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Wed, June 16

Mingus to consider return to classroom learning

Mingus Union Superintendent Mike Westcott: “Based on ADHS recommendations, all school districts in every Arizona county should be in a virtual instructional mode at this time. Some have quibbled about the fact that this is only a recommendation. VVN/Bill Helm

Mingus Union Superintendent Mike Westcott: “Based on ADHS recommendations, all school districts in every Arizona county should be in a virtual instructional mode at this time. Some have quibbled about the fact that this is only a recommendation. VVN/Bill Helm

COTTONWOOD — At least through Friday, Jan. 8, Mingus Union High School will keep its campus closed in favor of remote learning.

Thursday, the Mingus Union School Board will consider whether it’s prudent for students to return to campus on Monday, Jan. 11.

The Mingus Union School Board will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday via Zoom. The board’s agenda, which will include the Zoom meeting ID and passcode, will be posted at mingusunion.com no later than 24 hours before the start of the meeting.

On Nov. 20, the Mingus Union School Board voted to return to online learning. On Dec. 3, the board voted to extend that return through Jan. 8. Thursday, the Mingus Union School Board will either approve a continuation of distance learning, or it will approve a transition and return to in-person learning or hybrid learning models.

According to a draft of the board’s Jan. 7 agenda, the board will consider Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) benchmarks and current Yavapai County Community Health Services (YCCHS) COVID-19 case data.

Kathy Hoffman, Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction since 2019, said Saturday that opening schools immediately after the winter break given the level of infection is “reckless.”

Monday, Mingus Union Superintendent Mike Westcott said if the district’s governing board “chose not to follow the ADHS best course of action, I would insist on solid empirical evidence and rationale to the contrary as the basis for that decision.”

“Based on ADHS recommendations, all school districts in every Arizona county should be in a virtual instructional mode at this time,” Westcott said. “Some have quibbled about the fact that this is only a recommendation, but we need to remind ourselves what that means: a suggestion or proposal as to the best course of action.”

As of Tuesday, Arizona was averaging 9,301 new COVID-19 cases, and 75 deaths, daily in January.

Westcott said Monday that he would recommend the board continue with virtual/distance learning, at least through Jan. 15.

“That recommendation might be altered by new information from YCCHS related to in-person learning and the current vaccination schedule,” Westcott said.

In a letter posted on the district’s website, Westcott explained that the board’s decision to close campus in favor of virtual distance learning is based on factors that include county-wide teacher and substitute teacher shortages, and that current COVID-19 data show all three metrics are currently in the red substantial spread category.

Westcott’s letter also states that more than 100 of the district’s staff and students have been quarantined at one time or another due to on-campus exposure to COVID-19, with more than one-dozen cases.

However, most of the cases have originated off campus, Westcott also said.

Visit mingusunion.com for the district’s remote learning continuation plan.

What other local school districts are doing

Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Clarkdale-Jerome students moved to an online-only education model on Dec. 18. At this time, both districts have committed to serving students via the online-only model through Jan. 8, with a tentative plan to reopen campuses to face-to-face education on Monday, Jan. 11.

Tuesday, both boards will consider whether to return to face-to-face education, continue to offer online education, or offer a hybrid of both.

From Sept. 14 through Dec. 17, both districts offered their students a hybrid education model, whereas families who want to send their children to school may do so. For those who are uncomfortable with their children at school, they attend online.

Camp Verde Unified returned to face-to-face learning on Jan. 4. However, any student who prefers online education may do so.

Beaver Creek School is open for both online and in-person learning. Coming out of winter break, Sedona-Red Rock Unified School District went to two days of online learning, Jan. 4-5, and will return to in-person learning on Jan. 6.

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