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Department of Education 'still on track' to issue school reopening guidance by end of the month

Posted at 6:49 PM, May 18, 2020

The task force working on state guidance to reopen schools in July and August held their third meeting Monday. Members focused on school financing and health recommendations, and the Department of Education tells ABC15 they are still on track to release recommendations by the end of May.

Meantime, parents and teachers have mixed feelings about sending students back to class.

"I still don't feel like it's going to be safe for the kids to be in a room," said Michelle Garza, a mom of two.

Garza is not ready for her seventh and second graders to return to campus. So much so she is petitioning the governor for the choice to keep them learning from home.

"I know they're going to try their hardest to keep everyone safe, I know that, I'm just worried," she said. "There's some mistakes in my life I don't want to look back on and say, 'if I had just done that differently.'"

On social media, dozens of parents and teachers weighing in on what's now become a polarizing topic. Their concerns and suggestions range from indefinite closures and staggered scheduling, to a hybrid model that combines remote learning with in-person instruction, or a full reopening as soon as possible. Most agree, however, there should be options for those who don't feel comfortable sending their kids to class.

School districts will have the final say in how they implement the state's guidance, so they are forming their own task forces, to prepare for the unknown.

Here's where the four largest school districts in Arizona stand:

Mesa Public Schools has an 11-member task force meeting twice a week. They will start sending updates to the community every two weeks starting mid-June.

Tucson Unified is working on a plan and hopes to share it with their governing board by mid to late June.

Chandler Unified's task force is "just getting started... but preparing for any situation."

Peoria Unified has been meeting for more than a month, working through contingency plans and logistics. The district will also be surveying parents this week on remote learning, so they can be prepared to start next school year online if needed.

While there are no specific plans in place just yet, we do know preventative measures like social distancing, PPE, shift scheduling and hybrid instruction are all being discussed on both the state and local levels.