I would like to update you on our plans to reopen. Like you, I’m closely watching the data regarding COVID as it relates to our schools and families.
To begin with, please know that Heritage families are in the thoughts and prayers of the Taylor family every day. We hope each of you are healthy and safe.
Arizona has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases. Directives on things like large gatherings, start dates, and masks have been coming very quickly.
As I wrote a few days ago, our plans are to safely reopen to the fullest extent possible allowed by law. On Monday, 29 June 2020, Governor Ducey issued another executive order which delays in-person classes until 17 August 2020.
At the same press conference, the Governor said that this reopening date was “aspirational” which means we will continue to have uncertainty in returning. It’s likely that this date is pushed back even further. Delaying school any longer is not in the best interest of our scholars and families.
Therefore, we are planning to resume school on the same date that we previously published for each school. (See your local school website for the calendar for the exact start date.) Classes will be provided online until we are allowed to resume in person on campus. We don’t know the exact date of when in-classroom learning will begin and we don’t want to further delay education. As a result, scholars will need access to computers and the Internet to facilitate Google Classroom.
To help us plan for reopening for in-person classes, we need to know who would like to continue online learning instead of classroom learning after the State has approved a return campus. We will need a response from each family by 10 July 2020. This is not an interest list, it is a commitment to proceed online after we are permitted to return to campus.
Scholars who are listed will be required to complete the entire semester online through Google Classroom and may return to campus in the Spring semester, should we be allowed back on campus. If you would like to continue online learning for the entire fall semester, please submit your information at this FORM HERE.
The form will outline additional details related to this type of learning. For example, there will be a selection of electives, but they may be limited and different from what we are able to offer on campus. Also notable is that our dual enrollment partners will support what we are doing both online and on campus.
Google Classroom will again be our distance learning platform. We received feedback from many of you on what we did well and how we can improve and have considered your feedback in our plans. Thank you. We will be keeping the good and improving in areas we were not as strong. Additional training in online instruction will be given to our faculty to be more effective. At the same time, we would like to be clear on the expectations for online learning. Here is a document that outlines what success looks like in an online classroom.
As always, thank you for being part of the Heritage family.
We are looking forward to seeing each of you again on August 5th. We continue to plan for a full reopening in the upcoming school year that includes the full package of academics, electives, tours, and trips.
Recently, over 1,200 families shared valuable information to us on returning and how we can open in a safe and meaningful way. From this survey, a majority said they are comfortable sending their child back in the fall and are comfortable with their child participating in classes that include close contact such as ballroom dance. Most also prefer a regular full-time school model with appropriate precautions in place. An internal survey of our faculty showed similar results.
With this feedback, we will continue to plan on returning to our regular classical academic model on campus.
State law currently allows public schools (district or charter) to administer education either online or in a traditional classroom setting. There is no State law that currently allows a blended or hybrid educational model.
As a public charter school, Heritage Academy is authorized by the State to run a traditional classroom model only. The previous survey captured information on some families who preferred an online model. We expect to receive more information from the State approving flexibility to administer school online. We will provide additional information as soon as we learn more.
Our reopening plan has two phases. Phase 1 will be the preparation phase completed by 15 July 2020. This phase includes additional cleaning of the facilities, procurement of additional cleaning supplies and training for our faculty. Phase 2 begins on 15 July 2020 as we continue to monitor the health and well being of our school and surrounding community. This includes more frequent daily cleaning of our facilities and encouragement of more personal hygiene like handwashing.
Key to this plan are the proven methods to avoid transmission of infectious disease such as regular hand washing and staying home for individuals who feel sick. We will support those who are concerned about the health risks of returning to school by allowing scholars and faculty to wear masks as they feel appropriate.
Since Spring Break we have been in constant communication with our Local, State, and Federal leadership regarding any government required restrictions. We will continue to be in contact with the various government agencies who are providing guidance on this matter. Due to a recent Executive Order from Governor Ducey, face coverings may be required per mandates from the city.
