For most Peoria schools, early August is back-to-school week—but in 2020, it’s hardly back to normal.
After previously ordering schools not to open classrooms for in-person teaching until Aug. 17, Gov. Doug Ducey said at a July 23 press conference that start dates are being left up to individual districts. A safe opening date for in-person learning is to be decided by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
“Arizona will be open for learning,” Ducey said. “And our priorities are going to be public health and safety.”
The benchmarks for opening schools have not yet been released from ADHS; however, most districts plan to start school in a distanced format on their originally planned date.
Despite the possibility of in-person classes still not being in session, Ducey announced that districts must have a location ready to open Aug. 17 for parents who need supervision for their children.
“Children deserve a safe learning environment,” he said. “So our schools must provide free, on-site learning.”
Ducey explained that once schools are open, all adults in the building will be required to wear masks, but children will have some freedom to go without a mask when social distancing is possible.
Many districts are offering options for families, once classrooms are open for in-person learning. In addition to in-person and self-paced online models, districts plan to offer “distance learning,” a remote learning model that is led by a live teacher and set to a schedule.
Peoria Unified School District
PUSD will start the semester in a remote format Wednesday, Aug. 5, and plans to continue with this until after Labor Day unless it is deemed safe to return sooner.
Superintendent Dr. Jason Reynolds said the PUSD governing board decided to continue remote learning after the governor’s executive order lifts on Aug. 17.
“Your teachers, your principals, our staff members are working every single day to make sure that we are going to provide your child with an outstanding experience,” Reynolds said.
Families can choose between in-person and fully online learning. Those who choose online must stay with this format until the end of the semester.
“We all know that this is confusing,” Reynolds said. “The new information that comes to us each and every day is making it a challenge to be able to decide ‘What am I supposed to do?’”
He explained that the district and its new medical advisory team will continue to analyze the incoming COVID-19 data to make “decisions based on what is the very best for our Peoria students.”
PUSD teaches 37,000 students in 32 elementary schools and seven high schools in Peoria and Glendale.
For updates, visit peoriaunified.org.