Dear Charter Parents/Guardians,
The health and safety of our staff and students is Villa’s top priority. This includes not only physical health, but emotional health as well. I know there is some growing concern about the increasing numbers of COVID cases in the county along with the holidays approaching. As I am sure you can understand, there are a number of factors to weigh as to our best next steps in light of these two realities.
As I mentioned in an email to you last week, Maricopa County Department of Public Health epidemiologist, Dr. Sarah Scott, said when making decisions regarding going back to 100% remote learning, we should focus on (and constantly evaluate) what is happening within our own school community. That is, the number of students/staff with symptoms, staff absentee rate, and the number of students/staff that are positive with COVID. We have been able to keep our numbers low and, as Dr. Scott said, we have been able to insulate our school community from what is happening in the larger local community. I believe this is in part due to the mitigation strategies we continue to have in place. We have also been very fortunate that our parent body has been very transparent with us regarding what is happening in their households. What I think is having a significant impact is the daily communication the office staff continues to have with families and students with symptoms and with those awaiting test results. This provides us with critical up-to-date information and allows for tremendous oversight.
With the holidays approaching, there is the distinct possibility that some Villa families and staff will be traveling and gathering with people outside of their respective “bubbles”. Obviously, this increases the chance for more community spread. We believe the best way to mitigate the spread of the virus within our school community is to limit the risk of bringing symptoms into the classrooms. In response to this, it has been decided that we will pivot to 100% remote learning for our charter students the week following Thanksgiving (November 30 – December 4) and the week following Winter Break (January 4 – January 8). Since symptoms generally appear by the 5th – 7th day following an exposure, we believe the delay in returning in person allows for that.
This arrangement is preferable to having a student or staff member return to school with the virus and facing the distinct possibility of having to quarantine entire classrooms for an extended period of 14 days. A planned response to this is better for both staff and parents than a sudden classroom closure.
I have learned from some parents within our school community that learning remotely led to feelings of depression and withdrawal among their children and that being back at school in person has been very beneficial. In light of this, we want to minimize the amount of time our in-person students are back learning remotely.
We will continue to track the data and will make additional decisions accordingly.
As we did back in August when we were 100% remote, we will offer free on-site learning opportunities and support services for our charter students during the weeks identified above when we will be 100% remote.
Should the number of students requesting this service exceed our capacity, space will first be given to students in the following categories:
· Students with disabilities whose IEPs require in-person support
· Students needing access to the internet
· Students identified as English Language Learners
· Students who are identified as academically at-risk
· Students without supervision from a caregiver at home during school hours
· Students in foster care
· Students with parents that are essential workers
Please be advised that free on-site learning opportunities and support services are not teacher-led classroom instruction. These services are intended to offer support with students’ remote learning.
Please use THIS FORM
to sign up for on-site services if you feel you are eligible.
We want the school to remain open as much and for as long as we can. It takes all of us, thinking about the greater good, to make this happen. Please remember, what happens outside of school significantly affects our success.
Stay safe. Stay healthy.
Margo S. O’Neill, M.Ed.
Head of School