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Update Center

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

July 27, 2020

Desert Heights Return to Learning Update

June 30, 2020

June 29th-Governor Ducey's Executive Order

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.

June 17, 2020

Kinder-12th grade Fall Plan for Re-Opening

We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and finding ways to stay active in this crazy summer heat!

Our Desert Heights COVID-19 Task Force has developed a solid plan for our schools' reopening in August. We want to share this with you knowing that as you plan for the school year, there are so many questions you have and logistics you all need to work out for your family. However, I must stress that this current plan may have to change should the state's plan for reopen change. 

As you know, we sent a survey to our parent community to gather information on intentions for returning to the classroom in August. 74% of parents/guardians stated they would have their children return to school in the Fall. Of the 26% stating they were still unsure, many stated they did not want strict guidelines for day to day school life but wanted to minimize exposure if possible. We all recognize the need for our children to have some normalcy and social connection. 

Based on this feedback, we will be reopening in the Fall and I will be outlining the details for you within this correspondence. I want to share some details that are important for you all to know to better understand why we've chosen the model we have. 

Since the state has determined schools will reopen, schools cannot offer virtual learning unless they are certified to do so. To be certified for virtual learning, an application must be submitted to the state, we must purchase an online curriculum and learning management system, as well as staff to provide it. This must occur whether or not we chose full-time virtual learning or a hybrid model of virtual and brick and mortar. Due to these current circumstances (again, remember they could change if things change at the state level or if lawmakers bring it to the table) Desert Heights is unable to offer Virtual Learning or a Hybrid as we are not certified. 

Our plan for reopening consists of these things:

All grade levels Kinder-12th grade will observe the following:

  •  Each teacher will be equipped with a thermometer and sanitizing station in their classroom. Students will have temperature checks upon entry to the room and will sanitize their hands each time they enter or leave.
  • At this point, face-coverings such as masks are encouraged but are not required.
  •  We will be training our staff on ways to support students through this unprecedented time both in addressing learning gaps, and in their well-being. We will provide one-on-one check-ins with our kids to ensure they are adjusting okay and to ease anxiety for them as much as possible.
  •  Volunteers will not be permitted on campus under these temporary guidelines in order to minimize possible exposure.
  • Our maintenance staff has completed service and checks of all A/C and ventilation units. All will circulate outside air frequently. Teachers will be bringing in fresh air from their windows and doors as well. 
  • We are planning to still offer the transportation route we have previously offered but will need to stagger times and possibly run multiple routes. Please look for further communication from Jay Jiles, our Transportation Director.
  • We will not be having large gatherings or clubs and activities at the start of the year.
  • Our Task Force will be revisiting each portion of the plan on an ongoing basis. 

Kinder-4th will observe the following:

  • Our daily schedule and school calendar will remain the same. Other than a possible staggered pick-up time for students, all K-4 students will be on campus from 8:00am-3:00pm Monday through Thursday, and every Friday 8:00am-1:00pm.
  • We have added an additional classroom for each grade level so that class sizes can be lessened to 17 or less per class. This is if all students return and are in the homeroom for the entire day. 
  • Students will remain with their homeroom cohort of students and not co-mingle with other classes or grade levels.
  • Students will still have Specials and will still be permitted recess to get up and moving. They will not commingle at recess.
  •  Students will eat lunch in their classrooms, and we are considering options for a rotating schedule for them to eat outdoors and have a picnic at a safe distance from one another.
  •  Students will house their supplies in their area within the classroom, supplies will not be shared among students and they will not bring them back and forth between home and school.

5th-8th  will observe the following:

  • Our daily schedule and school calendar will remain the same. Other than a possible staggered pick-up time for students, all students will be on campus from 7:30-2:30 on Mondays-Thursdays, and from 7:30-12:30 on Fridays.
  • We have added additional classrooms for 5th-7th grades so that class sizes can be lessened to 17 or fewer per class. This is if all students return and are in the homeroom for the entire day. 
  • Students will remain with their homeroom cohort of students and not co-mingle with other classes or grade levels. In Junior High, this means students will not move from class to class because teachers will rotate.
  • All students will still have Electives. In Middle School, they will still be permitted recess to get up and moving. They will not commingle at recess.
  • Students will eat lunch in their classrooms, and we are considering options for a rotating schedule for them to eat outdoors and have a picnic at a safe distance from one another.
  • Students will house their supplies in their area within the classroom. Supplies will not be shared among students and they will not bring them back and forth between home and school. Homework will look different this year as well. More information will be shared soon!

