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 ( [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 (

“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

PVSchools to Host Virtual Job Fair July 9

For the 2020–21 school year, the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVSchools) is looking to hire certified full-time and part-time teaching positions, as well as employee support professional positions, including bus drivers who are paid based on K–12 driving experience.

PVSchools will hold a Virtual Job Fair Thursday, July 9, from 10am to 1pm.
Prior to the job fair, applicants may explore the district’s school sites and departments, view current vacancies, share their employment interests directly with administrators and apply for positions.
During the job fair, applicants may view vacancies, share their information, apply for positions, attend live meeting rooms with administrative teams and may be selected to participate in personal interviews.

To learn more about open positions and available benefits, visit

Superintendent’s Message: Dr. Jesse Welsh, PVSchools

Dr. Jesse Welsh,
Superintendent, Paradise Valley Unified School District

The COVID-19 pandemic has been shaping the situation across our country in all aspects of life. We are all continuing to adjust to find the right balance of interaction, social distancing and health precautions in our work and personal lives. Those impacts have been felt in our schools also and continue to ripple out as we plan for the upcoming school year. While guiding students on their journey of learning continues to be our goal, our focus for this fall must also be on ensuring the health and safety of our students and staff, to the greatest extent possible. When we open schools in the fall, it will be with additional measures in place; sanitizing of surfaces, increased handwashing and sanitizer stations, health precautions and other safety measures.

While there is hope that the pandemic may subside, there is also uncertainty. Much like the 1918 Flu Pandemic, we cannot be sure if there will be a “second wave” of COVID-19 cases. Nothing like this has occurred within our lifetimes. We continue to plan for multiple scenarios so that we can be ready, whatever the outcome. In addition to a traditional opening, this includes options both for delaying opening or moving to a distance learning model if necessary.

The events of the last several months have weighed heavily on families and our students. We know that, when school resumes, we must address the mental health of our students as well. The uncertainty, disruption, stress and financial strain many have experienced cannot be allowed to impact learning.

Yet, in spite of these challenges, we remain resilient. In March, when our schools closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, teachers pivoted to distance learning within a week. Our students rose to the challenge and, with support from families, continued to learn at home. Whatever challenges we may face this school year, we will be prepared and adapt, maintaining the safety of our students, staff and families.

To contact Dr. Welsh or learn more about the Paradise Valley Unified School District, call 602.449.2000 or visit

This editorial was originally published in the JUNE 2020 issue of CITYSunTimes. Read it here.

PVSchools Will Change Meal Distribution Hours Beginning April 13

Beginning Monday, April 13, hours for PVSchools’ meal distribution sites will change to 8am–10am in order to help families balance distance learning schedules. (See graphic below or download the PDF.)

PVSchools Nutrition & Wellness Department will provide free meals to any child 18 or younger, regardless of application status or school enrollment.

For additional information, visit



PVSchools To Host Job Fair July 10

The Paradise Valley Unified School District will host a job fair to fill open Education Support Professional (ESP) positions for the 2019-20 school year Wednesday, July 10, from 8am–noon at the District Administrative Center, 15002 North 32nd Street, Phoenix.

“Our Educational Support Professionals are a very important part of the daily success of our school district. We are seeking valuable employees such as bus drivers, crossing guards, paraeducators, office clerks and maintenance technicians who have a strong desire to support the learning of our students. During the PVSchools Job Fair, candidates can learn about employment opportunities, receive application support, and be interviewed on the spot for any open position,” said Dr. Michelle Otstot, director of Human Resources — ESP.

PVSchools offers a competitive benefits package that includes:

  • Free employee-only medical benefits package (must work 30 hours a week to be eligible)
  • Dental and Vision Insurance
  • Arizona State Retirement System — employer matching pension
  • Paid holidays

Prospective candidates should come dressed appropriately to interview the day of the Job Fair.

Potential candidates can reach out with questions to Dr. Otstot by email at or by phone 602.449.2185. View and apply for open positions at


PVEA Collecting Prom Attire for PVSchools Girls & Guys

Spring is just around the corner and it’s a great time to clean out those closets. The Paradise Valley Education Association (PVEA) is collecting prom attire for its annual Prom Dresses & Ties for PV Girls & Guys event. PVSchools students are invited to visit the boutique prior to prom to select an outfit of his or her dreams — for free.

PVEA is seeking the following items:

  • Dresses
  • Women’s shoes
  • Necklaces
  • Purses
  • Earrings
  • Tuxedos
  • Bow ties
  • Formal vests
  • Men’s shoes

Items may be dropped off through April 2 at the PVSchools’ District Administrative Center, Monday–Friday from 8am–4:30pm. (Get directions to PVSchools.) Prom attire will be donated to students who attend PVSchools.

The Dresses & Ties for PV Girls & Guys event is organized and run by volunteer teachers who collect prom attire donations throughout the year from the community.

PVSchools Governing Board To Host Bagels with the Board Feb. 6

As part of an ongoing effort to foster collegiality and promote transparency, the PVSchools Governing Board announced its Bagels with the Board events. These events occur quarterly and are held at various schools throughout the district.

The next Bagels with the Board for the 2018-19 school year will be held Wednesday, Feb. 6, from 10-11am at Larkspur Elementary School. (Directions to Larkspur Elementary.)

All members of the community are invited to attend this event to have an opportunity to talk with Governing Board members. Bagels and coffee will be provided. Learn more about PVSchools at

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