Safford School Board to consider going back to online instruction

The Safford Unified School District Governing Board as shown during an August meeting discussion whether to open the schools to in-person instruction.

SAFFORD — The governing board of the Safford Unified School District will hold a special meeting Friday morning to decide whether to keep children in the classroom.

The special board meeting is at 7:15 a.m. Friday, Oct. 16, and will take place at the David M. Player Center for the Arts to accommodate audience members. Wearing of face coverings will be required to attend.

The agenda has just two items: The call to the public — where any member of the audience may speak on any topic; however, the board may not take action on any issue discussed that is not on the agenda — and a presentation from the superintendent on the current health metrics in regards to COVID-19 and the district.

The board will then be asked whether to keep instructing children in-person in the classroom or move to full distance (online) instruction.

Hybrid instruction, where children each week attend just two days of school in the classroom and are instructed two days online — which is how SUSD started the school year — is not on the agenda.

As of Thursday, Graham County’s COVID-19 positivity rate for the week of Sept. 27 is 12.5 percent, per the Arizona Department of Health Services school dashboard.

According to AZDHS, to qualify for in-person instruction full-time, a county should meet three benchmarks:

● Have less than 100 cases per 100,000 population for two consecutive weeks

● Have two consecutive weeks of a positivity rate of less than 7 percent

● Have two consecutive weeks of hospital visits with COVID-like symptoms below 10 percent

Graham County does not meet to the first two criteria and, based on that data, the state Department of Health is recommending all schools in the county conduct instruction via the hybrid method.

Greenlee County is the only county in the state to meet all three criteria and where in-person instruction full-time is recommended.