Parents will no longer have to fill out a weekly attendance log.
That was one update to the Maricopa Unified School District’s distance learning plan announced Wednesday at its governing board meeting.
Superintendent Tracey Lopeman said the confirmation came this week that teachers and parents no longer had a requirement for the logs, which many parents called “a joke.” Attendance will continue to be taken through Google Meets and daily assignments submitted.
Lopeman also guided board members through a report on the district’s compliance with state executive orders. That included plans for some in-person instruction going into effect Aug. 17.
During the first week of school, which began online July 30, there were more than 97,000 Google Meets sessions of synchronous instruction, according to Krista Roden, director of Teaching and Learning.
She said there were around 14,000 phone calls to the district office July 30-Aug. 6. “The phone pretty much rang nonstop.”
Roden also said the district office looked like a drive-thru with cars lined up to have devices serviced.
6,500 student laptops distributed
2,920 visits to parent tutorial site
691 page visits to staff professional development resources
575 help tickets submitted and resolved
549 technology requests received and resolved through the tech site
442 visits to FAQ site
Roden said the early metrics on how the school year launched were impressive and “could not have been done without the dedication from the technology department, patience and support from our parents and community, and definitely our teachers for embracing this new way of teaching.”
Aug. 17, by executive order, the district is requested to have in-person instruction available to ESS students who need it.
Also requested by the state is an in-person learning space for general education students to have internet access and supervision. MUSD is creating that at up to four campuses, also starting Monday.
The “learning labs” will allow students to sign up for three hours either in the morning or in the afternoon. Group sizes will be kept below 10, and lunch will be provided.
Additionally, there will be external programs with longer hours – two programs from the City of Maricopa and one from the Boys & Girls Club – on campus. Afterschool Connect is a free tutoring service that requires parents attend with their child. Camp Copa and the Boys & Girls Club have fees attached.
When MUSD classes resume in their brick-and-mortar setting, currently scheduled for Sept. 8, the Distance Learning program will continue for those families not comfortable sending their children back to campus.
“Distance Learning will continue in its current form in terms of the structure, the logistics, the plan,” Lopeman said. “The way that we have created it from the beginning is sustainable. That was the intent, to make is sustainable for those families who choose it to be their mode for the entire school year.”
The Distance Learning model “allows for seamless transition” back and forth in case the schools open and then have to close again, she said.
By executive order, schools must use benchmarks based on dashboards provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services to determine when they may have full opening of classes, including a countywide positivity rate under 7% for two straight weeks. The most recent data for the benchmarks is three weeks old. After a trend of decline, Pinal County’s positivity rate went up eight-tenths of a point to 10.6% the week of July 26.