Local schools are officially considered safe to reopen by the state, now that Mohave County has met all of the Arizona Department of Health Services’ benchmarks. While many elementary students are already back in classrooms, Lake Havasu City’s secondary schools are gearing up for their own hybrid return.

Data for the state’s coronavirus benchmarks are updated every Thursday morning. The benchmarks are measured using data from two weeks prior to each update, ensuring the numbers are as accurate as possible. As of yesterday’s report, Mohave County has finally managed to maintain a percent positivity rate below 7 percent for two consecutive weeks, giving the green light for a return to classrooms.

But Havasu students have been learning on campus since Sept. 8, with elementary school students invited back in a hybrid format. Elementary schools will launch into a full reopening — with covid precautions still in place — after fall break on Oct. 12.

That date also marks a milestone for secondary students. Thunderbolt Middle School and Lake Havasu High School students will begin their hybrid learning upon their return from fall break, with a full reopening date set for the beginning of the second semester in 2021.

“The hybrid model for Thunderbolt Middle School and Lake Havasu High School is set up with students attending on campus classes two days per week (Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday),” Superintendent Rebecca Stone said. “Students will have independent assignments to complete during the three days off-campus via Google Classroom. On Wednesdays, teachers will have office hours and buildings will be thoroughly sanitized.”

Distance learning will continue to be an option for all students, and they can transition to in-person learning at any time. But those who choose to stick with it will be transitioned into the district’s PLP online academy program.

“Teachers have worked above and beyond to meet the needs of both in-person and distance learning students, but this is not a sustainable model as we fully open our elementary schools,” Stone said.

The program had a successful first quarter, and the content is customizable to ensure students are staying engaged in a rigorous curriculum, according to Stone. The program includes interactive videos, assignments, quizzes, and assessments that remain accessible through the week. Parents also have access to how much time their child has spent in the program each day in addition to their grades.

“We have a program coordinator who is available throughout the day, Monday through Friday, to assist students and parents with accessing and navigating the program, as well as addressing immediate concerns with assignments,” Stone said. “In addition, a LHUSD teacher will be checking in to monitor messages, grading assignments, and setting office hours for parents and students.”

Lake Havasu High School’s hybrid plan

At the high school, students are divided into two different groups based on their last name, Principal Scott Becker explained in a letter to parents and students. Group A includes last names A-K, and Group B includes last names L-Z. The two groups correspond to a bell schedule. For families with multiple siblings in the same household with different last names, the oldest sibling’s group assignment will be followed.

According to the high school’s bell schedule, Group A will be on campus for periods 1-3 on Monday and periods 4-6 on Tuesday, while Group B learns from home. Group B will be on campus for periods 1-3 on Thursday and periods 4-6 on Friday while Group A then uses Google Classroom at home.

LHHS will start at 8 a.m. and release at 12:40 p.m., and a grab-and-go lunch will be available after school. Office hours will be held from 1:05 to 1:35 p.m.

Gates for student entry will open at 7:40 a.m. between C Hall and I Hall, J Hall and the auto shop, by D Hall, and by the physical education roll call numbers. Congregating in any quad areas will not be allowed. Instead, students are expected to head straight to their first class of the day. After 8 a.m. only one entry point will be open.

“I know that we are all excited to have students back on campus, but that excitement comes with caution,” Becker said. “Schools should provide a safe environment for students, and we want to make sure that we continue to do that.”

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