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January 13, 2021
I am sending this email to provide you with information and shed more light on the direction of high school at this time. Starting Tuesday, January 19th, our high school program will return to Phase 2 hybrid (Grey and Maroon) days. We will have a Friday plan that supports AP students, Dual Enrollment students, and students needing remediation in specific courses, while offering asynchronous opportunities. We have a goal to return to Phase 3 as a full community on February 16, 2021 so in person students can be on campus full time and virtual students can still be supported virtually.
Students who have selected to be virtual learners will continue in the updated schedule we have created with direct instruction to support their learning needs. We hope everyone has seen more support in these classes and we can’t wait to get you all back on campus, we miss you all so much. Our high school team has continued to discuss the pros and cons in every situation and scenario and are ready to get our students that have chosen the in-person learning to back on campus in the safest environment that we can create. Over the last few weeks, we have assessed every angle and believe we are ready to accommodate the return. High school is very different and has different needs when discussing credits, graduation requirements, testing requirements, and so much more.
I want to remind everyone that there are some nonnegotiable items such as face masks on the correct way and covering the nose when on campus. Students will continue being socially distant in classes and we will have no more than 10-12 students in specific classrooms. We did assess the room dimensions and floor plan and we can safely have up to 12 students in a class. We have two classes with 11 students and have set up for these classes to be in compliance. Students, it is important that you stay socially distant in classes and complete passing periods in our one direction plan so we can minimize all exposure. It is imperative that everyone abide by our mask policy 100% to keep us all safe and in compliance.
I do want everyone to know in this phase, teachers will be able to walk in classes and support more 1:1 using the desk shields and masks. Teachers will also determine if they will utilize combination teaching or split teaching to best support our virtual and in person learners.
Combination Teaching: This is having the in person and virtual students in and on classes at the same time for the instruction, activities, and full class. In person (Grey) and online (Maroon) each day Monday-Thursday, so students have the full instruction, and you continue to move in content evenly.
Split Teaching: Teach directly to in person students on their scheduled day and then provide required online 30-minute check in to the opposite students. This means you would send invites to the opposite students that are home to get on the last 30 minutes of your class for attendance, checking for understanding, assignment review, or even a quick review. Mainly the 30 minutes is allowing the students at home but wanting to be in person to have accountability and support since they are not on campus. They will still need to be provided with asynchronous work in course content.
Advisors will be emailing the Grey and Maroon groups this Friday as a reminder to everyone. It is very important everyone remember that next Friday, January 22nd is a full day (B day) because we have Monday off in observance of Martin Luther King Day. Tuesday will be an A day and we will have Grey students on campus Tuesday and Wednesday and Maroon students Thursday and Friday. Essential students that have been attending will be permitted to be on campus the entire week for support.
January 13, 2021
As you know, our Administrative Team meets consistently and has been monitoring the Health Department's Benchmarks for schools. We consider these benchmarks, along with the needs of our community, to determine our next steps. No decision is made lightly, and we know that in some cases, there are hardships caused and sacrifices being made. At the top of my list of goals is a desire to ease us through this time by providing support and offering resources as much as possible. Please let me know if you have a need. If you are more comfortable doing so, reach out to a teacher or other staff member. We may not be able to solve all of the problems, but please know that we will do all that we can.
Thank you for your tireless efforts to work with us to make school a reality for our students, even if it is done virtually, and for trusting us with the education of your children. Though we know more about being effective than we did back in March, we are still learning and making adjustments as needed. Your feedback helps to guide us, so thank you to those who have shared it, and thank you in advance to all of you for continuing to make us aware of what we can celebrate and what we can do better. We know that virtual learning is not ideal for everyone, just as we know that no one instructional method works for all. We continue to do our best and are proud of our community for collaborating with us!
It has been decided that Kinder through 8th grade will remain in Phase 1, with support services and campus availability for our essential and vulnerable student populations, and our target date to return to Phase 3 is February 16, 2021.
November 17, 2020
At this time our K-8th graders will remain in a Phase 1 status, with some exceptions for vulnerable student populations. Students will continue virtual learning through the end of the holiday season. An update will be provided again prior to the December Winter Break, which begins on December 21st. During this phase we will offer a location for our essential student population and the vulnerable student population who received this support at the start of the school year.
9th-12th grade will move into Phase 2, which provides full social distancing in class, as there will only be 10 students in each room. Students will be assigned a hybrid code in which indicates the days they will be on campus. When students are not on campus, they will be learning from home during live instruction with their teacher. Please see Miss. Martins newsletter on more information on what this phase looks like for our high school population.
November 12, 2020
Our administration would like to provide a quick update to the community. Due to the circumstances, and our school being closed for close contact and quarantine, we are not able to open classrooms for essential population at this time. However, if we are unable to return to Phase 3 on November 30th due to the state/county metrics, staffing, or status of the community at that time, we will be offering an on-campus option to the essential population and at-risk population. The essential population consists of those scholars that were already defined as essential at the start of this year while we were in Phase 1. The at-risk population will be directly contacted by the grade level administrator and given information on what options are being presented until we are able to return to Phase 3.
We are so thankful that everyone in our community has continued to take this seriously throughout the school year. Please continue to inform us of potential exposures or positive cases in your family so that we are best equipped to make sound decisions for the safety of our community. Administration will be communicating details about the direction of the school for November 30th on Tuesday November 17th at 1:00pm.
