Normally, Labor Day weekend is the first break for kids who have been back in classrooms for a month.
But 2020 is about as far from a “normal year” as imaginable—and most West Valley kids have not been in a classroom for six months.
While Goodyear’s Trivium Prep and other charter schools started teaching in classrooms this week, no changes have been made at public schools in Avondale, Buckeye, Goodyear, Litchfield Park and Tolleson.
Even with COVID-19 cases dropping, public schools remain in remote-learning mode, with limited on-site locations for students who need a place to go.
And no plans have been announced by West Valley public schools for reopening in-classroom teaching.
While Gov. Doug Ducey gave districts authority to reopen when they feel they can do so safely, the state provided COVID-19 metrics to help districts make decisions.
COVID-19 positive cases fell drastically over the last week in Maricopa County. After an average of 2,250 new COVID-19 cases per day in Maricopa County in July, last week’s numbers were less than one-tenth of that, averaging less than 210 new cases per day.
But the latest School Reopening Dashboard and Guidance at Maricopa County Department of Public Health showed most of the West Valley was “in the red”—meaning a high level of community spread of coronavirus.
According to the site, “The two key components to reopening school buildings for in-person instruction are the quality of the school’s mitigation plan and the level of spread occurring within the community where the school is located. Public Health has created a dashboard tool to assist with decision-making for the types of learning scenarios schools may consider for re-opening. … Data used to generate this report are based upon the benchmarks and thresholds for re-opening established by the Arizona Department of Health Services.”
The Agua Fria Union High School District governing board is to discuss reopening at a Sept. 17 meeting.
“We will be reviewing some options at that meeting to consider starting the hybrid model when students return from fall break on Oct. 12,” said Dennis Runyan, the Agua Fria superintendent. “I will have more on this at a later date, but the hybrid rotation has 50% of the students on campus each day in an alternating schedule. The other 50% is still learning virtually when they are home.”
Similarly, the Buckeye Union High School District governing board has no plan to meet before its scheduled Sept. 14 meeting, according to Rob Roberson, BUHSD’s interim superintendent.
The Tolleson Union High School District governing board voted July 28 to delay in-person student learning until Oct. 9.
TUHSD’s board met Aug. 24 but did not make any changes. It will meet again Sept. 22.
While other districts around the West Valley follow Gov. Doug Ducey’s order to have at least one location for students who need a place to go during school hours, TUHSD was granted a waiver and is not offering on-site services.