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Emergency preparedness in Mesa Public Schools
The health and safety of students and staff is our top priority

(updated March 26, 2020)

 

We are ready to move to a new learning environment in Mesa Public Schools. Beginning Monday, March 30, our high school communities will launch remote teaching and learning. PreK-8 student remote learning will launch April 6.

Students will have the opportunity to engage in learning, and improve or maintain their existing semester grades. We are still working out a number of details, however, it is important that we continue educating your children while schools are closed.

Here are some things to do in preparation:

Students, check that you can successfully log in to your computer and Canvas. If you experience any issues, please enter a work order at help.mpsaz.org or call the help desk at 480-472-0044 by the end of the day Friday. Providing a good phone number is important to receiving a service call within 24 hours. Our technicians can help either remotely or by appointment with:

  • Logging in and password resets
  • Hardware issues
  • Providing a laptop or power cord if you do not have your school-issued laptop or power cord at home with you

If you do not have internet access in your home or another safe environment, please let your child's teachers know so they can provide alternative access to class materials. You may want to explore Cox's Connect2Compete low-cost internet program, which is offering 60 days free service for eligible families through May 15. For other internet provider information, please go to mpsaz.org/beprepared. We are also exploring how to safely provide access to school WiFi for students.

Parents, using the parent portal, check that your contact information is up to date, including phone numbers and email. Be sure to opt into texting by texting yes to 67587. Your cellphone number must be on file in the district's student database. Updates can be requested through the parent portal or by calling your school.

What to expect

We know that as we begin working in this new learning environment, everything won't be perfect. It will take time for each of us to learn new tools, overcome technology challenges, work together without in-person interaction and just accept that school is different. We may not immediately have answers to all of your questions, but we will work diligently to find answers and communicate them to you. Everyone's patience and understanding will be critical to achieving success.

On Monday and throughout the first week, teachers will reach out to students and parents to ensure they are successfully connected to Canvas, or to determine if they need alternative access to the learning materials. Teachers will re-establish class norms, and begin to provide instruction, assignments and projects aligned with course standards. They will be available to students and parents via phone, email and virtual platforms, throughout the regular workday, 7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., with the goal of responding in less than 24 hours.

Special education

Special education teachers are reaching out to families to discuss how special education and related services may be provided. Teachers will use a variety of tools to provide instruction. General education teachers will provide appropriate accommodations to the degree possible and based on individual student plans. Currently scheduled and recently missed IEP meetings will be conducted virtually, and MET meetings will be conducted virtually when appropriate. In-person evaluation testing will not be available.

Finals and graduation

At this time, Governor Doug Ducey and State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman have closed all Arizona schools through April 10. We understand many students and families have questions about finals, and end-of-year celebrations such as prom and graduation. Decisions about these events will be made after receiving further information from state officials. Please know, district leadership is committed to ensuring our students end the year successfully. As soon as we have more information to share, we will provide additional communication.

Thank you for your continued support as we learn and grow together during school closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. We appreciate your patience and flexibility.

 

(updated March 20, 2020)

 

Late this afternoon, Governor Doug Ducey announced a two-week extension to the statewide school closure due to coronavirus and COVID-19. Schools are now closed through April 10. Please watch this video message to staff and families, where I discuss our commitments to our community throughout the closure and other important information.

 

Home learning resources

Home learning resources are available and can be found on school websites, our district teaching & learning home page, as well as the district's emergency preparedness webpage.

Families and students may search by grade level and content areas to explore and select activities of interest to their child. We encourage you to access these materials during the school closure. These activities are optional and not intended to be substituted for instruction at this time. Please do not submit any activities that your child completes during this time as they will not be graded nor used for instructional purposes.

Should school closures last for an extended period of time, we will update our community regarding longer-term online learning opportunities.

Keep in touch

Please contact your child's teacher via email or phone. All schools are closed, but teachers are working from home, as recommended by the CDC, and can assist you if you have trouble accessing the resources.

