Higley USD sets plan for return to remote if numbers rise on campuses

Higley USD
The Higley USD governing board approved a plan to return to remote learning if COVID-19 numbers spike on a campus. (Courtesy Higley USD)

The Higley USD governing board approved a plan to return to remote learning if COVID-19 numbers spike on a campus. (Courtesy Higley USD)

Higley USD will not return to remote learning districtwide unless the state orders it, but the district has developed a plan for specific campuses to do so if COVID-19 cases spike there.

That district’s governing board approved that plan Dec. 2 at a special meeting to consider what actions to take as the COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the area. The vote was 4-0 with Board Member Greg Wojtovich absent.

Associate Superintendent Dawn Foley presented the plan to the board along with other members of district administration and said the district aimed to keep in-person instruction available to families as it is best for most students.

Under the plan, the district will use its own dashboard to evaluate if a school site should need a return to remote learning. That dashboard shows the number of active cases on each campus.

A campus would return to remote learning if a defined percentage of the campus population, inclusive of students and employees, has active cases of COVID-19 for three consecutive days.

For example, an elementary school would have to have 2% of its students and employees have active cases for three consecutive days before a return to remote learning would be declared.

Remote learning would then be used Monday through Friday of the following week as a mitigation measure for the campus, which also would be deep cleaned while students are off campus.

The campus could stay in remote the following week if the percentage remains higher than the benchmark.

Middle school campuses would be moved to remote at 1.5% active cases and high schools 1%.

Foley noted that some neighboring districts use similar numbers to evaluate closing to full-time in-person instruction, and administrators felts those numbers made for good indicators to make such a move.

Higley USD will return to remote learning as it does not have a hybrid model of learning, which is part-time online and part-time in person. Foley told the board the task force that planned for Higley’s learning options did not like the additional planning teachers must do for a hybrid model and that most teachers also opposed that model.

Board members expressed thanks to teachers and staff for their part in keeping campuses safe and asked the public to continue doing the things, like wearing face masks and keeping sick students at home, that will allow schools to continue to conduct in-person learning.

Vice President Kristina Reese also endorsed using a site-specific approach and rejecting any districtwide closure, saying it was difficult for her to even think about returning to remote learning.

Foley said the district would comply with any Arizona Department of Health Services order to close the district’s campuses.
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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