COOLIDGE — The Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology board had its first live meeting since March on Wednesday. The school transitioned from virtual to hybrid instruction on Oct. 13 after state health benchmarks indicated it could safely open again.
Superintendent Mike Glover praised the work CAVIT staff had done for both managing student safety and continuing academic programs. The school was able to hold a virtual ceremony for 45 National Technical Honor Society students last month as well. However, he did acknowledge that some programs that require more hands-on learning are still postponed until at least the second semester.
“I am real proud of staff administrators and teachers who have taken safety protocols to heart,” Glover said.
At the moment, CAVIT has split the student body into an A and B groups to cut class sizes in half and ensure social distancing. Other health and safety measures include temperature checks before entering a classroom, mandatory wearing of masks and an online questionnaire students must fill out about recent symptoms.
“You don’t get into the classroom until you have an acceptable temperature and answers that indicate you are not sick,” Glover said.
So far CAVIT has dealt with positive cases from students and reports of positive cases from partner schools without having to shut down. Two CAVIT staff members have been quarantined, including one teacher, but they were part of two-teacher programs so there has been no delay in the class. So far, one class session has been canceled because up to eight students in a class were quarantined. Quarantined students are still responsible for online assignments. Glover acknowledged that the threshold for evaluating a “sick” student had changed and that even if they don’t have COVID-19, the school is foregoing a doctor’s note requirement. CAVIT is telling students under the weather to stay home for several days.
“Lots of things are happening,” Glover said, “so the school has to jump in and be ready to cover.”
Although some students were struggling with technology, Glover said CAVIT has been working with its 12 regional partner schools on this challenge. Many schools have programs where students can borrow laptops or a Wi-Fi connection. Glover acknowledged that troubleshooting with students and internet connectivity was simply “our new way of life” but that it hadn’t been a major issue so far.
“We are now putting so much emphasis on online learning, which is new for education,” Glover said. “We are constantly evaluating and changing things up, but we will do our best.”
All of the 12 regional schools CAVIT serves have continued to partner this year. Every Thursday, the state comes out with a recommendation by county for schools based on the pandemic situation. The recommendation for Pinal County has been a hybrid model since the summer.
Due to the fluid nature of the pandemic, Glover said that the school would not know how to proceed for the next semester until December.