Meal service

Throughout the closure, sack lunches for children 18 and under will be available at district elementary schools from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each lunch comes with a breakfast item for the next day. Drive-through or walk-up service is provided. Families are encouraged to immediately leave campus after picking up lunch and practice social distancing. Find the participating school nearest you at bit.ly/mpslocator.

Thank you for your continued understanding and support.

Dr. Pete Lesar
Interim Superintendent

 

(updated March 17, 2020)

 

At tonight's meeting, the Governing Board received an update on our school closure planning, discussed possible formal communication with state leaders and unanimously passed a resolution to extend approval of school closure and employee compensation through the closure.

 

  • All schools and facilities are closed until further notice, including playgrounds and fields.
  • School leaders and educators will be reaching out to families to connect, assess their needs and maintain relationships.
  • Online and paper supplemental learning resources are currently being developed.
  • District educators will receive professional development in order to effectively provide online learning.
  • Information about students' individualized education programs (IEPs) will be shared with families.
  • Mesa Distance Learning Program (MDLP) is operating as usual.

We recognize the difficulty that Arizona's school closures present for working families. It is important to remember that closing schools is an effort to maintain social distancing of at least six feet between people and to reduce the number of individuals gathering in a given space to prevent the spread of the virus.

Latest national guidance includes:

  • If you or your child feel sick, stay at home.
  • If someone in your household has tested positive for the coronavirus, keep the entire household home.
  • Anyone with a serious underlying health condition (including diabetes) or who is over 60 years old should stay home and away from others.
  • Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
  • Use drive-thru, pickup or delivery options at restaurants and other businesses when possible. Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips and social visits.

While there may still be public spaces open and available, we ask parents to strongly consider keeping their children home.

On March 22, Governor Doug Ducey is scheduled to announce if there will be an extension of school closure past March 27.

Throughout the closure, sack lunches for children 18 and under will be available at district elementary schools from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each lunch comes with a breakfast item for the next day. Drive-through or walk-up service is provided. Families are encouraged to immediately leave campus after picking up lunch and practice social distancing. Find the participating school nearest you at bit.ly/mpslocator.

 

(updated March 15, 2020)

 

As communicated last night, district schools will NOT be reopening Monday, March 16 due to the coronavirus situation. This afternoon, Governor Ducey announced all Arizona schools will be closed through March 27. Please plan to keep your children home until the district announces a reopening date.

 

Emergency sack lunches will be available for pick up at all district elementary schools on Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for all children ages 18 and younger, including our junior high and high school students. We are developing a more comprehensive breakfast and lunch distribution plan to go into effect later this week.

School offices will be open during regular hours on March 16 and 17 so families can pick up their child's critical personal items, such as medication. Playgrounds and other outdoor spaces will not be available for use.

Please visit our website mpsaz.org/beprepared for additional details and watch for additional communication throughout the closure about learning resources and other critical services.

(updated March 14, 2020)

 

Dear Mesa Public Schools community,


As promised, district leadership and the Governing Board have continued to monitor the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation. As new information has been received, we have carefully studied it to determine if it would cause us to change our course of action. We have listened to and considered feedback from a variety of sources. As a result, district schools will not open on Monday, March 16


At this time, we do not know how long students will not be reporting to school. We will keep you updated as the situation continues to unfold. Please know that we are doing our very best to make decisions that will help care for all of us during this time.


We are currently solidifying alternative methods of providing access to learning resources and as many other services as possible during the time that students are not reporting to school.


Impact to students and families


School, athletics, clubs, before and afterschool programming and other in-person, school-related activities are suspended until further notice. School offices will be open during regular hours on March 16 and 17 so families can pick up their child’s critical personal items, such as medication.

Families should refer to CDC information on how to prepare for community spread of COVID-19.