This morning our Governing Boards approved a Heritage Academy contingency plan required by the State for schools to fully return and reopen. A summary of these plans are attached to this letter. This plan contains additional details referenced in the two phases previously referenced. A copy of this plan is available HERE.
I have been impressed with how our teachers and families have responded to the many challenges and look forward to a full reopening next month. Thank you for your feedback and understanding during these difficult times.
The Heritage Leadership Team is closely following the Coronavirus situation in AZ and around the world.
We are in contact with local and state authorities regarding the impact on schools.
Earlier this week, Maricopa County Environmental Services Department wrote, “The level of COVID-19 is considered to be low in Arizona, and Governor Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency for the State of Arizona, as a proactive measure to give state officials more leeway and tools to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.”
At this time we do not plan to make any adjustments to our school calendar. Our Maricopa and Gateway Campuses will continue with their normally scheduled Spring Break. Our Laveen and Mesa campuses will resume school next week as previously scheduled with some adjustments as outlined below.
Additional measures are being taken to ensure the health and safety of our families.
Over the break, Heritage schools have had additional cleaning performed to ensure a healthy learning environment.
Some of our scholars have been overseas or in other affected areas during Spring Break. Those scholars who have recently toured France should return to school only after they have self quarantined for 14 days per Maricopa County and CDC recommendation. Scholars returning from Puerto Rico are not required to self quarantine.
Any scholar who is feeling symptoms of Coronavirus or the common cold should seek medical attention immediately. This applies to scholars who are living with others who are feeling symptoms.
MESA CAMPUS: Scholars who stay home for any of the reasons above or others should contact the school to get instructions on how to continue their schooling. By State law, scholars who are not present at school are to be marked absent, but we will not be docking points until further notice. All work still must be completed.
LAVEEN CAMPUS: For one week, Laveen Scholars will move to a blended learning model on Google Classroom, Khan Academy, and other digital platforms. Scholars should stay at home and not come to school. Heritage teachers will provide lessons on Google Classroom for one week with the plan to return our regular schedule on March 23rd. More detailed instructions will follow this email, however most Heritage Scholars know their Google login credentials and use many online tools.
We know this matter is quite fluid and circumstances may change, including a school closure. We will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate actions as new information is available.
Heritage has an active presence on social media. Please follow us where we will be posting additional information.
Should you have any questions, please contact us during school hours or any of the resources listed below.
Today, Governor Ducey, Director Dr. Cara Christ, and I held a conference call with district, charter, and private school leaders regarding guidance on COVID-19.
Like many other states, Arizona is following the Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s Mitigation Strategies in responding to novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Our state and local health officials are using the most up-to-date information to make data-driven and evidence-based recommendations, including guidance around school closures. The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) shares these recommendations with the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) who then works with our schools and communities to provide accurate guidance and support.
Right now, the question of whether or not a school will be asked to close is top-of-mind for our school communities. In Arizona, school closures can occur if/when:
The Governor declares a State of Emergency and State & County Health Departments provide direction to counties and schools to close in order to mitigate potential damage of an epidemic;
County Health Departments provide direction to some or all schools to close based on data/evidence in their county;
Charter Operators choose to close one or more of their charter schools under A.R.S. § 15-183;
School Districts or Charter Operators choose to close one or more of their schools under A.R.S. § 15-806 B.
While some school districts are making the decision to close, the Arizona Department of Health Services does not currently recommend school closures at this time.
In today’s conversation, Dr. Christ shared with school leaders that school closures could potentially lead to an increase in community spread if students were to be placed in a different congregate area outside of their regular communities for childcare purposes. Importantly, when community spread is minimal, keeping our schools open also provides children with a regular routine that helps reduce panic and fear in the midst tense times.
Should ADHS and county health departments’ recommendations change regarding school closures, ADE will work with our school leaders and state officials to help schools in the process. ADE is committed to keeping families, students, and educators as healthy and safe as possible.
To be proactive, we shared information with district and charter leaders today on how they can continue to provide school meals, special education services, and alternative instruction, should their local county health department recommend a school closure. That guidance can be found on our website here.
