School districts across southern Arizona release plans for start of 2020-21 academic year

School districts across southern Arizona release plans for start of 2020-21 academic year
School hallway. (Source: WTOC)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - School districts across southern Arizona have released their plans for the 2020-21 academic year.

Tucson Unified School District

The Tucson Unified School District released a letter to parents and students in response to Gov. Ducey delaying classroom start dates in the fall.

The following letter was issued from Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo on July 30, 2020:

Hello TUSD Families

The Tucson Unified School District will start remotely for all students on August 10th, 2020. Yesterday, 7/28, the District received the recommendation from Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry that per the Pima County Health Department (PCHD) the current health data suggests it is not safe to return to in-person schooling at this time. Based on this information, the District will be working with the Arizona Department of Education to delay our plan to offer in-school learning opportunities at all of our district schools, except for pre-approved High-Risk Exceptional Education students. There will be an update at the August 11th TUSD Governing Board Meeting regarding the status of the delayed start to our in-school learning opportunities and our plan to offer limited on campus services to the most vulnerable segments of our student population.

Lastly, the Pima County Health Department has recommended that fall sports be postponed indefinitely until the physical opening of campuses for in person learning opportunities is permitted. Future recommendations and decisions regarding the safety of opening our schools, continuing school and district events, sports, fine arts, and student activities will be guided by the recommendations of the Pima County Health Department.

Please stay healthy, we will see you soon.

Thank you

Dr. Gabriel Trujillo

Superintendent, Tucson Unified School District

For information on how to get started with online learning, click HERE.


Amphitheater Public Schools

The following letter is from Superintendent Todd A. Jaeger:

“Last week, I sent you a letter regarding the opening of school. The letter said that Amphitheater planned to start the 2020-2021 school year with remote education on Aug. 10, and intended to prepare for opening in-person instruction on Aug. 17, a target date set by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.

The District released the reopening recommendations on July 7, and planned to present them to the Governing Board on July 14 for approval.

Since July 7, we have seen continual rises in COVID cases in Arizona and increased concern about the safety of opening schools. It has become clear that the Governor Doug Ducey’s “aspirational” opening date of Aug. 17 for in-person education will not be possible to meet.

Guidelines issued months ago by the White House and the Centers for Disease Control include a phasing system for reopening communities. School openings fall into Phase 2, which requires four weeks of declining COVID numbers. We did the math, and it’s unlikely that schools will meet the Phase 2 criteria to open before Labor Day.

The amended recommendation to the Governing Board reflects this information. You can read more detail here.

The District understands that delaying the opening of in-person education will be welcome news to some and will be disheartening news to others. We recognize the health issues that are associated with opening and not opening, and we feel duty-bound to balance the needs of our community, looking always to the guidance of the health agencies charged with making these decisions.

We also recognize that a delay in reopening in-person may create new questions and uncertainties. We are presenting these recommendations to the Governing Board on Tuesday, and once we have an approved general plan, we will be able to provide more details

Thank you for your understanding as we work to make the best decision we can in ever-changing circumstances. Our deepest hope is that we can come together to reach the levels necessary to allow us to open our schools. We miss our students.”


Marana Unified School District

The following message is from Marana Unified School District website updated on July 13, 2020:

