Schools structure their upcoming fall semester plans around COVID-19

By Maja Peirce

With school starting next month, elementary school districts, community colleges, and universities across the state are having to evolve the traditional classroom to take into account the risks of COVID19.

Cave Creek Unified School District
Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD) is still working on their plans to accommodate the Governor’s Executive Orders.
“We have put out two surveys: one for parents and one for staff to gather input. We know we will open online for all students K-12 on August 5th. Parents will be asked to make a choice this month on one of two options for when we are allowed to return physically to our school buildings. The choices will be (1) to return to face-to-face school with safety procedures to mitigate the virus or (2) enrolling their students in a CCUSD online school,” wrote CCUSD Superintendent Debbi Burdick.
Starting in May, three committees made of staff and parents are and have been meeting multiple times per week to work out details.
“The Return to School Team is working on academic options; the Logistics Committee for Reopening School is working on mitigating exposure once returning to school and the Social Emotional Well-being Committee is focusing on support for students and families,” wrote Burdick.

Paradise Valley Unified School District
Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) will begin on their regularly scheduled start date, August 5, in an all virtual learning environment called PVConnect. Students will continue this learning model through Labor Day weekend, Friday, September 4. All students will be enrolled in PVConnect unless families request to enroll their child in PVOnline.
“Students will participate in live, real-time instruction at designated times during the day via WebEx and/or Google Meet. Students will be expected to attend each day and submit assignments and participate as they would if they were attending in-person. Students will participate from their computers and engage with their teachers and classmates. Teachers will be using Google Classroom to share curriculum resources and assignments with students.
Our comprehensive reopening plan, PVSchools Prepared, and details about PVConnect and PVOnline can be found on the district’s website at The website includes correspondence sent to our families and answers to some of the most frequently asked questions,” wrote Beck Kelbaugh, PVUSD Communications Specialist.

Scottsdale Unified School District
Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) closed all campuses for students, staff, and the public. The closure includes recreational fields, campus parking lots, playground equipment, running tracks, and sport courts. They have announced students will be taking part in online learning.
On their website, they included the following information on what their online learning environment will look like. “eLearning is the use of technology that enables people to learn, anytime and anywhere an Internet connection is available. At the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD), technology has been a key part of our teaching and learning approach for years. The recent school closures in response to the national emergency has provided the opportunity for SUSD to maximize the use of this technology as every student transitions from an on-campus experience to a cloud-based learning experience. SUSD’s eLearning approach offers the flexibility and connectivity that both students and teachers need to engage while campuses remain closed.”

Maricopa Community Colleges
Maricopa Community Colleges will be providing a variety of learning environments for students this Fall Semester. They can check to see what kind of course module their classes will have at They will include online, in-person, hybrid, live-online, and hybrid-online course sections. Despite their range of options for class types, Maricopa Community Colleges’ facilities remain closed for in person services, classes, and activities, including athletic games and practices, theater productions and other engagements/events.
Paradise Valley Community College
Paradise Valley Community College announced the following in relation to their particular college and how they plan on combating the virus this fall semester.
“For the Fall 2020 semester, the majority of PVCC’s classes will be taught in Live Online, Online or Hybrid formats. Face-to-Face classes on campus are limited to only a few programs. With Live Online, you will meet weekly with your instructor at your scheduled class time, allowing you to interact with your instructor and classmates. With Online classes, you have no set time in which you need to be in front of your computer. You’ll still participate – only instead of in-person lectures, it will be through weekly online assignments. As the name suggests, Hybrid classes are a blend of both Face-to-Face and Online, and are mainly for Lab Science, Physical Education and Occupational classes.”

Arizona State University
As of now, Arizona State University will be providing three different types of learning environments for students starting on August 20 including ASU Immersion: In person, ASU Sync: a zoom based online environment, and icourses. The majority of classes will be a blend of in person and online environments. Some labs and fine arts classes will only be available to students with in person, on campus instruction. Classrooms will be cleaned daily, and sanitization materials will be available in classrooms at all times. Additionally, they plan on reducing classroom sizes by alternating days with half of the class’s students in the classroom. Students will attend class using the ASU Sync zoom environment on the days they are not in the classroom. Throughout the semester, testing will be available to both employees and students.
Face masks and coverings will be required in public spaces where social distancing is not possible and the university will be sending out Community Care Kits which include essentials for fighting the virus. Visitors will not be allowed in residence halls and they will attempt to accommodate any single room and shared housing space requests. They will reserve rooms in residence halls for isolation spaces if needed.

University of Arizona
Currently, The University of Arizona is planning to continue in person classes this Fall Semester starting on August 24. President Robbins made the announcement after getting his blood drawn the first day of the statewide antibody testing effort created by UArizona Health Sciences researchers. The university, partnered with the state, plans on antibody testing on 3,000 health care workers and first responders within Pima County and approximately 1,500 members of the general public. Their goal is go into Fall semester with a test, trace, and treat method using the test they have developed.
The test part of the strategy includes getting tested for COVID-19 and then getting tested for the COVID-19 antibodies. The tracing includes contacting anybody that has been in contact with a positive case found in testing. Robbins recently approved a pilot of an app that uses secure bluetooth signals to determine and alert users that they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Students and faculty can also join AZCOVIDTXT to receive critical updates, receive customized support and health tips, and report the health status of their household to help localized health officials better understand the state of the virus. Lastly, the treatment aspect of the plan involves providing students and faculty with daily health monitoring, campus enhanced care, support for learning, and minimization of close contact with others.

Northern Arizona University
As of now, Northern Arizona University is planning on returning to in person classes with an option to use NAUFlex. This online learning environment is similar to Arizona State Universities ASU Sync. It will use Zoom and Collaborate Ultra to allow students to attend class live from their computer instead of go to class in person. However, their semester will start on August 12 with a move-in date of August 6, classes will end November 18 and finals will wrap up on November 25. They hope the better weather and less travel will help keep students and employees safe. Their employees will return to campus in phases starting with administrative on June 29. Business, academic, and student support employees will follow in staggered returns. Busses will be sanitized throughout the day and students are strongly recommended to check the capacity of the bus on the NAUgo app.

Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University will be using a blending model of in person and online learning using LoudCloud to have synchronous learning when students aren’t in the classroom. Their goal is to keep classrooms at 40% to 50% capacity to keep social distancing among students. Their fall semester will remain the same length however their last eight days following Thanksgiving Break will be online. The university’s facilities will be open to students as long as they are wearing a mask and social distancing properly. Their GCU hotel will be closed for its usual purposes and instead used to house anyone who needs to be in isolation. Students who have tested positive or have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive will be quarantined there.
Throughout the fall semester, schools’ plans are subject to change due to the rises of COVID-19 cases in the state. Schools are striving for flexible learning environments that can accommodate this possibility.