Return to School 2020-2021

COVID-19 CASE DASHBOARD
*Data updated 10/22/20
 
The purpose of this data is to provide a transparent summary of active COVID-19 cases by school within the J.O. Combs Unified School District. An active case indicates that a student or staff member participating in on-campus activities has tested positive for an active COVID-19 infection. Individuals who test positive are excluded from participation in any in-person/on-campus activity until they meet the return criteria set by state and local health authorities as outlined in the Pandemic Response Plan. Once the individual is cleared to return, they are no longer considered an active case and their case is removed from the dashboard. This data will be updated when information is received from the Pinal County Health Department.
 
Please note, we continue to follow the guidelines set forth by the Pinal County Health Department. Following these guidelines, it is not our current practice to notify the entire school of a positive case.  Only those with potential exposure or close contact will receive a notification. While we are unable to share additional details about individual cases due to privacy reasons, we assure you that should you have a potential connection to a positive case that you will be promptly notified.
 
COMMUNICATION
 

October 14, 2020



Dear Combs Community,

As the safety of our staff, students and community is our top priority, we want to let you know that we were informed today of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 who were last on site at Combs High School on Tuesday, October 13, 2020. Upon notifying the Pinal County Public Health Department, we were directed by public health officials to temporarily close Combs High School beginning Thursday, October 15, 2020 until October 27, 2020 at the earliest. 

Please note this letter is merely a notification to ensure ongoing transparency with our community and staff. The J.O. Combs Unified School District is committed to implementing proactive measures to protect students and staff from exposure to COVID-19, as well as ensuring transparency so that you have all the information to make informed decisions about your health.  

All other schools, departments, and the district office remain open at this time. It is important to note that the decision to close was made by the Pinal County Public Health Department due to the number of staff and students required to quarantine and not the number of positive cases reported. As Combs High School has identified two or more individuals who are confirmed to have positive COVID-19 cases this week, we are told by the Pinal County Public Health Department that this is considered an outbreak. The Pinal County Public Health Department defines an outbreak as two or more positive COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period who do not share a household.

For privacy reasons and in observance of guidance from public health officials, we are unable to share additional details about individual cases. We assure you however that should any important updates become available, they will be promptly shared. As always, additional information regarding the District’s protocol related to COVID-19 can be found in the Pandemic Response Plan.

We thank you for your patience and support as we navigate these challenges together. 


Sincerely,



Dr. Gregory A. Wyman
Superintendent



September 8, 2020

Dear Combs Families:


Let me begin by thanking you for a successful first day of in-person learning. It was wonderful to safely welcome students back onto our campuses, as well as continue to interact with those learning virtually at home. We know there have been many challenges over these past weeks, but the smiles on our student’s faces today was the perfect reminder of why our work continues to be so important. I’m pleased to share a Food Services update that will impact all students 


Starting Monday, September 14, 2020, we are proud to announce the return of free breakfast and meal service for all students through the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. This program will allow all students to receive breakfast and lunch meals free of charge through December 18th, 2020 (or as funding allows through the federal program). 


In-person students will receive their meals as normal through the school cafeteria. Virtual students will have the opportunity to pick up five free breakfast and lunch meals curbside each week, though the curbside pick up details have changed. Instead of families picking up their meals daily at any of the elementary sites, starting Monday, September 14, 2020, curbside meal service will only be available at Combs Middle School on Monday mornings from 6:30 am to 8:00 am. When families arrive each Monday, they will pick up five breakfast meals and five lunch meals for the entire week. Only students enrolled in the J.O. Combs Unified School District are eligible to receive these free meals, and families must provide their student’s name and school upon pickup. Students are not required to be present to pick up meals.


As always, we encourage you to continue to visit www.jocombs.org/returntoschool/ for the the latest updates and communication regarding the District's safe and healthy return to school. Also available on this web page is our comprehensive Pandemic Response Plan which details our proactive health measures to keep our staff and community safe.

