SIERRA VISTA — With board approval, Sierra Vista Unified School District administrators are moving forward for a virtual start to the 2020-2021 academic school year.

The new school year starts on Monday with distance learning. Following the governing board’s approval of the delay of in-person instruction until Sept. 14 at Tuesday’s special meeting, Assistant Superintendent Terri Romo presented the new version of the return to school plan.

The plan includes the guidance and recommendations form the health department after the state released benchmarks for the return of in-person instruction. Students have two options for the completely virtual learning that is taking place.

The first is a long-term online option using SchoolsPLP, which is designed to be self-paced and is for those who plan on doing online for long periods of time. The other option is for those planning to return to in-person instruction, whether full time or hybrid, when deemed safe to do so and is a short-term virtual learning experience with Google Classroom. SVUSD superintendent Eric Holmes said a majority of the students will do the virtual learning with the Google Classroom model but parents have the option for the online model.

“There’s a big difference from what we’re doing this fall from last spring,” Holmes said. “This will be direct teacher-led instruction.”

Students will receive a schedule with what times they are to log on to a certain class. In the class teachers will provide instruction from their classrooms in a live video. Holmes said teachers will be in the classrooms because that’s where their resources are. Since they will be alone they are in a safe environment.

“We trained well over 100 teachers,” he said. “I have confidence that they will do well.”

The board and district will have another special meeting the week of Sept. 7 to reassess their plan for in-person learning on Sept. 14. Holmes said they will continue to follow the county health departments recommendations and benchmarks to make their decisions. If the data is in the moderate category and is “yellow,” then the district can resume with hybrid models. If all the benchmarks are met and the data is “green,” then traditional school can resume. When asked if he would have preferred if the county health department broke the data up by zip code, Holmes said how the data is presented doesn’t matter but what it says is important. He and his staff will continue to make decisions based on what the state provides.

School buildings are ready for the return as tables have been removed to limit seating, plexiglass has been installed in public lobbies and other safety measures are in place waiting for the return of students, staff and teachers. Five of the eight sites will be used for on-site support for students who need a place to do their virtual learning. Forms will need to be filled out by parents to ensure their student needs a seat, even if it’s not every day. Parents or guardians need to visit their child’s school to enroll them in the on-site support program. Students will be watched by paraprofessionals and no instruction will be provided.

Holmes asks that any parent or guardian who has questions or needs clarification call their child’s school and speak to the site principal.