Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo
On Sunday afternoon, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced the closure of all public schools in the state beginning Monday, March 16 and lasting through the end of the month.
The superintendent of Tucson’s largest school district, Gabriel Trujillo, fully supports the decision.
Trujillo, who helms Tucson Unified School District, told The Weekly his staff has worked since February to develop a cross-department plan to handle foodservice, online instruction, transportation “and a host of other areas” in the case of a shutdown.
The district will provide details on its plan at a Wednesday, March 18 governing board meeting at which time they will take formal action to close the district and act on a number of recommendations made by Ducey and Hoffman.
“We feel fully prepared,” Trujillo says.
Among the district’s preparations, Trujillo says they will continue to provide food services and move to provide online learning for as many students as possible. However, TUSD cannot provide digital devices for all of its students.
“Unfortunately we’re not going to be able to provide virtual instruction to all 45,000 students,” Trujillo says. “What you'll see in our contingency plan, you will see that we are fully capable of providing a virtual learning environment for a certain segment of our student body as a whole.”
The superintendent said that his No. 1 recommendation to parents right now is to use Spring Break, which begins tomorrow, to plan for childcare needs. The district’s website and social media accounts will also post information regarding childcare assistance options.
In addition to planning for childcare, Trujillo asked that parents, students, and staff make sure to take the five precautionary measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Pima County Department of Health:
Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds
Maintain social distance
Avoid touching your face
Stay home if you’re feeling sick and seek medical attention
Limit exposure to large crowds
“I think the more that our parents communicate these effective measures to their children, the more effective we can be as a community in combating and defending Pima County against the Coronavirus,” Trujillo says.
In terms of funding, the district’s revenues are guaranteed because the 100-day period has passed, locking in the budget for the year. That means salaried employees will receive their pay through the academic year.
Trujillo said the district is waiting on further details from the state to provide emergency funding for hourly staff.