Like every school and district in Arizona and most across the country, The Prescott Unified School District (PUSD) has been working nonstop to try and outline every possible way to reopen school safely for the 2020-2021 school year. Last week, the Governor released an order for school to start no earlier than August 17. While most everyone is eager for things to be “normal” and for school to be traditional, we must be prepared to move in and out of “in-person” education models based on what is safe for our kids, staff and our community.
While many have requested either one extreme or the other (in person or distance learning,) it will not be that simple. Schools across the country are preparing for three modes of instructional delivery: in-person at school with social distancing measures, distance learning from home, or a hybrid model in-between the two that allows for half of the students at a time to be scheduled in-person while the other half are distance learning from home. These models will coincide with the local risk level of COVID-19. Schools and districts will work closely with their local health officials to determine these risk levels. Risk levels will also follow a protocol that will be highlighted in PUSD’s “Roadmap for Reopening,” which follows the Arizona Department of Education’s Roadmap. PUSD’s Roadmap will be shared with the PUSD Governing Board on July 14th for recommendations and approval.
As we work through these unique decisions, we have outlined five principles for which to filter our thinking:
1. Act with fidelity to PUSD’s Vision, Mission, and Goals.
Prioritize quality education for all students that provides continuity of learning and that is engaging and rigorous regardless of the instructional model they are served in during the school year
2. Prefer face-to-face learning over distance learning whenever it is safe to do so.
3. Prioritize student and staff health, safety, and wellbeing over other principles.
4. Ensure hygiene and health related policies are research based, clearly communicated, effectively implemented, and diligently enforced.
5. Promote practices and policies to reduce risk of virus transmission and support our capacity to be responsive and agile when facing changing health circumstances.
PUSD has had twelve different committees working to collaborate on the details of our “Roadmap for Reopening”. These committees are focusing directly on: communication, distance learning, hybrid learning model, health and safety guidelines, transportation, athletics and clubs, attendance, facilities and cleaning, special education, food service, technology, attendance, social emotional support, and health offices. With literally thousands of decisions around this process, we will always continue to keep our eye on “Every Child, Every Day”. We continue to be grateful to be in the supportive community of Prescott, Arizona, where we all work together, especially in the toughest of times.