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Sat, July 04

WUSD creates tentative reopening plan, discusses safety measures
Ducey orders delayed start for schools

The Williams Unified School District Governing Board met June 24 in a special session to begin work on a reopening plan for its schools and determine a start date for the 2020-2021 school year. (Photo/WGCN)

The Williams Unified School District Governing Board met June 24 in a special session to begin work on a reopening plan for its schools and determine a start date for the 2020-2021 school year. (Photo/WGCN)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Guidelines for how Arizona school districts can safely reopen for the fall have been released by the Arizona Department of Education, but much of the specifics have been left up to local school districts.

The Williams Unified School District Governing Board met June 24 in a special session to begin work on a reopening plan for its schools and determine a start date for the 2020-2021 school year.

WUSD administrators decided at the meeting to continue with the planned Aug. 10 start date, however, on June 29 Gov. Doug Ducey ordered all Arizona schools to delay their start dates to at least Aug. 17.

The district has developed a reopening plan that could change as the pandemic situation changes, administrators said.

“We are going to be discussing this at every school meeting throughout the year,” said WUSD Governing Board President Carla Dent at the meeting.

WUSD Superintendent Rick Honsinger encouraged parents to be flexible as administrators work to develop a plan that keeps students and faculty safe.

“There has been a lot of input and thought put into this plan,” Honsinger said in a letter to parents. “We know that there is no ‘perfect plan,’ but have tried to come up with a plan that emphasizes safety for all students and staff, while still building a good learning environment for all.”

The tentative plan emphasizes the need for parents to take responsibility for monitoring their children’s health in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19 at the schools.

The reopening plan details the symptoms of COVID-19 that parents should watch for in their children. These symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing, muscles aches, sore throat, headache, fatigue, congestions, cough, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of taste or smell.

Honsinger said the district plans to issue Chromebooks and provide greater support for makeup work and access to teachers.

In an attempt to follow CDC guidelines to limit the transmission of COVID-19, the school plans to screen students who ride buses which could include using a no-touch thermometer. Students would be required to wear a face covering while riding the bus and assigned seating would be implemented.

Administrators also plan to screen students who are dropped off at the school by taking temperatures upon entering the building. Students would also be required to go straight to classrooms.

Honsinger said administrators initially proposed a no face mask requirement while students are in classes, but said this could change dependent on state or local requirements.

The school plans to limit contact between students and faculty by limiting passing period times, staggering lunch times and alternating recesses.

At the high school, students will still be allowed open campus at lunch, but the school hopes to limit groups to six students and promote social distancing.

Lockers would not be issued at the high school or middle school. Locker rooms would only be open to athletes.

The district also plans to ramp up sanitation measures by hiring more staff and scheduling more cleaning. Hand sanitizer would be available throughout the hallways and classrooms.

Honsinger said WUSD plans to work with parents of special needs students to develop individual plans.

“Everyone wants to know what the future holds and plan accordingly, but I urge everyone to be ready for some change this year,” he said.

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