Most Higley USD positive cases not following district’s COVID-19 policies

Higley USD
More than 70% of students and staff in Higley USD who come down with confirmed cases of COVID-19 are ignorning the district's policies and procedures and coming to school anyway. (Courtesy Higley USD)

More than 70% of students and staff in Higley USD who come down with confirmed cases of COVID-19 are ignorning the district's policies and procedures and coming to school anyway. (Courtesy Higley USD)

Clarification: Higley USD staff and students who did not follow COVID-19 procedures did so only by coming to school after showing symptoms.

More than 70% of Higley USD students and staff who have been confirmed as positive cases of COVID-19 have not followed the district’s policies and procedures established to mitigate the effect of the coronavirus.

That statistic, gleaned from the district's followups to each positive case, is part of an educational video the district has produced to educate community members on its COVID-19 dashboard and how the district treats cases. The video was shown to the governing board at its Dec. 9 school board meeting.

According to that presentation, of the 37 staff cases, 72% did not follow the district’s policy and procedures, namely coming to school when they had symptoms. For the 121 cases from students, 74% did not follow the policies and procedures.

Those statistics caught the eyes of governing board members, who continued to plead with the public to stay home when sick and follow mitigation strategies like wearing a mask and frequently washing hands.

“We created a COVID policy to try to protect our students and our staff,” Vice President Kristina Reese said. “I know our staff definitely feels obligated. They want to come to work, but when they’re sick, they’re sick. They need to stay home.”

The district also noted in the video that contract tracing shows most positive cases on campus come not from exposure on campus but from outside activities such as parties and sleepovers.

Associate Superintendent Dawn Foley said the district will continue to update its dashboard during the upcoming winter break.

Other business

  • Interim Chief Financial Officer Jeff Gadd presented a first revision to the projected fiscal year 2021-22 budget. The revision chiefly accounted for a lower average daily membership, or ADM—roughly enrollment—in the district this year. ADM is a key number in figuring state funding. Gadd also noted that districts are getting about half of what they expected in enrollment stabilization grants from the state because the funding ran out. The funding was meant to ensure districts got at least 98% of their funding from the previous fiscal year.

  • Winter sports cannot begin play before Jan. 5 and will do so without spectators until the county’s COVID-19 numbers are contained. That decision comes the Arizona Interscholastic Association, high school sports’ chief governing body in the state, and not from the district. Additionally, players who participate in club sports must quarantine for 14 days before joining their school teams.

  • Revisions have been made to the district’s athletics handbook, including for the first time a code of conduct for coaches.

  • The board unanimously approved course guides for middle schools, high schools and the Higley Virtual Academy.

  • The district recognized board members Scott Glover and Greg Wojtovich at their last board meeting, though Wojtovich was absent. Glover withdrew from the election after qualifying for the ballot, and Wojtovich was defeated in the election. New members Michelle Anderson and Tiffany Shultz will be sworn in at the next board meeting in January. President Amy Kaylor praised the two outgoing members, Glover for his passion in representing teachers and staff and Wojtovich for always challenging the board to be its best.

By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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