September 2, 2021
Dear GUSD Staff, Families, Friends and Community,
Hello all! I just wanted to take a minute to update you about the latest developments in our ongoing efforts to work into the 2021-2022 school-year while dealing with the recent upswing in COVID-19 cases in our community. GUSD, like most school districts across the nation, is experiencing positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff. As a result many students and some staff have had to quarantine. In my last letter, 15 days ago, I indicated some of my observations of how GUSD is experiencing and dealing with COVID-19. Just as I previously did, I will list some bullet points about how GUSD is being impacted by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in our community:
- •We still are experiencing the largest number of COVID-19 positive students in our elementary grades.
- •As of this writing, 3 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 (1 support staff member and 2 teachers) since the beginning of school on August 2, 2021.
- •As of this writing 16 students have tested positive for COVID-19 since school started on August 2, 2011.
- •We have not heard of GUSD students becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.
- •The COVID-19 infection rate within GUSD is below that of the City of Globe and Gila County as a whole.
At last evening’s GUSD Governing Board meeting the board heard from a couple of parents or guardians expressing concerns about how the district was managing through COVID19. Among the concerns expressed were lack of planning for providing educational support for students out on quarantine, a need for more communication from the district about COVID-19 status, not requiring masks for all students and staff, and not abiding by local and national health department quarantine recommendations regarding vaccinated students.
These are the steps I have taken today to address those issues in GUSD.
- •Teachers are working with their principal’s guidance to have clearly defined plans for addressing the educational needs of quarantined students. (I also want to clarify here that our TKO online program is not an option for quarantined students. TKO students enroll for at least one trimester at a time.)
- •I am writing this letter and will communicate with staff, parents, and community after each board meeting.
- •GUSD will be not be quarantining vaccinated students and staff as per CDC and Gila County Health Department recommendation.
- •GUSD will work with the Gila County Health Department to expedite students return to school using their recommended testing protocols.
The concern that was addressed by a parent but did not result in action was the suggestion that GUSD mandate masks. At this point the board is still allowing mask wearing to be an option for parents, students, or staff in the district.
Let me close this communication with just a couple of observations I have made as we continue to deal with COVID-19. It would appear that being vaccinated makes a difference in COVID-19 prevention. If you haven’t been vaccinated, please consider doing so. GUSD is publicizing vaccination clinics sponsored by the Gila County Health Department. I understand many have an “anti-vax” philosophy, but at GUSD we have yet to hear about any vaccinated person becoming COVID-19 positive.
A second observation is that we at GUSD have a tremendous number of items to be thankful for. Our teachers and staff have labored diligently under difficult circumstances to do their best through COVID-19. Our parents and students have been cooperative in helping us deal with an extremely frustrating, ongoing situation. Lastly we have a school community including the governing board, administration, teachers, support staff, parents and guardians, and community who all strive to help us live up to our motto “Capturing Hearts, Empowering Minds”.
Jerry Jennex, Superintendent
09-03-2021 at 3:00 PM
After publishing my letter I was informed that one of the three staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 was in fact vaccinated. I apologize for the incorrect statement. I would still encourage those who haven’t been vaccinated to consider the shot as all information points to the conclusion that vaccinated individuals are less likely to need hospitalization or become severely ill if they do contact COVID-19. Thank you to everyone as we try to manage our way through the challenges of COVID-19 and still try to operate our school district in some semblance of normalcy. - Jerry Jennex, Superintendent