TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The largest school district in southern Arizona is working through its pandemic protocol during closures from the coronavirus.
As of Wednesday, March 18, 2020, Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo said no students or staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.
On March 15, Governor Doug Ducey and Kathy Hoffman, the superintendent of public instruction for the state, announced all schools in Arizona will be closed for two weeks, until March 27.
“A historic situation of unprecedented proportions," Trujillo said.
Trujillo said he expects a decision from Ducey on Sunday, March 22 regarding a school operation. The district will plan for a deadline of April 1 to make decisions regarding events like proms, graduation ceremonies and other extracurricular activities.
The Tucson Unified School District Governing Board accepted a resolution regarding COVID-19 and the future decisions Wednesday night. The resolution includes the authorization to pay budgeted work hours for full-time employees, the continuation of food services to students and more.
To read the approved resolution, click here.
Starting Monday, March 23, the district will begin delivering ‘Grab&Go’ mobilized meals to families at 113 locations throughout the community. The routes will run from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. with 10 minutes at each stop. Children will be given two meals at once, intended to be a lunch and breakfast for the next morning.
You can see each route HERE.
The meals will be available for all children, 18 and under, at the locations and the child does not have to be enrolled in TUSD. According to USDA/ADE requirements, children must be present to receive the meals.
A schedule with the locations is expected to be posted on the TUSD website on Thursday, March 19.
Trujillo told board members the district does not and will not have the infrastructure available to move to online instruction for all 45,000 students Monday morning. However, the IT department is putting together a plan on how to transition to online classes if school closures are extended.
The plan for the district includes surveying students for internet and computer access at home. If students do not have access, the district will work on handing out laptops or tablets and will work with local vendors to try to offer wi-fi or internet access through hot spots.
“I’m very concerned about student success, I’m very concerned about our seniors," Trujillo said. "These are kids that have invested, at this point, twelve years in the Tucson Unified community. Many, many of them have been with us from the start. A special time in any person’s life is senior year. It’s the prom, it’s graduation, it’s the friends, it’s the memories. One of the things I feel heartbroken about in this situation is the disruption of senior year, the interruption of senior year.”
The department will also look at target groups, like high school seniors, students in grades 9-12 or all students, when transitioning to online programs.
As of Wednesday night’s meeting, details on how the district will offer online services were still being worked out.
Trujillo had a strong message for the senior class after the meeting.
“To any single senior watching, to any single parent of a senior watching, number one - thank you for trusting us with your son or daughter for the last twelve years," Trujillo said. “I am going to work as hard as I can, as hard as I can to bring forth any policy revisions to this governing board, any waivers that need to happen, whether it is instruction time or any of our graduation requirements, to make it as easy as possible to graduation in this interrupted senior year. As long as there’s a pathway, as long as I have an opportunity to advocate for our seniors who have been so negatively effected, I’m going to do that.”
The TUSD Operations department has created a ‘Hot Shot Team’ to focus on targeting schools for “high touchpoint” disinfecting. “High touchpoint” places include toilet seats, door handles, light switches, sinks, handrails, vending machines and more.
The district will train site custodians and ensure supplies are fully stocked at all school sites. When, or if, students return to classrooms this semester, all schools will be disinfected. The district does not utilize bleach, in any form, for cleaning.
As of Wednesday, all TUSD buses had been thoroughly disinfected.
You can view the full COVID-19 Task Force presentation, including personnel matters and employee protocol, here.
You can watch the TUSD Governing Board meeting here.
To stay updated on district decisions or changes, a daily FAQ is posted on the TUSD website and shared on all social media outlets. The next governing board meeting is scheduled for Friday, March 27.