August 10th Board Meeting Update

August 10th Board Meeting Update
Posted on 08/12/2020

In recent months, the Liberty District planned for multiple options for parents to begin school. As you know, there have been several Executive Orders, and each time, we have quickly adjusted our plans. Our primary mission is education, and we are eager for the time when our children return to traditional school. Until COVID conditions improve further, all students will continue with virtual learning.

At the August 10, 2020 Board meeting, the Governing Board approved the district’s mitigation plan which includes the health and safety measures that the district will take for a phased return to in-person school according to three benchmark levels. 

  • Substantial - All students continue virtual learning
  • Moderate - Some students who have selected In-Person Learning will return to campuses to the extent that social distancing and grouping guidelines can be followed
  • Minimal - All students will be welcomed to return to traditional school

On August 31st, the Governing Board will determine the criteria that need to be met for each of the three thresholds. The Governing Board will further discuss health benchmarks released by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) designed to provide local Governing Boards guidance in making decisions about returning to in-person school. The ADHS health benchmarks use the same terminology for thresholds that the LESD board approved. 

The data metrics to define those benchmarks will be considered by the board for possible approval “as is” or “with adjustment”. ADHS has developed a data dashboard that the community can view at any time that provides an evaluation of how well Maricopa County is meeting the health benchmarks at the MODERATE threshold. ADHS recommends that the MODERATE level be met for all three benchmarks before any return to in-person learning. The ADHS MODERATE benchmarks include the following conditions of COVID-19 spread in the community for two consecutive weeks: 

  1. Decline of cases or less than 100 cases per 100,000
  2. Percent positivity below 7% (5%-10%) 
  3. 10% or lower hospitalization visits for COVID-like symptoms

Additionally, ADHS provides a chart of the mitigation strategies that schools are expected to meet for the delivery model based on the threshold of Substantial, Moderate, or Minimal. 

For the Hybrid delivery model, our schools can meet the social distancing requirements in classrooms if class sizes are limited to approximately 10-13 students per classroom.

While the Governing Board discussed the ADHS Benchmarks, it did not approve the metrics that the district should use to trigger changes for when to shift our delivery model from SUBSTANTIAL to MODERATE to MINIMAL or from VIRTUAL to HYBRID to TRADITIONAL. The Governing Board agenda on August 31st will include agenda items for Health Benchmarks to be used for decision making and also the timeline for returning to school once LESD-approved health benchmarks are met.  The district will begin planning for a Hybrid model that allows a phased approach to return to Traditional school. Parents who selected In-Person Learning have already identified their priority to return as soon as possible to in-person school. The Governing Board approved a preliminary plan for administration to prepare for some in-person learning students to return to school once LESD-approved health benchmarks reach the MODERATE level. 

We recognize that virtual learning is more challenging for some students than others and equally challenging for parents. Our district has prioritized a pathway for our most vulnerable students to return to in-person learning first.
  • Self-Contained special education students will attend M-F, regular school hours.
  • Kindergarten - 4th grade students will attend M-T, Th-F for three hours per day and every other Wednesday. Students will be divided into two cohorts, keeping families together in the same cohort. Students will attend either an AM or a PM session, daily, except on Wednesdays in the AM.
  • Other 5th- 8th grade students receiving pre-emergent English learner services, special education services, or 504 accommodations will be provided in-person services as dictated in their individualized plans. Schedules-to be determined.       

As the community spread of COVID-19 changes, the district will quickly shift its delivery model. In order to keep the time short between when the benchmarks are met and when we begin Hybrid delivery, parents must be prepared to respond quickly as well. Please continue to monitor the district website and emails. We will be making updates weekly on Fridays to the district website to give you advanced planning time.