White blank flag waving in the wind

While there is much unknown about what our COVID future holds, the current one-day at school plan will guarantee damage to our student’s learning and social-emotional health – some of it irreparable.   

I am disappointed in the apparent lack of planning for the 2020-21 school year. COVID has been with us since March. The fact that the district did not put together special teams, task forces and think tanks for planning the 2020-21 school year is simply irresponsible.   

The meeting on June 17 was a demonstration in self-congratulations followed by an announcement of complete surrender. 

 There is no plan. The superintendent’s proposal is closing schools and ensuring failure. The superintendent’s proposal, as I understand it, is for one day a week – 37 school days for 2020/21 school year.  

That is reckless. As explained in the meeting, the proposed idea was built on partial parent and teacher survey results and didn’t account for the main priorities of what a district should be focusing on.    

1.   Priority: LEARNING  

a.How do we deliver instruction and learning with near programing as in-person? 

b.How can we implement five-day-a-week instruction? 

c. If not in-person, then possibilities must include:  synchronous learning options with readily available technology because this is the most robust evidence-based instruction. 

2.Priority: SAFETY (for both teachers and students) 

a.What is the protocol and plan at each school for staff/teachers? 

b.What is the protocol and plan at each school for students? 

c.This priority was not addressed because the superintendent’s proposal surrenders completely and shuts down our education. We must do better.

3.Priority: FLEXIBILTY 

a.How do we meet each families comfort level with rapid changes to COVID? 

b.What are the indicators for stay-at-home and return to five days per week? 

These priorities should lead every discussion and option for the 2020-21 school year. Our high school students are essential workers! Their job is to go to school and learn.

 Our high schoolers’ job is to become productive and valuable members of our Arizona community. We must get these essential workers back to work.  

The current plan surrenders the battle before even preparing to fight. Parents gave the district a pass in the spring because this situation was thrust upon all of us without fair warning.

 The schools and teachers did the best that they could under the circumstances.  But now, four months later, it appears that the district has wasted the planning time that we all had during the “shelter in place.” 

Again, we waited for a plan and instead we were read terms of your surrender.

As the mother of a rising Desert Vista High School sophomore, my hope – and the hope of most of the parents and teachers of the district – is that the board does the hard work now.  

Other schools and districts did this and so can we.  Other schools are planning for live and synchronous learning with a flexibility to adjust as COVID numbers and family choices change.  

In the next 30 days, we need a real plan that addresses all three priorities. 

 The first priorities must be education and the mental well-being of our children. We all know some sacrifices will need to happen and no one expects the district to wave a magic wand and make COVID disappear.  But with some professional leadership, effort, and cooperation between district, schools, and community, we can at least get our kids back into a safe learning environment.

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