CASA GRANDE — Going back to class may look different to Casa Grande high school students next school year.
The Casa Grande Union High School District is looking at various ways to start the school year. CGUHSD is offering parents four options on how to start the new school year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a special CGUHSD board meeting last week, Superintendent Steve Bebee proposed four scenarios for reopening the district’s high schools.
The first option included having all students attend school in-person like a normal school year. The second option was a hybrid class schedule where students would attend school in-person two days out of the week and virtually two days out of the week. A third option would be to have all students attend school virtually through a state accredited online school program set up by the district. The last option would involve students attending some classes online and some classes in-person throughout the school day. The board plans to make a final decision on what model to use at its July 7 meeting.
Bebee said based on surveys that went out to parents, staff and teachers earlier this month, most parents favored a hybrid model or in-person model of teaching for the new school year. Teachers and staff favored either a hybrid or online model of learning. Bebee suggested the board consider the hybrid model.
The hybrid model would have students attend school in-person two days out of the week and attend online two days out of the week. One day out of the week, most likely Wednesday, would be reserved to deep clean and disinfect the schools, hold staff meetings and help students who needed to catch up in class.
In the hybrid model, each grade level would be divided in half alphabetically. Each school day, half of the grade would attend class in-person and half online, he said. For example, a student might attend class in-person on Monday and Friday and virtually on Tuesday and Thursday. The student’s friend might attend class in-person on Tuesday and Thursday and virtually on Monday and Friday.
The half that would be attending virtually would watch a live feed of their class online. Bebee said the virtual classes would be very different from how the district ended the last school year. Students would be required to sign in to their virtual classes each day, attendance would be taken and they finish their coursework, just as they would during a normal year.
Hands-on classes, such as science labs or Career and Technical Education classes, would probably have the physical part of the class take place during the days a student is attending school in-person, he said. Lectures and other non-lab work for those classes would probably take place on the days the student is attending school online.
The length of classes would be extended to a full hour and district would move to three 30 minute lunch periods with boxed lunches in order to minimize traffic in the school’s hallways and maximize the time staff would have to clean and sanitize between lunches.
The district would still offer sports and extracurricular activities after school under the hybrid model, he said. The district would have to work out a transportation plan for students. According to the district’s survey, most parents were reluctant to send their students to school on the bus. If the district goes with a hybrid plan, it would have to determine how many students would use the bus and how many buses and bus routes the district would need. It would also have to figure out a way to manage traffic at the schools as parents dropped off and picked up students and for older students, who may drive themselves to school.
Bebee said the board should also consider applying for an Arizona Online Instruction Program certificate, so the district could start its own online only charter school for students or parents who were concerned about sending their student to class in-person regardless of whether the district used a full in-person class model or a hybrid class model.
This would allow these students to still be counted as a CGUHSD student and graduate as one, he said.
Students and parents who decided part way through the school year that they would like to switch to the online only charter school or to whatever model the district decided on for the district’s physical schools would be able to switch to the other option at the end of the semester, Bebee said. For example, a student who started the year attending the online charter could switch at the end of the first semester to attending the hybrid model at the district’s schools and vice versa.
Bebee said other high school districts that have announced their reopening plans, such as Combs and Coolidge, in Pinal County are offering parents and students a choice of in-person only or online only classes.
The board may also want to consider moving back the start date for classes, Bebee said.
On Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey announced he was moving the start date of schools in the state to Aug. 17.
After getting the go-head to look deeper into the hybrid learning model from the board, Bebee said he would bring back more information on the model and how it would work to the board at a special board meeting scheduled for noon on July 1. The board plans to make a final decision on how the district’s schools will reopen at its July 7 meeting.