TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — With COVID cases on the rise throughout Arizona, Amphitheater schools will transition to remote learning after winter break starting January 4.
Amphitheater Unified School District announced the decision based off local health official recommendations, according to a letter sent to families Saturday. Superintendents have been notified that based off of metrics, shifting back to a virtual setting is anticipated by Pima County Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francisco Garcia.
Health officials have signified the anticipation that all three metrics will reach the red level for a second week December 17.
Amphitheater schools may be able to return to the hybrid model on Jan. 19, the district says. That date is not definite, but the district will continue to monitor data and follow the recommendations from health officials.
Amphitheater will provide information in the upcoming week.
For any further information regarding COVID or the district, click here.
See the full letter to families below:
Dear Amphitheater Family: I am writing to tell you that Amphitheater schools will shift to the Remote by Necessity model starting Jan. 4, when we return after the Winter Break.
This has been a difficult decision. As I have said many times, these are the decisions that keep us up at night.
We know schools are the safest places for kids, even during this pandemic.
We know that being in the classroom is important to physical, mental and social-emotional health.
We know that children learn best when they are in school with teachers and peers.
And from the time we opened in the hybrid mode, we have had the full support of our county health officials to remain open in this model for the foreseeable future and for the very reasons outlined above. Unfortunately, we have learned that we have reached a tipping point where hybrid may no longer be the best option.
Pima County Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francisco Garcia, has informed superintendents that he anticipates the metrics will shift to a point where moving back to a virtual setting will be advised.
He expects this point to occur on Dec. 17, the last day of school for our students before Winter Break.
Here is what we know about the numbers:
• This week, the COVID-19 rate was 360 cases per 100,000 individuals. Anything over 100 cases is considered a substantial spread, or red on the dashboard.
• The testing positivity number averages about 12% over the last two weeks. This level puts us in the red on the dashboard.
• On Thursday, the remaining disease indicator, hospitalization for COVID-like illness, reached a level of 10%. Dr. Garcia anticipates it will remain at this level or above next week.
Based upon the above data, public health experts anticipate that all three metrics will reach the red level for a second week on Dec. 17, and Dr. Garcia recommends schools return to full remote learning at that time.
We anticipate we may be able to move back to the hybrid model on Jan. 19. Health experts believe that it is possible for the metrics to support hybrid learning again in this timeframe.
This date is not written in stone. As always, we will follow the recommendations of the experts.
One thing that is very important to know is that even with the rising COVID-19 cases, schools remain safe.
Across Pima County, on-campus transmission has been very low. At Amphitheater, we have had no confirmed cases of on-campus spread among students.
We have had two cases of possible spread among staff, though those are not confirmed.
This low rate is because we have worked hard to adhere to mitigation strategies that are proven to work: Masking, physically distancing, washing hands, quarantining close contacts of positive cases and sending sick students and staff home if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
Nonetheless, it seems that we have reached a critical mass in our pandemic situation which compels school closures again to protect the health of our students, staff and the entire community.
We are joined in this action by most local school districts.
When conditions permit us to reopen to in-person learning, we will remain committed to the safety measures that have worked so well over the past eight weeks.
As we near the end of our first semester and close the book on the Year 2020, I am hopeful that we will begin to see brighter days and a sunnier future for our students and staff.
I cannot express how proud I am of our children, who have adapted so well to new procedures and to our staff, many of whom have worked above and beyond to help create experiences that enrich our students lives.
We know you will have many questions, and we will work to provide more information this week from the District and through your school sites.
As always, you are welcome to send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours most sincerely,
Todd A. Jaeger, J.D. Superintendent