Back to school backpack.

On Friday, Sept. 4, Dr. Jason W. Reynolds, the new superintendent of the Peoria Unified School District, sent an update to families of 37,000 students in Glendale and Peoria.

The updated plan is to have the youngest students return to classrooms Sept. 21, followed by all students returning to schools five days per week Sept. 28.

“We are pleased that the most recent benchmarks from Maricopa County show our district’s data continues to trend in the right direction. According to the most recent update, we are excited to share that we have a target to move directly into Stage 4 of our Return to School Plan,” Reynolds said.

He said PUSD is “targeting” Monday, Sept. 21, for kindergarten through second-graders (“our youngest, most vulnerable students”) to return to classrooms. 

“If the positive trend in our data continues, we will invite the remainder of our students to return on Sept. 28,” he said.

PUSD spent one month in Stage 1 of its Return to School plan, which includes remote learning and “offering resources for students in our self-contained classes and on-site support for students who need a safe place to conduct their online learning,” Reynolds noted.

“Stage 2 includes opening our schools to students with the most critical needs beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 8. We look forward to welcoming preschool, students attending the Peoria Flex Academy, and high school students participating in Fire Science, Medical Assisting and Nursing CTE labs,” Reynolds wrote.

“If benchmarks continue to trend in a positive direction,” Reynolds said, the district will skip over Stage 3 and “move directly into Stage 4 so that students can return full-time, five days a week, rather than move into Stage 3’s hybrid format.”

PUSD will enter the final stage “If the public health benchmarks continue to be met for all three categories for two consecutive weeks with percent of positive COVID-19 cases remaining below 5%.”

Reynolds said the district was trying to be flexible for parents. 

“A lot has changed since July when we requested that families opt-in to our My School, My Way plan. If you selected the virtual instruction model and would like to change to classroom instruction or if you had planned to return to the classroom and would now like to continue virtually, please contact your school to submit a request to change form by Friday, Sept. 11. You will be notified by your school site the week of Sept. 14-18 on next steps in this process,” he wrote.

“As the safety of our students and staff is our top priority, Peoria Unified will continue to monitor the data provided by ADHS and how that affects the benchmarks for our community. We will also continue to consult with our Medical Advisory Team for guidance on this phased-in approach. If at any time we feel the safety of our students and staff are in jeopardy and we need to change our instructional status, we will communicate with you,” Reynolds told families.

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