More than 20 school districts are starting distance learning on Monday, August 3, and nearly 40 more in the next two weeks. Some parents are prepared, while others feel in the dark about their kids' first day of school.
Dee Grant's son Devin is virtually starting second grade this year at ASU Preparatory Academy on August 17. Grant said she feels prepared for Devin to begin classes online, but aside from knowing when and where to pick up computer equipment, she has no information about the first day of school.
"Whether the teachers are going to be on Zoom full time. Whether it's a couple hours or just independent learning, they have not put that out there yet," said Grant.
Cocopah Middle School in Scottsdale Unified School District and West Point High School in Tolleson Union High School District have already sent out virtual bell schedules with class times, break times, and important school dates.
At Cocopah, students must "log into" class on time to be counted for attendance. A parent of a student at the school said students must have their computer camera and a microphone as well to be counted present. Students are also not allowed to eat during virtual class times.
Cocopah's Enhanced Distance Learning bell schedule starts class at 8 a.m. and ends at the regularly scheduled 2:15 p.m. with seven class periods, including a lunch break.
West Point High School is also on a bell schedule beginning at 7:25 a.m. and ending at 2 p.m. The schedule also notes dates for Spring Break, holidays and the last day of school on May 28.
School Districts, like Pima Unified in Graham County, have been working all summer to prepare teachers for remote learning starting Wednesday, August 5, as well as creating a plan for a transition to in-person learning that won't cause a gap in education.
"That's making it difficult, and it's a huge challenge for teachers. We're asking a lot from our teachers," said Pima Unified Superintendent Sean Rickert, who added that there is still a big unknown announcement coming from the Governor and the State Superintendent on Friday, August 7. "We don't know what is going to come from the superintendent of public instruction and the governor on Friday."
This Friday, Governor Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman will be announcing guidelines and metrics for schools to reopen.