MARANA, Ariz. (KGUN) — Teachers and staff in Marana say they are excited to welcome back students to the classroom Monday, March 22nd. It has been more than one year since learning shifted from in-person to remote or hybrid learning.
"We've continued our mitigation strategies which have been really really successful and its because of those mitigation strategies that we feel we are ready to safely bring our students back," said Alli Benjamin, MUSD Director of Public Relations & Community Engagment.
Marana says about 80% of families chose to return to in-person learning while about 20-percent will stay remote.
"The majority of our schools are going back to in-person five days per week but two of our high schools are going to be going to 4 day in-person and one day remote."
The district says it has been planning for the return for weeks, even before Governor Doug Ducey's Executive Order required schools to re-open.
With so many people being back on campus, safety protocols will be in place. We're going to continue following the same mitigation strategies that we have been," says Benjamin. "So that includes, wearing masks at all times. Students will get mask breaks. Encouraging hand washing, having sanitation stations available for students, increasing space between students."
District leaders were also involved with helping teachers think of creative ways to set up their classrooms to accommodate students. But for those who are still remote, Marana Unified has a plan to make sure they still learn in a familiar environment. Benjamin says, "the teachers who are teaching remote will be teaching purely remote at the K-8 levels. So our students who are receiving in-person instruction will be receiving instruction only." Benjamin goes on to say, "they will not have to balance in-person and remote students as they did in the hybrid model. For teachers in our two high schools returning to four-day in-person instruction, they will be teaching both in-person and online, reserving Fridays to primarily assist remote learners who may need additional assistance." MUSD says it did not have to hire more teachers for this plan.
Those teachers for remote learning will be working alongside those in the classroom, like second-year teacher Samantha Pearson. "And we will coordinate with that teacher on what we are doing in-person so that they can continue that online, but thankfully we've been very fortunate enough to have a teacher to cover that remote class so that we're not doing both simultaneously," says Pearson.
While happy to be back on campus, Pearson says it will be a positive thing for students.
"I think the biggest impact will be consistency and the schedule, just catching them up on those academics. The social aspect for sure is going to be a big one. My class hasn't been all together this year, so meeting for the first time, getting that social aspect back, as well as the academic back is definitely going to help with the 5-day week schedule."
For those who may be nervous for the first day back, Pearson says she and everyone in the district are ready and hopes families will have a great experience.