EDUCATION IN THE COVID-19 ERA

Southwest Valley school districts prepare for students’ return to campus

Litchfield #79 could begin hybrid transition Sept. 16

Posted 9/5/20

Students in at least one Southwest Valley school district could begin transitioning from distance learning to partial in-person instruction as soon as Wednesday, Sept. 16.

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EDUCATION IN THE COVID-19 ERA

Southwest Valley school districts prepare for students’ return to campus

Litchfield #79 could begin hybrid transition Sept. 16

Posted

Students in at least one Southwest Valley school district could begin transitioning from distance learning to partial in-person instruction as soon as Wednesday, Sept. 16.

Litchfield Elementary School District Superintendent Jodi Gunning said via email Friday, Sept. 4 that when Governing Board members meet in regular session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, she will recommend they approve a plan to begin phasing grade levels in to the district’s hybrid learning phase, which is a combination of online and onsite instruction.

“The current data supports a safe hybrid approach that would have students staggered on campus two days per week,” Ms. Gunning said. “The recent improvement in local health data leaves me hopeful!”

LESD students have been attending classes online since the school year began Aug. 5. On Thursday, Sept. 3, state health officials reported that COVID-19 benchmarks indicate that 10 of Arizona’s 15 counties have met the criteria for a safe return to the classroom.

Like others across the state, LESD and its families are looking forward to safely returning.

“Our teachers and families are staying positive during this temporary crisis,” Ms. Gunning said. “Students are the pride and purpose of our work. Welcoming them back to classrooms will certainly be the very best part of 2020.”

LESD operates 11 elementary and five middle schools serving more than 12,000 students in preschool through eighth grade in Avondale, Buckeye, Goodyear and Litchfield Park.

For Tuesday’s agenda and meeting links, visit lesd79.org/our-district/governing-board.

Agua Fria Union High School District

Students in Agua Fria Union High School District also began their year in distance learning mode, with freshmen starting their high school careers Aug. 3 and remaining classes starting Aug. 4.

Superintendent Dennis Runyon said via email Thursday the district is scheduled to transition to its hybrid phase Monday, Oct. 12, the start of AFUHSD’s second quarter, but that could change when the Governing Board meets in virtual session at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9 to reexamine state and county public health data and recommendations.

“We are in a process to determine a possible date to move to the hybrid model which would place 50% of the students on the high school campuses at any given time,” he said. “This allows for proper spacing of students and management of common areas without overcrowding or inappropriate safety measures being followed due to congestion in hallways and in the cafeteria.”

AFUHSD operates five high schools and two alternative programs serving students in Avondale, Buckeye, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Waddell and parts of Glendale.

For Wednesday’s agenda and meeting links, visit aguafria.org/domain/111.

Avondale Elementary School District

Avondale’s transition to hybrid learning may be more uncertain than Litchfield and Agua Fria’s because the area it serves — Avondale and parts of Goodyear — hasn’t met benchmark criteria for two consecutive weeks, according to the district’s website.

RELATED STORY: Maricopa County community transmission still in moderate stage

AESD spokeswoman Kenya Vasquez, who shared a prepared statement from district officials via email Friday, said officials are prepared to transition to hybrid instruction once the data shows it’s safe to do so.

“AESD has worked collaboratively to craft a reopening plan that addresses the requests to use the data and metrics available, provide additional transition and professional development time and maintain choice for parents who select to keep their children home for the initial reopening to in person instruction,” the statement reads. “We are proud of our AESD community and the work we have been able to accomplish with teaching and learning, and look forward to the next steps in the initial return to in-person instruction.”

The district is sharing the latest data at chooseaesd.org/Page/861.

AESD’s Governing Board is scheduled to meet in virtual regular session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8. To get the agenda and join the Zoom by phone or videoconference, visit go.boarddocs.com/az/avon/Board.nsf/Public.

Kelly O’Sullivan can be reached at kosullivan@newszap.com or 760-963-1697. For up-to-date local reporting on all things COVID-19, Independent Newsmedia has created a webpage dedicated to coverage of the novel coronavirus: #AZNEWSMEDIA

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