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TUSD staff “strongly encouraged” to get vaccinated, parents told to choose a learning option

Updated: Feb. 24, 2021 at 10:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Wednesday afternoon, southern Arizona’s largest school district released new details about its March return to in-person instruction.

Flexibility is the way forward for the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) as it tries to accommodate tens of thousands of staff, parents and students; each of whom have different levels of comfort.

“A lot can happen in the next 20 days and I am looking for a lot to happen,” said Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo. “I think their concerns will still be there to some extent.”

Dr. Trujillo says vaccination plays a significant role in the district’s re-entry.

“The Tucson Unified School District is not requiring or mandating, or obligating as a condition of employment or any other working conditions any of our employees to go get the vaccine,” he said.

However, he says the district is “strongly encouraging” it.

So far, more than 70% of Pima County educators have had the opportunity to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Pima County Health Department (PCHD).

TUSD plans to gauge where its employees are at through a voluntary survey.

“That will do out March 1,” said Dr. Trujillo. “I am hoping that the majority of our employees will be good sports and participate.”

Starting March 24, TUSD will offer either fully in-person or fully online learning options at elementary schools.

On March 25th, middle and high school students will either start hybrid learning (with four half days on campus) or remain online.

Only 59% of parents have selected their preference; with 30% opting for remote and 29% requesting in-person. So, TUSD is extending the response deadline.

“It was going to be open until February 28,” said Dr. Trujillo. “We are going to leave it open until March 7.”

TUSD will allow teachers to continue working from home if their situation warrants it.

Elementary school teachers will be able to teach classes in-person while streaming the instruction online simultaneously for students at home.

“The big result of this is that would eliminate the need for any schedule changes,” said Dr. Trujillo.

Nearly 60% of Arizona public schools are currently offering either hybrid or in-person learning, with more working on similar plans.

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