Gilbert Public Schools will ask parents to sign pandemic acknowledgement form for return

Gilbert Public Schools' governing board will allow in-person instruction starting Sept. 8 if the state's health metrics have been met. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gilbert Public Schools' governing board will allow in-person instruction starting Sept. 8 if the state's health metrics have been met. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Gilbert Public Schools' governing board will allow in-person instruction starting Sept. 8 if the state's health metrics have been met. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Parents and guardians will be asked to sign an acknowledgement and disclosure form relating to the coronavirus pandemic conditions as Gilbert Public Schools students begin to return to campus Sept. 8.

Those forms are part of a larger district effort to purchase an insurance rider to cover the district’s liability if students come down with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, according to a presentation made to the district’s governing board Aug. 25.

Additionally, consultants and contractors who come to campus will be asked to sign a waiver, release and assumption of risk form before working.

COVID-19 claims are excluded from the district’s insurance from the Risk Retention Trust, which covers the district. However, the trust has decided to offer a COVID-19 liability endorsement.

The endorsement will cost the district $150,000, and the district will set aside $10,000 to cover the deductible associated with a claim.

The endorsement is limited to $1 million per claim, including defense costs and indemnity payments, with a $2 million aggregate annual limit for the district and a $25 million statewide limit for all districts.

The trust also requires the district to make a good-faith effort to implement a reopening plan that incorporates guidelines from the Arizona Department of Education to K-12 school districts.

Low interest on bonds

The district’s latest bond issuance from the end of July resulted in true interest costs of 0.78%, the lowest in district history, according to the district’s bond consultants from Piper Sandler, an investments and financial services firm.

This results in savings of about $5 million dollars from what the district anticipated paying on the bonds and about $0.03 on the tax rate going forward, Piper Sandler Managing Director Bill Davis told the board.

“It positions the district very well,” said Davis, who credited the district’s excellent credit ratings and the excellent timing of the sale against the market.

Board Member Reed Carr thanked staff for its work in putting the district into position to benefit on the sale and said it was great news for taxpayers.

Metrics trend downward

Superintendent Shane McCord reviewed the health benchmarks from state and county dashboards released last week.

The presentation demonstrated that while the district is not yet in territory to return in person part-time for a hybrid model of learning, the metrics are trending downward and should allow for a return to campus Sept. 8 and a full return for in-person learning Sept. 21.

Board Member Sheila Uggetti clarified that the metrics still must be met for those reopenings to happen.

McCord noted that the board was not voting on the return plan, as it has already authorized him to implement one, which he did last week.
By Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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