Updated March 30: Gov. Doug Ducey and Supt. of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced that Arizona public schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The extension follows updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and an announcement from the White House extending physical distancing guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic until April 30, 2020.
Today’s announcement to extend school closures through the end of the 2019/2020 school year brings stability and certainty to our school communities.@azedschools will continue to support our schools, students, and educators as we do our part to #slowthespread of #COVID19 https://t.co/q2VVf8Pz9t— Kathy Hoffman (@Supt_Hoffman) March 30, 2020
In a joint statement, Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said, “In alignment with yesterday’s updated federal guidance, today we are announcing the extension of school closures through the remainder of the school year. Today’s announcement is intended to give parents and educators as much certainty as possible so they can plan and make decisions. While this isn’t the outcome any of us wanted, we are grateful for the partnership of schools around the state, who have stepped up to offer virtual and take-home learning opportunities for our students. These efforts are crucial, and we recognize that schools are making every effort possible to continue providing instruction during closures. We also thank our legislative partners for passing legislation ensuring all educators and staff see no disruption in pay. Our number one priority will continue to be health and safety, and we will continue to work closely with public health officials to make the best decisions for kids, families, and our school communities.”
On March 27, Gov. Ducey signed HB 2910, which provides flexibility on statewide testing requirements, school letter grades, requires learning opportunities for students to continue, and ensure teachers and staff see no disruption in pay as a result of COVID-19. Then on Saturday, Gov. Ducey signed the budget bills into law
Original story on March 26: As Arizona schools move to distance learning due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, there are equity concerns that not all students can or will receive the same educational opportunities and experiences.
This crisis will worsen many inequities that have long-existed across our system & widened the achievement gap between under-resourced communities and their more advantaged counterparts.— Kathy Hoffman (@Supt_Hoffman) March 30, 2020
We must address these inequities in the face of #COVID19 AND after this crisis has passed. https://t.co/OorToM30JS
With little training and few resources, schools shifted in days from a system that has focused on in-person interaction to one that’s online and at a distance, according to a National Public Radio story.
While school districts work through the challenges of getting remote instruction to all students during the coronavirus shutdown, teachers plan, reach out to students, and wait, according to an Education Week story.
Madison Elementary School District and Tolleson Union High School District students have already begun online classes and similar classes begin for Dysart Unified and Peoria Unified School Districts next week.
But Bowie School District students are picking up weekly homework packets with grab and go meals and the assignments are being delivered to students’ families who can’t pick them up.
Bowie Superintendent Wendy Conger said students may also be given access to a computer room that’s sanitized often and provides plenty of space for social distancing, “We’re going to have to spread out our hours so there’s no more than two to three students at a time and those students have to be spread at least 6 to 8 feet apart,” according to a Willcox Range News article.
Douglas Harris, an education researcher and Brookings Institution fellow, said in a recent article that “studies of online learning suggest not only that students learn less in online environments, compared with in person, but that disadvantaged students learn the least. And that’s true even when online teachers have experience and training with online teaching. Under the current emergency, most teachers will not have any experience at all with this approach.”
Teachers are also being advised to use familiar educational resources, not unusual or unexpected ones as remote learning starts, according to an Education Week story.
Buckeye Elementary schools are letting families know that if they have questions or need assistance, they’re ready to help.
Bisbee Unified students are picking up Chromebooks at the district office so they can keep up with online learning that Greenway School and Lowell Junior High School teachers are providing online using Google Classroom, according to a Sierra Vista Herald/ Review story.
In Litchfield Elementary School District students , fourth graders at Belen Soto Elementary School in Goodyear met with teachers to do classwork through video-conferencing platform Zoom, and the district is also offering K-8 supplemental work packets, according to a Surprise Independent story.
During this time of required in-home learning, Cox Communications is helping families in need by offering affordable home internet service to low-income families with a K-12 student through their Connect2Compete program.
Bullhead City Elementary students will be receiving study packets delivered by bus drivers along their routes each Monday starting next Monday.
“The extremely high number of local households without internet access is requiring additional coordination,” said Carolyn Stewart, Bullhead City Elementary School District superintendent in a Mohave Valley Daily News story. “That involves teachers’ curriculum, support staff copying instructional packets, organizing bus routes where there are needs, and more. And we’re keeping everything in line with new state laws passed by the Arizona Legislature just a few days ago.”
Yuma School District One’s Rolle Elementary Principal Mrs. Angulo encouraged students to work on their distance learning, showed a little of what she’s been doing since school has been closed and encouraged students to share a little about what they’re doing at their house.
Willcox School District has been delivering homework packets to students by bus drivers at the same time students pick up grab and go breakfasts and lunches, according to a Willcox Range News story. The district has also been providing online work for students who have internet access.
