PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - In Phoenix, leaders in the Cartwright Elementary School District had a virtual meeting Thursday night to talk about going to in-person learning after it had plans to stick with online learning for the rest of the year.

The Phoenix Elementary School District has about 6,000 students. The board will meet Friday to develop a plan for in-person learning as it also had no plans to return to campus.

They are just two of the districts adjusting schedules following Gov. Doug Ducey's executive order this week that requires districts to offer in-person learning by March 15.

Steve Watson, the Maricopa County School superintendent, estimates about 50% of schools in Maricopa County are already open for some sort of classroom learning. Most others have been planning to return, he said, and here is a lot that goes into reopening schools.

"Making sure the school bus routes are going in the right locations," he said. "That they have a grasps in how many parents want to send their kids back on the first day of school."

While many are working on classroom plans, Gov. Ducey's order comes just before spring break.

"Not every community is one of the communities that's clamoring for every child to be back in school right away," said Chris Kotterman, with the Arizona School Boards Association.

One of the big questions districts have right now is how do you physically distance in a classroom?

"What does the social distancing requirement mean to the greatest extent possible?" he said. "Does that mean we're required to put every student back in the classroom and if it's not possible, it's not possible?"

Chris Kotterman

"What does the social distancing requirement mean to the greatest extent possible?" Chris Kotterman said. 

Kotterman says school districts are adaptable, but they did not get an advanced warning about the governor's change. A year into the pandemic, school districts had been making decisions.

"All of this could have been avoided if we had a more collaborative approach to resolved some of these things before just dropping an executive order with no warning," he said.

There's a lot of logistical work that goes into getting a campus ready. They also have to take time to reach out to families so they know how many students to expect on March 15.

closed school

There's a lot of logistical work that goes into getting a campus ready. 

"We went out of school last year. In some cases, teachers just left their own personal belongings in the classroom because they weren't allowed back," Kotterman said.

Parents do have the option to keep their kids in virtual school. Read more about the governor's executive order here.

 

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