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How districts are preparing for long-term school closures

Posted at 7:12 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 22:55:44-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Districts continue to prepare schools across Arizona for the possibility of remaining closed the entire semester. The Governor's Office ordered a statewide closure until March 27, but there's a chance that could be extended.

The state is now tackling what do about the lost classroom time.

"We'll be working with our district and legislative partners to determine the extent of any potential make up days. More details to come," said Doug Ducey in a video posted on the Governor's website.

Superintendents are now confronted with a lot of unknowns, including how to teach students remotely.

Tucson's largest district addressed that during an emergency board meeting this week. A big hurdle right now is to make sure all students have computers and internet access at home. The district is conducting surveys to figure what's needed.

TUSD Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo said, "In a district that's just shy of 65% of student body who meet the federal guidelines of poverty, we're looking at a high percentage of students who don't have and can't afford the average $55 a month payment for high speed internet access."

The Amphi district tells us it's tackling the same issue. Spokesperson Michelle Valenzuela said, "We are working on assessing which of our families have Internet access and devices in their homes. From there, we will determine what type of learning experiences we can deliver to families online and how we can provide educational materials in other creative ways."

As districts work out their plans to deliver curriculum to students, the Govenor and AZ Superintendent are addressing statewide testing.

"We're currently engaging with our federal partners in the event that we need to secure a waiver, " said state superintendent Kathy Hoffman.

Next week, Sunnyside, the region's second largest district, will be reaching out to parents and students about assignments and activities they can do at home. All 4th - 12th grade students have school computers they can take home.

The Sunnyside district posted on its website:
"Throughout the week of March 23 - 27, parents and students will be receiving communication from teachers regarding activities and assignments that students can be working on from home. If students or parents have questions on the work the students are being asked to complete, teachers will be available for support via email or by phone."