November 10, 2020
Home of the Falcons!
"We Achieve and Celebrate Educational Excellence"
A Message from the Superintendent
Good afternoon Falcon Families:

While this update is primarily for the high school parents and students, there are some great reminders for all of us as we continue to work through all the COVID issues within our community and at school.

COVID Updates
We are having some significant challenges when it comes to COVID just like every other district in the state. While our staff and students are doing their part while at school, activities outside of the instructional school day appear to be the reason for the increase in cases noted in FHUSD. Our positivity rate for COVID doubled in one week. We went from 2.44% positivity for the week October 26-30th to 5.93% for the week of November 2-6th.  Our ability to keep our schools open is dependent on COVID infection rates of the entire community.  What happens outside of school directly effects what happens in school. It is true that people under the age of 22 have less susceptibility to extreme symptoms to COVID, but we have MANY students and families and community members that are within the highly vulnerable population of people with whom COVID poses significant health threats. If our teachers contract COVID, we do not have enough substitutes to cover classes at any of our schools. We would have to completely stop instruction if we have a significant rate of illness within our staff.    

Several of you have asked what you can do to help. The first thing is to keep your children at home when they are sick. Also, please keep your children at home if they have had direct exposure to COVID or if someone in your family has COVID. The virus spread very quickly through our campus with 10 confirmed cases within days of each other. The cause for greatest concerns amongst the school superintendents that I speak with is that families are sending students to school ill, with a positive COVID test, or having been directly exposed to someone with COVID in the home. 

We want you to know that we want our schools open and students in school. I want our children in school every day. I know we all want our teachers and staff to be safe and healthy. However, we can only do that with your continued support and vigilance.

High School Reopening
As we shared with you previously, the high school will open back up to the staff and students on November 12, 2020. However, because of the confirmed cases at the high school, we will return to school using the hybrid schedule per the Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH). This is only for the high school. Your student will follow the same schedule of either M/Th or T/F with Wednesdays being cleaning days. Below is the information from the previous hybrid schedule:

School times:
FHHS: Modified In-Person Instruction will begin on Thursday, November 12th until further notice.

7:30 - 2:20 on M, T, Th, Fri
7:30 - 1:20 on Wednesday
Only remote/virtual learning will take place on Wednesdays. There is no in-person school for enhanced cleaning.

Cohort Group 1 - last names A-L attends all day, face to face on Monday and Thursday
Cohort Group 2 - last names M-Z attends all day, face to face on Tuesday and Friday

Families with students in their household with multiple last names will attend the days assigned to the oldest student’s last name.

All students attend virtually on Wednesday. Wednesdays will be deep cleaning and sanitizing days for all three schools using supplementary school personnel.

During your at home days, they will still log into their classes virtually and receive live instruction. Students will be expected to participate in the class and complete all assignments. School rules will be followed for all virtual learners.

Teachers will be in their classrooms with half classes capacity Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Friday and will work from their classrooms with no students on Wednesdays.

Students should be sure to bring all items with them each day to campus:
  • Chromebook / Laptop/Charger
  • Water Bottle
  • Masks (UPON ARRIVAL)
  • Additional school supplies as needed in a backpack

McDowell Mountain Elementary School and Fountain Hills Middle School
While community rates are increasing, due to extremely low number of cases at these schools, there will be no change to our in-person on-site learning. Siblings of high school students are permitted to return to school if they have no symptoms of COVID-19. 

If you have a student athlete, we are asking you to consider keeping them home for remote learning until the end of the season. Athletics poses a significant threat to our other students and staff. Close contact, no mask, and sharing of equipment during practice and events increases the likelihood of the spread of COVID. The reason we had to close the high school is the spread of COVID through the football team. COVID in our schools is not going to close our schools, but the spread within a cohort group is why we had to close the school. You may notice that many other schools are doing this to prevent the spread of COVID to staff and other students. 

Food Service:
We wanted you to be aware that breakfast and lunch is free for everyone until the end of the school year. 
The turkey lunch normally served at McDowell Mountain Elementary for Grand Parents day is canceled for this year. All students will have a thanksgiving dinner on the 23rd, but with COVID we will not be having visitors.

Other News:
This week is National School Psychology week. We are very fortunate to have two exceptional school psychologist – Peter McGloin and Cynthia Williams. We appreciate everything they do in our schools to support our staff and students. THANK YOU both!!

This month is Native American Heritage Month. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution honoring Native American Heritage Month. We are honored to partner with Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation in providing an exceptional education for all our students.  

Stay safe and healthy,

Kelly Glass

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