A medical advisory team has been created to address new pandemic health benchmarks with the Peoria Unified School District.
The benchmarks were established by Arizona Department of Health Services, meant to guide decisions by public schools on when to offer virtual, hybrid or in-person instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district held an introductory call with the team Aug. 4.
PUSD spokeswoman Danielle Airey said the team has experts from epidemiology and research, public health, medical practitioners specializing nursing, pediatrics and child psychology.
Maricopa County Public Health Medical Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Scott also attended the meeting.
Topics of discussion included the benchmarks released Aug. 6, the current state of the community, the significance of positivity rates and other aspects of the data ADHS is tracking.
The team will continue to meet virtually during the coming weeks to provide the district with feedback, answer questions and help PUSD get a sense of the metrics.
The next meeting will be Aug. 17.
Ms. Airey said the team has a mix of expertise spanning epidemiology and research, public health and medical practitioners.
“The team is an engaging group that is very eager to continue conversations with us as we sift through the benchmarks from ADHS,” she said.
Benchmarks are classified into minimal, moderate, and substantial transmission categories as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and align with the Arizona Department of Education’s Roadmap for Reopening Schools.
ADHS recommends Maricopa County public health benchmarks fall within the moderate or minimal spread category in all three benchmarks for two weeks in order to re-open schools for in-person instruction. A moderate level could allow for a hybrid model and minimal level could allow for a full opening.
The county health department may modify a specific benchmark.
ADHS specifically recommends the following benchmarks be met prior to offering any in-person learning:
Currently, the only benchmark met is the two week decline in the number of cases or two weeks with new case rates below 100 per 100,000.
Districts throughout the Valley are attempting to determine when and how to bring back students for in-person learning, despite a recent statewide parent survey that found many were uncomfortable starting up classes.
To learn more about the required benchmarks and the current status, visit the PUSD website.
Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697, email@example.com, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.