PHOENIX — With schools closed for the remainder of the year questions remain regarding graduations, remote learning and the lasting impact on students. On Tuesday, the State Board of Education held a special meeting to try and provide more guidance.
The board usually meets at the Department of Education but Tuesday’s meeting was all virtual. A bulk of the work revolved around the school closure legislation passed earlier this month, but members still got a feel for the toll these closures are taking on students and their families.
Emotional public comments were read during the meeting, with high school seniors pleading for a chance at a traditional graduation.
“Graduating is what every student dreams about after 20 years of dedication as you well know,” one high school senior wrote.
“My dad, my number one supporter, through all my years of school passed away in a motorcycle accident last April… I decided I’d go back to school only to walk across that stage for him to be proud of me,” wrote another high school senior.
The decisions regarding graduation ceremonies will vary by district but the board did update graduation requirements for the 2019-2020 school year.
“This basically ensures that if a student was on track to graduate prior to the school closures, then they can still rest assured that they will graduate,” said State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman.
Districts will also have to submit a form detailing their remote learning plans by April 15. The digital divide, now becoming more apparent than ever.
“This has been a huge wake up call for myself even,” said Hoffman. “Even for one large school district, they said they would need 11,000 laptops.”
Board member Armando Ruiz said it could take three to five years to make up for the loss of instruction.
Superintendent Hoffman says several concerns remain, but they are doing the best they can in a “terrible situation.”