News from Piedmont Unified School District
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Coping with Pandemic Grief
We are all concerned about the mental health of our students, even as we begin to transition back to in-person learning. The emotional well being of our students is a constant theme of discussions as we plan for the remainder of this year and the 2021-22 school year, and it is something we will continue to address as we begin to transition out of our pandemic routines.
Even as things get better and we move toward better times, many of us are still grieving the loss of loved ones, routines, or important events that were postponed or cancelled over the last 12 months. An excellent article in the April 1 edition of the New York Times, How to Start Healing During a Season of Grief offers a multitude of resources, including some focused specifically on helping children and teens.
In addition, the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University has produced a series of podcasts, The Brain Architects, over the last year. This early episode, below, is from the beginning days of the pandemic, but offers suggestions for parents and educators that are still relevant a year in.
How to Help Children (and Yourself) During the Covid-19 Outbreak (Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University)
Please note we are not endorsing any of the specific strategies within the articles and podcasts above, but offer these as resources that may offer you support and ideas during this time of discomfort for so many children and adults.
Highlanders Team Competes in FIRST Robotics Competition on April 3
On Saturday the Highlander Robotics team #8033, a second year FIRST Robotics Competition team, presents virtually to judges around the world. The team named their robots after Piedmont's Scottish heritage: the 2020 Robot is named Nessie after the Loch Ness monster in the Scottish Highlands and the 2021 Robot is named Whirlpool after the Corryvreckan Whirlpool off the coast of Scotland which is the 3rd largest whirlpool in the world. Last year the team was days away from competing when Covid-19 shut down the 2020 competitions. The robot pictured below was designed and built virtually as well as in person in a team member’s garage, software was tested in the gym at Piedmont High School, and the team is filming their skills challenge in the gym this weekend. Next year the team will work out of the engineering lab in the STEAM Building.
The Highlanders were founded in 2019. The team competes at the highest level of the 4 FIRST robotics programs. Helen Potter, one of the mentors for the team, commented, "The support our team has gotten from PUSD -- Pete Palmer, Adam Littlefield, Nancy Brahm, the custodians and many others) has been tremendous! We really appreciate it!"
The team designs their robots in Solidworks, a computer-aided design program, and fabricates most parts digitally. Defense is a big part of the competition, so robots need to be well designed and built. The team’s largest sponsors are Zenni, NASA, Google, Solidworks, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Alameda County has moved to the Orange Tier
A press release from the health department on March 30 stated: “Our metrics have improved, but this pandemic is not yet in our rear-view mirror,” said Dr. Nicholas Moss, Alameda County Health Officer. “Variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating in our county, case rates are rising in other parts of the country and, while nearly a quarter of Alameda County residents aged 16 and older have been fully vaccinated, we aren’t at the levels required for broad community protection or immunity.” The press release also stated that Alameda County must remain in the Orange Tier for at least three weeks before moving into the next, less restrictive color tier even though metrics might warrant it.
PUSD will offer full in-person onsite learning for the entire 2021-22 school year
Piedmont public school district leaders, educators and staff are committed to a safe and productive learning and working environment. We believe that a full-time in-person program on school campuses is key to an optimal learning environment. We understand that an in-person learning environment will promote the physical health of students, as well as the social and emotional well-being of the entire school community.
Given the current understanding, relevant data, guidance from the county and state, and existing circumstances regarding COVID-19, PUSD fully desires and expects to have full in-person onsite learning for the entire 2021-22 school year, absent extraordinary changes to public health and safety that would prevent this from occurring.
We acknowledge that PUSD families have similarly expressed overwhelming support for a return to a full in-person onsite learning environment for the 2021-22 school year.
We pledge to work together as a district and with our families to take all necessary steps and precautions, address contingencies, and plan for reopening scenarios needed to ensure a safe and healthy return to full-time, in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year.
PUSD Board of Education
Randall Booker, Superintendent
Gabe Kessler, APT President
Nicole Straley, CSEA President
Michael Corritone, APSA Representative
Sylvia Flores Eggert, APSA Representative
Pfizer Vaccine Shown to Be Effective for 12-15 year olds
A recent clinical trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in 12-15 year olds showed a high degree of efficacy, according to news reports on March 31, 2021. According to a New York Times article, “No symptomatic infections were found among children aged 12 to 15 who received the vaccine in a recent clinical trial, the drug makers said; the children produced strong antibody responses and experienced no serious side effects. Depending on regulatory approval, vaccinations could begin before the start of the next academic year for middle school and high school students, and for elementary school children not long after.” Read the full NY Times article.