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Arizona school districts announce reopening plans for next school year

PHOENIX — Several school districts in Arizona have already started to announce reopening plans for the new school year.

The Cartwright Elementary School District will reopen with a four-day school week. Students will go to school Monday through Thursday.

“We’re going to be sanitizing daily,” said Patricia Lopez, executive director for school leadership for the district. “However, we’re going to go a little bit deeper on Friday. So that’s what that day will be used for.”

Students will have the option to do online learning on Fridays, and they’ll be provided Chromebooks and iPads if they need them.

“It’s really up to the parent and to the student to take advantage of that time and to log on to those educational programs we have and continue to improve their skills or to get additional practice in maybe an area they need practice in,” Lopez said.

Veronica Sanchez, the district’s director of communications and community engagement, said parents were surveyed and were overwhelmingly in favor of the Friday option.

“We consider parents educational partners,” Sanchez said. “We don’t make decisions without them. We don’t exclude them from the process.”

The Alhambra Elementary School District has similar plans.

In a message to parents, the district’s Superintendent Mark Yslas said students will stay home and do online learning on Wednesdays so crews can deep clean and disinfect various parts of the schools, including classrooms, cafeterias, playgrounds and libraries. Another deep cleaning will take place over the weekend.

“I want to create a situation where we have the cleanest facilities that we could possibly have as we’re trying to deal with this COVID-19 virus next year,” Yslas said.

He added the school district is considering other options to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“One example of that is we’re looking at clear dividers that we can put between the kids, so they are safe from being too close to another person,” he said.

Meanwhile, other school districts have announced they have task forces that are coming up with plans to reopen schools.

Chandler Unified School District Superintendent Camille Casteel said in a letter to parents a task force will be surveying staff and parents for input.

“Ideally, we plan to resume school normally, in person with all the safety and extraordinary sanitizing precautions possible,” Casteel said. “However, we know each student and family has different needs, so we are also developing models that will allow flexibility for online learning in order for you to make the best decision for your child(ren).”

Mesa Public Schools said on its Facebook page that it has a task force that’s “evaluating and preparing for a number of possibilities with safety and choice at the forefront of our work.” An update from the district is expected June 18 and every two weeks after.

In a video message, Phoenix Union High School District Superintendent Chad Gestson said the school district is considering four options to reopen schools: all virtual, all in-person, evening school, and a combination of some virtual and some in-person.

He said a survey will be sent to incoming students and their parents via text message and email before a decision is made.

“In order for us to build the right school models for you as a family and for your students next school year, we need to hear from each and every one of you,” Gestson said.

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