Litchfield Park, Goodyear school districts map out reopening plans

Three learning models to be offered

Posted 7/16/20

Officials with Agua Fria Union High School District and associated elementary/middle school districts, Litchfield and Avondale, have been working all summer to determine how best to reopen next month in the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19.

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Litchfield Park, Goodyear school districts map out reopening plans

Three learning models to be offered

Posted

Officials with Agua Fria Union High School District and associated elementary/middle school districts, Litchfield and Avondale, have been working all summer to determine how best to reopen next month in the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19.

All three school districts formed task forces composed of administrators, faculty, staff and parents, conducted parent surveys and gathered community and student feedback to formulate their reopening plans.

Agua Fria Union High School District

Agua Fria Superintendent Dennis Runyan said the district plans to begin Phase 1 remote learning Monday, Aug. 3 then transition to a Phase 2 hybrid flex schedule as soon as state and federal health officials deem it safe.

“The hybrid flex schedule has 50 percent of the students attending in an alternating day format with remote learning on the opposite days. This allows class sizes and bus ridership to range between 15 to 18 students rather than 28 to 32, for example,” he said. “This allows for six-foot spacing in classrooms, feeding lunch and temperature checks to be feasible at the high school level.”

Under the hybrid flex plan, students instruction would be conducted onsite and remotely on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, with school closed on Wednesdays for deep-cleaning.

An full online option will be available to families who don’t want their students to return to school in Phase 2, Mr. Runyan said.

Keeping students, faculty and staff safe will be paramount throughout the reopening process.

“The loss of educators for weeks at a time would not be operationally possible or safe right now,” he said. “I’d ask the public to remember this is currently a marathon public health event and not a sprint. I’ve come to the realization that patience, support, and creativity are the keys to helping the community move safely and actively into the short term educational future.

Agua Fria operates five high schools, Agua Fria, Canyon View, Desert Edge, Millenium and Verrado, serving Avondale, Buckeye, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Waddell and parts of Glendale. It also operates two alternative programs, Coldwater and New Directions.

As of mid-July, fall athletics schedules were still in flux, not expected to begin before Monday, Aug. 17. Summer workouts and practices were suspended over the summer as cases in Arizona continued rising, and will resume when deemed safe. “Mr. Runyan said.

He advised parents in the district’s July newsletter to expect several safety measures to be in place once athletic and other events resume, including limited seating, face masks required, social distancing and a cashless payment system.

For more information and updates, visit the district’s website, aguafria.org or Facebook page, @AFUHSD.

Litchfield Elementary School District

Phase 1 distance learning instruction is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Aug. 5 for schools in Litchfield Elementary School District, with in-person learning implemented when public health officials deem it safe for students to return to the classroom.

LESD operates 11 elementary schools and five middle schools serving students in Avondale, Buckeye, Goodyear and Litchfield Park. It also provides preschool classes.

On July 7, the district’s governing board approved it’s 2020-21 learning models: In-person learning, Digital Learning Academy and hybrid learning.

“We will send you a Fall 2020 Learning Model Commitment Form so that you may choose which learning model is best for your child,” the district announced on its website. Superintendent Jodi Gunning also hosted two virtual Town Hall sessions to assist parents in deciding which of the three best fits their students’ needs.

“Our life’s work centers on helping children thrive at school and in life. We are so excited to launch this new school year and continue our rich history of educational excellence,” Ms. Gunning stated on the district’s website. “Thank you for partnering with us to connect, educate and empower our Litchfield family and community.

According to the district, the in-person option will feature classes five days per week and:

  • Regular school hours;
  • Students remain with same cohort throughout the day;
  • Enhanced cleaning and protocols;
  • Face coverings required per government mandates;
  • Physical distancing (minimum 3 feet, per the Arizona Department of Education);
  • Materials will not be shared;
  • Modified breakfast and lunch;
  • Special area teachers and middle school content teachers rotate to classrooms;
  • Social and emotional support to promote student, staff and family wellness; and
  • Option to transition to hybrid learning or Digital Learning Academy at intervals if space is available.

The Digital Learning Academy option features classes five days per week and:

  • Hours to be determined
  • DLA staffed with LESD teachers
  • High-quality online learning using guaranteed and viable curriculum approved by LESD;
  • No traditional academy;
  • Access to “virtual” specials;
  • Social and emotional support to promote student, staff, and family wellness;
  • District laptops may be available to students based on need; and
  • Students may choose to transition to hybrid learning or in-person learning at intervals if space is available.

