Toltec School District logo (2020)

ARIZONA CITY — The Toltec School District had originally set its school reopening date for Oct. 19 but following a special board meeting, that date was pushed back one week to Oct. 26.

The district is allowing students to continue with virtual learning from home without setting foot on the school campuses.

For those students who will return to in-person teaching, their schedule will depend on whether they attend Arizona City Elementary or Toltec Elementary as there is a different plan for each school.

Students at Arizona City Elementary will have A and B days, where a group of students will go to school on Monday and Tuesday, then another group will go on Wednesday and Thursday.

Students will continue virtual learning from home on the days they are not on campus.

Arizona City Elementary School will allow students to bring backpacks to school to transport their learning devices.

Toltec Elementary School will offer in-person learning for students Monday through Thursday as there are fewer students, and it is easier to accommodate physical distancing. Student backpacks must be clear to be permitted on campus.

There was a lot of discussion from the board during the meeting as some teachers were displeased with the recommended school times and board members disagreed on pushing back the start date.

Board member Dennis Callahan was against pushing back the start date and said school staff had been aware of the start date for a long time.

“We have put our kids and our district out long enough,” Callahan said. “If you couldn’t prepare from then until now and you can’t prepare from now until the 19th, you’re never going to be prepared. We need to stick to our plan; we need to stick to what we decided and agreed to do and not continue to push this out.”

Board member Pam Long said that most of the schools are following federal guidelines and Oct. 26 is a good date to reopen in Pinal County.

Long and board President Mark Lindgren agreed that the additional week would allow the district an opportunity to come up with a plan on how to handle the three vacant teaching positions at Arizona City Elementary.

Board member Tim Cason told the rest of the board that he had heard some complaints about the proposed change of when school starts and ends.

The proposed times on the meeting agenda were 8:10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for Toltec Elementary and 9 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. for Arizona City Elementary.

The offset in times is to allow for bus transportation to drop off students at one school and then pick up the students who attend the other school. Additionally, more time is now needed to disinfect the buses.

Callahan moved to reject the revised plan and to stick with what the board had approved at the beginning of the school year and after no one seconded his motion, Long made one to approve the revised plan.

Cason said that he could not second Long’s motion because of the proposed start times for the schools.

After hearing from both school principals, the board decided to change the times to be as close as possible to the original start times from last year when students were still doing in-person learning.

The start times the board approved are 7:30 a.m. for Toltec Elementary and 8:30 a.m. for Arizona City Elementary.

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Maria Vasquez is a reporter covering Eloy, Arizona City and sports. She can be reached at mvasquez@pinalcentral.com.

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