 

We continue to be grateful for the patience and support of our families as we work together to support our students, families, and staff with a safe and healthy return to school.


Sincerely,



Dr. Gregory A. Wyman
Superintendent

August 28, 2020

Dear Combs Families:


Last night, the Governing Board voted (4-1) to resume in-person instruction starting Tuesday, September 8, 2020. This decision comes after an extensive review and discussion of the latest health data metrics from the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS), as well as ongoing feedback from parents, students, staff, and community members. 


Although all three AZDHS benchmarks were not met as of August 27, 2020, the Board expressed feelings of encouragement at the downward trend in the metrics, and felt they were closely approaching the recommended levels to re-open. The Board also noted that because these health metrics will likely continue to fluctuate, that schools will not close based on weekly variations in the benchmarks, but only at the direction and advisement of public health officials. 


While we’re aware that this issue continues to be divisive, it is important to reiterate that the reopening of schools on September 8, 2020 will utilize a hybrid model, and families will have an option to return in-person or continue with virtual learning. This year’s instructional model has been designed around the notion of parent choice, and will allow students who feel comfortable returning in-person to do so, and learn simultaneously with those who choose to remain virtual. We know some families will elect to continue virtual learning all year long, and that this will result in less children being on campus, enabling enhanced safety measures such as social distancing to more easily take place.


As a reminder, families are encouraged to review the letter originally shared on August 14 which outlines the parent waiver form for in-person return, safety measures and precautions that must be followed upon returning, and the changes to the virtual learning schedule when in-person learning resumes. Additional communication will be shared next week from your child’s school that will outline what school operations such as recess, lunch, arrival/dismissal, etc., will look like for those who return in person.


As always, we encourage you to continue to visit www.jocombs.org/returntoschool/ for the the latest updates and communication regarding the District's safe and healthy return to school. Also available on this web page is our comprehensive Pandemic Response Plan which details our proactive health measures to keep our staff and community safe.

 

We continue to be grateful for the patience and support of our families as we work together to navigate these challenging issues. 


Sincerely,


Dr. Gregory A. Wyman
Superintendent

August 19, 2020

Dear Combs Families:


I want to sincerely thank you for your patience as we’ve engaged with our employees and community to resolve this week’s staffing issues and determine safe plans for the return of in-person instruction. Tonight, the Combs Governing Board voted (4-1) to resume virtual instruction only, starting Thursday, August 20, 2020. 


A Special Board Meeting will be held on August 27, 2020 to review the metrics issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services. If upon evaluating these metrics they are all met, in-person instruction will resume on Monday, August 31, 2020. At that time, families would still be given the choice of participating in in-person or virtual learning.


As all students continue with virtual learning, they will continue the modified schedule released week two, which includes three hours blocks of daily direct instruction time. As previously shared, students will still be provided assignments that align with a full school day, and will still have access to their teacher for office hours and questions. Breakfast and lunch meal service for students will continue to be available for pick up at all elementary schools between 6:30 am and 8:00 am.  After school and extracurricular activities will resume on Thursday, August 20 and will continue to follow all guidelines outlined in the Pandemic Response Plan.


This difficult decision comes after careful consideration of the safety concerns of staff and families, as well as the evaluation of key operational factors necessary to safely educate our students.


We are well aware that the issue surrounding the reopening schools is a polarizing one throughout the country, and while our community is also deeply divided on these matters, we can all ultimately agree that providing high quality education for our children remains the highest priority.


As always, we encourage you to continue to visit www.jocombs.org/returntoschool/ for the the latest updates and communication regarding the District's return to school. Also available on this web page is our comprehensive Pandemic Response Plan which details our proactive health measures to keep our staff and community safe.

 

We know that the recent days have been difficult for our students and families, and that the decision made tonight will continue to generate emotion on both sides. It is the unfortunate reality that no decision will satisfy everyone, but we will continue to make the right decisions for those who matter most: our students. 



