Agua Fria Union High School District’s Governing Board voted 3-2 Wednesday, Sept. 9, to begin hybrid learning Monday, Oct. 12 if COVID-19 benchmarks deem it safe for teachers and students to return to the physical classroom.
Board President Vickie Landis, Vice President Maxine Hill and board member Gina DeCoste voted in favor. Board members Mariana Sandoval and Mary Kay Utecht voted against.
If Maricopa County public health officials deem it safe, teachers will return to their classrooms Wednesday, Sept. 23, to conduct distance learning, and students will return to campus Oct. 12 following the district’s fall break scheduled Oct. 5-9.
AFUHSD operates five high schools and two alternative programs serving Avondale, Buckeye, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Waddell and parts of Glendale.
Under the hybrid model, students will be divided into two groups, with half in the classroom two days a week and half online two days. All instruction will be conducted online on Wednesdays.
Superintendent Dennis Runyan told the board when district administrators began forumulating the hybrid transition plan in early summer, they told teachers and staff they would give them four weeks' notice before transitioning to hybrid and full in-person instruction.
At the beginning of the nearly four-hour meeting, Educational Services Executive Director Tom Huffman read public comments from teachers and parents, the majority of whom expressed concerns about safety and logistics, and urged the board to bypass the hybrid model and wait until it’s safe for everyone to return to campus at once.
Teachers’ resistance to the hybrid model surprised district administrators.
“The next four weeks are critical toward the preparation and dialoguing with teachers to get additional feedback. The concerns with the hybrid that emerged (recently) were different than what we saw from teachers earlier,” Mr. Runyan said. “I am listening. We are listening, and we do value that input from the teachers.”
Once hybrid learning gets underway, teachers will determine whether they teach their in-class and online students simultaneously or whether they provide alternate lessons for students during their online days, Mr. Runyan said.
Kelly O’Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-963-1697.