School districts look at remote learning start, date for in-person classes still up in the air

TUSD on reopening

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - School is back in just a few weeks, but there is still some uncertainty and lingering questions.

Tuesday night, Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) officials released their final recommendation for reopening.

While no date has been set for TUSD students to return to campus, the new school year would begin on August 10th. Under the plan, school would be fully remote at the start.

“It is going to be online and computer based for everybody,” said Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo.

Trujillo says even when schools physically reopen, students will be spaced out with masks on and devices in hand. They will work through the exact same lessons as their peers at home.

“That will consist of live zoom classes, not just students left on their own,” he said.

Trujillo admits it’s not ideal, however, he says plan allows for the following:

-easy compliance with health regulations in a paperless environment with smaller classes

-consistency in student learning

- flexibility when it comes to resuming or cancelling in-person classes

“We have indicators that Governor Ducey is considering an extension of the [August 17th] delay,” said Trujillo. “In this pandemic, this I think puts us in the best possible position.”

Sunnyside Unified School District is taking a similar approach.

“We are actually going to start our school year on August 5th in a fully remote learning environment,” said Pam Betten, the Chief Academic Officer for Sunnyside.

The start date for physical learning is also up in the air, however, Sunnyside officials are confident a high quality education can be achieved through technology.

“Our kids are getting the most rigorous work that they can in this environment,” Betten said.

A full explanation of what remote learning will look like at Sunnyside can be found HERE.

Dr. Trujillo says TUSD plans to make sure no student falls through the cracks.

“[We requested] to allocate another 4 million of our CARES act money towards the purchasing of another 10,000 devices,” he said. “Inside of this purchase will be 1,700 brand new laptops for our teachers. It’s also going to be an additional 8,000 new devices for our students that we couldn’t take care of during the first round. We will have 80% of our student body with a device provided by the district. We have another 20% that has already told us ‘We have our own device, just let us bring it with us’.”

So far, about 43,800 students have been enrolled in TUSD for the upcoming school year. That number is a bit low, however, officials are anticipating a spike in enrollment in the coming weeks.

The final TUSD reopening plan is set to be adopted at the next school board meeting.

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