GPS board puts contingency plan in place if return to hybrid learning is necessary; Campo Verde High first to go

Gilbert Public Schools
Gilbert Public Schools campuses could return to a hybrid model of learning if COVID-19 cases rise too high on a school-by-school basis. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Gilbert Public Schools campuses could return to a hybrid model of learning if COVID-19 cases rise too high on a school-by-school basis. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Gilbert Public Schools governing board decided Nov. 4 on a contingency plan to bring schools out of in-person learning and back into hybrid learning if COVID-19 cases get too high in district schools.

Under the plan, Gilbert Public Schools gave notice Nov. 5 that Campo Verde High School will return to hybrid learning Nov. 9 for two weeks. The school has 20 active positive cases, representing 1.04% of the student body.

The plan, which passed on a unanimous vote of the board, also considers how the district would move into virtual learning if needed and how it would then return to in-person instruction.

Board member Jill Humpherys crafted a proposal for the board to consider and reworked it after input from the other board members.

Humpherys characterized the task as threading a needle between a preference for students to learn in person but keeping them safe as coronavirus cases surge once again.

Under the plan, an individual campus would switch from in-person to hybrid learning, in which students are on campus two days a week and learn virtually the remainder of the week, if the number of active cases there reach a certain percentage of the students and staff there. For elementary schools, it would be 2%, junior highs 1.5% and high schools 1%.

Canyon Valley School, an alternative high school, would require five cases, and the RISE program for junior high school students would require three cases for the switch to be made. The board decided to go with straight numbers at those schools because of their small sizes.

Superintendent Shane McCord will make this decision based on the number of confirmed active COVID-19 cases reported on a weekly basis on the GPS COVID-19 dashboard.

Additionally the entire district would move into the hybrid model of instruction if two out of three guidelines for GPS district boundaries, as published by the Maricopa County Public Health Department, show substantial community transmission—color-coded as red on the department’s dashboard—for two weeks.

Those three benchmarks are for number of cases per 100,000 population, percent positivity in testing and number of COVID-19-like illnesses.

If numbers continue to rise, the governing board could be called into an emergency meeting to move the district from hybrid into virtual learning.

However, if numbers fall over two weeks of hybrid learning, in-person instruction could resume.
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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