9th-12th grade will observe the following:

  • High School classes have been relocated to pass classes in outside hallways, so social distancing can happen.
  • Students will eat lunch in their classrooms, and we are considering options for a rotating schedule for them to eat outdoors and have a picnic at a safe distance from one another.
  • We have added additional classrooms for 5th-7th grades so that class sizes can be lessened to 17 or fewer per class.
  • Our daily schedule and school calendar will remain the same. Other than a possible staggered pick-up time for students, all students will be on campus from 7:30-2:30 on Mondays-Thursdays, and from 7:30-12:30 on Fridays.

Thank you all so very much for being such an incredible support for our educational team during this time. We are confident that our community will rise to this challenge together and remain focused on providing the best community and culture we can for our kids. They are the absolute most important focus. 

Sincerely, 
Katie Miller-DHCS Principal

Darna Davis-DHPA 5th-8th grade Dean

Courtney Martin-DHPA 9th-12th grade Dean

June 15, 2020

Reopening during the COVID Pandemic

Dear Desert Heights Family,

I hope that all of you have managed to stay safe and healthy as our state experiences an increase in COVID-19 cases. Three weeks ago, I assembled a COVID-19 Task Force Team for the Desert Heights community as we prepare to develop and implement a plan that maximizes student and staff safety for the upcoming school year. I would personally like to thank all of you who took the time to respond to our School Reopening Survey. Your responses and comments provided us with invaluable insight as we work diligently to develop the best plan for our schools to reopen in August. Our areas of focus will continue to be defined by CDC Guidelines, state leadership and the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Rest assured that we are developing plans to promote the highest standard of cleaning and disinfecting measures for our campuses, while also focusing on Social Distancing Guidelines. We are revisiting vendor relationships to ensure that their cleaning protocols and other services align with recommended guidelines for safety. We are purchasing classroom thermometers with the intent of checking student temperatures daily. Additionally, we will be modifying our student management processes and common practices to minimize the possible spread of or exposure to the virus as we focus on student distancing and containment. All classrooms will be equipped with hand sanitizing stations and students and staff will be expected to sanitize multiple times throughout the day. Students will be required to consume their lunches in their respective classrooms, and we will develop safe and appropriate opportunities for small groups of students to have recess opportunities given the importance of their health and wellness during this unusual school experience. Additionally, you can expect more information soon regarding measures we will be taking to promote maximum safety on our busses and what can be expected from a transportation standpoint. Finally, we are working with Mental Health personnel to develop strategies to identify and subsequently support students who may be experiencing adverse effects of attending school under such uncommon circumstances.

To date, we do not intend to require students to wear masks, but they will be welcome and encouraged to do so. However, it is important to keep in mind that the state's position on recommended guidelines could change between now and the start of school, especially given the recent increase in cases we are said to experiencing statewide. You can expect to hear more information specific to each campus from Mrs. Miller and our Deans very soon. And as always, thank you in advance for your continued support and belief in our Desert Heights Family. Together, we can weather any storm!


From,

Mr. Jiles 

President of Desert Heights Charter Schools.

June 9, 2020

Thank you for taking the Reopening in Fall survey!

We have started reviewing the survey results and the information will be referenced by the district's COVID-19 task force as part of the decision-making process for the 2020-2021 school year. In addition, we will continue to monitor all information regarding this topic provided by the Arizona Department of Education along with other sources like the CDC.

To ensure you are staying up to date with all critical information regarding the next school year, please check this page and keep an eye out for emails from the school.

We hope everyone is staying healthy and cannot wait to see our students, staff, and families soon!

Mark Jiles

mark.jiles@dhschools.org President

Concern or question?

Student and staff safety is our top priority. If you have a question, concern or comment about any health or safety issue, please let us know.

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Additional resources

Provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention