The county updates once a week a school reopening dashboard that drills down to the ZIP code and school district level. The dashboard reflects the case rate per 100,000 people, the percentage of positivity in testing and COVID-19-like illness in hospitals. As of Sept. 10, Maricopa County as a whole had met the metrics for reopening schools in some form.
"After transitioning to an in-person instruction model (Traditional or Hybrid), schools should continue to utilize this dashboard to regularly monitor their area-specific level (i.e., the geographic area that best represents a school’s student body) of community transmission," the guidance released Sept. 10 read. "If community spread in the area begins to increase, MCDPH recommends schools proactively begin discussions about a potential need to return to a more physically-distanced learning scenario. Schools are best-suited to make decisions about the learning environments that best meet the needs of the student populations they serve."
The county recommended the following guidance to school decision-makers about when to consider pulling back in-person learning based on increase of community spread over two consecutive weeks of data:
- When an area's risk level has gone from minimal to moderate, the county recommends school decision-makers begin planning a transition from traditional learning to hybrid learning to reduce in-person learning at physical locations the first week that the data changes. If the geographic area—the school district or the district's ZIP codes—remains at the higher level of community spread for a second consecutive week, the county recommends that schools shift from traditional to hybrid or virtual with on-site support. If the second week of data reverts back to the lower level of community spread, no change to the current learning scenario is recommended.
- When an area's risk level has gone from minimal to substantial or from moderate to substantial, the county recommends school decision-makers begin planning a transition from traditional or hybrid learning to virtual with on-site support the first week the data changes. If the geographic area remains at the higher level of community spread for a second consecutive week, the county recommends schools shift to virtual with on-site support. If the second week of data reverts back to the lower level of community spread, no change to the current learning scenario is recommended.
"It’s important that decision-makers stay updated with local and state health and education authorities on the latest COVID-19 community health data and school-related guidance for re-opening," the county website read. "How and when a school re-opens will be specific to its unique needs and circumstances. Guidance to schools will likely evolve as our understanding of the virus grows and more scientific evidence becomes available."
Chandler USD, Higley USD and Gilbert Public Schools all met the criteria for hybrid learning with on-site support as of the Sept. 10 data update, according to the dashboard.