WILLCOX — Willcox Unified School District decided recently to maintain its online-only based model of education as the COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Arizona.

Willcox Unified previously had planned to reopen all three of their schools to an alternating hybrid learning schedule starting on Jan. 4, but the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in northern Cochise County, as well as in other parts of Arizona caused the district to reconsider.

“Due to things we saw, we decided not to go right back into hybrid. Right now things are fully online. We did that before Christmas,” Willcox Unified Superintendent Kevin Davis said.

The revised plan is to move to a hybrid model next week, in which a small group of students go to school on certain days of the week while other students stay home and learn online.

Online learning entails students checking in with their teachers and completing homework packets by a certain due date. Once completed, homework packets can be dropped off in a socially distanced manner inside the auditorium located between the middle school and the high school.

For those elementary students in the lower grades, most of their learning outside of school is being done using packets that contain handouts, understanding that not all of them are as tech savvy as some of the older students.

“It’s been a difficult transition for teachers,” Davis said.

A safe place both on-campus and online is being offered to help students with tutoring while at the same time providing other essential resources.

Middle school update

In a Facebook post from Jan. 5, Willcox Middle School Principal David Chaim presented a message updating parents on the school’s current state of affairs.

“Good afternoon WMS Parents, welcome to the Third quarter, and the new year 2021. WMS has begun classes online for the week of 4 January to 7 January. Your child’s teachers have contacted all students via email and/or Google Classroom. It is expected that your child will check in and login daily as they complete the work assigned to them.

“From 11 January through 21 January, WMS will resume in-person learning. This will occur on a staggered schedule. The Red Group, students with last names A-L, will come to school on Mondays and Wednesdays. The White Group, students with last names M-Z, will come to school in person on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students with IEP are welcome to come in person 4 days a week. Students who require the Cowboy Learning Center are also welcome to attend with prior notification to the principal.

“Pending Board approval, students should resume in-person classes four days a week from 25 January until the end of the academic year.

Superintendents recap/plan for the future

In looking back on the unusual school year, Davis offered some thoughts on what has transpired and what he hopes for the future.

“Being more aware and keeping track of staff health.” Davis said. “Keeping in touch with local authorities and seeing what they are doing.

“Monitor and inform the public of what is going on more regularly then we have in the past.

“Our theme for this year is resiliency. The ability to bounce back or change direction. That has been what has been thought of the most this year.”

Willcox Unified’s school board met on Tuesday night to swear in new board members and discuss the “nomination and election of governing board members officers.”

Davis presented an update to the school board on the following topics: Enrollment Stability Grant; back to school/COVID-19 update and the SDC Training/Special event for parents; and the community.

Updates from the meeting will be in next week’s Herald/Review County Edition.