How & why teachers discuss trial with students; Schools keep masks after Gov. rescinds mandate - AZEdNews
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How & why teachers discuss trial with students; Schools keep masks after Gov. rescinds mandate


Students In David Silvas’ Class At Florence High School Work Together In Class. Photo Courtesy Florence Unified School District

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Updated April 20, 2021: The jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all three charges in the death of George Floyd, including second degree murder. Here’s how and why teachers are discussing the trial with students during class.

Earlier this week, Minnesota students walked out of class to protest racial injustice as jurors began deliberations in the trial.

Here are some resources for eductators to help students as they process the judgement in the trial and what it means in their lives.

Minneapolis public schools test a new safety model without police on campus.

Earlier today in Arizona, several school districts, like Tolleson Union High School District, said they’ll continue requiring students and staffs to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for the last five weeks of school after Gov. Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order yesterday that rescinded the state school mask mandate.

In Arizona, K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against the spread of COVID-19, and that includes the use of masks.

Mesa Public Schools, Glendale Elementary School District, Kyrene Schools, Madison School District, Avondale Elementary School District, Paradise Valley Unified School District, Tempe Union High School District, Osborn School District, Washington Elementary School District, Gilbert Public Schools, and Scottsdale Unified joined Tolleson Union in still requiring all students, staff and visitors to wear a mask while on school grounds.

TUHSD Families: Please check your email for an important clarification on Governor Ducey’s Executive Order issued…

Posted by Tempe Union High School District on Monday, April 19, 2021

Peoria Unified, Dysart Unified, Deer Valley Unified, Chandler Unified, and Higley Unified said they will still require all students, staff and guests on school and district properties to wear masks and that their governing boards may discuss Gov. Ducey’s executive order during an upcoming board meeting.

Masks will be recommended but not required for students, staff and visitors to J.O. Combs School District and American Leadership Academy campuses.

Supt. Hoffman responded that “Children under 16 are still ineligible for COVID-19 vaccines and the CDC still recommends universal masking in public schools to ensure safe learning environments. Universal masking – along with other key mitigation strategies – has allowed schools to safely operate during the pandemic.”

The Arizona School Boards Association released a statement that said, “ASBA is profoundly disappointed that Gov. Ducey chose to terminate the requirement for universal masking in K-12 public schools.”

“Instead of focusing on completing the last five weeks of school as smoothly as possible, schools districts will not be forced to deal with controversy over masking, which as far as we are aware, the CDC still recommends. Far from making schools safer, we feat this will add to the concerns some parents already have regarding in-person learning,” ASBA said.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 855,155 today from 854,453  yesterday, and 17,193 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 532,133 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 114,345 in Pima County, 50,697 in Pinal County, 36,991 in Yuma County, 22,454 in Mohave County, 18,541  in Yavapai County, 17,514  in Coconino County, 16,060 in Navajo County, 11,832 in Cochise County, 11,274 in Apache County, 7,898 in Santa Cruz County, 6,861 in Gila County, 5,535 in Graham County, 2,452 in La Paz County and 568 in Greenlee County.

Today, Gov. Ducey issued an Executive Order that would require school districts to post sex education curricula online and in person for parents to review at least two weeks before any instruction is offered, after he vetoed Senate Bill 1456.

The Executive Order requires the State Board of Education to adopt the following requirements by June 30, 2021:

  • All meetings held for the purposes of reviewing and selecting the sex education course of study must be publicly noticed at least two weeks before occurring and be open to the public.
  • Any proposed sex education course of study must be available and accessible for review and public comment for at least sixty days before the governing board or governing body decides whether to approve that course of study.
  • At least two public hearings within the sixty-day period before the governing board or governing body approves any course of study must be conducted. 
  • Once a course of study has been approved, a school district or charter school shall make the sex education curricula available for parental review, both online and in-person at least two weeks before any instruction is offered. 
  • Any existing sex education course of study must be made available and accessible for review both online and in person.

Gov. Ducey called Senate Bill 1456 overly broad and vague, which could lead to unintended consequences, including concerns it could put vulnerable children at risk by limiting discussion around sexual abuse prevention.

