tolleson district letter

Update, Sunday, March 15: A state education association advised students to stay home indefinitely.

“The Arizona Education Association is calling for students to remain home from school until education leaders and state policymakers can present a detailed plan of support that assures students will be returning to safe classrooms and healthy school sites,” said Joe Thomas, AEA president, in a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey Sunday.

Multiple West Valley school districts announced they will be closed next week - and beyond, for some - to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Closures have been announced at Tolleson Union High School District and Pendergast, Litchfield and Littleton elementary school districts. Agua Fria Union High School Distrct's governing board was scheduled to vote on temporary closure at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 14.

As of Friday Avondale, Liberty and Buckeye elementary school districts planned to remain open. 

Some boards were holding emergency meetings this weekend to vote on possible closures.

The Tolleson Union High School governing board voted late afternoon Friday, March 13, to close for two weeks.

“After careful and deliberate consideration and having the best health interests of our students, staff, and community in mind, the Tolleson Union High School District has made the decision to cancel school for the next two weeks, effective Monday, March 16, and extending through Friday, March 27,” TUHSD Superintendent Nora Gutierrez said, in a letter to families.

“This decision is based on the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for staying home for 14 days after travel to areas of high COVID-19 exposure.”

Tolleson District, closing for two weeks as of Monday, has the following high schools: Copper Canyon High School, Glendale; La Joya Community High School, Avondale; Sierra Linda High School, Phoenix; Tolleson Union High School, Tolleson; University High School, Tolleson; West Point High School, Avondale; Westview High School, Avondale.

Pendergast, Litchfield and Littleton elementary school districts quickly followed on Friday, announcing they will be closed this week.

Most schools will be closed for two weeks, though district governing boards note they will be monitoring the situation and making further assessments.

After first saying it would be open this week, late Friday Agua Fria Union High School District governing announced a special board meeting Saturday to vote on closing this week.

The Agua Fria board was to vote on: “In an effort to prevent the community spread of COVID-19, and protect the safety of students, staff and the community, the governing board may approve the closure of its schools for a set period of time, or until further notice, beginning on March 16.”

Staying open

As of Friday Avondale, Liberty and Buckeye elementary school districts planned to remain open.

“Based on the information we’ve gathered, all BESD schools and BASE after school care programs will currently remain open,” said Superintendent Kristi Sandvik, in a letter to parents dated Friday.

“At 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 12, superintendents across the state participated in a teleconference with Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman and Dr. Cara Christ, Director of Arizona Department of Health Service providing guidance for schools regarding COVID-19. At this time, school closures are not recommended.”

The letter noted BESD extracurricular activities, including sports, would be cancelled through April 20.

Buckeye Union High School District also planned to remain open.

“At this time, school closures are not being recommended by any of these government agencies, so we will resume school after spring break on Monday, March 16,” said Superintendent Eric Godfrey, in a letter to parents posted online.

Saddle Mountain Unified School District had no plans to close, as of Friday.

“At this point, we are following the guidance from the Department of Health Services, Department of Education and the governor’s office to stay open,” said Dr. Paul Tighe, district superintendent.

Saddle Mountain has a little time to make a decision, however, as its spring break is this week.

“We will monitor and evaluate things next week to determine if we will need to close after spring break,” said Tighe.

The charter schools of Great Hearts Academies decided to extend spring break and remain closed this week.