MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - With cases of COVID-19 still rising at some of the highest rates we’ve seen, school districts are trying to figure out what to do about next year. Gov. Doug Ducey and the Department of Education announced late last month that schools can reopen in the fall, and later released guidelines for it.

The state’s largest district, Mesa Public Schools, released its initial reopening plan last week, and it gives choices for how to get the 64,000 students back into the classroom. It includes three options for students: In-person learning, remote learning, and modified in-person (which is sort of a mix of the other 2).

“We know that there is much that we do not know, but we know that the stakeholders of Mesa expect us to make plans with safety precautions in place and plans that allow for choice,” said Helen Hollands, Chief Strategy and Information Officer for MPS.

In a district survey, more than 60% of parents said they would prefer in-person learning and only 10% were leaning towards remote learning. Hollands walked people through each of the options during the 2nd of 3 online forums Monday evening.

In-person is the closest to regular school, though there will be restrictions when it comes to meals, school transportation, hygiene, and even water fountain use. “We will ask for signed awareness form at the beginning of the year,” Hollands said of the students who go back to campus for in-person learning.

The modified in-person option would be very similar, but students would attend in-person classes either 2 or 3 times a week, with alternating Wednesdays on the schedule.

“Even though a student may attend school fewer days each week or fewer hours each day, learning expectations will be for every day,” Hollands said.

Those students would have district-issued laptops, just like the kids who choose to do remote learning. With that 3rd option, kids would use their computers at home each day, but would still be able to do extracurricular activities in person.

“At the semester break they can choose to transition back to in-person learning,” Hollands said.

According to the World Health Organization, the 7-day average of positive COVID-19 tests in an areas should be no more than 5% before social restrictions are lifted. Right now Arizona’s rate is more than twice that.

“We know that this is an ever-changing situation, and our plan may change before the first day of school,” Hollands said.

The first day of school for Mesa Public Schools is still scheduled for August 4. There will be another online forum on Wednesday where you can answer poll questions about the reopening plan. Any changes the district makes to its initial reopening plan will be released on July 14.

 

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