Chandler Unified School District 8th grade AVID students created a rock garden with inspirational thoughts, core values, college plans and career goals as their legacy for the school.

A Shadow Ridge High School junior’s javelin throw ranks him 8th in the nation.

Peoria Unified School District‘s Medical, Engineering and Technology students took part in the PopUp Peoria Innovation.

Students douse administrators at Mesa Public Schools after they surpassed their goal in collecting bottled water to help the homeless.

Tolleson Union High School District reminds students that Teen Lifeline is there for their mental health needs 24 hours a day seven days a week including throughout the summer.

Higley Unified School District students compete in ensemble, percussion and color guard perfomances.

Dysart Unified School District celebrates volunteers who give their all to help students.

Updated April 19, 2021: Today, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced $21.3 million dollars to supplement the School Safety Grant Program. The funding will bring 140 new school counselors and social workers to Arizona public schools.

As passed by the legislature and implemented by the Arizona Department of Education the School Safety Grant program brought more than 260 social and emotional support professionals to our schools – seeking to reduce our state’s astronomical student-to-school-counselor ratio, the highest in the nation.

To fill the gaps left by the legislature, ADE will allocate a portion of its federal recovery dollars to fully fund the counselor and social worker waitlists – bringing opportunities for 71 school counselor and 69 school social worker positions to schools for two years. 

This afternoon, Gov. Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order in conjunction with Arizona Department of Health Services advice that rescinds the mandate that students and staff at K-12 public schools wear masks.

But Arizona’s K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against the spread of COVID-19, and that includes the use of masks.

Supt. Hoffman responded that “Children under 16 are still ineligible for COVID-19 vaccines and the CDC still recommends universal masking in public schools to ensure safe learning environments. Universal masking – along with other key mitigation strategies – has allowed schools to safely operate during the pandemic.”

“Nearly 2 million Arizonans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with many teachers and school faculty now fully vaccinated after being some of the first in line for vaccine prioritization,” Gov. Ducey said. “Teachers, families and students have acted responsibly to mitigate the spread of the virus and protect one another, and our school leaders are ready to decide if masks should be required on their campuses. We will continue to work with public health professionals and Arizona’s schools as more students return to the classroom and our state moves forward.”

The action rescinds a portion of Executive Order 2020-51 in July and Emergency Measure 2020-04 issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services outlining requirements for mask use in schools. 

“Across the state, almost 4.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of Arizona Department of Health Services.. “Many families and communities are further protected from COVID-19, and our schools are ready to decide their next steps when it comes to masks. We encourage all Arizonans to get the vaccine — it’s safe, effective and absolutely free to the public.”

In addition, Supt. Hoffman said, “Today’s announcement destabilizes school communities as they end what has arguably been the most challenging year in education. I encourage school leaders and board members to work with their communities to make transparent, evidence-based decisions that build trust in the safety of our schools.”

The Arizona School Boards Association released a statement that said, “ASBA is profoundly disappointed that Gov. Ducey chose to terminate the requirement for universal masking in K-12 public schools.”

“Instead of focusing on completing the last five weeks of school as smoothly as possible, schools districts will not be forced to deal with controversy over masking, which as far as we are aware, the CDC still recommends. Far from making schools safer, we feat this will add to the concerns some parents already have regarding in-person learning,” ASBA said.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 854,453 today from 853,761  yesterday, and 17,153 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 531,673 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 114,294 in Pima County, 50,584 in Pinal County, 36,987 in Yuma County, 22,426 in Mohave County, 18,522  in Yavapai County, 17,500  in Coconino County, 16,058 in Navajo County, 11,829 in Cochise County, 11,270 in Apache County, 7,898 in Santa Cruz County, 6,861 in Gila County, 5,531 in Graham County, 2,452 in La Paz County and 568 in Greenlee County.

There are fewer high school seniors applying for financial aid this year. But there is still time for them to apply.

Dysart Schools announces that Convergence Indoor Drumline and Color Guard are the Winter Guard Arizona (WGAZ) state champs in their respective divisions

Phoenix Public Library is booking limited in-person visits at some locations.

