Re-Opening Roadmap: It’s all about the numbers

Sunnyside District begins 30-day game-plan
Posted at 11:16 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 15:36:59-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona's public schools are trying to figure out how to reopen in the Fall and keep students safe.

The state released a road map Monday to help guide them.

Sunnyside Superintendent Steve Holmes said it comes down to a numbers game. When the doors open on classrooms in his district how many students will be sitting in the seats?

"I believe there will be a good subsection of our community that's fearful of sending students to school," Holmes said. "Even with safeguards in place."

Holmes said his district is already anticipating a loss of at least 400 students. He also points to a national survey that shows possibly 30 to 40 percent of students could choose to stay home.

"We can usually predict, but for me, it's an unknown," Holmes said.

So now, Holmes is planning for the unknown.

The number of students who show up in class impacts funding and staffing levels.

"The models try to minimize the amount of students in a classroom," Holmes said.

For now, Holmes is preparing to put all desks six feet apart and all facing forward. He's also considered a staggered schedule but said that becomes a moot point if many Sunnyside students just don't show up.

The state's new road map is flexible and allows different districts to decide on their new policies and how to implement them.

It's broken down into 4 scenarios -- full return of students, only distance learning, a hybrid of the two and emergency closures.

Holmes says, "Nothing here was very surprising at least in my initial perusal of the document that's inconsistent with any kind of conversations that's we've been having as colleagues and superintendents and more importantly with health officials as well."

Holmes says the road map is consistent with C-D-C guidelines so he's already been building a conceptual framework.

"We're taking June to go collaborative with parents, staff, and teachers, more specifically. We're need to start putting something on paper," Holmes said.

With just two months until school starts again Holmes says parents will want to know soon what a return to school would look like.

"We have to at least have a plan on what it looks like at the end of the month," Holmes said.

The 30-day game-plan begins with new surveys going out to families this week.

Holmes says he hopes parents read the roadmap so they can get a better feel of how districts are navigating the COVID-19 response.

Link to the ADE's Reopening Roadmap