Teachers preparing for a virtual start to 2020-2021 school year

Schools across the state are getting ready to welcome back students, but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there won't be an average start to the school year for students.

Queen Creek schools to start the year off virtually

Students at Eastmark High School, located in Mesa but a part of the Queen Creek Unified School District, haven't been able to step foot inside the school since mid-March, and they will have to a little bit longer until they can, with the school year set to begin with relatively empty classrooms, with just teachers and their laptops.

School district officials have sent a letter to parents outlining a plan, which reads:

"[On July 23], Governor Ducey issued a new executive order pertaining to the start of the 2020-21 school year. One of the resources mentioned in yesterday’s press conference was a health benchmark document, developed by the Arizona Department of Health, that will be released by August 7.

This will provide flexibility to school leaders, with public health data and guidance, to be able to safely return in-person.

Once released, QCUSD will analyze this guidance, along with the needs of the community, as we plan for the successful reopening of our schools.At this time, QCUSD will continue with current plans for an August 3 start date for online learning for all students and an August 17 start date for in-person learning.

Again, if families choose a long-term, on-line learning option from home for their children, they have the option to sign up for the Queen Creek Virtual Academy.

Our top priority during this challenging time is the safety of our students and staff. We truly appreciate your flexibility and patience as we work to provide QCUSD students with the best learning experience possible."

Teachers detail differences with virtual learning

Liz Murry Davis is an 8th grade math teacher at Eastmark. She talked about the plan for virtual learning in the upcoming school year.

"We will have what we call synchronous learning, which is live teaching in the mornings for half of our classes, and in the afternoon, we'll have what’s called asynchronous learning. It’s like when we think about college online class when kids can log on and ask questions," said Davis.

Davis says one of the challenges will be getting students back on a schedule.

"Getting them back to that routine, I think, is going to be a challenge for us, but I think they are ready to learn and find their purpose again."

7th grade English teacher Amanda Klick says regardless of that date, the school is prepared.

"We have done everything we need to do to make sure that it’s safe, and that it is going to be an amazing learning environment for them when it’s time to return," said Klick. "If we work together, we can do amazing things, and we can have an amazing school year despite all of the challenges that we’re going to have."

FOX 10 is working to keep you up to date with local and national developments on COVID-19. Every weekday on FOX News Now, our live coverage begins at 7 a.m. MST reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.

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COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus, but may put you in a better position to fight it.

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.

COVID-19 resources

FULL COVERAGE: fox10phoenix.com/coronavirus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


https://espanol.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html (In Spanish/En Espanol)

Arizona Department of Health Services


https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/es/covid-19/index.php#novel-coronavirus-home (In Spanish/En Español)

MAP: Worldwide interactive Coronavirus case data