On behalf of our administration and teaching staff, thank you for your understanding, flexibility, partnership, and support. We all cannot wait to put this behind us, but until then, we are committed to our community and will continue to do our absolute best to support our kids.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out directly to me and we can support you and your family!
November 8, 2020
Dear Desert Heights Families,
As you know, the administrative team has made the very difficult decision to move to Virtual to mitigate the spread of the virus until November 30th. At that time, we hope to return to in-person options, but will be looking at staffing, positive cases or close contact within the community, and county metrics prior to reopening.
All virtual students will continue their schedule as is and will not be impacted by this change, clusters that were in quarantine will continue with their educational plan tomorrow, November 9th. All other in-person students are now being asked to remain at home.
Kindergarten-8th Grades will be completing asynchronous (independent) learning Monday November 9th and Tuesday November 10th so as to give teachers and students time to plan for virtual learning to begin on Thursday November 12th. Your teacher(s) will contact you via email to let you know what is expected the next two days and virtual lessons begin Thursday.
9th-12th Grades will begin virtually following their bell schedule tomorrow morning, teachers check in with students and inform them of expectations in each course.
What if I am an essential worker?
At this time, due to the closure being related to minimizing exposure as well as the campuses being understaffed, we are unable to offer on campus options for essential kids temporarily. We will provide an update Thursday, November 12th.
Are uniforms required?
Yes, but students may dress in Spirit/CAD Wear. This is jean or khaki bottoms with DH spirit shirts or college t-shirts.
What about school lunches?
Meals will still be offered for pick up at Desert Heights Charter School only for grades K-12 for the remainder of the closure. Meals will be served behind the cafeteria between 10:30-12:00 every day. You must order meals by each Tuesday at 11:59pm the week prior. If you would like to cancel your meal orders this month, email Sydney.email@example.com for a refund credit on your Boonli account.
As mentioned in Mr. Jiles’ correspondence, this closure does not apply to the preschool students enrolled in their full day program, however, they are not open for Charter students for before and aftercare at this time.
This has been a very hard decision for our entire team, and we are very hopeful it is temporary. Please continue to stay safe and healthy so we can all return to campus soon!
November 8, 2020
Dear Desert Heights Family,
In light of an increase in Covid cases and close contact exposure situations, the Administrative Team has made the very difficult decision to close our campuses. The Charter and the Prep campuses will be closed until November 30th, at which time we will assess the feasibility of returning to campus based on presenting metrics provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services. Our preschool will remain open. We understand that this extreme measure may pose several challenges for our community members. However, our biggest priority during this pandemic is to do whatever we can to minimize potential exposure for all of our stakeholders.
Mrs. Miller will be sending out more specific information regarding our district plan moving forward. Please feel free to reach out to your child’s Dean, teacher, or our front office staff, if you have any specific needs during this closure. We will continue to monitor developments surrounding the pandemic and the implications for our staff, students, and parents. I would personally like to thank you for your patience, support and understanding during this challenging time, as we know that the adjustments that are being asked of all of you, as a result of this decision, pose their own unique challenges. As always, our goal is to be transparent as we navigate this pandemic landscape together. The impetus for our decision to close comes at a time where we are experiencing an increase in Covid-19 cases, both locally and nationally. Again, we will keep our community abreast of any new developments that could have implications for the Desert Heights Charter Schools community.
Please stay safe and healthy. We are here to support you and we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
September 4, 2020
Maricopa County has met all 3 benchmarks required for in-person learning opportunities, as of yesterday's metrics update. So long as this remains the case, Desert Heights will be permitted to move to Phase 3, offering in-person for those who chose it, and virtual for those who chose virtual. This transition to Phase 3 will occur on September 14th. We know many have questions regarding what this looks like and we hope to answer all in depth throughout this correspondence.
Please know that if at any time we have to quarantine certain classrooms, staff members or students, we may have to move back into Phase 1 or 2 so it is extremely important that we all work together to adhere to school policies and safety measures so that we can remain open for in-person learning.
Please use the links to reference communication by your students grade level.
August 31, 2020
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
August 10, 2020
Desert Heights Administrative Team has developed a 4 phase plan to return to learning. Each phase is determined by the metrics and benchmarks set by the Arizona Department of Health as well as recommendations from Kathy Hoffman, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
As of now, our school will begin in phase one on August 17,2020 at 8:00am. and our team will continue to evaluate benchmarks to determine when we can take the next steps.
Phase 1: All K-12 is virtual. Essential population can be supervised on site as necessary. More information below on what constitutes essential.
Phase 2: Hybrid Model- On-site Instruction available Monday-Thursday for those who chose this option and enrolled prior to August 1, 2020. No more than 16 students in a classroom, students will be clustered for the day and will not travel to other areas on campus unless they receive essential services. In person participants must wear face coverings.
Phase 3: Parent/Student Choice. All who chose in person instruction are on-site 5 days per week, on regular bell schedule. In person participants must wear face coverings.
Phase 4: All students return to campus, clustering is no longer necessary. Determination will be made regarding face coverings at that time.
August 7, 2020
July 27, 2020
June 30, 2020
Please see this link to see our governor’s new mandate. Please note that this is a fluid situation but we encourage all to join our grade level zoom calls this week to hear what Desert Heights will be doing to keep our students safe when it is safe to return to school.