PHOENIX - With a new school year just weeks away, officials with some school districts in the Valley have announced plans to return to class.
Kyrene School District
The district announced its return to school plans will include having all students and staff wear cloth face coverings in classes with 15 students or more.
The district serves about 16,500 students
“We have some of the littlest learners in the state of Arizona. We are aware there is an added challenge at the kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade level," said Erin Helm, the district's communications and marketing director.
No decision has been easy during the COVID-19 era, Helm explained. “Fortunately, we are making decisions based on science and medical facts being presented by the CDC," he said.
District surveys indicate they won’t have many classes below 15 students and social distancing won’t be possible, Helm said.
That’s the scenario Governor Doug Ducey says he reserves his mask for, when social distancing isn't possible, but he’s stopped short of a mandate for all Arizonans to wear masks.
“I’m all for masks when there can’t be social distancing. I have mine here,” Ducey said in a June news conference.
Students will be kept together for meals and assemblies and field trips will be cancelled for the time being.
“A lot of people are concerned with going back to work, but hopefully they’ll take some comfort with our announcement today.”
Kyrene School District official website
Mesa Public Schools
On its website, officials with Mesa Public Schools announced a series of virtual meetings with parents, community leaders, teachers, staff members, and students. The first meeting is set to take place from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Thursday.
School officials say one of the options possible is in-person learning for five days a week. Another is modified learning, which would be both in-person and remote learning experiences. A third option would be remote learning five days a week.
If families opt for in-person learning, the school district would have rules in place for safety. They want students and staff to follow physical distancing guidelines. There would also be enhanced cleaning protocols, and classrooms would have to stay together at recess.
Meanwhile, students can participate in extracurricular activities and athletics following safety measures.
If families chose remote or modified learning, all students would have a district-provided laptop, and classes will be led by district leaders.
"We believe our families need to have a choice about how they return to school. We also believe our staff needs to have a choice on how they return to their work environment," said Andi Fourlis, the incoming superintendent for Mesa Public Schools.
The options were all received from the community in May, but since a lot has changed with the pandemic since then, the school district is now gathering feedback again. Mothers, meanwhile, say as long as guidelines are followed, they will feel comfortable getting back into a normal routine.
RSVP page for Mesa Public Schools meeting on return to class