Health indicators do not favor the reopening at the start of the third quarter of the FUSD | Local

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Students in the Flagstaff Unified School District returned to virtual classrooms on Monday as new governing board members, who will make the final decision on when schools can potentially reopen in person, are sworn in.

The board voted in November to continue distance learning until the second quarter, which ended on Tuesday, and to discuss the status of its reopening plans again at its next meeting on Tuesday 12. January.

According to the latest health data, however, an upcoming reopening seems unlikely.

For several weeks, Coconino County Health and Human Services advised all school districts in the county to use virtual classrooms due to the significant transmission of COVID-19 in their geographies. As of Tuesday, CCHHS reported a total of 11,606 COVID-19 cases and 209 deaths in the county since the start of the pandemic. The positivity of the tests is 13% and the incidence of cases is 7880 per 100,000.

In the latest CCHHS schools report, for the week ending Dec. 26, FUSD had a case incidence of 421.8 cases per 100,000 people and a test positivity of 11.6%. The district has seen a decrease in the number of cases in its area since December 5, but not enough to meet its reopening thresholds, which are more stringent than state guidelines used by Coconino County.

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“Our district, board, community and staff have made a decision to be cohesive. We have data metrics that we need to meet to reopen, so right now we’re putting our hats on this plan and monitoring the numbers, ”said FUSD Board Chair Anne Dunno.

The district said in its health update on Monday that it will remain in full distance learning until health data improves. Its latest COVID-19 dashboard update for the week of December 19 shows a total of seven reported cases, with five cases among staff and students affiliated with Coconino High School, one at Thomas Elementary and one. one with supporting facilities.

Since the start of the school year, the FUSD has registered a total of 153 reported COVID-19 cases, including 30 related to athletics.

To receive a county recommendation for in-person or hybrid learning, a school district area would have to display a lower level of community transmission for two consecutive weeks. However, no school district in Coconino County has experienced less than 100 cases per 100,000 or a positivity yield of less than 10% during such a period. Flagstaff charter schools currently have the lowest positivity score at 11%, while Grand Canyon Unified has the lowest case incidence at 161.

Although FUSD school campuses may not yet fully reopen unless the district revises its health data requirements, Dunno highlighted the benefits of the district’s new activity policy, which allows small groups of students to meet on campus for limited activities after COVID-19 mitigation is approved. plan.

“We’re trying to find ways to be creative here over the next few months if we’re not back in person,” Dunno said.

Board of directors

Coconino County Superintendent Tommy Lewis led board members Christine Fredericks, Carole Gilmore and Dorothy Denetsosie Gishie in a virtual oath of office ceremony Monday morning.

Their terms – Fredericks’ third, Gilmore’s second, and Denetsosie Gishie’s first – will last until December 31, 2024. They have joined Dunno and Carol Haden, whose terms end in 2022.

“It’s a huge responsibility and also great public service,” Lewis said Monday, after the three oaths. “You will face many challenges, I’m sure – obstacles too – but I really believe that you have the qualifications, the skills, the leadership to help the superintendent move straight forward to move your school district forward.” to a higher level, always knowing that it is in the best interests of student learning and academic success.

Dunno said that in addition to continuing to focus on policies and the response to COVID-19, she hopes this new board will also be able to revert to past projects – like creating a plan that incorporates this fall’s conclusions against racism and the anti-bias working group – which were set aside in favor of the response to the pandemic.

FUSD spokesperson Zachery Fountain said district staff are working on plans for upcoming spring events, such as graduation ceremonies and testing.

“We just keep adapting. The board will play a key role in the coming months in making these decisions and determining where we can adapt and create the best and safe situations, ”he said.

Kaitlin Olson can be reached in the office at [email protected] or by phone at (928) 556-2253.

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