Dear Desert Heights Family,
I hope that this correspondence finds you all healthy and well as we embark on our third week of online instruction! I know that all of you have made tremendous sacrifices over the last five months regarding your child’s education. And although not ideal, many of you have done an incredible job maintaining consistency and support while creating the best learning environments in your respective households. But if you are anything like the staff at Desert Heights, you would agree that a return to campus is long overdue! Our Administrative Team has worked diligently to develop a mitigation plan that aligns with specific CDC guidelines and Arizona Department of Health benchmarks, and have worked in conjunction with our Governing Board to evaluate a safe return.
As many of you may know, Arizona has met two of the three benchmarks to return to full in-person instruction. Current data shows that the state has been under the 7% infection rate since August 9th. This means that on Thursday, September 3rd, when state benchmarks are updated again, Arizona will have met all three benchmarks having been under the 7% for two or more weeks, a requirement for a safe return to in-person learning. Consequently, our Governing Board approved a return to Phase 3 in-person instruction on September 14th, PROVIDED THAT the benchmarks are all green this Thursday, September 3rd. If we DO NOT meet the anticipated benchmarks on September 3rd, 7th – 12th grade will move to a virtual schedule that will best prepare students to resume full day in -person instruction when the criteria for doing so are met. This means students will attend virtual classes from 7:30am-2:30pm daily. All other grade levels will continue their present academic schedule.
We know that the prospect of a return to in-person instruction may cause many of you some concern. It was very important to our Administrative Team to promote the greatest degree of safety possible as we consider the next phase transition for our community. Please be reminded that in Phase 3, those who chose virtual will remain virtual for the entire first quarter. Since August 17th, we have had students on campus that met certain criteria for in -person instruction and this has given us great insight into the effectiveness of the safety measures and protocols we have implemented. To date, we have not had to quarantine any staff members or students who are presently on campus for instruction or athletic preparation (Arizona Interscholastic Association and Canyon Athletic Association approved). Rest assured that all staff have been provided support and training on our mitigation plan and are prepared to continue best practices as defined by the CDC and the Arizona Department of Health. Our emphasis will continue to be on producing positive outcomes and promoting a safe environment for all stakeholders. We will also continue to work with our teachers and staff that may still feel somewhat reticent to return to campus for in-person instruction. We do not want any member of our Team to feel compromised or pressured to return before they are ready.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to our Team if you have any questions or concerns. Despite our excitement and enthusiasm for a return to campus, we want to do everything we can to minimize your worry and the possible spread of this virus. I cannot thank you enough for your patience and understanding during this time. Making decisions under such conditions is not easy, but with the support and guidance we have received from so many of you, it has made the process significantly better. We appreciate you all and please stay safe and healthy!
President of Desert Heights Charter Schools