Over the coming week, we will communicate our plan to support families in the following ways:

  • Providing learning resources online, via email and hard copy when possible. These are not meant to be a substitute for classroom instruction, but will help students practice their skills and learn independently.

  • Providing weekday meals to students on the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.

  • Providing frequent updates with information and resources via email, text messages, the website and social media channels. 

Impact to staff

We understand that closing schools will be a hardship on many of our employees. While details have not yet been finalized, please know that a top priority is to minimize to the extent possible the impact of this decision on our employees’ personal financial situations.

All school-based employees should report to their site on Monday as scheduled and check in with their principal for further direction. Employees should practice preventative measures. If an employee believes their personal circumstance places them in a high risk category, they should report their concern to their supervisor and stay home.

We anticipate that teachers will continue to support students in their learning. Teachers will have access to the schools to pick up their laptops, needed materials and personal items, or to work in their classroom.

The ability to work either onsite or remotely for other school-based employees will depend on job responsibilities.

All district-based employees should report to their normal worksite on Monday as scheduled and check in with their supervisor for further direction. Employees should practice preventative measures. If an employee believes their personal circumstance places them in a high risk category, they should report their concern to their supervisor and stay home.

District leaders are currently assessing what support functions are needed during the time students are not reporting to school and what work can be conducted onsite or remotely.

We are grateful for your patience and understanding as we continue to work through this challenging time together.


Sincerely,

Dr. Pete Lesar

Interim Superintendent

___________________

(updated March 13, 2020)

Hello Mesa Public Schools community,

Based on currently available information, we will resume school on Monday, March 16, with significant precautions in place. State and county health authorities, and state education leaders do not recommend closing schools. According to Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona remains at minimal risk for coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19. The district will continue to monitor the rapidly changing situation.

Thank you for your patience as district leadership makes decisions that affect our community during this unprecedented time. We recognize that people will have different viewpoints on these decisions, and may have unique family circumstances. As a parent, if you believe that keeping your child home is best, then please do so, knowing there will be no negative attendance repercussions.

The following protocols are in place to maximize the safety of our school communities.

Stay home if sick

Students and staff who are sick should stay home. We will calculate perfect attendance for the 2019-20 school year as of March 6. Follow these guidelines to prevent illness. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure and can include:

  • Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

The severity of symptoms may vary. People who are older or have existing medical conditions, such as heart disease, may be at higher risk of serious illness. This is similar to what is seen with other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza.

Stay home due to family circumstances

If you choose to keep your child home from school, please contact your school to report the absence and anticipated date of return. These absences will be excused and will not affect perfect attendance or open enrollment status.

If, as an employee, you choose to stay home from work, we will follow our district absence policy and regulation, GBBD-R2.

Students and staff returning from travel to CDC Level 3 affected countries

Students and staff who participated in school-sponsored travel to countries that were identified as Level 3 during their trip will follow the CDC self-quarantine protocols.

Any employee who personally traveled to a Level 3 country since March 2 is required to disclose the location and timing of their travel to their supervisor, and will be required to follow the CDC self-quarantine protocols. The supervisor will work with the employee and human resources to manage individual cases.

We expect any student who personally traveled to a Level 3 country since March 2 disclose the location and timing of their travel to their principal and follow the CDC self-quarantine protocols. The district is committed to supporting students with their academic work during their absence.

Students and staff returning from out-of-state travel and travel to CDC non-Level 3 countries

We ask that any employee or student who personally traveled out-of-state or to a non-Level 3 country since March 2 shares the location and timing of their travel with their principal or supervisor. This is an ongoing request.

 

The district will continue to follow the CDC guidelines. If the traveler chooses to self-quarantine, standard absence policies will apply.

School closures

We understand extended school closures can create hardship for families. The school day is the centerpiece of the lives of many people. Children count on the reliable routine that a school day offers, from the classroom setting to the supportive staff who know them, care for them and provide recognition of them.