Sincerely,



Dr. Gregory A. Wyman
Superintendent

August 17, 2020

Dear Combs Families:

Following Friday’s announcement regarding the cancellation of all Monday classes due to insufficient staffing, we continue to engage in ongoing conversations with the Combs Education Association as well as our families to address concerns regarding the safe return to school. We’re sensitive to the feedback of our staff, and our community, and are working nonstop to find solutions to the polarizing and challenging issues currently facing school districts throughout the state and country. 


While we continue to work diligently on this matter, we also continue to receive a high volume of staff absences. In turn, we will have to cancel all classes on Tuesday, August 18, 2020 as well as Wednesday, August 19, 2020. A Governing Board meeting will be scheduled for Wednesday evening at 6:00pm to discuss next steps and options for a return to school. We are fully aware that a timely resolution to this matter is critical, and are committed to providing updates to our families as soon as they are available.


The provision of quality instruction for our students is our highest priority and we will continue to work day and night to find a resolution to this issue so that we can minimize the disruption to our families and students.  


Sincerely,



Dr. Gregory A. Wyman
Superintendent

August 14, 2020

Dear Combs Families:

In response to this week’s Governing Board decision to resume in-person instruction on Monday, we have received an overwhelming response from staff indicating that they do not feel safe returning to classrooms with students. In response, we have received a high volume of staff absences for Monday citing health and safety concerns.


Due to these insufficient staffing levels, schools will not be able to re-open on Monday as planned. This means that all classes, including virtual learning, will be canceled. At this time, we do not know the duration of these staff absences, and cannot yet confirm when in-person instruction may resume.


We will continue to monitor the situation and will share an update no later than 5:00pm on Monday. 


Breakfast and lunch meal service for students will still be available for pick up at all elementary schools between 6:30 am and 8:00 am. After-school and extracurricular activities are canceled, but transportation will still be provided for EVIT students.


Please know that we are acutely aware of how polarizing this issue is, and how challenging these ongoing developments are for our entire community. We will continue to work closely with our employees and our families to develop solutions that provide a safe and healthy return to school.



Sincerely,



Dr. Gregory A. Wyman
Superintendent

August 11, 2020

Dear Combs Families:


I want to sincerely thank you for your patience as we work with our community and public health partners to determine a date for the return of in-person instruction. Last night, the Combs Governing Board voted (3-2) to have schools reopen for in-person learning beginning on Monday, August 17, 2020. This difficult decision comes after the release of the data benchmarks from the Arizona Department of Health Services, as well as tremendous feedback from families in the District who expressed a strong need for their children to return to the classroom.


We know that the decision made last night generates emotion on both sides, and it is important to note that families will still continue to have a choice in the format of the education that their child will receive. This year’s instructional model has been designed around the notion of parent choice, and will allow students who feel comfortable returning in-person to do so, and learn simultaneously with those who choose to remain virtual. We know some families will elect to continue virtual learning all year long, and that this too will result in less children being on campus, enabling enhanced safety measures such as social distancing to take place.


Over the next couple days, you will receive additional communication regarding the transition back to in-person learning. Some of the key info that will be shared includes:

  • Confirming your desired learning option (virtual vs. in-person) starting August 17
  • How will this affect the virtual learning schedule
  • How to sign the parent waiver for in-person return
  • Safety measures and precautions that must be followed by those who return in-person

 

As always, I encourage families to visit www.jocombs.org/returntoschool/ for the the latest updates and communication regarding the District's safe and healthy return to school. Also available on this web page is our Pandemic Response Plan, which all families who intend to return in-person should review at length in order to ensure compliance with our proactive health measures. 


I know that our current circumstances are challenging, and that emotions are running high as our families and staff agonize over making the right decisions for our students. Regardless of where you may stand on these issues, I implore you to show one another kindness and empathy, as we are all working toward the goal of providing the very best education for your child every day.  These are unprecedented times and through a strong family and school partnership we will meet our goal.  Together we are stronger.


