COOLIDGE — The Coolidge Unified School District is contending with rising COVID cases and rising numbers of lost or stolen iPads.

Those two issues, along with updates on construction projects and enrollment numbers, were discussed by Superintendent Dawn Dee Hodge during the district’s Aug. 11 Governing Board meeting, the first one in well over a year that allowed members of the public to attend in person.

“It’s been a successful start to the school year,” Hodge said. “A bit rocky with more students enrolled than anticipated, but that’s a good problem to have.”

According to Hodge, the district had four known cases of students testing positive for COVID-19, and as a result over 120 students were quarantined, representing roughly 5% of the student body.

Hodge was adamant that the district would not impose a mask mandate at present, as the district’s attorneys had told them to wait until litigation was decided.

Nevertheless, Hodge strongly encouraged masking indoors.

“We believe in-person instruction is a priority,” Hodge said. “We keep saying this, but we need parents, families to stay home, to keep their kids home, if they are exhibiting any symptoms of infectious disease.”

Hodge said the district is continuing to implement sanitation policies and that hopefully the combination of “layered” measures would keep the students and staff healthy.

Currently the district’s enrollment is above prepandemic levels, with an additional 189 students registered for the Virtual Academy. Hodge said she has received positive feedback about both the virtual program and the school’s new website, but that the district was facing a major problem with hundreds of missing — or stolen — iPads.

The school is due to deliver thousands of new devices to students over the next five weeks, but when that happens, the iPads locked in “lost” mode will have to be reverted back to default settings.

Director of Business Services Alyssa Garrett described it as a “continuous battle” to recover the iPads before the turnover takes place.

On construction projects, Hodge said the West Elementary drop-off route was almost complete and that signage would hopefully help parents and students navigate the new system. Flooring has been completed both at the Coolidge High School roundhouse and cafeteria.

Board member Diana Guerrero described the district’s newly branded “spirit bus,” which will be used when sports teams travel for out-of-district events, as “super cool.”

Traffic will be limited on Friday and Saturday as the city of Coolidge makes the final push to pave Northern Avenue near the high school campus. Paving is expected to be completed by the end of the weekend.

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Aaron Dorman is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more. He can be reached at adorman@pinalcentral.com.

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