The Avondale Elementary School District maintenance team

The Avondale Elementary School District maintenance team helped AESD achieve HealthyVerify certification.

Avondale Elementary School District became the first public district in the state to receive the HealthyVerify certification. The district also discussed reopening plans at a governing board meeting July 7.

According to the board presentation, the district plans to offer a choice of in-person or online schooling, with new health and safety protocols including mask wearing and extra focus on students’ social emotional learning.

HealthyVerify works with businesses to create and implement personalized health restrictions to limit the spread of disease, the HealthyVerify website explains.

“The practices and procedures received from certification are intended to assist the district in reducing the risk of transmission of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, through a variety of approaches and methods,” said Kenya Vasquez, a district spokeswoman.

She said the plan for the district includes practicing social distancing as much as possible and mask wearing for all when social distancing cannot be assured. Additionally, there will be health verifications by families and staff prior to coming to school “and robust sanitation implementations.”

The procedures include the district office and its 10 campuses in Avondale and Goodyear.

“AESD is committed to developing the safest return practices possible for our staff and families. We take the health and wellness of our AESD community seriously and reached out to experts in the field to support our planning and implementation of safety protocols for when we are ready to return to school,” said Dr. Betsy Hargrove, Avondale Elementary School District superintendent.

AESD received its certification on June 23. HealthyVerfiy did a walk through of the school sites to ensure the proper implementation of the recommended health and safety protocols.

According to the presentation, a district team helped determine that students and staff would be required to wear masks throughout the day where social distancing is not possible.

Staff are also being trained in self-monitoring for symptoms, recognizing visible symptoms in others, and protocols for cleaning and sanitizing.

Hand sanitizer will be readily available for everyone throughout the building, and frequent handwashing will become a regular part of the day.

When classrooms reopen, AESD families will have a choice on whether students learn in-person or online.

Due to Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order, students will not be able to return to school until Aug. 17. So all students, including those who choose the in-person model, will start the year in the district’s online flex model.

The flex model was designed to make it easy to transition from in-person to online. Students will spend four and a half days a week in a structured, real-time, teacher-led environment in which they will learn all subjects.

Attendance will be taken daily, and students will have the chance to interact with their teachers and peers.

Families can choose to stay in the flex model after the executive order is lifted, but if they wish to return to in-person after this time, they must wait until the end of each quarter. Families may also transition from in-person into the flex model if they would like.

The internet is necessary to participate in the flex model, and the district will issue an iPad or Chromebook to each student for course work.

Fall options

Once it is deemed safe for schools to open, AESD plans for its students to return to a four and a half day week with Wednesdays only having instruction in the mornings.

Class sizes will be determined after the district finds out how many families would like to participate in in-person learning, and all students and staff will be required to wear masks.

To limit cross contamination of germs, all recesses, breakfasts and lunches will be held in the students’ classrooms until they can be transitioned into the cafeteria and playground settings again.

Another option for the fall semester is the digital academy in which students will attend school online four and a half days a week. It will combine live teaching, pre-recorded lessons and self-paced deadlines.

Attendance will be marked based on date stamps of student work, and all subjects will be covered throughout the week.

In both the digital academy and flex models, social and emotional support will be readily available to all students, and they can participate in any events or activities at their home school.

According to the presentation, other changes that will be seen in the district include food services and transportation.

District transportation will still be available to those students who need it, but masks will be required, as social distancing will not be guaranteed. 

Buses are to be sanitized in between each drop off and signs will be posted to remind parents to keep kids home if they feel sick or have a temperature of 100.4 degrees.

Parents should be on the lookout for another survey from the district so AESD can determine how each of its families would like to participate in the fall semester as well as fill any technology needs for families who don’t have access to adequate computers or technology.