SIERRA VISTA — While COVID-19 may not be spreading as rapidly as it once was, the infectious disease that became a full-blown, worldwide pandemic has forced health officials like the Arizona Department of Health Services to develop new mitigation plans for school districts to keep students and teachers as safe as possible as they return to in-person instruction.
“COVID is making a rebound,” Sierra Vista Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Eric Holmes told the district’s governing board at its Aug. 2 meeting before presenting its COVID-19 Mitigation Plan proposal.
“We all wish it would go away,” he added. “We all pray that it will.”
But since wishing and praying won’t push the disease out of our lives or eradicate it from the world stage — this week’s ADHS’s COVID-19 data dashboard update lists 15,034 new cases and 74 new deaths in the state — Holmes rolled out the district’s new mitigation plan, basing his recommendation of the basis of the Arizona Department of Education in conjunction with ADHS.
“The mitigation plan has changed dramatically from last year,” he said. “There are some things we don’t have to do anymore.”
While continual cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces to reduce the risk of infection will not change districtwide, the biggest change centers around students who are sent home sick. They’ll now have to stay out of school one full day instead of 48 hours as it was last year.
The key points of the district’s COVID-19 new mitigation plan are:
In-person, full-day, all week instruction remains at all sites.
Masking is no longer required for students or staff, however all non-vaccinated individuals are encouraged to wear a mask.
Social distancing will be maximized to the extent possible.
Continued rigorous cleaning and disinfection of all surfaces and rooms.
Hand hygiene will be encouraged.
Anyone sent home sick will have to remain out of school for one full school day.
In a statement during his presentation to the board, Holmes said: “Sierra Vista Unified School District No. 68 plans to have all students attend school at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year as long as published health data continues to support the Arizona Department of Education. Our plan is supported with intensive mitigation strategies and specific monitoring, containment, and class cancellation plans.
“This plan may need to be modified as we move forward if the public health data changes, Decisions will be based on the best available information and in coordination with the ADE and Arizona Department of Health Services and in accordance with state statutes, executive orders from the governor, and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
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The Arizona Department of Health Services has created a dashboard for schools in consultation with local health departments to be used to determine the level of community spread of COVID-19 in Arizona and assist with the decision-making for types of delivery models schools may consider.
The dashboard can be found at http://www.adhs.gov/covid19/index.php#schools-dashboard.
This current plan is for Low to Moderate Transmission Rates. Should the dashboard move to Substantial or High Transmission Rates additional restriction and alternate delivery models may be implemented.
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