Gilbert Public Schools board keeps eye on COVID-19 health benchmarks

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)

Gilbert Public Schools remains in the “red”—high risk for COVID-19 community transmission—on case numbers as judged by state and county dashboards, but no more schools are close to returning to a hybrid learning.

That analysis came from Superintendent Shane McCord’s report on the benchmarks to the governing board at the board’s Nov. 17 meeting.

The state is in the yellow, or moderate risk, on the percentage of positivity in testing, and in the green, low risk, on COVID-19-like illnesses.

The board previously set its own benchmarks for schools to return from in-person to hybrid learning, in which each student is on campus two days a week. Thus far, only Campo Verde High School has done so, moving to hybrid Nov. 9 after it surpassed 1% of the people on campus having active cases of COVID-19.

However, the most recent report from the school shows active cases have been cut in half, leaving the school poised to return full-time in-person learning as soon as Nov. 23 if this week’s numbers remain under 1%.


Two members of the public, including a tearful Campo Verde freshman, asked the board to keep schools open.

Board member Reed Carr said the board wants to keep schools open and activities to continue, but only within the set parameters, in hopes any short-term shutdowns will prevent long-term ones.

Other business

  • The board unanimously approved the 2021-22 course description books for the high schools, junior high schools and Gilbert Classical Academy. Among the new courses included in the books are honors robotics and Mandarin. President Charles Santa Cruz expressed concern about some raised fees reflected in the course books, and Curriculum Director Renea Kennedy said the district is mindful of the additional burden it can place on families. However, she said the district also had to cover some added costs, such as for COVID-19 protections. McCord said there is a process to waive or reduce fees if a family’s circumstances warrant it.

  • The board unanimously approved the instrument and performance pay measures and weights for when it evaluates McCord’s performance as superintendent.

  • The board approved a state-required report that breaks down the district’s finances to the level of each school.

  • The board approved a college credit examination incentive program that pays Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate teachers money for each of their students that passes the AP examination. The money from the state for each passing student is split between the teachers and for usage in professional development or advanced course resources.

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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