AVONDALE, AZ — School in the Avondale Elementary School District started on August 3rd. Although they initially offered three options: fully digital, digital flex and in-person, the district decided to put all 6,500 students online before the school year began.
The COVID-19 numbers and data in Arizona forced many districts to opt for not reopening campuses, and instructing children in online platforms.
"A resounding message was it's getting better every day," said Dr. Betsy Hargrove, AESD Superintendent. Dr. Hargrove said part of their digital success in Avondale has been that they've been listening to the community.
This week they unveiled their 'learning labs' at each of the 7 schools within the district.
"We could have consolidated our learning labs but we felt very strongly about keeping the families connected to the people that they know and that trust has been established and our kids are far more successful in that setting," said Hargrove.
The 'learning labs' provide a learning environment at each school. The students are not receiving instruction, but instead have a work space throughout the entire school day.
Each student must reserve a spot; adhering to school dress code and school rules.
"Many of mommas and papas work," added Hargrove. The goal with the 'learning labs' is to ease the burden on parents and at the same time be able to provide a safe environment for their children who need to get online for school.
Dr. Hargrove said the learning labs will provide insight on safety at schools and should provide a sort of 'playbook' for when the school does reopen to the entire population.
The amount or percentage of students served is still to be determined since the labs are a brand new digital platform tool.
Those who opted for in-person learning are online at the moment and waiting on the district to make that path.
"Our community wants metrics and data," said Dr. Hargrove.
As of this week, they've received two weeks worth of data and metrics when it comes to infection rates specific to Avondale from the health department. Thursdays are the days those health metrics are updated.
Last week we got two weeks of data and we really need to see three weeks in order to see the continuation of trends," added Dr. Hargrove.