, the more we follow the protocols in our COVID Safety Handbookwith fidelity, the better we’ll achieve our goal of keeping students and staff safe and at school. When some but not all are being diligent, it undermines the ability of the system to work as it’s designed. We ask all families and staff to continue to emphasize and implement the following protocols with students: 
    • Universal Indoor Masking
    • Strong Recommendation for outdoor masking, unless eating, drinking, or taking a physically-distanced (6-feet or more away from others) mask break
    • Courtesy Distancing 
    • Regular and consistent hand washing and hand sanitizing. This should become routine as students enter and leave the classroom, especially before lunch time. 
    • Consistent use of our AIRROW Light 2000 UV-C Air Treatment Systems (air scrubbers) in every classroom throughout the instructional day to filter and eliminate viral particles, mold, contaminants, allergens, pollutants, and other harmful microorganisms in the classroom. This will be even more important on unhealthy outdoor air quality days.
How we are evolving:
  • We understand the hardship put on families when students are required to stay home, and we want to minimize the loss of instructional time. We are working on obtaining alternative testing solutions that will reduce the amount of time it takes to get results and will free up our staff to communicate more efficiently with families when we identify a positive case. 
  • We are working on increasing our capacity for surveillance testing for students in addition to the surveillance testing we already provide for staff. 
  • Vaccines for our 5-11-year olds should be approved and available soon, which will be game-changing for many of us with students under 12. We are anticipating a rollout of vaccines for 5 - 11-year olds in October or November, and I will keep you updated as I receive new information. 
I hope you enjoy the rest of this PCS Community update. I am so pleased to hear that over 450 elementary students will be taking part in our PCS soccer league and that many more ways to engage students and families are in the works.
In partnership,
Matthew Harris
Superintendent, Petaluma City Schools
COVID-19 Updates
This week we officially began offering COVID testing for our students and staff at the District Office. Testing is available Monday through Friday (on days that school is in session), between the hours of 7:30 AM - 12:00 PM. For details, check out our PCS COVID Testing page. If students or staff members are having symptoms or need to get tested, we are happy to be able to offer this service. Results typically take 48 hours.

Please remember, you must register your student with Color prior to coming for a test.

We are always trying to improve the information available on our website so that it is a useful resource for you. To that end, we know that trying to figure out if you should send your student to school can sometimes be confusing considering the different protocols and guidelines this year. To help you navigate these situations, we have posted a page of scenario-based flowcharts that we hope will help. You can find those on our "Should I Send My Student to School? (Flowcharts)" page.
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 below.
Social Media Trend
As you may be aware, there is a TikTok trend that has students vandalizing and stealing random objects from the school grounds, often from school bathrooms. This trend is playing out across California, Petaluma, and even on our own school campuses. Please speak with your child about the importance of respecting and taking care of their campus. District staff work hard to maintain our campuses - clean and safe campuses create increased opportunities for students to learn, build relationships, and grow as students. While social media has many fun and positive aspects, engaging in any trend that results in acts of vandalism, stealing, or other illegal activity will be treated as such in terms of school consequences. Students have access to the STOPit app where they can anonymously report inappropriate or unsafe behaviors. As always, we appreciate your support and partnership in guiding and educating students.
Student and Family Engagement
Elementary Soccer League
The PCS Elementary Soccer League is set to begin next week. We have 450 very excited TK-6th grade students ready to play! Thank you to our teachers, high school student athletes, and 35 parent volunteers, for making this all possible! The end result is that 450 more students will have an opportunity to build community, work as a team, and expand their learning opportunities. At the end of the season, students will get a chance to play in a friendly Districtwide tournament.  

Parent Information Night
We know setting boundaries at every age is tricky and your PCS family is here to help. In collaboration with Side-by-Side, we are hosting a Parent Information Night (via zoom), where we will discuss how to set clear and concise boundaries for children of all ages. To hear tips and strategies for your elementary-aged student you’ll want to mark your calendar for November 2nd, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM. If your student is in middle or high school you’ll want to join us on November 3rd, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM. We will share links for the Zoom as we get closer to the date of the event.

More information to come on these other events but please save the date! 
  • November 13th - Community Clean Up
  • December 11th - PCS Holiday Family Fun Run 1 mile/5K/10K


Around PCS
At the September 14th Board Meeting, a few schools including Mary Collins at Cherry Valley and Penngrove shared student reports to the Board.
Penngrove had their annual Jog-A-Thon, which gets students moving and helps students practice teamwork and responsibility.

At Mary Collins at Cherry Valley, students are enjoying being back on campus and participating in activities such as cross grade-level buddies.