The Amphitheater school district pushed their preliminary return date to hybrid learning from Feb. 1 to Feb. 15 after considering guidance from the state health department that all counties in the state should remain in virtual learning models. With a continued strain on vaccine availability for those eligible in Pima County’s current priority 1B phase, including educators, Superintendent Todd Jaeger said the county originally allotted 190 vaccine appointments for Amphitheater staff last week, but they’ve only scheduled around 70.
“At this point, given the current high spread of COVID-19 and the limitations of the vaccine program, I can see no path to safely opening on Feb. 1 as planned,” Jaeger wrote in a letter to district families. “While I know that other schools and districts have made different decisions, I have said from the outset of this pandemic that I would look to our state and local health officials and data to inform my decisions.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services is recommending all counties commit to virtual learning for students with online classes and some onsite support services. ADHS made its recommendation based on three key benchmarks: cases per 100,000 individuals, percent positivity and hospital visits for COVID-like illness. All benchmarks are currently in a state of substantial transmission throughout the state.
In Pima County, ADHS data shows 9,065 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 of the population and a 12.3% positivity rate of the virus as of Jan. 22. The most recent data available on the state health department’s school benchmarks website shows hospital visits for COVID-like illnesses at 14.8% as of Jan. 3.
Despite recommendations from the state health department, Marana plans to return to hybrid learning Monday, Jan. 25, according to Alli Benjamin, director of Public Relations and Community Engagement.
For more information on local public school districts’ return plans, click here.