Any decision to close a district school or schools will be made in collaboration with state and county health authorities or at the declaration of the Governor.

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Christ shared with school district leaders on Thursday that school closures could potentially lead to an increase in community spread if students were exposed to groups outside of their regular school communities.


Future student and staff travel, including field trips


All elementary and junior high student travel has been suspended. All out-of-state and overnight high school student travel has been suspended. Same-day, in-state competitive high school travel will be reviewed on an individual basis. The Arizona Interscholastic Association will meet on Monday, and we may have additional information to share with you about athletic events moving forward. 

All staff travel is also suspended, unless accompanying an approved same-day, in-state competitive high school student trip.

Some suspended travel could be rescheduled, and we will update those impacted if that occurs. We are investigating if any refunds for cancelled travel will be possible.

Gatherings at schools and use of our facilities

To limit the exposure of our school communities to outside groups:

  • All school group activities including assemblies, dances, concerts, STEM nights, carnivals, etc. are suspended.

  • School volunteerism is limited to parents only.

  • District partners who provide essential services to students will continue as scheduled. All other vendors and service providers will be allowed on campuses outside of the school day.

  • All rental of our buildings to outside groups is suspended. We will continue to rent outdoor spaces to non-school groups.

  • Mesa Youth Sports and Junior High Athletics are suspended.

  • Xplore, elementary enrichment, Mesa K-Ready and adult education will continue as scheduled.

  • Staff should host meetings with individuals from multiple sites virtually through Webex or similar technology.

  • The status of other events and activities will be determined as needed. Some suspended events could be rescheduled.

Update on cleaning protocols

  • The district is confirming that hand soap and disinfectant is available at schools and work sites.

  • Custodial staff cleans and sanitizes all high-touch areas (door handles, light switches, drinking fountains, etc.) daily. 

  • Buses are sanitized at the end of each day, with additional attention and frequency given to preschool and special education buses.

  • Processes for large-scale disinfecting are under development.

Students, staff and families should follow key preventive measures. The CDC offers some tips on its website that can be useful in avoiding the spread of this and other illnesses. 

We remain in constant contact with local and state officials to ensure that we are doing what is best for the Mesa Public Schools community. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and update you as information becomes available. All information will also be posted on the district website at mpsaz.org/beprepared.

Thank you for your support and understanding during this time. 

Sincerely, Dr. Pete Lesar Interim Superintendent

___________________

(updated March 12, 2020)

Mesa Public Schools is working closely with our local and state health partners as we monitor the coronavirus situation locally, nationally and internationally. We are committed to making decisions that keep the safety of our students and staff at the forefront of our work. Several areas that we are currently assessing include:

  1. Students and staff returning to school after traveling out-of-state or out-of-country during break.
  2. Future student and staff travel, including field trips.
  3. Gatherings at schools.
  4. Facility use.
  5. Cleaning protocols.
  6. School closure.

At this time we will not be closing schools, but if we do, it would be in close consultation with public health authorities.

We know many of you have questions and concerns about how the district will operate going forward. We are balancing communicating decisions in a timely manner with having the most up-to-date information available to make those decisions.

We will continue to share information as it becomes available and will share a comprehensive message no later than Saturday evening regarding the practices we will have in place when we return from spring break on Monday, March 16.

Additional information can be found at mpsaz.org/beprepared. Thank you for your patience and ongoing support.

Sincerely,

Pete Lesar
Interim Superintendent

___________________

(updated March 6, 2020)

Coronavirus is an unexpected and unprecedented situation that requires us all to make balanced judgments. In collaboration with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, the district continues to monitor and evaluate our practices and decisions regarding safe and healthy environments for our students and staff.

Student and staff travel

District leadership has adopted recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding travel to Level 3 areas, which state all individuals who have traveled to Level 3 countries will be asked to stay home for 14 days upon returning to the U.S.

