Gilbert Public Schools poised to return to hybrid learning Dec. 7

Gilbert Public Schools
Gilbert Public Schools campuses are expected to return to a hybrid model of learning Dec. 7. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Gilbert Public Schools campuses are expected to return to a hybrid model of learning Dec. 7. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Gilbert Public Schools is expected to return to a hybrid model of instruction—part-time in person and part-time online—starting Monday, Dec. 7, through semester’s end as a result of spiking COVID-19 cases.

A final decision on such a move will be made Dec. 3 based on what Maricopa County’s dashboard says about coronavirus transmission risk in Maricopa County and within GPS boundaries.

However, Superintendent Shane McCord told the district governing board at a work-study session Dec. 1 that he expects the dashboard will show high transmission risk in two benchmark categories: cases per 100,000 population and percent positivity in testing.

Last week’s dashboard showed the county and district in the “red,” the county’s color code for high transmission risk, in those two categories.

The governing board passed a resolution Nov. 4 in accordance with which the district would shift into a hybrid model of learning if the county and district were to be in the red for two consecutive weeks.


McCord told the board he will communicate with district employees and families Dec. 2 that they should be prepared to make such a move Dec. 7 if the benchmarks this week read as expected.

He said after the meeting that while the district wants to make the best decision for its students, it is difficult to make one with which everyone will be happy.

“It's personal for every single person,” McCord said of decisions regarding schooling during the pandemic. “That's the thing. I mean, it is personal. I could change start and end times for school, and people will be OK or not OK with it, but after a while, it goes away. This isn’t going away.”

McCord also told the board it is possible that hybrid learning could continue into the spring semester or that the board could even be forced to consider a return to all-remote learning to start the spring semester if the COVID-19 spike continues to get worse.

If such deliberations were to take place, they would come at a special board meeting during the day of Dec. 31, McCord said.

However, board members indicated that it was too early to consider such a move given how fluid the situation is with changing data and guidance.

Board Member Jill Humphreys said that while the decision will not make everyone happy, she believes it is necessary for the community to come together to get through this period until a vaccine is available and in wide use. Failure, she said, is not an option.

“We need to think about everyone in the community,” she said. “And we need to think about the way that we can address issues. So, if kids are struggling, then we deal with those issues.”

In other business:

  • Asked about how the district has dealt with teacher absences while there is a shortage of substitute teachers, Shawn McIntosh, assistant superintendent for talent management, said the district has used other employees, such as librarians, aides and instructional coaches, to cover classes when a substitute cannot be found.

  • The board toured the GPS Transportation Department building and heard a report on the transformation of the department. The district was plagued with busing problems to start the 2019-20 school year, which resulted in a change of department leadership.

  • During a presentation on a revision of the fiscal year 2019-20 annual finance report, Finance Director Jackie Mattinen told the board that the district has been awarded a $14.27 million enrollment stabilization grant from state AZCares funds.

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

Brigette Peterson
Gilbert Town Council amends codes to address marijuana at residences

Gilbert Town Council passed new building and fire code amendments Jan. 19 related to safety issues associated with residential marijuana growth and extraction facilities.

On Jan. 13, the Chandler USD governing board voted 3-2, with Lara Bruner and Lindsay Love dissenting, to resume in-person instruction for all grade levels Jan. 19 after a imposing virtual learning for two weeks. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Chandler Education Association: Some teachers, parents feel 'ignored' after board decides to resume in-person learning

The Chandler Education Association released a statement imploring the district to return to virtual learning.

Town of Gilbert mural
Gilbert looks to fill openings on two more boards

The town of Gilbert has announced it is looking for applicants to fill openings on two town boards and commissions.

Kung Pow Restaurant
Panda Libre in Gilbert changes name to Kung Pow Restaurant

The restaurant now serves Chinese food, and the majority of its menu has been revamped.

The Arizona Department of Health Services is expanding who can get COVID-19 vaccinations in Arizona. (Courtesy Baylor College of Medicine)
More COVID-19 vaccination appointments available Jan. 19; plus, see where you can get your COVID-19 vaccination in Maricopa County

The Arizona Department of Health Services is expanding who can get COVID-19 vaccinations in Arizona.

Here is what you need to know today about coronavirus in Gilbert. (Community Impact Newspaper)
COVID-19: Gilbert cases increase by 226 Jan. 19

Here are the COVID-19 data updates to know today.

Here are the coronavirus hospitalization data updates to know across Arizona. (Community Impact staff)
Number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 surpasses 4,700

Take a look at the hospitalization data across Arizona.

The location's decor will pay homage to the town's history as the "Hay Shipping Capital of the World." (Courtesy Cracker Barrel Old Country Store)
Cracker Barrel coming to Gilbert; wine bar set for Chandler and more top Phoenix-area news

Read the most popular news from the past week in Chandler and Gilbert.

Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Health Services announced Jan. 14 the launch of a second vaccination site after the success of the state's first 24/7 vaccination site at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. The second location will be at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Arizona to add second vaccination center after successes at State Farm Stadium in Glendale

Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Health Services announced Jan. 14 the launch of a second vaccination site after the success of the state's first 24/7 vaccination site at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. The second location will be at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Here is a look at the latest COVID-19 updates from Chandler USD. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Chandler USD to return to in-person learning Jan. 19

The Chandler USD governing board voted for students to return to campuses Jan. 19.

Gilbert Town Council inauguration
Brigette Peterson sworn in as Gilbert mayor with council members Scott Anderson, Kathy Tilque

Brigette Peterson was sworn in as the 33rd mayor of Gilbert on Jan. 12, ending a nearly yearlong shuffling of the Town Council

Cracker Barrel Old County Store
Cracker Barrel sets Feb. 8 opening date in Gilbert

The location's decor will pay homage to the town's history as the "Hay Shipping Capital of the World."