November 8, 2020

Parents and Guardians,

Wellton Elementary School reopened campus for in person instruction on September 14. We were following the guidelines from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). We waited until COVID cases were under 100 per 100,000 individuals and for the rate of positive cases to be under 7%. We followed these guidelines for reopening because we wanted to be cautious and most definitely, we wanted to prioritize the health of our students and staff.

The guidelines have now been changed to focus on when a shutdown might be suggested. At this time in Yuma County, the suggestion is for schools to offer a hybrid method of instruction. We have had the hybrid model of instruction since September 14. This model will continue until ADHS or the YCHD (Yuma County Health Department) suggests we change to all virtual instruction.

It does appear that COVID cases are increasing in Yuma County, Arizona, and the nation. The latest figures for Yuma County are as follows:

As of October 11 –

114/100,000. (substantial transmission)

9.4% positivity rate (moderate transmission)

2.2% hospitalization rate (minimal transmission)

As of October 18 -

164/100,000. (substantial transmission)

11.7% positivity rate. (substantial transmission)

2.2% hospitalization rate (minimal transmission)

ADHS is not suggesting a change to virtual instruction until all three benchmarks are in the substantial transmission range.

The increase in the number of cases is a benchmark that we do monitor continually. As we see cases rising, we continue to increase our cautious behavior at school. Everyone on campus wears a mask at all times. Students are continually reminded to keep 6 feet apart when in lines and in the classroom. Students wash their hands often while at school. All classrooms have access to hand sanitizer and the use of it is encouraged. K-3 will eat lunch in the classroom in order to limit the number of students in the cafeteria.

We are also looking at the number of students in a classroom. We will be reducing the number of students in a classroom in the 6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade. We monitor each grade level in order to make sure students are 6 feet apart. We also have shields on desks that are used by students and we are in the process of making more. We will continue to disinfect our campus and we will increase our efforts to continuously wipe down all surfaces. Teachers will join in this effort in addition to the normal cleaning of the room and the disinfection of each room. We will continue to take the temperature of everyone entering campus. The staff at WES wants to provide the safest environment possible because we know students learn more when they are on campus.

We have more than 70% of our student population on campus. Students have been wonderful about following all precautions. However, it is very difficult to teach in person students and online students at the same time. We will be making changes in order to provide the best education for all students. Each grade level will be a little different in the manner and time for instruction. Teachers will be sending more information about the new format.

We truly want to ensure that all of our students are learning and are progressing academically. Online instruction is difficult for many of our learners. An online student must have support at home. As we continue to improve instruction this year, we need our at-home learners to be present when online and focusing on the instruction. We must be partners in the education of our students in order for them to be successful.

So, once again, we will have changes in the format and schedule for our online learners. Each teacher will be communicating with their students and parents. Some classrooms will start their new format/schedule this week and some will start the next week. Change can be difficult but we can do this together.

Remember, if parents or students decide they need to change to in person (or online) instruction, we can accommodate those changes during the first week of each month. We have to know numbers for seating arrangements in the classroom and we also need to know the numbers for delivering resources and lunch to students. We must have the numbers BEFORE the change in placement in order to ensure deliveries and move desks. Students that are to attend in person cannot switch to online instruction without PRIOR APPROVAL.

I do have faith that we can work together to make this uncertain and sometimes frustrating year a successful one for all of our students. We will continue to “think outside the box” in order to provide learning experiences for all students while maintaining social distance. We want to thank you for your support as we continue through this unprecedented year. And – as always, please continue to wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain social distance whenever possible.

Mrs. Jameson