BISBEE — More students are electing to go to school on campus in the Bisbee Unified School District, even though county cases of COVID–19 are on the rise.

School superintendent Tom Woody stated at the BUSD board meeting Nov. 9, “We’re not moving in the right direction in the county or the state. We had 200 cases in the county last week.”

The state requires schools to provide onsite learning and parents are taking advantage of the option.

Greenway Elementary School, Lowell Junior High School and Bisbee High School are seeing an increase in students who want to come for the four-day week rather than the hybrid system the district has in effect. Under the system, students come to school two days a week and learn online for two days.

At Greenway, of the 199 students enrolled, 120 are attending daily, according to principal Lindsay Vertrees.

Laura Miller, principal of Lowell, said the majority of her students are attending in-person classes all four days. There are 151 students enrolled at the school.

Of the 295 students at the high school, principal Darin Giltner said there were 118 attending in-person classes and a second learning lab had to be opened for the overflow.

“For the past two weeks we are averaging just more than 100 students on campus each day and continue to refine and remind our students and staff of the importance of following our health guidelines,” he said.

All the schools are following the Arizona Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The principals said the students are wearing masks, practicing social distancing and, in general, parents are completing the daily health screens that provide temperatures and information if the children have been in contact with anyone who has the virus.

There still is a problem with students attending online and submitting assignments and teachers are doing their best to overcome those problems. They are reaching out to the students whose performance needs to improve.

Miller said, “We have had quite a number of family meetings due to grades and attendance.”

Sports decisionsThough wrestling coach Rick Chavez would have preferred a commitment to the start of the sport, the board members did agree to allowing the team of 15 players to begin workouts and shadow wrestling to ready for a possible season.

“Time is against us,” said Chavez, who also pointed out there are two senior champions and a four-time state female champ who Chavez said is ranked No. 22 in the nation.

Since basketball is not considered a contact sport, the season is on although all health guidelines will be followed. Like football, the players will have to come dressed for practice and the games, as locker rooms will be closed.

Giltner said the high school basketball tournaments will be held over school breaks to limit spread of COVID–19 to just the players. Douglas High School will not be holding games there as the cases have increased, he said. Bisbee could still play in Benson, Tombstone and Willcox if other districts in Arizona have a high number of cases, making travel a risk.

The board agreed with permitting basketball to proceed as long as Arizona Interscholastic Association guidelines are met.

More Chromebooks

Woody presented the bids for another 255 Chromebooks and management licenses for $67,83,7 which are set to arrive before Christmas or in early January. CARES act funding covers the cost.

He has been working on finding Chromebooks for students to use since March when the schools closed. He was able to acquire some, but not enough to cover all the students who need them. An order that was supposed to deliver some last month was canceled.

Changes at libraryBoard member Ann Littrell suggested the district be more explanatory in a proposed agreement with the City of Bisbee and the Copper Queen Library and asked a lease to be drafted for the satellite library at the district office building on Melody Lane in San Jose.

The city and school district entered an agreement to use unused classrooms two years ago for a children’s and youth’s library to promote learning, which included birth-to-3 and pre–kindergarten early learning sessions.

That has grown to include a second classroom for more books. The annex is closed due to the virus, but was successful in efforts to help children develop reading skills and prepare for school since it opened.

Littrell recommended the city and the district sign a lease agreement rather than an intergovernmental agreement.

The CQL wants to use the outdoor facilities on Fridays and proposed a literary walk in the former playground, according to Woody.

The Bisbee Science Lab holds Friday events outdoors, weather permitting, and Woody reported the lab has been attracting some students and has been following health guidelines.

Littrell, who appreciates the worth of the annex, suggested agreement between the city and the district be more explanatory, particularly as the agreement states the city “wished to utilize grants and other funding sources and the district agrees to cooperate in these endeavors to upgrade, develop and maintain the property for educational purposes and/or civic group events and activities, with the possibility that parts of the property will be developed, operated and managed by the city.”

“The way it’s drafted, we have no way of knowing what’s expected,” she said.

Board member Erin Rhodes added, “We need to do whatever we can to keep the library there.”

Woody told Littrell he would work on it and bring it back to the board for the December meeting.