North Valley Schools Prepared for a Return to Learning

Back-to-school season is frequently a time of anxiety for students and parents alike, and that has never been truer than in 2020. While families are weighing their options for the upcoming school year, school administrators and staff have been working diligently behind the scenes to adjust to an ever-changing landscape. But the bottom line for all parties? Creating a safe environment in which the Valley’s young learners can thrive this school year.

A safe learning environment is something that Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman homed in on in a statement in late July.

“Like all educators, I want students back in our classrooms because that’s the best place for learning and growing. However, we cannot ask schools to make decisions that will impact their teachers’ and students’ health and safety without first providing them with the necessary public health data and funding to make safe decisions.”

At a local level, superintendents at both Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVSchools) and Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) are focused on safety, and flexibility.

SUSD students will return to learning virtually Aug.10. The earliest SUSD campuses will open for full time on-campus learning is currently Sept. 8, but the school district reiterates that the date may change due to evolving health conditions, public health guidance and potential executive orders from the State of Arizona (susd.org/reopen). [Learn more from SUSD superintendent Dr. Scott A. Menzel in his August CST column on page 6.]

PVSchools will kick off the school year Aug. 5 and will conduct classes in an online learning environment through Labor Day (pvschools.net/reopening).

“In our heart, we all wanted to start the year on-time and in-person,” says Dr. Jesse Welsh, superintendent of PVSchools. “Unfortunately, for the safety of students, families, and staff, that is not possible. As we prepare to open online in PVSchools, students should know that their teachers all miss being able to see them in-person and are looking forward to getting to start learning with them this August.”

To help students and their families make the 2020–21 school year a success — whether learning takes place in-person or online — Dr. Welsh shared these three tips:

  1. Now is a good time to start getting students into a routine to prepare them for the start of school. With many districts beginning the school year online, it will be even more challenging to get back into those daily routines. Start on a regular schedule of what time to go to bed at night and wake up in the morning. Encourage students to start their daily morning routine with some time on learning activities you can do right now, such as reading a book, or online math practice.
  2. Before in-person classes resume, parents should practice with students on how to properly wear cloth masks. Even if just for short periods of time around the home or on trips to the grocery store, it will help prepare students for wearing masks at school.
  3. While many children may be excited to get to see their classmates again when in-person classes resume, some may have anxiety about being around others, particularly if they have been isolated since March. Parents should talk with their children about how they feel about returning to school and help them understand all of the safety measures that will be in place to ensure a safe environment for them.

Dr. Welsh concluded by saying, “While things are going to look different at schools this fall once in-person instruction can begin, we have been working hard throughout this summer to be prepared and we are excited for the new school year.” |CST

Leave a Reply