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A Letter from San Carlos Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dennison

March 31, 2020

Dear San Carlos USD Students, Parents, Grandparents, Families, Staff & Community: 

On Monday, March 30, 2020, Governor Ducey and Superintendent Hoffman made the announcement of their decision for all Arizona public schools, including our San Carlos Unified School District to remain closed for the remainder of the school year. 

Although this is devastating news because we know school is where our students learn best, we also understand the importance of keeping everyone safe. We certainly want our students, staff and our families to stay healthy, and so we support the decision announced by the State of Arizona.

The San Carlos Apache Tribe has also declared a State of Emergency with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our school district must comply with both the State of Arizona’s direction to close schools and will also comply with all restrictions under the San Carlos Apache Tribe’s resolutions that will help prevent the spread of this virus.

In anticipation of this announcement, the coronavirus continued to spread and social distancing became the norm, our dedicated SCUSD administrators began working on a continuous learning plan for the rest of the school year. Much thought has been given to the curriculum, resources, training, technology, internet access, special needs and communication challenges. We have also considered the impact of our school district’s basic needs such as continuing our food service program, and of course the emotional and social strain on our students, families, and our staff.  

We are very fortunate to have been ahead of the curve on distant learning by investing in technology district wide! We have one-to-one laptops for all 6th grade through 12th grade students and chromebooks for our 2nd through 5th grade students.  Our Kindergarten and 1st grade students have iPads being issued for their online learning needs.  We know that to have laptops is only one part to the puzzle while internet connection is the other. Therefore, our administration is indeed thankful to partner with the San Carlos Telecommunication Utility, Inc. (SCATUI) in effort to connect all school-aged children and their teachers. Our efforts of “we are in this together” serves students from Kindergarten through College who are now homebound and needing internet access to learn in this new era of social distancing. If you’re a parent of a school aged child, Kindergarten through College, and live on the San Carlos Apache nation and still do not have internet access, please call Evelyn Hinton at San Carlos USD, 928-475-7402.

Our dynamic team of teachers, principals and administrators are exporting our online curriculum called Schoology.  We ask for everyone’s patience as this is a first for most involved.  Schoology includes a Learning Management System (LMS) to help us continue with the education of our school and community.  This LMS provides course management, mobile learning, and support for system-wide communication. With Schoology, students can digitally submit homework assignments, review grades, participate in interactive discussions, receive announcements and feedback, take tests, write academic blogs, and more. The parent portal will be activated this week as well. Once this happens parents will be sent a code which will allow you to view your child’s activity within the platform and communicate with your child’s teacher.

No doubt there still may be some students who have to use the paper and pencil bundles to complete their assignments to continue their learning. If your home is not able to be connected, please let your child’s teacher know so they can explain how we will send work home and receive work back safely on a regular schedule.

I am so inspired by the innovative teaching, learning, and support that I have witnessed over the past few weeks. I am also so proud of our team of educators at SCUSD who continue confronting the uncertainties and strive together to find ways to meet the learning needs of our students, again we are in this all together.

Here are a few questions you may still have regarding the school closure of SCUSD:

First, the AzMerit state assessment was waived by the state so our students will not be tested this year. Next, we will not have to make up any instructional days this school year.

Although our main concentration will be on the critical standards with weekly assignments, projects, and video conferencing, our district will continue developing and implementing the Shił Gozhóó initiative to enhance social and emotional wellness and build relationships using distance learning opportunities.

We want our parents, grandparents and guardians to know we will continue to provide support for all our students with their educational needs. To the extent possible, we will continue to follow Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for our special education students.

Our Food Service Program will continue to provide the breakfast and lunch “grab and go” bags at the SCMS campus between 9am and 11am Monday through Friday for all children ages 4 – 18 years old. 

Lastly and most heartbreaking is the impact the closure of this school year will be for our senior class of 2020. So many important and precious memories still yet to be made were so suddenly disrupted or halted for our seniors, their parents, families and our “Brave” community altogether.  Please know we will continue to try and make the best of this situation for our seniors. We want to recognize their accomplishments and find innovative ways to experience the celebration of graduation even if we celebrate on a later date.

The Arizona State Board of Education has met and will soon provide additional guidance on any changes to the graduation requirements due to the school closures. In any event, we are committed to making sure our seniors graduate this school year and I am certain that Principal Poole and the high school staff are reaching out to all seniors to help them continue to prepare for their futures.

We at SCUSD are committed to do our best because we want what’s best for all our students. Communication is crucial so we are also committed to staying in touch, even if it’s virtual. We want all of our community to be in the know because we are all in this together. The best place for updates is the SCUSD website or the SCUSD Facebook page. Please stay safe and be well!

Thank you sincerely,

Dr. Deborah Jackson-Dennison

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