PHOENIX – Even though they don’t offer face-to-face classes, Arizona public schools must provide on-site support services to students.
But some have been exonerated.
As of Wednesday morning, at least two dozen school districts and charter schools had requested a waiver so that they would not have to provide the services on site.
About half were approved, the vast majority of them on tribal land, according to data from the Arizona Department of Education, which is reviewing exemption requests.
The Phoenix Union High School District, which plans to resume in-person teaching in mid-October, is among those whose applications have been denied.
The neighborhood said KTAR News 92.3 FM in a statement that the community spread of COVID-19 in Phoenix Union is triple the 7% positivity rate recommended by the state’s public health benchmark for a safe return to school.
The district also noted that it nearly doubled the benchmark recommended case rate of less than 100 cases per 100,000 population.
“At this point, based on these measures, PXU believes that it is not in the best interest of the wider Phoenix community to reopen the schools,” the statement said.
The district added that it would continue to provide limited on-site support to students “who need it most,” including students with special needs, homeless students and English learners.
It will also “prudently and responsibly increase on-site opportunities as the spread decreases”.
Cartwright School District, Pendergast Elementary School District, Glendale Elementary School District and Littleton Elementary School District # 65 also applied and were denied.
Governor Doug Ducey, by an executive order in July, required schools to make on-site support services available to students.
To be exempt from this requirement, a district or charter must prove that its county’s health department advises it to close due to a coronavirus outbreak.
Those from sovereign tribal nations can also apply for the waiver if there is a stay-at-home order affecting an entire school district or charter school on or adjacent to a reservation.
The Tolleson Union school district had its waiver approved last Friday.
The only other Valley school district that has been approved is the Tolleson School District.
“The concern was that we couldn’t safely bring students and staff to campus and keep them safe,” said Tolleson union superintendent Nora Gutierrez. KTAR News.
Gutierrez said county health officials have advised the district not to provide support services on school campuses due to the high rate of COVID-19 infection in the region.
“Their data indicated that Tolleson proper has been identified as a hotbed for COVID-19,” she said.
“I also requested data for our high school zip codes, and that data also indicated that we were above the Maricopa County rate.”
In a letter to the district, the Maricopa County Public Health Department said in June that Tolleson had nearly 2.4 times the rate of COVID-19 cases compared to Maricopa County.
The rate fell to 1.8 times in July, which the county health department said is “still of concern as a hot spot.”
He also said schools should not provide on-site support services until “Tolleson’s case rate reaches 1.5 times the Maricopa County case rate for 2 consecutive weeks.”
Gutierrez said the district will continue to provide some services, including a week-long breakfast and lunch that students can pick up from school or have it delivered to their homes.
“My responsibility as Superintendent is, first, the academic success of all of our students and, second, the safety and security of all of our staff and students,” she said.
“We agreed to both of these charges. “
Her district offers courses entirely online and plans to reopen schools for in-person learning until October 9.