Return to School 2020-2021

 
COMMUNICATION
 

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



July 31, 2020

Dear Combs Families:

With only three days until the launch of districtwide virtual learning, our teachers and staff are excited to see our student’s smiling faces via Google Classroom on Monday morning. As you and your family prepare for virtual learning, we’re pleased to share the following reminders and updates:

What to Expect During Virtual Learning
We’ve prepared a simple checklist so parents and students know what to expect during the first week of virtual learning. This includes info on attendance, accessing instruction, meals, and more. 

Updates to the Pandemic Response Plan
As guidelines and directives from local and state officials continue to evolve, we will continue to update our Pandemic Response Plan to provide the most updated information for families. This document, which outlines our COVID-19 mitigation strategies and other key operational information, has been updated to include an Addendum. This Addendum provides detailed guidance on: 

  • Face mask requirements
  • Classroom air ventilation
  • Safety drills
  • Attendance during virtual learning, 
  • Grading expectations 
  • Breakfast and lunch meal service distribution, and more. 

The full updated document may be accessed here or found on www.jocombs.org/returntoschool/.

Distance Learning Plan
In accordance with Governor Ducey’s Executive Order 2020-51, the District’s Distance Learning Plan has been submitted to the Arizona Department of Education and has also been posted on our website. We encourage families to regularly access www.jocombs.org/returntoschool/ for additional updates and important documents regarding our safe and healthy return to school. 

We continue to work closely with state and local officials to determine next steps regarding a safe reopening date for in-person instruction, and will provide an update as soon as we receive data and recommendations from our public health partners. 

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

July 24, 2020

Dear Combs Families:

Yesterday, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order providing additional guidelines regarding the re-opening of schools and start of in-person instruction. Due to the complexity of its language, there are several requirements in the Order that require additional clarification and discussion, however we wanted to provide key updates for families below.

Re-Opening Dates to be Determined Locally
In order to offer flexibility and funding to ensure students have access to consistent educational opportunities during this time, the Governor has determined that the decision for students and staff to return to physical school buildings for in-person instruction should be made at the local level.  The District, in collaboration with the Pinal County Health Department,  will make these decisions based on health data, the needs of the community, and capacity to return with sufficient safe and healthy strategies in our reopening plan.

We anticipate receiving this public health data by August 7, 2020, and will make informed decisions regarding dates for safe in-person instruction at that time. This means that while we are not yet able to commit to an in-person school opening date of August 17, 2020, we will be prepared for that option given the recommendations and data that will be presented in the coming weeks. 

Virtual Learning Begins August 3, 2020
Virtual learning for all students will begin on Monday, August 3, 2020 and will continue until in-person instruction is able to commence. At that time, students who wish to attend school in-person will have the option to do so. 

Please know that virtual learning will be different from the remote instruction families experienced in the Spring. In March, Districts across the country were forced to rapidly transition online with no notice or preparation. Throughout the last several months, District and school teams have had the opportunity to proactively evaluate and improve instructional options for the upcoming year. This enhanced version of virtual learning will provide consistent direct instruction with daily student/teacher interaction, and includes real-time video instruction that follows the schedule of the typical school day. All coursework will be conveniently housed in Google Classroom as one instructional platform, and devices will again be made available to borrow for those who do not have access to one.

Families will receive an additional update on Monday, July 27, 2020 containing information regarding class schedules, virtual meet the teacher night, meal service, virtual learning expectations, and more. This update will be emailed as well as made available on www.jocombs.org/returntoschool/.

Face Masks Now Required
As a result of the Order, all staff, visitors, and students over the age of five must wear face coverings/masks while in District and school buildings effective July 27, 2020. The District has prepared a policy outlining the details of this requirement, which will be in effect until the Arizona Department of Health Services determines that face coverings are no longer necessary or recommended to contain the spread of the virus.

As you know, health and safety for staff and students have continued to be paramount in our extensive planning efforts for a safe and healthy return to school. We have spent countless hours developing creative solutions to unprecedented problems so that we may continue to provide uninterrupted, high quality instruction for our students and families, and we will continue to do so. 

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




July 9, 2020

Dear Combs Families:
As a follow up to our recently released Pandemic Response Plan, I’m writing to share additional information regarding our plans for a safe and healthy return to school. Due to Governor Ducey’s recent directive to delay the start of in-person instruction until August 17, 2020, the District has proposed several changes to the calendar to ensure quality instruction is still available for students. 

At last night’s Governing Board meeting, these proposed changes were unanimously approved, and include:

  • Pushing the original start date of school back one week to begin on August 3, 2020. This start date will commence virtual learning for all students until in-person instruction begins on August 17, 2020.
  • The delayed start date will impact Spring Break, which will only be one week long and take place from March 8-12, 2021.
  • In order to ensure continuity of learning for all students, virtual learning from August 3, 2020 to August 17, 2020 will be required of all students. Those who wish to learn in-person once schools are able to re-open will then make that transition. Those who wish to continue virtual instruction will be given additional details at that time.
  • Families who do not have access to technology will have the opportunity to borrow laptops for use during virtual instruction.

As we proceed with next steps, it is crucial that we hear from every family regarding their desired learning option for the upcoming year. All families must complete this online form by Friday, July 17, 2020 so that the District may properly plan for a safe and healthy return to school. Please note that submission of this form is not only important to select your child’s learning option, but also to ensure that we may properly support your family in the areas of technology, meal service, and transportation. When accessing the form, you will note that it is also available in Spanish via the drop down menu on the top right. 

Upon completion of this form, the District will then share detailed information with each family regarding their selected learning option which will include expectations, schedules, access information, and more.  


We also encourage our families who have not yet done so to review our comprehensive Pandemic Response Plan, which outlines our processes and policies to ensure a safe and healthy return to school. 


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



Sincerely,


Dr. Gregory A. Wyman
Superintendent

June 30, 2020
 
Dear Combs Families:
 
We know the last several months have been challenging, and that many of you continue to face uncertainty and questions regarding the safe return to school. For this reason, we are pleased to announce two options for our educational model for the new school year: in-person and virtual learning. These options have been established to ensure consistency and quality in instruction, while also empowering you to have flexibility when selecting the option that best serves your needs and comfort level. 
 
We truly appreciate your patience and feedback as we've worked diligently to establish these options for the new year, and develop our initial Pandemic Response Plan to ensure a safe return. This comprehensive document incorporates feedback from nearly 3,000 families, as well as key recommendations from health and government officials to prioritize the health and safety of our students, staff, and community.
 
Key decisions outlined in this plan include:
  • Providing families with the option of in-person or virtual learning for their student. Families will have the ability to change their selected option throughout the year. Details and instructions on how to make your selection will be shared via email on July 9.
  • Delaying the start of in-person instruction until August 17, 2020 per Governor Ducey’s Executive Order. Virtual learning may be made available prior to this date, but details will be shared following the approval of a modified calendar at the July 8, 2020 Governing Board meeting.
  • Additional health and safety measures to include social distancing, daily temperature checks, social distancing, and increased sanitization for those who do attend in-person. 

You may click here to access the Pandemic Response Plan and learn more about the instructional options for your family, as well as important updates regarding the school calendar, health and safety measures, communication, social and emotional learning, special education, technology, transportation, and more. You may also click here to view a one page snapshot summary of the plan.

In the coming days, your child’s school will also be reaching out to see how you are doing and how we can help transition this return to school. We truly have missed the connection with our students during these challenging times, and look forward to welcoming our families back in an environment that is safe and comfortable for everyone.

We appreciate your patience and support, and will continue to work diligently to prioritize the well-being of our students, families, 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.