Prom, CAASPP testing ‘postponed,’ many events canceled, amid new Coronavirus precautions

Ethan Chen, Hallie Faust, and Tara Kapoor

Editor’s Note: An updated article on COVID-19 closures can be found here.

Although school will remain in session, the Palo Alto Unified School District postponed Prom and a state-mandated standardized test, and canceled many events in response to growing concerns over the recent spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. 

The district’s announcement, released today, outlines the cancellation of the following events where people will be in close proximity, including:

  • All field trips
  • All school dances, including prom (changed to postponed, pending conversation)
  • Group assemblies greater than 100 people
  • Group assemblies greater than 100 people 
  • CAASPP testing (postponed to late April/early May)
  • Professional learning events
  • Parent education events
  • School open houses
  • PAUSD Career Fair
  • PAUSD Leadership Institute
  • All elementary and middle school performances

An earlier statement the district at around 4 p.m. stated that the district would cancel Prom; a revision statement at around 6:30 p.m. updated the status to postponed. Superintendent Don Austin later stated in a tweet that “We [the district] WANT it to occur.”

Despite community outcry, the announcement stated that PAUSD schools will remain open unless it is confirmed that a staff member or a student has the virus.

In addition to the cancellations, the district is now forbidding on-campus visitors, ending rentals of PAUSD facilities and restricting the crowds at sports events.

The release also assures that unless the situation changes, senior events, including graduation and Senior Showcase, as well as summer school courses will go on as planned.

While school stays in session, the district stated that it will not provide teaching for students who choose to remain at home.

“Please be informed that we do not have the capacity to provide instructional support for well students who stay at home,” the release states. “If a student has extenuating health circumstances, please contact your site administrator to identify appropriate next steps.”

According to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, there are currently 37 coronavirus cases in Santa Clara County. A news release earlier today revealed an adult woman died from the virus, becoming the first death in the county due to the virus. The district’s health recommendations remain the same, such as washing your hands, coughing into your elbow and avoiding touching your face, nose, or eyes.

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress exams are now postponed until the end of April or early May according to the most recent district press release, citing low state-wide attendance, unnecessary close proximities to other students and unusual current circumstances due to the virus.

“If our conditions stabilize, the postponed testing window could provide meaningful data,” Austin stated in the release.

PAUSD recommends contacting Assistant Superintendent Yolanda Conaway ([email protected]) for any further questions regarding COVID-19 or the new protocols.