School, bag, backpack.

On Aug 13, the Peoria Unified School District governing board held its first meeting of the new school year to discuss what students and families can expect from Peoria’s reopening plan for its schools.

New PUSD Superintendent Jason Reynolds said the district will continue to monitor Arizona Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 reports to determine the level of risk. 

According to Reynolds, AZDH school reopening benchmarks must be met before in-person classes can resume.

“We must continue to act responsibly. We must continue to be diligent with our safety protocols. We must continue to keep the health and well-being of ourselves as well as each other at the forefront of our organizational and our personal decision making,” Reynolds said.

The district announced on its website its plan for on-site locations for students who need a place to be until schools open for in-person learning.

Valerie B. Kline, a parent of a PUSD student, wrote in a letter to PUSD officials, “I am extremely disappointed with the options for on-site support for students needing a place to go during the day beginning Aug. 17.

“I hope the PUSD will do a better job the next time they ask for parental input in regard to their needs.” 

Also at the board meeting, PUSD Chief Operations Officer Shawn Duguid said PUSD will continue to provide free breakfast and lunch service to over 78 bus and van routes daily. 

According to peoriaunified.org, “Meals will be available for curbside pick-up from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Monday - Friday. Lunch will include hot or cold entree, fruit, vegetable and milk. Breakfast will include an entree, fruit, juice, and milk.”

“It is exciting, although it is very different this year,” said Danielle Airey, a PUSD spokeswoman. “We had a remarkably smooth start to the school year on all of our 42 schools.”

Airey said the district handed out over 17,000 laptops to its students and over 96% of all Peoria school students attended class on the first day. 

The district hired over 150 new teachers, whose training will focus on the online teaching approach, she said.