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Parent Letter – March 17, 2020

Dear parents,

We are in unusually challenging times. Although Arizona has shown low rates of incidents of COVID-19, the national news and headlines and worries about growth of COVID-19 infection are impacting all of us. Student and staff safety is of the utmost importance to us.

As you may now have heard, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman, have issued a mandate for schools to close from March 16th through March 27th and just today President Trump made an announcement recommending congregations over the next two weeks to 10 or less people. This letter addresses this and many more items.

Our entire district and school leadership team has been working together in concerted effort to ensure the safety of our team and within safe parameters to develop plans to fulfill our academic and other promises to our families. This letter is an attempt to address the many questions you all may have at this time. If by any chance I have missed any questions, please reach out to your school site principal with specific questions that we will address as a district in a follow-up communication. Our commitment to you is to continue to work our hardest to help assist you through these times and ensure that

Reaching Out for Help / Breakfast & Lunch Program / Child Care

  • Who do I contact if I have any questions, concerns, or need help with something?
    • We are reducing school staff at our campuses but are continuing to have a presence of school employees so that we may field parent inquiries and assist parents. Please reach out to your school principal or give the school a call if you need anything at all, big or small. We are here for your during these times.
  • Will AMS continue to provide free and/or reduced breakfast and lunch?
    • AMS is applying for our schools to be able to provide students breakfast and lunch from our school sites in a grab and go fashion and will make this available to families either through our schools or through recommending nearby sites. Parents approved for free and/or reduced lunch will be able to access these resources from our schools or through these sites. More communication will follow on this by end of week.
  • What do I do for child care from March 23rd through 27th and possibly beyond?
    • AMS has been active at the state capitol in petitioning the legislature and Arizona Department of Education to work towards finding solutions for parents who must continue to work and need childcare assistance. We are working on a list of resources for parents for distribution this week. We know this is a trying time for all of you and thank you for your patience while we compile this list.

Continued Learning

  • How will we continue student learning in the event of longer term closure after March 27th?
    • AMS is rolling out a solution next week with a combination of online AMS curriculum and paper learning packets as well as utilization of online learning for learning to continue on March 23rd. Teachers will be available to parents and students for questions during this week. More guidance for parents with regards to how this week will look like and how parents will interact with teachers is incoming by the end of this week in a separate communication.
  • Will there be flexibility to parents and students provided during this time?
    • While AMS is committed to rigorous academic standards, we realize this is a difficult time for many families and will be working with families on an individual basis based on circumstances.

Implications of Mandated Closures on School Year and Predictions for This Year

  • Will the school year be extended as a result of school closure?
    • As of today, based on guidance from the Arizona Department of Education, we believe that the school year will not be extended for the state mandated period of closure.
  • Will there be any further closures after March 27th?
    • As of this time, we are operating under the assumption that school will resume after March 27th. If we hear anything else from the state, we will issue an update immediately.
    • As of 3/15/2020, the guidance from state and county health organizations and the CDC have not listed school closure as the top strategy to reduce the spread of COVID-19 although there is now a big effort to flatten the curve with larger crowd reduction efforts over the next 2 weeks. The concern from state and county entities has been that closing schools will encourage the following:
      • Congregation of and overcrowding of students in other venues, such as childcare centers, with less resources than schools & potential for increased transmission through increased exposure to more “new students” since the pool of students will be redistributed
      • Potential increased transmission to highest risk categories (such as elderly) through the home
      • Current research shows other strategies for mitigating COVID-19 as equal to or more effective with less consequences such as:
        • Childcare burdens on parents
        • Disruption in food services for low income parents

While we are supportive of any efforts to keep students safe, we are at the same time concerned for families regarding child care. We know that this is a major obstacle for many of you who have to make decisions between work and being home with your children.

  • Will state testing happen this year?
    • As of this time, Arizona has only applied to extend the testing window. As of March 17, 2020 Arizona has indicated that as of this time they are not considering cancelling the AzMERIT this year. We know that this is a difficult time for many parents and like you, we do not believe that AzMERIT is the most crucial thing for us to tackle as a school community this year. We are advocating on behalf of our parents and our schools and will keep you appraised as developments occur.

Staying Safe:

  • What is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
    1. Social distancing and limiting physical contact with people
    2. Continued practice of thoroughly washing hands often throughout the day
    3. Limiting gatherings of 50 or more people and for the next two weeks to 10 or less in smaller spaces
    4. Practicing good cough and sneeze etiquette
    5. Being mindful of surfaces touched (and washing hands after touching surfaces) and keeping hands away from your face
    6. Self-quarantine during illness
    7. Avoiding travel to areas classified as high risk
    8. Routine environmental cleaning (all campuses will get a comprehensive cleaning during break and have had the ongoing CDC recommended environmental cleaning throughout the year including disinfection of surfaces with approved COVID-19-eliminating substances)
    9. Continue to review CDC guidelines regularly

Thank you for all you do parents to make everything at AMS possible. Our promise is to support you and do everything we can in the coming time ahead to ensure families feel supported and safe.

Sincerely,
Kim Chayka
AMS, CO-CEO

For more information visit the Arizona Department of Health Services Website.

https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/index.php#novel-coronavirus-home

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