Busy Hallways Again

Students fill a hall at Mount Elden Middle School as two groups taking tours of the school passed each other in this March file photo.

School starts next week for most Flagstaff students and the district is busy responding to updated CDC guidance surrounding COVID-19.

For most districts, the renewed effort for a healthy return is more about communicating plans already in place than changing policies.

After sending out information to families and staff about its plans for COVID-19 response, FUSD hosted a webinar Monday to discuss a few specific topics and answer questions. It opened with a short video presentation on instructional models, mitigation strategies and ESSER III funding — the same models last discussed in the July 13 board meeting that the webinar presenters emphasized were “consistent and layered.”

In-person learning is the district’s priority, according to FUSD Superintendent Michael Penca, who said all the guidance began by discussing the importance of having students physically in schools and that this was reflected in what he’d seen during FUSD’s year of remote instruction. He listed learning, physical health and social-emotional growth as being negatively impacted by remote learning.

During the Q&A part of the event, Penca explained more of FUSD’s reasoning for not mandating masks.

“It is, in our state, to be an individual choice,” Penca said about masking legislation in Arizona. “…We are informing our staff, our students, and our families about the CDC’s recommendations and also encouraging that use and making sure that we understand that individual choice will be supported and respected either way.”

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