Last Tuesday the Chino Valley Unified School District Governing Board voted to transition to At Home Distance Learning for all CVUSD schools beginning Monday, December 7th. This action was taken based on my recommendation along with the recommendation of the Yavapai County Community Health Services (YCCHS) Director Leslie Horton and guidance provide by the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS). It is important to note that this recommendation and action were difficult to make and not taken lightly due to the impact that it will have on students and families in the district. However, the recommendation and decision were made to protect the health, safety, and welfare of both students and staff.
Prior to the Governing Board meeting I spoke to Director Horton and we discussed how serious the COVID-19 situation is in Yavapai County. Part of the discussion included how important it is for students to be in school. Director Horton shared that the AZDHS benchmarks were going to be well into the substantial transmission range beginning December 3rd for all three benchmarks. The guidance from the AZDHS is that if all three benchmarks are in the substantial transmission range that the district should transition to distance learning in consultation with the county health department.
Over the weekend prior to the meeting, I learned that there was a student that tested positive for COVID-19 and was present on the Chino Valley High School campus. I also learned that other students that were in close contact later tested positive for COVID-19. The YCCHS classified this as an outbreak of COVID-19 at CVHS. We had already contacted the families of the students in close contact and all close contacts, both students and staff, were asked to quarantine.
At the time of the meeting the district had 18 employees that were under quarantine or isolation due to testing positive for COVID-19 or coming into close contact with someone that had tested positive. We believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg and expected more employees to be unavailable to work. I was very concerned that the district would not have the staff to safely teach and supervise the students while at school. In the two days prior to the board meeting, the district was notified by families that 28 students were under quarantine or isolation. Again, being so close to the Thanksgiving holiday, we believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg and expect many more cases and close contacts among students.
As I have said all along, Chino Valley students learn better, and Chino Valley teachers teach better when students are on campus. However, this needs to be balanced with the health and safety of students and staff. We hope to have students back on campus as soon as possible.
Information on the AZDHS benchmarks can be found at www.azdhs.gov. Click on the Schools button. Here you will find a map of Arizona and click on Yavapai County to find the countywide benchmarks. You will also find a document titled “Safely Returning to In-Person Instruction”. This is the guidance on how to use the benchmarks.