With the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community still in Phase 1 of the “Return Strong” Return to Work Plan as of March 29, it could jump to Phase 2 soon, depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the Community and surrounding communities.
After being in the “essential services only” phase with maximum mitigation efforts for the past year, on March 5 the SRPMIC moved closer to the “new normal” with the high mitigation efforts that come with Phase 1.
As parents juggle work and family time with children learning at home, Salt River Schools (SRS) has a Health & Safety Reopening Plan for Phase 2 when the time comes. SRS has not offered in-person instruction since last March, when Arizona Governor Doug Ducey made the call to shut down schools.
SRS Acting Superintendent Cynthia Clary said that first and foremost, SRS will utilize guidance provided by the SRPMIC Tribal Council and tribal administration. “Once we receive a reopening date, we will need some time to make sure that our classrooms and facilities are ready for students and staff. We have options to bring back students in a hybrid model and in a full in-person model,” said Clary. “Since it has been a long time since most SRS staff have been on-site, there is a lot of work to do to get ready!”
Some of that work includes bringing technology back on-site and getting everything reconnected to the network. Facilities and classrooms will need to be deep-cleaned and organized so that SRS can adhere to SRPMIC COVID-19 guidance. SRS also follows the guidance of the Arizona Office of Indian Education, the office of Head Start and the Arizona Department of Education. Clary said that the reopening plans exceed general requirements because SRS wants to assure the families and staff that, when the schools reopen, it will be done safely.
Reopening goals include promoting healthy behaviors, maintaining healthy environments, maintaining healthy operations and preparing for illness. As part of the reopening plan, SRS will have a “COVID Campus Contact” at each campus who will be the primary point of contact regarding any concerns or investigations of test-confirmed cases of the virus.
Head to saltriverschools.org/news/what_s_new/covid-19 for the complete Health & Safety Reopening Plan.
If Phase 2 does not begin when planned, SRS has the ability to continue the current model of instruction for as long as needed. Staff members are currently working diligently to create meaningful in-person learning opportunities for students this summer. Clary said that the SRS staff has done an incredible job transitioning to a completely virtual instructional model.
“We are so fortunate to serve a Community that is genuinely concerned for the health and well-being of its members and employees,” said Clary. “Our goal is to provide a seamless transition back to in-person learning in a safe manner.”