Benson Unified School District logs on for first day of school

Classes resume in Benson
Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 6:20 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - One of the first school districts in southern Arizona kicked off the school year on Thursday, July 23, but students aren’t there in person.

For the first time in its history, Benson Unified School District started the school year from home.

School officials said preparing for that was a challenge, but instead of pushing the start date back, they decided to keep their normal first day of school. 

They felt their kids needed a chance to reconnect and get back into a routine.

But that routine won’t be face-to-face with teachers and friends in classrooms. It will also differ by grade level.

In high school:

  • Students and teachers will follow the normal seven-class schedule.
  • Classes will be shorter.
  • Half-hour breaks will take place in between classes to give students a chance to disconnect.
  • On Wednesdays, students are not obligated to attend their classes virtually at all.
  • They may be assigned to meet with teachers, but the plan is to give students a chance to catch their breath. 

In primary school:

  • Students will learn from 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • In the afternoon, teachers will meet with students in small groups to work on assignments and to make sure their lessons are sinking in.

Of course, this is just the plan for now.

BUSD Superintendent Micah Mortensen said they will reevaluate if needed.

“This is like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” Mortensen said. “It’s very challenging. It’s kind of just recreating something almost from scratch in a pretty short period of time. So there are lots of challenges. Every time we think we have an answer to something, it’s like peeling an onion. There are more layers. What about this? What about that?”

Mortensen said the biggest challenge was making sure students could connect.

At this time, BUSD officially has enough Chromebooks to give one to every student if needed. So far, 500 students have requested one.

After the first few days, school officials will check in with families to see what their needs are and how things are working.

Teachers will also give their input so BUSD can adjust and make this transition as seamless as possible.

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