Tucson Unified School District considers scenarios for reopening

TUSD discusses plan for reopening in fall

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - School districts are planning ways to reopen this fall and possibly bring students back to the classroom. This comes as the Arizona Department of Education released recommendations for districts this week.

The Tucson Unified School District is looking at several options for reopening including an on-campus model with social distancing, fully online learning or a hybrid involving teaching in the classroom and at home.

Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo said the district is considering whether staff will be required to wear face masks, protocols for temperature checks, installing plexi-glass barriers in offices, one-way hallways, limiting building entry to appointment only and putting no-touch hand sanitizer dispensers in all 89 schools and administrative buildings.

He said the changes are very costly. Providing masks to every student once a week would cost TUSD $1.25 million.

“And we still aren’t even talking about extra custodial that could cost us for enhanced sanitation protocols or if we have to add more bus routes,” Trujillo said.

More bus routes would allow fewer children to ride a bus and help promote social distancing. However, Trujillo said, survey results have shown not all families feel comfortable sending their child back to the the classroom.

“I can safely assume that there might be 25 percent of our student body here at Tucson Unified that may opt to continue on with distance learning,” he said.

Tucson parent, Mandy Stoffle, has two children attending the Flowing Wells School District. She and her husband work full-time, making online learning very challenging. She says she thinks with proper protocols, her kids should be safe to return to the classroom this fall.

“Kids are kids, they’re pretty flexible,” Stoffle said. “Even my five year old, she will be entering Kindergarten, we wear a mask when we go out and she’s okay with it. They wash their hands like crazy and both seem to understand the risks.”

TUSD is getting $18.6 million through the Cares Act and Trujillo said the money will be used for facilities, wi-fi access, transportation and transitioning classroom environments in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

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