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Thu, Oct. 29

WUSD begins first week of remote learning, will make decision Aug. 12 for in-person classes
Coconino County misses metrics for safe return to classrooms

New teachers at Williams Unified School District meet for training the week of Aug. 3-7. Teachers include: Carrie Massey, fifth grade, Becky Deutschman, preschool, Cathleen Goodell, middle school math, Khaitlyn Serrano, interventionist, Cooper Elliott, high school social studies, Michaela Yancey, high school history, Mrs. Fitzgerald, language arts and Abigeal Zambrano, music. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

New teachers at Williams Unified School District meet for training the week of Aug. 3-7. Teachers include: Carrie Massey, fifth grade, Becky Deutschman, preschool, Cathleen Goodell, middle school math, Khaitlyn Serrano, interventionist, Cooper Elliott, high school social studies, Michaela Yancey, high school history, Mrs. Fitzgerald, language arts and Abigeal Zambrano, music. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Williams Unified School District (WUSD) is off and running on a new school year, albeit a little differently. On Aug. 10, WUSD teachers began remote instruction for the district’s students.

“Our first day is going okay,” said WUSD Superintendent Rick Honsinger. “We are online starting today and I spoke to teachers about how their meetings are going.”

Honsinger said there have been a few “hiccups” but overall the remote learning process has been fairly smooth.

“We are getting quite a few students logging on and meeting with teachers,” he said. “This has gone better than expected. I was hoping for 50 percent (participation), but I think we are quite a bit better than that.”

Honsinger said the schools are utilizing a combination of Zoom meetings and Google Classroom to bring learning to the students.

He said teachers and principals at the schools have deluged students with texts, emails and phone calls to prepare them for the first day. He said students also have a help-line phone number to call for assistance.

“The teachers are doing Zoom for instruction and they use Google Classroom for their resources,” Honsinger said.

At the high school, Honsinger said classes will typically meet twice each week and students will be given assignments to do on their own.

At the elementary level, teachers will do short Zoom sessions twice each day for the students.

“It’s not as good as being in person, but there are some things teachers can do that make it fun,” he said.

Honsinger said the plan is to keep classes closely aligned to in-person classes for an easy transition.

“If we were doing online classes for a long time, a block might work better,” he said. “But I’m hoping that we aren’t going to be here (remote learning) that long.”

WUSD has set Aug. 17 as the reopening date for in-person learning, but will make the final decision at its Aug. 12 Governing Board meeting after receiving new recommended metrics from the Department of Health.

“I really wish I had more to tell you, but it’s going to be up to the board,” Honsinger said.

According to COVID-19 data from the Arizona Department of Health Services, Coconino County does not currently meet the return to school metrics set by the state. However, Honsinger said he plans to get community specific data for Williams to aid in the decision making.

“I’m asking the county for our particular information, to see if they have more localized data rather than just using our county’s numbers,” he said. “They (the data) don’t reflect on us small communities. We are one of the biggest counties in the country — whatever is happening in Page should not reflect on what we are going to do.”

Heritage Charter School began remote learning Aug. 4, with plans to open a safe place for distance learning support Aug. 17.

Following the release of Department of Health metrics, the school has postponed in-person learning until Oct. 12.

“Our new in-person start date has been moved to October 12 based on the latest information and benchmarks put out by the state,” said Principal Kaytie Dannenberger

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