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COVID-related discipline at Sunnyside as students head back to school

Local districts report no significant disciplinary issues with remote or hybrid learning
Posted at 11:44 PM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 09:10:04-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Half of Sunnyside students are returning to classrooms starting Monday.

Schools are under pressure to keep students and staff safe and misbehavior, like removing a face mask or intentionally coughing on a classmate, could pose health risks.

So districts nationwide re discussing discipline policies and whether they need to change.

KGUN checked in with the Sunnyside superintendent to find out how the district is handling this safety issue.

In the remote-only setting in Sunnyside, discipline has mostly been doled out by parents rather than teachers.

Superintendent Steve Holmes cites only minor misbehaviors so far since the start of school.

“A lot of our teachers have kind of learned to navigate the systems pretty well already and have dealt with the individual students who not attending or students who maybe not paying attention in class,” he said, “A lot of that has been dealt with specifically with parents with teachers making phone calls or email parents.”

But when Sunnyside students head back into their real-life classrooms, will new rules be in place?

Take not wearing a face mask.

The district has tested the waters with students who are already on campus. “We found that we didn't have problems with students wearing masks,” said Holmes.

But there's a procedure in place if students repeatedly don't follow any of the COVID-related rules.

Holmes said, “If a student is blatantly not wanting to wear a mask we're going to call the parents and have him pick up the child.” And possibly be moved back to a remote setting.

Holmes said there's no playbook when it comes to discipline issues during the pandemic.

But he'll adjust quickly when needed. “If we're finding it to be problematic then we can bring back together our discipline committee and make modifications or addendums to that.”

Holmes said local superintendents in districts that have already started hybrid learning are reporting no major issues with COVID-related discipline.