Oscar Frayer’s mother, Bionca Sparrow, and his nephew, E.J. Harris, accepted Frayer’s diploma at GCU commencement. Frayer, his sister Andrea Frayer-Moore and his friend Caley Bringmann died in a car crash on March 23, three days after GCU’s first NCAA tournament game.

Arizona University’s are planning their second commencement ceremonies in a pandemic.

Updated April 16, 2021: Students in schools in the San Carlos Apache Nation look forward to seeing their friends and teachers when in-person instruction resumes, and a few are doing their work at school campuses so they can access the internet for online classes. But the school district on tribal lands remains in remote learning to keep students and their multi-generational families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education advocates encourage Gov. Doug Ducey to withhold his signature from a bill that would ban classroom discussion of gender identity, sexuality and AIDS without parents opting in.

Arizona School Boards Association and several other groups are calling on the Governor to veto this legislation, which is harmful to LGBTQ students and infringes on local control. See more in yesterday’s update below.

Related articles:
Video: Senate Ed passes bill to require parents to opt in to sex ed
Legislators, Gov. repeal HIV/AIDS instruction law

Vistancia Elementary students learn about health careers by learning helpful skills.

School librarians have brought authors and students together through virtual visits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hear how volunteers are helping Dysart Unified students’ STEM learning.

Avondale Elementary School District thanks their transportation department for serving students and delivering meals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Excel in Ed worked with Education SuperHighway to help states to develop ways to increase families’ enrollment in this program.

See how a Deer Valley Unified School District educator created a learning environment for students to study the desert and for fellow teachers to learn from children’s work.

Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No. 35 invites parents of kindergartners to register now take part in their Kinder Readiness Fair on April 28th.

Florence Unified School District shares information about a Gifted Magnet program they’ll use next year and how to see if your child is eligible for it.

Seven Northern Arizona University professors were promoted to the highest rank faculty can achieve.

Ben & Jerry’s thanks a Buckeye Elementary School District teacher for one of her student activities.

Updated April 15, 2021: Education advocates encourage Gov. Doug Ducey to withhold his signature from a bill that would ban classroom discussion of gender identity, sexuality and AIDS without parents opting in.

Arizona School Boards Association and several other groups are calling on the Governor to veto this legislation, which is harmful to LGBTQ students and infringes on local control.

Arizona’s public district schools have always engaged in a process laid out by the State Board of Education to review and approve sex education curriculum. Parents are given the option of whether to have their students participate or not.

“Formal sex education in Arizona is completely optional and this bill is not necessary,” said Arizona School Boards Association in a statement released Wednesday evening.

More troubling, the bill singles out “sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression” as a special topic that requires affirmative parental consent before it can be mentioned in instruction.

“Laws like this substitute the judgement of the state for that of a community’s own residents and run contrary to our state’s ethos,” ASBA says.  

Arizona’s locally elected governing boards are community members themselves and do not need the Legislature telling them what is and is not appropriate for their students.

Related articles:
Video: Senate Ed passes bill to require parents to opt in to sex ed
Legislators, Gov. repeal HIV/AIDS instruction law

This bill perpetuates the idea that LGBTQ people, including the students we serve, are “abnormal” and “other,” and materials covering people who resemble them are so taboo they require special permission.

This is not conducive to the mission of providing an environment where all students feel safe to be themselves as they learn, ASBA said. 

The Arizona School Boards Association opposes SB1456 as a tremendous overreach into the school board’s authority to establish curriculum it deems appropriate for the school community and urges Gov. Ducey to veto this bill.   

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 851,725 today from 851,265 yesterday, and 17,123 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 529,722 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 114,029 in Pima County, 50,457 in Pinal County, 36,943 in Yuma County, 22,360 in Mohave County, 18,475 in Yavapai County, 17,410  in Coconino County, 16,016 in Navajo County, 11,776 in Cochise County, 11,255 in Apache County, 7,889 in Santa Cruz County, 6,857 in Gila County, 5,520 in Graham County, 2,448 in La Paz County and 568 in Greenlee County.

