Sixth- through eighth-grade students in Litchfield Elementary School District will not transition to full-time in-person instruction as planned Monday, Nov. 2.
All districts students, including preschool through fifth-graders who finished their first full week of in-class instruction Friday, Oct. 30, also could return to distance learning if COVID-19 infections continue to rise in Maricopa County.
“Thank you to our elementary school families who transitioned so well to in-person learning (five days per week in classrooms). Students and staff are doing a remarkable job following the health and safety protocols and focusing on quality education,” LESD Superintendent Jodi Gunning wrote on the district’s website Friday, Oct. 30.
LESD’s Governing Board voted 4-1 Oct. 13 to approve Ms. Gunning's recommendation to transition students from hybrid to in-person learning beginning Oct. 26.
Board President Danielle Clymer and members Kimberly Moran, Dr. Tawnya Pfitzer and Alayne Weathersby voted in favor; member Melissa Zuidema voted against.
Recently updated health benchmarks from Maricopa County Department of Health indicate numbers in the district, which operates 11 elementary and five middle schools in Avondale, Buckeye, Goodyear and Litchfield Park, continue moving in the wrong direction.
“Two of the three measurable categories are now in the 'moderate risk'” (yellow) range and one is in the 'substantial risk' (red) range,” she wrote.
“We believe this will cause the least disruption of current schedules for students and teachers,” Ms. Gunning wrote about the decision to keep middle school students in the hybrid model. “In-person learning is still being offered at all of our elementary schools, also to cause the least disruption.”
Although the number of active cases in LESD schools fell from 13 last week to seven this week, “we are seeing numbers spike in our community. In the event the data continues to worsen, we are preparing contingency plans that may require all schools to return to distance learning in the coming weeks,” she wrote.
As of Oct. 30, Belen Soto Elementary in Goodyear, and L. Thomas Heck Middle School and Mabel Padgett Elementary in Litchfield Park each had two active cases. Dreaming Summit Elementary had one active case.
Every Friday, the district posts a list of schools with active cases on its website, indicating that a student or staff member participating in on-campus activities has tested positive for novel coronavirus.
When someone tests positive for COVID-19, they are excluded from in-person, on-campus activity until their 14-day self-isolation period is completed. At that time, they may return to school and their case is remove from the active count.
Principals will notify families in writing when someone tests positive on their campus.
If a child was in close contact with the infected person (within 6 feet of or with that person for 10 minutes or longer), they will receive a letter stating the child must stay home for 14 days and can return to school on a specified date if they do not show symptoms.
If the contact was indirect (more than 6 feet away) the family will receive a letter stating the child does not have to stay home, but they should watch for symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
If district metrics are within a red range on Thursday, Nov. 5, the next day the county health department will update its data, all students will be moved to the distance learning model on Monday, Nov. 9, Ms. Gunning wrote on the website.
If the metrics remain within yellow and/or green ranges, elementary students will continue with in-person learning and middle school students in hybrid.
For more information, visit lesd79.org/covid.