  • The Governor’s Executive Order on Monday, June 29, 2020 delays the start of in-person instruction until August 17, 2020, while allowing schools to offer remote learning/distance learning. The Marana Unified School District recognizes that it is in the best interest of students, staff, and families to re-engage, connect, and begin learning as soon as possible, and therefore, will begin the school year on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. Read Letter to Parents/Guardians dated July 8, 2020. The District’s Grab & Go meal program and Childcare for Essential Workers program continues. Families have the choice of full-time Remote Learning for grades K-12 or full-time Marana Distance Learning for grades 5-12.
  • Remote Learning
    • Grades K-12
    • Five full-days per week
    • The structured, engaging, high-quality academic learning experience allows students to connect to their teachers, classmates, and daily lessons remotely.
    • Consistency in teaching practices and graded learning experiences for students.
    • MUSD teachers
    • Lessons aligned to the District's comprehensive district curriculum, allowing a seamless transition to classroom learning when the District is able to resume school in-person.
    • Chromebook provided by MUSD
    • Social-emotional support
    • Physical Education, Music, and other electives
    • Additional services and support to students and families
    • More information about Remote Learning will be shared on our website in the coming days including expectations and requirements for student learning including meet the teacher visits, grading, attendance, instruction, daily schedules, special needs, Chromebook distribution, sports/athletic practices, and other information.
  • Marana Distance Learning
    • Grades 5-12
    • Five full-days per week
    • Students considering MDL for grades 5-12 should carefully consider their academic skills and learning style.
    • MDL courses suit learners who prefer to work independently and are able to prioritize and complete tasks on their own.
    • Mesa Distance Learning Self-Paced Curriculum - more than 80 courses offered.
    • Mesa Distance Learning or MUSD teachers
    • Chromebook provided by MUSD
    • Social-emotional support
    • Physical Education and other electives
    • Accommodations and support services available
    • Learn more about Marana Distance Learning The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a fluid situation and plans will consistently be evaluated to adapt to the continuing trends of the virus, guided by local, state, and national authorities.
  • When Schools Are Able To Resume In-Person Instruction MUSD is committed to providing families choice to make the decision that is best for their student’s learning. MUSD recognizes that these are unprecedented times and each student and family has different needs. The District also recognizes that parents have a choice when it comes to education, and MUSD parents have voiced a need for both classroom learning and online learning when the District is able to resume in-person instruction. When schools are able to resume in-person instruction, MUSD plans to offer three high-quality learning models to provide choice for students and families: Classroom Learning - available when schools are able to resume in-person instruction Flexible Learning - available when schools are able to resume in-person instruction Full-Time Marana Distance Learning - available beginning August 5 through the 2020-2021 school year for grades 5-12.

Catalina Foothills School District

The following letter is a message from Superintendent Mary Kamerzell:

Dear CFSD Families,

Today, all Pima County school district superintendents received a letter from the Pima County Administrator, Chuck Huckleberry, on behalf of the Pima County Health Department. They advise that we should not open our schools in-person on August 17. As a result, we will not wait for a health metric from the Arizona Department of Health Services and we will now plan to start the school year 100% remotely for all of our students.

Here is the excerpt from Mr. Huckleberry's letter that is definitive on the decision whether to reopen schools.

Where We Stand Today Regarding Infection, Hospitalization and Death Statistics for Resumptions, Including Opening Schools

Could local public health data support the reopening of schools on August 17, 2020 for in-person learning? The short answer is, no. The explanation in the facts. They are:

  • We are now near the end of July and local County COVID-19 infections are at the highest daily amounts since the pandemic began.
  • Pima County's total monthly infections in March were 153, in April 1,024, in May 1,101, in June 5,622 and so far for July through the 27th, they are 6,772.
  • Countywide transmission rates remain above 11 percent, with a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that rates be below 5 percent prior to opening.
  • Masks were only recently mandated at the County level on June 19, 2020 and it will take six weeks to see if this mitigation strategy is working.
  • Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are at record levels and it was only last week the ICU bed capacity was nearly exceeded and critical patients were transferred to other hospitals in the State.
  • Widespread testing is only now becoming available throughout the community.
  • Despite the availability of widespread testing, obtaining test results in a timely manner to allow effective contact tracing does not exist at this time in our communities.

For all of the above reasons, schools should not open on August 17, 2020 for traditional face-to-face, in-person instruction.

The present data certainly does not yet provide a positive, sustainable trend. Hence, it is the professional opinion of Dr. Garcia and Dr. Cullen that the earliest that traditional face-to-face in-person instruction can be anticipated to resume is after Labor Day (September 7, 2020) or later (e.g. October 5, 2020).

As I communicated previously, if schools cannot resume in-person instruction safely by the first day of school, CFSD's reopening plan includes a contingency model that will move all teachers and students to Remote Learning. That is what will happen.

We will begin the school year teaching all scheduled classes 100% remotely using CFSDOnline with Google Classroom as the online learning platform. Students will participate in Remote Learning with their assigned teacher(s) at their enrolled school with an established schedule in order to provide instruction in all areas of the curriculum. This will allow for a smooth transition to In-Person Learning with as few changes as possible to student and staff schedules when it has been determined that schools will be able to open.

This is such a challenging time for all of us. We will do our best to be flexible, listen to your feedback, and communicate in the future about an in-person option.

Sincerely,

Mary Kamerzell

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