Sincerely,



Dr. Gregory A. Wyman
Superintendent

August 7, 2020

Dear Combs Families:

Thank you for your support, patience, and understanding with the launch of virtual learning.  Overall the week has been successful and we’ve appreciated your positive stories and feedback. We also appreciate the constructive criticism and suggestions for improvements that you have brought to our attention. Based on these suggestions and concerns, we will be making several modifications to the teaching schedule beginning Monday, August 10, 2020.


Beginning on Monday, students will have a specific time interval each day where they will receive direct instruction from their teacher.  The rest of the school day should be used for the completion of assignments that are aligned with the lesson for the day.  Your child’s teacher will be providing you with specific information on the change in the daily schedule and the office hours that they will be available to answer questions your child may have with lessons.


Live instruction will now be scheduled daily as follows:


Grade

“Live” Virtual Learning with Class

Offline Work

9th-12th

7:00am-10:00am

10:00am-2:30pm

K-4th

10:00am-1:00pm

8:00am-10:00am

1:00pm-3:00pm

5th-8th

1:00pm-4:00pm

9:00am-1:00pm


Please be aware that your child will still be provided with assignments that align with a full school day. It is important that your child logs in to the virtual learning lesson time as scheduled so that attendance can be taken and group instruction can take place. Please note that special education and English Learner services for elementary students will take place outside of this direct instruction block unless directed by the IEP. If your child loses Internet access, please send your child’s teacher an email explaining the situation so that they may be marked present for the day.  In addition, please make sure your child turns in all assignments for that day.


This schedule change is intended to support families in several ways. The reduced amount of virtual instruction time will not only address concerns regarding the amount of time spent on the computer, but also conflicts with lunch and break times for children. Additionally, the change in this schedule will reduce the amount of data being utilized on the District’s network at any given time, and provide faster Internet connectivity that will minimize disruptions. The quality of internet connectivity from your home is dependent upon your Internet provider but by separating virtual learning times, families should have fewer children engaged in virtual learning at once which will also improve home speeds.


As always, please know that our intention is to provide the very best education for your child every day.  These are unprecedented times and through a strong family and school partnership we will meet our goal.  Together we are stronger.


Sincerely,

Dr. Gregory A. Wyman
Superintendent

August 5, 2020

Dear Combs Families:

Congratulations on the successful kick off of virtual learning. I know our families have spent countless hours acclimating to new technology and supporting your student’s learning within our new instructional model. With that, there have been several challenges and frustrations expressed regarding a variety of issues.

It’s important to me that you know that we hear you, and are working quickly to develop solutions to these challenges so that we can better equip our staff and students for success. Among the barriers, we know that internet connectivity (bandwidth) challenges, the length of time students are spending online, and conflicting lunch hours have emerged as the most common issues.

Please know that internet and connectivity challenges are not being experienced only at Combs, but is an issue affecting all communities due to the volume of students engaged in remote learning at this time. Internet usage and data has significantly increased since last Spring due to the improvements in the live instruction learning model, however this has brought with it new challenges. District and school leadership is working diligently to make the necessary adjustments to remedy these issues, and will provide a detailed update in the coming days that will outline our solutions.

In the meantime, we are sharing some additional tips to help reduce your use of bandwidth and improve your connectivity at home:

  • Do not stream unnecessary video outside of Google Meet and approved curriculum resources.
  • YouTube videos should be kept to necessary curriculum related use. Khan Academy or tools like BrainPop would be exceptions. Other streaming (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, and other services) are not acceptable.
  • Encourage your children to refrain from using game sites such as Xbox LIVE.

As always, we appreciate your patience and support, and will continue to work diligently to prioritize the well-being of our students, staff, and community.


Sincerely,

Dr. Gregory A. Wyman
Superintendent



IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
*Per Governor Ducey's Executive Order 2020-51, these documents are required to be posted to notify parents and guardians per the notification requirements of A.R.S 15-802.