Students in K-5 and 6-12 will start "virtual" classes at the end of the month that will include synchronous teaching.

 

Maricopa Unified School District will begin school July 30.

The school year will begin online with two different virtual academies. A 6-12 Virtual Academy, which had been planned before COVID-19, had already been approved. A version for K-5 is new.

The governing board voted unanimously on the first-day-of school decision Wednesday.

All students will start with distance learning. Superintendent Tracey Lopeman, Ed.D., said that will include “daily synchronous instruction” with teachers teaching live and students participating through their district-owned devices. The plan also includes honors, AP, foreign language and electives classes.

Lopeman said the schedule adheres to 180-day requirements. For contracts, there are 189 days for new teachers and 187 for returning teachers.

When virtual will become brick-and-mortar is still up in the air. Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order will not allow that to happen before Aug. 17, a date he called “aspirational.” So that is a date MUSD is aiming for, too, until more information comes from the governor’s office and the state Department of Education.

The board will discuss a date to return to in-person classes at a special meeting July 22.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Board member Torri Anderson said she would prefer to keep students on the online platforms until fall break and then switch over to in-person for those families that wish to do so.

The schedule takes away one week of fall break.

Human Resources Director Tom Beckett said it has been a complicated process to get all the moving parts together.

“As we approve this school calendar, we also have 13 different employee work calendars that are all going to be impacted by the decision we make tonight on this,” he said.

Lopeman said the delay of five school days from the original July 23 start date was to better help staff and parents get prepared, allow for smooth tech checkout of devices and allow more time for training.

Teachers that wish to may conduct their virtual teaching from their own classrooms.