SIERRA VISTA — As promised, the Arizona Department of Health Services and Department of Education released the metrics county health departments and local districts should use in determining if schools should reopen in less than two weeks on Thursday afternoon.
According to a press release issued by the ADHS, the three metics districts should consider when reopening schools are: “Cases: a two-week decline in weekly average cases OR two weeks below 100 cases per 100,000 population; Diagnostic test percent positivity: two weeks with positivity below 7%; COVID-19-Like-Illness Syndromic Surveillance: two weeks with less than 10% of hospital visits due to COVID-like illness.”
The benchmarks released on Thursday’s are not mandates and should be used as guidance in the decision making process for opening schools, the department said.
As of Friday, Cochise County meets two of the three benchmarks: cases: a two-week decline in weekly average cases OR two weeks below 100 cases per 100,000 population and COVID-19-Like-Illness Syndromic Surveillance: two weeks with less than 10% of hospital visits due to COVID-like illness.
No county in the state currently meets all three benchmarks. Most need to reach the 7 percent test percent positivity to meet all three.
In response to the new metrics, Sierra Vista Unified School District released an “on-site learning support program” plan for parents and students on their website and Facebook page late Thursday afternoon.
Two plans were released, one for students in grades K-6 and another one for students in grades 7-12. The program is for “at risk” students.
“At-risk was defined by the governor in the executive order stating we must be open in some capacity for specific students, students experiencing homelessness, students in foster care, and others,” SVSD spokesman Jacob Martinez explained in an email to the Herald/Review.
According to the documents posted on the district’s website, “The Sierra Vista Unified School District has developed an on-site learning plan that will provide state mandated continuous instruction, five days a week, using the district’s Flexible Learning Google Classroom instructional model.”
“This option will be offered in a safe environment where students can use their Chromebooks and be supervised by district paraprofessionals.”
On-site support is geared to providing services, like special education services, that can’t be done virtually, as well as provide a place for students who don’t have the technology needed to do virtual learning to go.
Huachuca Mountain, Village Meadows, Carmichael and Bella Vista elementary schools will be on-site support schools for students in grades K-6. According to the posted plan, students from Pueblo Del Sol will attend Village Meadows Elementary and students from Town and Country will attend Bella Vista Elementary. Students will be placed in the gym and library of the schools and each location will be capped at 100 students.
Joyce Clark Middle School and high school students will be stationed at Buena. Middle school students will be in the auxiliary gym and lecture pods while the high school students will be spread out in the three gyms inside the high school as well as the A2S/Transportation building.
The on-site learning program will be available Monday through Friday from 7:20 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. for Buena students and from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. for middle school students.
Breakfast and lunch will be audible to purchase at all sites, or students may bring their own lunch.
Parents will need to fill out an application for their student to be accepted into the program on-site learning plan.
“We don’t anticipate rejecting applications but we are limited by capacity and physical space with regard to social distancing requirements,” Martinez wrote in a statement to the Herald/Review.
Although the district released the on-site learning program, as of the end of business day on Friday they were still planning on opening the schools on Aug. 17.
“We are still preparing to be open on August 17, but we are still working with the County superintendent, Cochise County Health and Social services to determine in what capacity that may be,” Martinez said.