I know that our schools have very valid concerns about the health of their communities. We encourage all schools to be in close contact with your county departments of public health who are the foremost experts in your community’s health and who can provide the most appropriate guidance on whether or not your school should remain open.
Impact on Students, Teachers, Communities
Lastly, I want to acknowledge the impact of the fear surrounding this new virus on our students, teachers, families, and communities. Our students have important question about the global outbreak of COVID-19, and we know you want to respond with great care. The CDC has shared resources for talking to children about COVID-19, and in the coming week ADE will be posting more resources on our website for teachers to use in their classrooms.
We will continue to communicate with you, our educators and school leaders, as this situation develops. And we are grateful for all you are doing to keep your school, your students, and yourself healthy & safe.
www.Azhealth.gov/COVID-19 – The Department of Health Services (DHS) is leading all state-level efforts on COVID-19. DHS has established this webpage to aggregate all state information on the virus, including a screening tool for EMS and first responders (attached).
COUNTY (any missing counties either had no dedicated page or rerouted to the state website)
Remote Council Meetings.Section 7.10.3 of the Arizona Attorney General’s Agency Handbook discusses “Remote Conferencing.” In the event that a city or town council is concerned about gathering for a council meeting, the handbook does describe provisions for allowing members of a public body to attend by telephone or other technological devices. A jurisdiction would need to confirm that its local ordinances allow for remote participation in council meetings. Additionally, communities may want to explore live-streaming options for council meetings should large, public gatherings be discouraged. Please bear in mind that Open Meeting Law affords the public the right to attend all open meetings, so live-streaming services must be used as an optional alternative and not as a required form of attendance. The League recommends using the council agenda to communicate key information to the public, including if there won’t be a call to the public, whether or not some or all members of the council will be attending remotely, and any remote viewing/listening options available.
Courts. The Arizona Supreme Court has issued an Administrative Order (attached) governing the judicial review of claims related to emergency measures taken by local or state government officials.
Reporting/Sharing Information.https://www.apstylebook.com/topical_most_recent This website has useful information from the Associated Press on the correct usage of terms when disseminating information related to COVID-19. This could be helpful to PIOs and social media staff as they prepare or push out information to the public about efforts to curtail the spread of the disease.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Substance Use and Disorder Issues Referral and Treatment Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Crisis services are available to any Arizona resident, regardless of health insurance coverage. If you or someone you know is experiencing a behavioral health crisis, please call one of these national or local crisis lines:
National 24-Hour Crisis Hotlines
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Substance Use and Disorder Issues Referral and Treatment Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Text the word “HOME” to 741741
Suicide and Crisis Hotlines by County
Maricopa County served by Mercy Care: 1-800-631-1314 or 602-222-9444
Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Yuma Counties served by Arizona Complete Health – Complete Care Plan: 1-866-495-6735
Apache, Coconino, Gila, Mohave, Navajo and Yavapai Counties served by Steward Health Choice Arizona: 1-877-756-4090
Gila River and Ak-Chin Indian Communities: 1-800-259-3449
Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community: 1-855-331-6432
Especially for Teens
Teen Life Line phone or text: 602-248-TEEN (8336)
Especially for Veterans
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (press 1)
Be Connected: 1-866-4AZ-VETS (429-8387)
About Arizona’s Crisis Services
Arizona has a robust behavioral health crisis services network available to any Arizona resident regardless of health insurance coverage. Services include:
24/7/365 crisis telephone lines operated by trained crisis specialists.
24/7 mobile teams staffed by behavioral health professionals who travel to the individual experiencing a crisis and provide assessment, stabilization and may triage the individual to a higher level of care, as appropriate.
Facility-based crisis stabilization centers that offer crisis stabilization and observation, including access to Medication Assisted Treatment.
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ASU has also created a general document about stress during COVID-19 and one about anxiety tips for responders. Please find the attached documents and the live links. There is a nice infographic about stress tips for parents too. We will be adding more resources to the COVID-19 landing page on our website at ASU’s Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy. https://cabhp.asu.edu/