The Arizona Dept. of Education announced a $2.5 million investment in Arizona K12 Center‘s New teacher support program using federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Updated April 14, 2021: The Arizona Senate has passed a bill that would prohibit public schools from banning Native American students from wearing Tribal Regalia to their graduation ceremonies.

In 2019, Valley Vista High School in Surprise prohibited a student, who was a member of a Sioux tribe, from wearing traditional beads on her cap to her graduation ceremony.

If Gov. Doug Ducey signs it, the legislation will immediately take effect, meaning students graduating this spring will be able to wear their Tribal Regalia.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 851,265 today from 850,846 yesterday, and 17,109 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 529,471 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 113,903 in Pima County, 50,417 in Pinal County, 36,943 in Yuma County, 22,353 in Mohave County, 18,462 in Yavapai County, 17,398  in Coconino County, 16,018 in Navajo County, 11,769 in Cochise County, 11,256 in Apache County, 7,882 in Santa Cruz County, 6,855 in Gila County, 5,520 in Graham County, 2,450 in La Paz County and 568 in Greenlee County.

Arizona schools are struggling to recruit teachers.

Great Hearts Academies, a network of nonprofit public charter schools, recently announced plans to expand with new campuses in Buckeye and Anthem.

Arizona’s House passes SB 1456 which prohibits sex-ed from K-4th grade and requires parents’ permission for sex-ed/ LGBTQ+ classes.

Gilbert Public Schools voted Tuesday to approve pay raises and stipends to employees.

Tucson Unified students will benefit from the $97,000 grant from Cox Communications, Raytheon, and the Educational Enrichment Foundation.

Updated April 13, 2021: Parents marched at the Capitol demanding that face masks be optional at schools.

Currently, the Arizona Dept. of Education requires students, staff and all visitors on school campuses to wear masks at public and charter schools.

Meanwhile, demand for COVID-19 vaccine appointments has been slowing down. Appointments used to be completely booked just minutes after they were made available and now it’s taking days to fill available appointments.

A first-year teacher talks about what it’s been like in the classroom this year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arizona pharmacies are complying with CDC, FDA and AZDHS guidance to pause the use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine after blood clots were reported in six women who received the vaccine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reminds people that the safest way to celebrate Ramadan is with members of your own household.

As AzMERIT standardized testing for students continues this week, Avondale Elementary School District reminds students to don’t stress just do your best.

Dysart Unified School District Governing Board Member Traci Sawyer-Sinkbeil has been appointed to the Professional Practices Advisory Committee by the Arizona State Board of Education.

Teachers interested in becoming National Board Certified Teachers should look into this opportunity with Arizona K12 Center.

Tempe Elementary School District’s Dr. Jeffrey Shores is a finalist for School Connect‘s Catalyst for Education Award.

President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the U.S. Census Bureau Robert Santos would be the organization’s first permanent director of color if confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Nina Mersing, a longtime Lake Havasu Unified School District teacher, takes her next step as a school principal.

It’s time to register your kindergarten aged children for elementary school, Flagstaff Unified School District reminds parents.

Hear why canceling student loan debt is so important from Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Learn more about filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid  at this workshop sponsored by Tucson Unified School District.

Hear more about Center for Anti Racist Education‘s antiracist principles for educators.

Grand Canyon University urges everyone to work toward building a safer community for all during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Want to take the kids to the Arizona Science Center? Check out this offer.

Updated April 12, 2021: Arizona State University will receive about $90.8 million and University of Arizona about $20 million from the Arizona Department of Health Services for their work operating the COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites and that total is expected to grow as the pandemic response continues, according to an Arizona Republic article.

 Arizona Department of Health Services opened an indoor mass-vaccination site at Arizona State University‘s Desert Financial Arena today.

President Joe Biden‘s proposed budget includes raising funds for Title I schools, which serve a large percentage of students from low-income families, from it’s current $16.5 billion to $36.5 billion, the largest increase in the program’s history.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 850.236 today from 849, 561 yesterday, and 17,086 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 528,888 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 113,764 in Pima County, 50,276 in Pinal County, 36,960 in Yuma County, 22,324 in Mohave County, 18,436 in Yavapai County, 17,346  in Coconino County, 15,998 in Navajo County, 11,750 in Cochise County, 11,256 in Apache County, 7,875 in Santa Cruz County, 6,853 in Gila County, 5,521 in Graham County, 2,450 in La Paz County and 569 in Greenlee County.

