CDC study: In-person learning safe with precautions, but Pima County taking it slow

Updated: Jan. 27, 2021 at 10:26 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is possible for schools to safely re-open and limit the spread of COVID 19.

But local school leaders think it may take a little longer before Pima County is ready.

“We were just one of the highest in the world,” said Pima County Superintendent of Schools, Dustin Williams, in regard to case numbers. “That’s a big concern. So when we hear the recommendation of the CDC, we also want to work really, really closely with the Pima County Health Department for their recommendations.”

The CDC’s study showed that students are not necessarily at increased risk for the virus if they attend in person. Superintendent Williams said that’s been the case here for the few schools doing in person learning.

“We work directly with the Pima County Health Department and they have seen that inside the schools is actually a safer place to be, especially kind of in those lower grades.”

But it’s not a one size fits all scenario. Cases are higher across certain area codes. For example, the Arizona Department of Health Services data shows the difference in cases between two bordering zip codes in Pima County is 7,000 cases. That means the return will look different across districts.

AZDHS Cases by ZipCode
AZDHS Cases by ZipCode(AZDHS)

“One area of town might be okay, you might not see a lot of covid related instances. Another part of town could be very different and that’s the concern still,” said Williams.

Those discussions continue, as several districts look to the end of February or early March as a hybrid start date.

Tucson Unified SD - Full remote learning until further notice

Vail - Beginning Monday, Jan. 25, all PreK-8 schools in the district, along with Vail Academy and High School, will return to the hybrid instruction model. All other high schools in the district will resume hybrid instruction on Monday, Feb. 8.

Amphitheater - Citing Pima County’s COVID-19 case rate, Amphitheater School District will delay hybrid learning at least until Monday, Feb. 15.

Flowing Wells - In a letter sent out to families on Friday, Jan. 22, the Flowing Wells Unified Schools District announced its schools will remain in the remote learning model until at least Friday, Feb. 12.

Sunnyside - Status: The Governing Board voted to postpone in-person hybrid learning to March 1, provided the metrics from the Pima County Health Department indicate that it is safe to do so. This means they will remain in remote learning for the month of February, and have set a target date to return to in-person hybrid learning on Monday, March 1.

Catalina Foothills - In person and online learning options

Sahuarita Unified - Voted Wednesday, Jan 27. to return to hybrid learning in a phased approach.

Feb 1st: K-5th Grade

Feb. 8th: 6th-8th grade

Feb. 15th: 9-12th grade

Superintendent Williams said we should anticipate a slow return, while leaders continue to listen to our local health department. He said he does not anticipate a full return till the fall.

“As far as all in-person across the county, I don’t see that yet and probably not for the beginning of the year,” said Williams.

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