This at-home learning means parents play an important role in their students learning by providing assistance at home, said Willcox Superintendent Kevin Davis.
While learning is going online for Cartwright School District, leaders there know that not all students have access to the internet and with libraries and other internet hotspots closed down to reduce the spread of COVID-19, they sent out a social media message showing wi-fi hotspots in the area.
Kyrene School District offers learning materials online through their Learn at Home site and reminds parents that distance learning starts March 30.
Instructional resources including materials aligned to grade levels & content area standards have been posted at https://t.co/O89gHwkf2m. Phase 2 of Distance Learning will span March 30-April 9 & will include teacher office hours. Resources are recommended but not required. pic.twitter.com/e9H0UcjEuX— KyreneSchools (@KyreneSchools) March 24, 2020
Kyrene lets parents know they can print out some of the district’s Learn at Home resources if that would work best for their students.
Looking to print some of Kyrene’s Learn at Home resources? A Monday message to all Kyrene families included a form you can fill out if you would prefer to access print copies of materials. Here are some other tips for learning at home! pic.twitter.com/B0scqJfTcf— KyreneSchools (@KyreneSchools) March 25, 2020
Kyrene also reminds parents that play is an important part of students’ learning, especially now.
Working through the emotions of school closures can be challenging for kids. @Playworks is a familiar resource for students that encourages social-emotional learning through engaging play. Resources include videos, games and live videos on Facebook.https://t.co/bflasZpkHU— KyreneSchools (@KyreneSchools) March 26, 2020
Online chats and webinars are also available for teachers to help them as they shift to online learning.
Some school districts also noted on social media that students without access to the internet at their house could bring work online through the wi-fi hotspot in the school’s parking lot.
Sunset Elementary school’s team is planning for their students distance learning with online team meetings.
Williams Unified School District teachers will be contacting students with work assignments starting March 30 and both internet and paper assignments will be given. Paper assignment packets will be distributed with meals, according to a Williams News article.
All Hopi Tribal schools are closed until April 3rd, including Hopi Head Start Centers, child care and early intervention programs, according to a Navajo-Hopi Observer article.
“This was not a decision taken lightly,” read a letter sent home to parents. “We know that closing schools, even for a short time, is detrimental for many of our families and employees. There are many consequences to school closures that will have to be addressed, including the possible lengthening of school days or extension of the school year to meet statutory requirements.”
The letter also said the impact on student learning is a primary concern as is the impact of school funding.
“All schools will work diligently to mitigate these consequences to the extent feasible within the limits of each school’s resources and legal authority,” the letter said.
Salt River Schools reminded students to pick up their books and asked parents to respond to the survey in the book pack.
Phoenix Union High School District students will hear from their teachers by March 31 and begin doing supplemental work then too.
SPREAD THE WORD: Students, we miss you, and are working to connect you w/ teachers. Please follow the steps below & REMINDER: We’re not starting new material. You can supplement your learning & catch up. Teachers will connect March 31st for supplemental work. #ClosedNotClosed pic.twitter.com/CmiJ2zCUy6— PXU (@PhoenixUnion) March 24, 2020
Peoria Unified’s Sundance Elementary School let students know that their teachers miss them.
Apache Elementary students stood outside to wave at their teachers as they drove by during a car parade.
Thank you! It was wonderful to see so many families outside and doing well during our Social Distance Parade! We miss you Apache families! We hope to see you soon!#AWESOMEHAPPENSHERE pic.twitter.com/jsDSSThyge— Apache Elementary (@ApacheElem) March 26, 2020
Teachers are creating challenges for students to keep them connected and learning too.
Teachers are reading stories for their students on social media to help keep them engaged and learning.
In Dysart Unified School District, West Point Elementary School teachers and staff paraded through their students neighborhoods to let them know that they miss them.
East Valley Institute of Technology decided to donate their supply of masks and gowns to rural healthcare professionals who need them while schools remain closed for COVID-19.
EVIT donated 2,500 masks and 350 isolation gowns from the EVIT School of Health Sciences to Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center in Show Low to help medical personnel during the #COVID19 crisis. https://t.co/zWge3gcaQA #WeAreEVIT #InThisTogether #AZ #CTE pic.twitter.com/KR0igfuMn3— EVIT Career & College Prep #WeAreEVIT (@EVITnews) March 24, 2020
At Blue Ridge USD in Pinetop Lakeside, Lead STEM instructor Mr. Kevin Woolridge and his students are using their lab’s 3D-printing capabilities to produce 325 protective masks and a prototype of a ventilator.— Kathy Hoffman (@Supt_Hoffman) March 30, 2020
Our students & teachers are leading in this moment. #ClosedNotClosed
The Office of the Maricopa County School Superintendent created a Google Map to help students’ families find where they can pick up free school breakfasts and lunches, click here to take a look at it.