Arizona Department of Education releases roadmap for reopening schools for 2020-21 school year

The Arizona Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools. (Community Impact staff)
The Arizona Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools. (Community Impact staff)

The Arizona Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools. (Community Impact staff)

The Arizona Department of Education released its "Roadmap for Reopening Schools" June 1, which offers guidance to school leaders on reopening schools under four scenarios in the wake of the coronavirus closures for the next academic year.

The roadmap offers guidance, put together over a month by a statewide task force, made up of more than 100 teachers, principals, charter leaders, school nurses and parental input. The guidance covers physical and mental health protocols, school finance, communication with parents and families and more.

"I know that the past few months have been among the toughest of your careers," Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman wrote at the beginning of the roadmap document, "The last part of this school year was filled with unexpected circumstances that few of us could have imagined. Despite the challenges, we must recognize that Arizona's schools have risen to the occasion to support their students, staff, and families in the face of these uncertain and challenging times. I have never been prouder to be a part of Arizona's education community, and I am continually inspired by the work our schools have done during this emergency. While our coming school year will also look different from years past, and as the entire world grapples with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I take heart knowing that our schools will continue to be bedrocks of support, comfort, and stability."

Here is the Arizona Department of Education's roadmap under the four scenarios:

  • Scenario one: All students in physical buildings from the start of the school year

    • A local educational agency may opt to consider scenario one if:

      • the local education agency meets the CDC School Decision Tree guidelines

      • there are none to minimal local/community cases of COVID-19

      • they have a governing board approved contingency plan

      • they have a comprehensive communication plan

      • they have clearly communicated screening expectations to staff and families

      • they have a plan for medically fragile staff and students





  • Scenario two: Some students in physical buildings and some students distance learning from the start of the school year


  • Scenario three: All students distance learning from the start of the school year, with the option of returning to physical buildings when appropriate

    • A local educational agency may opt to consider scenario three if:

      • the local educational agency is not able to meet CDC School Decision Tree guidelines

      • there are substantial local/community cases of COVID-19 Roadmap for Reopening Schools- June 2020 31 Arizona Department of Education

      • the local educational agency has a governing board approved Emergency Distance Learning Plan

      • the local educational agency has a comprehensive communication plan

      • the local educational agency has clearly communicated educational expectations to staff and families

      • the local educational agency has considered the digital divide for students on Tribal Nations and others who

        lack connectivity or devices

      • the local educational agency has determined the criteria for returning to physical building





  • Scenario four: Intermittent distance learning throughout the school year based on emergency closures as defined by local and state health departments

    • A local educational agency may opt to consider scenario four if:

      • All considerations from scenario three

      • the local educational agency has a plan for determining criteria and data necessary to return to physical school buildings






The state's roadmap also included guidance on implementing physical distancing in schools. The roadmap also included a section on screening students and staff, which may include temperature checks.

The guidance includes: modified layouts, staggered scheduling, creating smaller class sizes closing communal and shared spaces, serving individually plated or home-packed meals in classrooms instead of in a communal dining hall or cafeteria, adding physical barriers between bathroom sinks.

Chandler USD will discuss its plan for reopening at a school board meeting scheduled for June 10. Gilbert Public Schools has been preparing three different scenarios for reopening.