As we enter into our 5th week of school closures due to the COVID-19 virus, it is clear that life is very different for everyone. While going into school closure is so counter to the way we wake up and face each day in our normal lives, like everyone, the Prescott Unified School District (PUSD) is making the very best of the situation.
As always, our Prescott community has been absolutely outstanding in terms of supporting children and schools during this time. Along with great partnerships with other schools and districts throughout the Prescott area and the state, this support has allowed our new distance learning mode to operate very well considering the circumstances.
In PUSD, we are honored to play an important role during this time and we are shifting our motto to:
Every Child, Every Day, Everywhere. This means that we will continue high levels of teaching and learning, by meeting our students and families wherever they are at: in their living rooms, kitchens, in their homes.
Connectivity is of course a top priority and concern as we continue learning from afar. While PUSD is fortunate to have been very prepared for distance learning through nearly a decade of strong focus on technology based instruction and a goal of one-to-one devices for our students, we will always say that the classroom experience, that relationship between teacher and students and students with each other, can never be duplicated online. However, we continue to focus on relationships as we deliver content online. Teachers are creating video “hellos” and story time for their classes. Full classrooms are meeting with their teachers through online platforms that have been in place prior to this crisis. Particularly at the high school level, students and teachers have been communicating on college-like technical platforms for a few years now. We are in full operation.
Prescott is unique in technology in that our community passed a bond in 2015 where our taxpayers have supported $842,000 (to date) in infrastructure, most of that going to Chromebook-type devices as we work toward one-to-one technology for our students. We are also extremely fortunate to have a foundation, the PUSD Education Foundation, that has donated over $50,000 toward technology, most of that toward the one-to-one initiative. At foundation events such as the “Sip and Savor”, generous Prescott individuals, for example, bought a Chromebook for a student, or even 10 students. Some individuals bought entire classroom carts of devices for our students! Last week, a line of cars wrapped around Prescott High School, while we checked out over 300 devices to our students and families to continue learning at home. All said, like most nonprofits right now, our foundation is at a standstill and unable to have many of the events that have provided this support for our students. Please keep this in mind as we all work through this together. The foundation accepts donations online at https://pusdeducationfoundation.com/.
While I am on my soapbox, and very grateful to live in the support of Prescott, in Arizona, many school districts will never see this kind of support in current Arizona funding formulas. Not all communities support bonds and overrides. This is not fair, and the state of Arizona is still in the bottom ten of the nation for funding students because education is not enough of a priority for our politicians. However, the state’s COVID-19 response was spot on, creating emergency law to allow schools to operate fully. I am grateful for this foresight and hopeful that it is the beginning of something new. I am hopeful that the politicians will create goals to move off of the bottom of the nation in terms of the priority of the importance of education in our state.
As usual, I have quickly taken up my space in the Daily Courier today, so will bullet out a few more points to keep our community posted. But first, I want to thank our Daily Courier for always being a positive leader in our community, and a true local newspaper. They, also, are a reason that the schools in our area thrive.
-We remind everyone, if you need anything, please reach out to your teacher, principal or myself and we will make sure that your needs are being met.
-We are working with PHS seniors on the best ways to celebrate graduation and the traditions that surround it.
-We have a detailed Distance Learning Plan, and have recently shared a flexible grading parameter. These are extensively explained on facebook and www.prescottschools.com
-We are feeding around a thousand kids per day! Breakfast and Lunch drive through is available for all kids under 18 (not just PUSD) is available Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. at Lincoln School and Prescott High School
-We will be surveying parents and families to find out how we can improve or support in any way
-Thank you for being Prescott Strong!