The Piedmont Highlander

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The Piedmont Highlander

The Piedmont Highlander

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April 19, 2024
APT outside of Piedmont Park
Staff Reductions
April 18, 2024

COVID-19 creates confusion for 20-21 year


Every morning for the past two months, students wake up and open their computers, turn on their cameras, and get ready for school in their own homes. This has been second semester as students have known it—but whether the next school year will look the same remains an open question. With budget cuts, construction, and caution around COVID-19, plans for next school year are still uncertain.

Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) superintendent Randall Booker said one major change the district must face next school year is public health guidelines in the COVID-19 era. The district has already begun tackling this issue in the form of distance learning under Governor Newsom’s shelter-in-place order.

“The only thing we can really do right now is plan for scenarios, because we don’t have enough concrete guidance on what the social distancing requirements might be [in the fall],” Booker said.

Principal Adam Littlefield said that the state of school in the fall depends on information from Newsom and Alameda County. School Board member Cory Smegal said PUSD will be able to make its own choices about how to proceed with school next year as long as the choices comply with county guidelines.

“As we get closer to the beginning of the school year, we will get information [from Newsom], the Alameda County [Public Health Department], and the Alameda County Office of Education Superintendent,” Littlefield said. “Their directives will determine whether or not there will be any social distancing protocols. I speculate that there will be some type of social distancing.”

Booker said it is unrealistic to expect next school year, especially in the fall, to be the same first-through-seventh period schedule students and staff are used to. But despite the uncertainty, he said he has one goal that he does not want to compromise on.

“I need teachers and staff to come back and students to come back in [to school in the fall], even if it’s in a minimum form, just for the social [and] emotional health of connection,” Booker said.

Freshman Anne Marie Gibbs said distance learning this semester did not work well for her, saying that her education would be negatively impacted if distance learning continued next year.

“Honestly, anything I’ve learned during distance learning I don’t remember,” Gibbs said. “It’ll make me a lot less motivated [if it continues].”
Gibbs said part of what made school valuable was social interactions and group work. She hopes next year, students will be able to physically be on campus for the social benefits.

“[The staff] miss you all terribly, and want [you to] all be really, really healthy, obviously, and stay safe,” said Booker. “But we want to get back to school, desperately, for so many reasons.”

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