Arizona Department of Education Releases “Roadmap” For School Reopenings

bad road map

PHOENIX – On Monday the Arizona Department of Education released its recommendations on reopening schools and already parents and educators are questioning the product and the process employed to create it.

“The Arizona Department of Education remains committed to providing the field with as much guidance, support, and clarity as possible,” wrote Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman in her transmittal letter.

Yet, it is the overall vagueness and complexity of the report which Hoffman calls “very adaptable” that has caused alarm for parents, and educators.

The report, “Roadmap to Reopening Schools,” presents four possible scenarios

Scenario One: All Students in Physical Buildings from the Start of the School Year
An LEA (Local Educational Agency) may opt to consider Scenario One if:
✓ The LEA meets the CDC School Decision Tree guidelines
✓ there are none to minimal local/community cases of COVID-19
✓ they have a governing board approved contingency plan
✓ they have a comprehensive communication plan
✓ they have clearly communicated screening expectations to staff and families
✓ they have a plan for medically fragile staff and students

Scenario Two: Some Students in Physical Buildings and Some Students Distance
Learning from the Start of the School Year
An LEA may opt to consider Scenario Two if:
✓ the LEA meets the CDC School Decision Tree guidelines
✓ there are minimal to moderate local/community cases of COVID-19
✓ the LEA has a governing board approved contingency plan
✓ the LEA has a comprehensive communication plan
✓ the LEA has clearly communicated screening expectations to staff and families
✓ the LEA has clearly communicated educational expectations to staff and families
✓ the LEA has a plan for medically fragile staff and students so to not segregate students
with disabilities from their non-disabled peers. Distance learning should be thoughtful
and take into account considerations of disability-related learning needs
✓ the LEA has considered the digital divide for students on Tribal Nations and others who
lack connectivity or devices

Scenario Three: All Students Distance Learning from the Start of the School Year, with the Option of Returning to Physical Buildings when Appropriate
An LEA may opt to consider Scenario Three if:
✓ the LEA is not able to meet CDC School Decision Tree guidelines
✓ there are substantial local/community cases of COVID-19
✓ the LEA has a governing board approved Emergency Distance Learning Plan
✓ the LEA has a comprehensive communication plan
✓ the LEA has clearly communicated educational expectations to staff and families
✓ the LEA has considered the digital divide for students on Tribal Nations and others who
lack connectivity or devices
✓ the LEA has determined the criteria for returning to physical buildings

Scenario Four: Intermittent Distance Learning throughout the School Year Based on Emergency Closures as Defined by Local and State Health Departments
An LEA may opt to consider Scenario Four if:
✓ All considerations from Scenario Three
✓ the LEA has a plan for determining criteria and data necessary to return to physical
school buildings

Recommendations for health and safety are mostly from the CDC:

● Health screenings and temperature checks

● Increased hand washing and sanitization

● Special seating on school buses

● Smaller class sizes

● Physical barriers

● Cloth face masks when physical distancing is not possible

“After the events of the past 2 years, I honestly can no longer fathom why any parents would voluntarily return their children to government schools,” said former Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. “In 2018 parents’ trust in the education system was betrayed by the illegal strike debacle. This past March districts once again abandoned students and families; closed schools and stopped providing anything resembling viable, consistent and appropriate education for all students – including special ed services – while retaining full funding. Since schools were abruptly closed by Gov. Ducey and Kathy Hoffman with one day notice to the families they are supposed to serve, so many of the models on which these decisions were based have proven inaccurate; so much information proven false. There is no valid justification for the oppressive, reprehensible cruelty that the CDC and educrats intend to impose upon the children of Arizona and America. There is no reason why schools shouldn’t reopen and students shouldn’t return this August exactly the same way they have done so in August for decades past.”

Several lawmakers agree with Douglas and plans are underway to craft legislation that would set in stone a school’s right to return to pre-COVID-19 “normal” classrooms, not the “new normal” classrooms suggested in the report.