GUSD continues in-person instruction despite ‘virtual only’ ADHS recommendations

Andrea Justice/Arizona Silver Belt Students at Globe High School returned to in-person classes after winter break on Jan. 4, 2021. Although the Arizona Department of Health Services recommends that Arizona students return to class in a virtual setting, GUSD has opted to continue their three-choice mode of education.

On Dec. 30, 2020, Globe Unified School District Superintendent Jerry Jennex assured Globe parents that GUSD will be open for in-person classes on Jan. 4 despite recommendations by the Arizona Department of Health Services that all Arizona classrooms should proceed in a virtual setting due to the increase of Covid-19 cases. According to Jennex, GUSD has opted to remain steadfast using the “three-choice” mode. “Families were allowed to choose to go totally online through our TKO (Tiger Knowledge Online) program, to send their student for two days per week, or send their students four days per week,” said Jennex. “As we move back into school after winter break we do not have any plans to alter our educational delivery system.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services recently indicated that they recommend an all-virtual approach for Arizona schools. Jennex said that GUSD will not be following that recommendation for the following reasons: GUSD health and safety experience, GUSD educational experience, and GUSD community impact.

Under health and safety experience, Jennex says that the school district has not been immune from the impact of Covid-19. They have had 20 staff members and approximately 20 students test positive. The district has followed quarantining guidelines and has shut down several classrooms as a result. “We have been watching positivity rates and spread within schools in Globe and on a statewide and national level, and have noticed that the trend is that schools really are not the major spreader of Covid,” said Jennex. “While we do not want anyone to get sick, we are assured that mitigation measures being taken are helping to protect staff and students.”

Jennex stated that the educational experience is much more successful for those who are able to attend in-person learning. He says that GUSD is still learning about online education and that most educational authorities agree that in-person education works best for most students.

Under community impact, Jennex states that GUSD has heard from many families and community members who indicate that having school open for in-person learning allows them to go to work and provide for their families.

Jennex assured parents that as school proceeds to reopen on Jan. 4 they will continue to monitor the situation in Globe and quarantine as needed.

“We are living in a polarized society and Covid-19 has proven to be a very polarizing situation,” said Jennex. “I realize that everyone has an opinion and that those opinions are valid to those holding them.”

The GUSD staff is being offered the opportunity to receive the Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.   

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