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Casa Grande Elementary School District

CASA GRANDE — The Casa Grande Elementary School District and the Casa Grande Union High School District boards met on Tuesday evening and decided to continue remote learning while observing state health benchmarks.

Originally, students in the CGESD were expected to return back to campus under a hybrid model on Jan. 19. However, the district decided to postpone the date until Feb. 1, which it announced last week.

“Several of our staff members were vaccinated last week,” Superintendent JoEtta Gonzales said.

“I think we should proceed with caution,” new board member Adelphia Sisson said.

During the meeting, the CGESD board also extended employee COVID-19-related leave.

Back in March of 2020, the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act was passed to provide paid leave to employees who were affected by COVID-19. However, after Dec. 31, the provision was no longer mandatory.

“We value them, we appreciate their contributions,” board President David Snider said. “It seems to me that we need to do this.”

During the meeting, the CGESD board also accepted donations including 2,000 disposable face masks and 500 individual hand sanitizers from Arizona Complete Health.

The CGESD board also reelected Snider as president and elected Gilberto Mendez as president pro tem.

Meanwhile, the CGUHSD board approved continuing the use of Arizona Department of Health Services benchmarks to decide when it is safe for students to be on campus.

According to a letter from Superintendent Steve Bebee on the district’s website, this means that when two of the three ADHS benchmarks return to yellow or green for two consecutive weeks, then students may return to campus.

“Therefore, we will not be returning to in-person learning on January 19,2021, as previously approved and will remain on a virtual platform for all students until the benchmarks have reached the status that has been approved by the board,” Bebee said in the letter on the district’s website.

The board also approved a memorandum of understanding between Arizona Gear Up and CGUHSD.

The mission of Arizona Gear Up is to significantly increase the number of students in low-income communities who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

During the meeting, the board selected Jack Henness as its president and Joe Lopez as pro tem.

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Gabrielle Olivera is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more.