PHOENIX — It’s been a year since students in the Osborn School District have been in a classroom.
“Students have learned about themselves and we’ve learned about them. About the resiliency of students and how much they can learn,” said Osborn School Superintendent Michael Robert PhD.
Still, the superintendent says it has been a very trying year for everybody.
The Osborn district schools are located in neighborhoods where the community spread of COVID-19 was high, but school officials never gave up hope they could re-open at some point during the school year. Now it appears there is light at the end of the tunnel. March 30 is their target day for 60% of the students to return for in-class learning.
When Governor Ducey moved teachers and child care workers to the head of the COVID vaccine line in January, Superintendent Robert moved quickly, making sure all of his employees had access to information about the vaccine and where to go to get vaccinated.
To date, 90% of Osborn’s teachers, administrators, and staff are vaccinated.
“Being prioritized, we need to recognize that’s a privilege,” Robert said. “We jumped ahead of people between 65 and 75 and ahead of people with high-risk medical conditions, and so there’s a social contract there."
Dr. Robert is one of 14 Phoenix school superintendents who have met weekly since the early days of the pandemic to help each other work through the myriad of challenges to educate students and protect their employees. It was the superintendents who worked to open PODS, like the one that was operating at Central High School Friday, where school employees can go to get vaccinated.
“This is getting us a lot closer to the opening of school. We’re excited to have our kids come back and our staff come back,” said Central High School Principal Leticia Avalos. Avalos will greet her teachers on March 15. The students are set to return on March 30.
A significant number of students in the Osborn District come from families who are either underserved or hesitant about being tested and vaccinated for COVID. Superintendent Robert believes being transparent and having schools reopen will go a long way in reducing the neglect and the fear.