NUSD Update and Communication

NUSD Update and Communication
Posted on 08/10/2020
NUSD Update and Communication

Good afternoon-


I hope that this email finds you and your family well as we complete our first three days of the 2020-2021 school year! I want to provide a brief update to you regarding new benchmark measures published yesterday by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and the waiver that I have shared we intend to apply for to delay the start of in-person instruction based upon these measures and our local data.

Before beginning the update, I want to take a moment to share information about the successful beginning of our new school year. To date, we have provided approximately 4,500 laptops to students and several hundred MiFi devices to families in need. As a result, this week over 5,300 students were able to log in to their Google Classroom and online programs to begin instruction.

We will continue to support new student enrollments with devices and are providing technical support to families at the district level (by calling 520-397-7919 Mon.-Fri. from 7 am to 4 pm) as well as at your child's school during regular school hours. Additionally, we have created a student portal on the NUSD website under the "Quick Links" with online program links and login directions (in English and Spanish) for students and families.

Moving into the update, as you know, by Executive Order 2020-51, the expected date for the beginning of in-person instruction, including the start of the hybrid model, had been scheduled by the Governor to begin on August 17, 2020. However, as I shared during the last update, it is our intent to apply for a waiver to delay all in-person instruction based upon our high positivity rates here in Santa Cruz County. Yesterday, ADHS shared the benchmark measures that our waiver and eventual return to in-person school will be based upon. 

These benchmark measures were developed to guide decisions by school districts on when to offer online, hybrid, or in-person instruction amid the current pandemic. Benchmarks are classified into minimal, moderate, and substantial transmission categories as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and align with the Arizona Department of Education's Roadmap for Reopening Schools. 

ADHS recommends that schools consider county-specific public health benchmarks that provide recent information about community transmission. These include benchmarks around new cases, the positivity rate for testing, and COVID-19 related hospitalizations. For the initial reopening of the in-person and hybrid-based models, ADHS recommends the following county-level benchmarks:

  • Cases: a two-week decline in weekly average cases OR two weeks below 100 cases per 100,000 population.
  • Diagnostic test percent positivity: two weeks with positivity below 7%.
  • COVID-19-Like-Illness Surveillance: two weeks with less than 10% of hospital visits due to COVID-like illness.  

A dashboard for schools is available on the ADHS website that indicates whether counties meet the recommended benchmarks for the initial reopening of in-person learning in schools. ADHS recommends that all three benchmarks fall into the moderate or minimal transmission ranges before schools in a county consider a hybrid approach. When one or more benchmark categories are in the range of substantial transmission, ADHS recommends that schools work with their local health departments and prepare for online learning. Data on the dashboard will be updated weekly on Thursdays. 

At this time, Santa Cruz County is still identified as "Substantial" in the area of positivity and, as such, the County Health Director agrees that online learning should continue for all students as we do not meet the safety measures to return to any type of in-person instructional models.

We will continue to monitor the benchmark data for our county with local health and medical officials to determine when we meet the criteria for in-person and hybrid instruction. To support our efforts when it is safe to return to school, through their partnership with Arizona State University (ASU) the Mariposa Community Health Center (MCHC) will be able to offer no-cost testing for students and staff. This program will be a tremendous support to our district and our goal to provide a safe and healthy environment when in-person instruction resumes.  The district will have a system in place to implement the testing program and more information will be shared with families when in-person instruction is ready to begin.

We will continue to work closely with local health officials to determine when it is safe to return to the classroom this fall as well as throughout the school year as the situation and data changes.  

Please continue to follow all health and safety guidelines by wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, and maintaining social (PHYSICAL) distance. Be well, have a restful weekend, and have a very successful rest of the school year!




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