Parents should notify their child's school of any travel to a Level 3 area including when their 14-day home stay will end. The school will excuse their absences for that period and will work with students on an individual basis to provide access to coursework.

Staff should notify their supervisor of any travel plans to a Level 3 area. The district will work with employees on an individual basis to determine what accommodations will be needed to cover job responsibilities during their absence.

Out-of-state and overnight field trips

Many field trips are scheduled between now and the end of the school year. We are hopeful all field trips will proceed as planned. To ensure the safety of our students and staff, field trip locations will be monitored and any decisions to modify travel will be based on local, state and national health agency recommendations. Families will receive updated information closer to travel time.

Cleaning and other preventative measures

The district continues to practice enhanced cleaning measures. In addition, the district will conduct disinfectant routines on school buses. Guidance for staff and students continues to be that they should stay home if they are sick. Children and adults are recommended to stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever or signs of fever without using acetaminophen or ibuprofen. This reduces the number of people who may get infected.

By working together and committing to preventative measures, we can keep our community safe. Learn recommended practices to stay healthy and more at mpsaz.org/beprepared.

 

(updated Feb. 28, 2020)

Facts about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We understand that there may be concern over coronavirus disease 2019, also known as COVID-19, due to media reports about a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory. Maricopa County Department of Public Health has assured us there are 0 cases of COVID-19 in our community, and overall risk to the public remains low. Although there is no confirmed community spread in the U.S., experts predict there could eventually be community spread.

Here are some facts that families should know about COVID-19:

  • It is a new coronavirus, originating in Wuhan, China, that causes respiratory illness ranging from mild cold-like symptoms to pneumonia.
  • 81% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in China had mild symptoms.
  • Similar to influenza, those most likely to have severe complications from COVID-19 are people over 60 and those with medical conditions such as heart and lung disease or diabetes.
  • There is no vaccine or treatment currently available for COVID-19.
  • People most at risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 are those who have been in close contact (within six feet) with someone who has the disease.
  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic.

COVID-19 is believed to spread the same way the common cold or flu spreads - through respiratory droplets produced when someone coughs or sneezes. Flu activity typically peaks during this time and Mesa Public Schools takes great care to ensure that all school and office buildings are cleaned effectively. Staff have been directed to give extra attention to high-touch areas, such as door handles, water fountains and keyboards. Staff also encourage children to wash hands regularly to prevent the spread of illness.

Guidance for staff and students continues to be that they should stay home if they are sick. Children and adults are recommended to stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever or signs of fever without using acetaminophen or ibuprofen. This reduces the number of people who may get infected.

Because protection from all respiratory viruses is similar, this is a good time to review strategies we can use for prevention:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick, and keep sick children home as well.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze, then immediately discard any tissues.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

We continue to stay in touch with our county and state health agencies to ensure that we share timely, accurate information with the community. We will keep you updated with any developments that could impact our families or schools. For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, please visit the Maricopa County Department of Public Health website, www.maricopa.gov/coronavirus.

Important messages

March 20, 2020 update

March 17, 2020 update

March 15, 2020 update

March 14, 2020 update

March 13, 2020 update

March 12, 2020 update

Helpful links and resources

Emergency sack lunches and breakfast available at all district elementary schools

Walk-up or drive-through service available 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for all children 18 and younger.
Find the elementary school nearest you.

Cox Connect2Compete - free for 60 days

Eligible families can get internet free for 60 days, then $9.95/month afterward.

T-Mobile COVID-19 response

Learn about unlimited data specials and more.

Boost Mobile COVID-19 response

Free mobile hotspot and additional data specials available for existing customers.

How to talk to your child about coronavirus

Preventive tips for employees

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Maricopa County Department of Public Health

Arizona Department of Health Services

City of Mesa

City of Chandler

Ready

Listo

Helpful tips for families

Coronavirus travel update

for staff and students

Actualización sobre el Coronavirus y viajes

para el personal y estudiantes