The hybrid learning option features classes five days per week and:

  • Blended model with in-person learning two days per week and online learning three days per week;
  • Adherence to all protocols of the in-person learning model;
  • Social and emotional support to promote student, staff, and family wellness;
  • District laptops may be available to students based on need;
  • Option to transition to Digital Learning Academy Learning or in-person learning at intervals if space is available;
  • Multi-grade classes may be necessary; and
  • Not guaranteed for every grade at every school.

Special education services will vary by model. In-person learning will see special education services delivered as usual. Under digital learning, the district’s Individual Education Program team will review the student’s IEP to determine if a Free and Appropriate Public Education will be offered, and will review and revised the student’s IEP accommodations section as applicable. Under the hybrid model, services will be delivered in-person or remotely, depending on individual learning priorities and student/staff scheduling.

Open houses are scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 30 for middle school students, and 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, July 31 for elementary students. The district was still deciding whether they would be in-person or virtual and planned to notify parents as soon as a decision was made.

For more information and updates, visit the district’s website, LESD79.org, Facebook page, @LESD79 or Twitter, @LitchfieldESD.

Avondale Elementary School District

Students in Avondale Elementary School District are scheduled to return Monday, Aug. 3 with a choice of three learning models, in-person, flex and Digital Academy.

The district operates nine schools from preschool through eighth grade, serving students in Avondale and Goodyear.

“We understand that each family has a different level of comfort and each student has different learning needs. Therefore, we understand and are working on different approaches to meet our families’ needs in order to ensure a successful school year for all,” AESD spokeswoman Kenya Vasquez said. “With the additional learning options, our families will choose which model is best for each of their students.”

Students whose families choose the in-person learning model will start the school year in the flex model and will transition to in-person once safe to do so, the district announced on its website.

According to the district, under the in-person option, students will attend their home school five days a week, with early release on Wednesdays, and:

  • Follow AESD Pacing Guides & Assessment Calendars;
  • District-issued Chromebook or iPad will be deployed to each student enrolled;
  • Daily attendance will be taken;
  • Grades will be assigned and student feedback given;
  • Accommodations and support services will be provided;
  • Social/Emotional support will be provided;
  • Class sizes will depend on the number of families who choose this option
  • Recess, breakfast and lunch will be in the classroom until they can be phased to outside and in the cafeteria;
  • Masks will be required for students and staff.

The flex model, which requires students to have internet access, will feature teachers delivering live, real-time instruction at scheduled times daily, allowing students to interact with the teacher and their classmates in all subjects, and:

  • Begin the year attending school every day from home through an online platform;
  • Students enrolled at their home school;
  • Follow AESD Pacing Guides & Assessment Calendars;
  • State-mandated tests require in-person testing;
  • District-issued Chromebook or iPad deployed to each student enrolled;
  • Daily attendance taken;
  • Grades assigned and student feedback given;
  • Accommodations and support services provided;
  • Social/emotional support provided;
  • Live, real-time teacher-led instruction, with additional time required for students to complete independent and small group learning for all subjects;
  • Participate in activities and events with home school; and
  • Qualifying families participating in free/reduced lunch will have the option to pick meals up from their home school.

Students with the need for flexibility can start the year learning at home and then transition back to in-person learning at the end of each quarter, and families may also choose for students to enter the flex model at a later date.

Under the digital option, which also requires internet access and is designed to be a full-year enrollment, students will have scheduled live, real-time and small group instruction with a Digital Academy teacher from one of the district’s school sites, not necessarily from the student’s home school. Students will be able to access their learning at any time of day during the week, at their own pace by actively participating in interactive lessons and learning opportunities. The child’s teacher will monitor and support each child’s progress. It features:

  • Online, robust lessons with a certified teacher all year;
  • Students enrolled at their home school;
  • Follow AESD Pacing Guides & Assessment Calendars;
  • All subjects covered throughout the week;
  • State-mandated tests require in-person testing;
  • District-issued Chromebook or iPad deployed to each student enrolled;
  • Attendance taken through date stamp on student work;
  • Grades assigned and student feedback given;
  • Accommodations and support services provided;
  • Social/emotional support provided;
  • Learning on student’s time with access to live teacher-led instruction, asynchronous instruction, small group and independent learning;
  • Participate in activities and events with home school;
  • Qualifying families participating in free/reduced lunch will have the option to pick meals up from their home school.

For more information and updates, visit the district’s website, chooseaesd.org or its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, @avondaleesd.

Kelly O’Sullivan can be reached at kosullivan@newszap.com or 760-963-1697.

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