Mesa completes device loans for junior high The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa completes device loans for junior high

Mesa completes device loans for junior high
City News
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By Zach Alvira, Tribune Staff Writer

Nearly two weeks into the launch of remote learning for all junior high students in Mesa Public Schools, the district has completed device handouts for students.

An estimated 2,200 devices were handed out across all 11 of the junior high schools in the district between April 13-17, allowing students to continue with online classes during school shut-downs.

High school students had already
completed device handouts the weeks prior, as they began remote learning on March 30.

There is still one group of students that have yet to receive school-issued devices. Sixth graders taking MA10 – a junior high math course – are still in the process of being scheduled to pick up devices from their designated schools.

“Some of them already have devices because of the system we normally have in place for them,” said Helen Hollands, the district’s executive director of technology and communication. “Some of them just need to come get them.”

The district’s launch of remote learning on March 30 for high schools and other grade levels on April 6 brings it into phase III of its plan to continue education amid closures.

Administrators updated the school board last week on the continuing technology ramp-up.

“This has been the utmost collaboration between department leaders, superintendency, principals, input from teachers and even our governing board,” said Tracy Yslas, executive director of teaching and learning. “Trying to get as much support out as we have really changed the business of what school looks like for not only our students but our teachers and our families.”

With the updated webpage for teacher services, came an update technical support page for students and parents as well.

A variety of links to solve various technical problems have been made easily accessible for those who may need them throughout the day.

The district is “just trying to build out as many resources as we can for our families to go to, to have teachers share information whether it’s a phone call if they don’t have internet access or different ways we can engage our students and our parents,” Yslas said.

Special education teachers spent the last three weeks refining individualized instruction for students and creating prior written notices, according to Executive Director of Special Education Theresa Baca.

Baca said teachers have also further built relationships with families with the use of the district’s therapy providers. All speech and occupational therapists, as well as social workers, have started providing therapy to MPS students through an online platform.

Aware of families already reaching out with concerns about the social-emotional and behavioral needs of all students, the webpage was updated with resources to help parents understand why a student may be refusing to engage in learning.

“We believe we got some really practical resources into the hands of both our teachers and our families as they work past some of the behavior and social-emotional struggles that many of our students with IEPs experience,” Baca said.

Baca added for those students without access to technology, individual packets were created that fall in line with their IEPs.

“I think there is a celebration to see how many sessions are completed,” Baca said. “We hope to continue to see that pace.”

The lone public comment during Tuesday night’s board meeting expressed discontent with the announcement of the district’s modified meal service plan, which reduced locations and service days and times students are able to pick up meals.

The district is distributing free lunches and breakfasts through May 21 to anyone under 18, and announced it was reducing distribution sites and shrinking hours “due to increased concern for employee and community safety.”

“The number of available workers continues to decline due to lack of childcare, sick or vulnerable family members, employee illness, fear of potential exposure and being a member of an at-risk category,” the district announced, adding that it also needed to reduce the number of days for distributing meals because of “the challenges we are experiencing in the food supply chain.”

“School districts nationwide are competing for products that are most appropriate for drive-up meal service,” it said. “Orders are being shorted and some items are just not available.”

Meals are now being distributed 9-11 a.m. Monday Wednesday and Friday at the following sites:

Elementary schools: Adams, Brinton, Eisenhower Center for Innovation, Emerson, Franklin East, Holmes, Jefferson, Keller, Kerr, Lehi, Lincoln, Lindbergh, Longfellow, Lowell, MacArthur, Mesa Education Center (East Valley Academy/Crossroads), O’Connor, Patterson, Robson, Salk, Sousa, Stevenson, Taft and Webster.

Junior highs: Kino, Poston, Rhodes, Shepherd and Stapley.  γ

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