Gilbert Public Schools board considers triggers for return to hybrid or virtual learning

Gilbert Public Schools governing board
The Gilbert Public Schools governing board discuss a possible return to hybrid or virtual learning at a special meeting Oct. 30. Clockwise from left are Superintendent Shane McCord, Lori Wood, President Charles Santa Cruz, Reed Carr, Jill Humpherys and Sheila Uggetti. (Screen capture from Gilbert Public Schools)

The Gilbert Public Schools governing board discuss a possible return to hybrid or virtual learning at a special meeting Oct. 30. Clockwise from left are Superintendent Shane McCord, Lori Wood, President Charles Santa Cruz, Reed Carr, Jill Humpherys and Sheila Uggetti. (Screen capture from Gilbert Public Schools)

At a special meeting Oct. 30, the Gilbert Public Schools governing board studied the possibilities of returning to hybrid or virtual learning models if COVID-19 health benchmarks continue to rise but made no decisions.

Instead, the board voted to take up the matter at its next meeting, Nov. 4, after asking for more information from district officials.

Superintendent Shane McCord promised the board he would bring back a matrix from which decisions could be made Nov. 4.

Among the topics explored were: what benchmarks should be considered in changing learning modalities; whether those benchmarks should be different for larger secondary schools and smaller elementary schools; whether a change should be made at a district level or by school; how soon schools could change to the new modality after a decision is made; and how a return to in-person learning would be accomplished.

In his presentation to the board, McCord recommended using a percentage of students and staff with active COVID-19 cases as the benchmark and making changes in delivery model on a school-by-school basis. McCord argued that such a method was easy to calculate and easy for students, staff and families to understand.


McCord further suggested that if such a benchmark were reached on a campus, an additional layer of investigation be initiated by the district’s health services team in consultation with the Maricopa County Public Health Department. Such an investigation would look at family relationships in positive cases and links to programs, special events and circumstances.

McCord also proposed that a return to online learning be done on a school-by-school basis based upon a percentage of active cases on campus as determined by the governing board or the current level of transmission within district boundaries or the county. However, McCord acknowledged that at that point, the district might have to go back online entirely.

The district has had 126 confirmed cases of COVID-19: 106 from students and 20 from staff. Some of those cases have recovered, McCord said.

Based on current numbers, GPS does not have a campus that would be close to needing to move to a hybrid or virtual model, even if the board were to set the benchmark as low as 1% of the people on campus, McCord said.

The Nov. 4 meeting was set last spring for a Wednesday, rather than a regular Tuesday meeting, to avoid conflicting with the Nov. 3 election. It will be a work-study session with a brief board meeting to follow.
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.


MOST RECENT

Higley USD District Office
It’s official: Dawn Foley takes over for Mike Thomason as superintendent at Higley USD

Mike Thomason officially retired May 3, and Dawn Foley stepped up from associate superintendent to acting superintendent ahead of officially taking over the superintendent role July 1.

Road construction barrels
Street work on Recker Road in Gilbert has resumed

Work resumed May 3 on the Recker Road street project between Ray Road and Loop 202-Santan Freeway after more than a six-month delay.

Lori Wood
Gilbert Public Schools adopts revised maintenance and operations budget of $263M

Gilbert Public Schools’ final revised maintenance and operations budget for fiscal year 2020-21 is the largest to date for the year.

Almost 3 million COVID-19 doses have been administered to Maricopa County residents as of May 4, according to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Nearly 3M vaccine doses have been given to Maricopa County residents

Almost 3 million COVID-19 doses have been administered to Maricopa County residents as of May 4, according to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

Laurin Hendrix
Gilbert Town Council gives preliminary approval to $988.25 million budget

For the second consecutive year, Gilbert Town Council is heading toward a budget that is smaller than the previous year.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites
Holiday Inn Express & Suites opens in east Gilbert

The 55,000-square-foot hotel has 98 guest rooms.

See a breakdown of COVID-19 cases, vaccinations and more local data. (Community Impact staff)
COVID-19: Vaccinations in Gilbert cross 100,000

Here is what you need to know about COVID-19 case counts in Gilbert and the state.

Here are the coronavirus hospitalization data updates to know across Arizona. (Community Impact staff)
ADHS: Hospitalization for COVID-19 increases slightly from May 2

Here is what you need to know about hospitalization numbers in Arizona because of COVID-19 cases.

Val Vista Drive
Val Vista widening project at 75% toward completion

The $34.28 million project improves Val Vista Drive to a major arterial roadway with three lanes in each direction with a raised median.

Randy Duren, Hair of the Dog
Pet-friendly Hair of the Dog opens in Gilbert

The wine bar, tap house and coffee shop is designed to be a dog-friendly neighborhood bar.

Mindy Waldon, Scott Waldon, Morning Kick
Casserole gives rise to Morning Kick food truck, which gives rise to restaurant

An 18-month-old picky eater, a grandma and a joke were the ingredients that changed the careers of Mindy and Scott Waldron.

Chandler USD Superintendent Camille Casteel announced she will be canceling an event planned to honor her years of service to the district ahead of her retirement at the end of the school year. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Chandler USD cancels event for outgoing superintendent; new businesses at The Post at Cooley Station and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Chandler and Gilbert areas.