CASA GRANDE — The start of the new school year is around the corner, and Casa Grande Union High School District opened its enrollment process to students and families on Tuesday.
This year’s enrollment process is mostly online due to COVID-19, said Superintendent Steve Bebee. The school year will start online on Aug. 10. The district plans to move to in-person instruction as soon as the state gives the approval to reopen school buildings.
Each school in the district has a link on its website for parents to sign in and enroll their student. The websites also have a list of documents a parent or guardian will need to enroll their students, instructions on how to use the online enrollment program and a list of phone numbers that parents can call for help during the enrollment process. Parents will be notified when their student is enrolled.
Parents who need to submit copies of new documents, such as ID, birth certificate, etc., to the district can do so by using their smartphone to take photos and then submitting the photos to the district, he said.
Parents with students who are new to the district, such as eighth graders moving into high school or students who are transferring into the district, will have to take the extra step of making an appointment to meet with staff at the high school their student will be attending, Bebee said. This allows the schools to issue students the necessary devices, such as laptops, that they will need to access their learning program and answer any questions that new families and students might have.
The district is asking families to send only one parent with each student if they have to make an in-person appointment to complete the enrollment process in order to help maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
Bebee recognized that some families in the district may not have internet access or be able to enroll their student online. Those families should call their student’s school for help. Staff at the school can walk them through the online enrollment process or set up an appointment for the student and one parent to meet with staff to complete the enrollment process in-person at the school.
Families are also able to choose which model of learning their student wants to use to attend school this year during the enrollment process, he said.
The district is offering families two choices, a modified in-person model that includes in-person learning once the state approves opening school buildings, or an online-only model.
The modified in-person model will start with students attending school virtually until the state gives schools permission to reopen school buildings. After school buildings reopen, each grade level in each school will be divided in half, with half of the students in each grade attending school in-person on Mondays, Thursdays and every other Wednesday and the other half of the students in each grade attending school on Tuesdays, Fridays and every other Wednesday. Students will attend classes and complete course work virtually on the days they are not attending school in-person. Students will use their school-issued laptops to learn and complete course work from home.
The district is working on a plan to help families who may not have access to the internet.
Bebee said the district is also putting a number of other policies in place to protect the health of students and staff. Those policies include increased cleaning and disinfecting schedules, spacing out desks, adding a third lunch period to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria and other items.
The district is also offering an online-only learning program for families or students who may not want to or cannot attend school in-person. The online program offers the same core classes and many of the same electives that the district offers in its modified in-person learning program.
Students will use their school-issued laptops to attend class and complete coursework. Families will have to have adequate internet access before signing up for this learning program.
Students who enroll in the online-only program will not be able to switch to the modified in-person learning program until the end of the semester, even if the district reopens its school buildings.
As of Wednesday, the district had about 725 students enrolled — 467 chose the modified in-person learning method and 249 students chose the online-only learning method. Bebee said those numbers are in line with what the district expected from talking to teachers, staff and parents.
Although the enrollment process lasts until July 31, the district is encouraging families to enroll their student as soon as possible so the district knows where to split each grade level in the modified in-person learning program, Bebee said. The district is also willing to make exceptions for students who may need to enroll after the July 31 date, such as those who move into the area after the official enrollment process ends.