Deer Valley Unified School District students take part in Maricopa County‘s Air Quality interactive Zoom presentation.

As students return to in-person classes nationwide, school leaders remind educators to help students with care and empathy instead of punishment.

Chandler Unified School District‘s Andersen Junior High School Principal Allyson Stewart was honored by Grand Canyon University for all she does for students and staff.

Teachers looking for activity resources for your English Learners? Then check this out.

Do you know a community college student planning on transferring to ASU, NAU or U of A? Then have them check the Tri-University schedule for an event near them to answer their questions about admission, financial aid and career pathways.

Six ways to make summer school learning help students, courtesy of Chalkbeat.

Register now for virtual events sponsored by Scottsdale Community College that recognize Genocide Awareness Week.

Hear how educators say the $800 million set aside for homeless students in the latest federal stimulus package could make a huge difference for the students they serve and why it’s so important.

Barry Goldwater High School Calculus students hosted the annual Integration Bee.

Queen Creek Unified‘s Faith Mather Sossaman Elementary School students learn Fundations, a multisensory and systematic phonics, spelling, and handwriting program that for K-3 students.

See the skills that West-MEC’s law and public safety students are learning.

Earlier coverage

March 29 to April 9, 2021: Children, young teens may be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine before next school year

March 15 to March 26Masks are still required in all schools; Video: Dr. Christ’s news conference today

Feb. 24 to March 11, 2021: COVID-19 aid funds will help AZ students, families & schools

Feb. 11 to Feb. 23U.S. Dept of Ed: Students must take standardized tests, but there’s flexiblity on when & how

Feb. 2 to Feb. 9Video: Supt. Hoffman gives State of Special Education address

Jan. 21 to Feb. 1Black History Mural Month Project to highlight pioneers of the Black community launches in Phoenix

Jan. 10 – Jan 20How students engage with Inauguration Day

Dec. 21, 2020 to Jan 8, 2021Teachers help students deal with attacks on Congress, Capitol

Nov. 30 – Dec. 16Watch it now: Dr. Christ asks people to avoid holiday gatherings with people they do not live with

Nov. 18 – 25COVID-19 cases rise before Thanksgiving adding to school and hospital leaders’ concerns

Nov. 16: More schools return to online learning as COVID-19 cases rise

Nov. 2 – 13: $19 M grant would help schools with teacher development, stipends, reading & math curriculum, summer ed resources and more

Oct. 20 to Oct. 30: AZDHS amends COVID-19 school benchmarks

Oct. 7 – Oct. 19What are teachers doing ahead of elections to support students afterwards

Aug. 25 – Sept. 8: Parents voice concern about online class size; school nurses prepare for students

Aug. 12 – Aug. 24: Students, teachers affected by Zoom outage

July 30 – Aug. 11Parent organizes co-op for learners; group rallies for in-person school days after benchmarks release

July 13- July 30: Teachers prepare for digital learning and back to school

June 29 – July 12Video: Gov. says ‘Goal is to get children back to school when it’s safe;’ Schools lay out learning models

June 29: Video: Gov. delays in-person classes to Aug. 17 due to rise in COVID-19

June 15 – June 29: Video: Gov. pauses re-opening of some businesses as COVID-19 cases rise

June 24: Plan provides more funding, flexible instruction as schools re-open

May 26 – June 12: Increase in COVID-19 cases marks a new daily high

May 20 – 25: AZ Dept. of Ed releases COVID-19 guidance to schools for summer programs, back to school

May 11 – 19: Arizonans consider workplace safety, what back to school will look like amid COVID-19

April 26 – May 10: Stores re-open, COVID-19 testing blitz resumes on Saturday

April 8 – 25You can get tested now if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19

March 12 – April 7, 2020Coronavirus response: Cases rise; AZ Day of Giving