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CLICK HERE for the Superintendent's Detailed Update on our Return to Campus Plan

September 17, 2020

Dear Parents and Families,

I am writing to provide the latest information regarding the opening of Safford Schools for in-person learning. 

Arizona Department of Health Services Published Benchmarks & County-Specific Data

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) set benchmarks for school districts to consider for the physical reopening of schools.  This info can be reviewed at

The benchmarks reference three COVID-19 data points over a (2) week period:

  1. Number of new cases
  2. Percentage of positive tests
  3. Number of hospital visits due to COVID-19 like illness

Currently, Graham County continues to clearly meet #3 (which is a southeast regional grouping).  For Benchmark #2, Graham County has only been testing symptomatic people rather than a larger portion of our population.  Therefore, while we are still at eight percent, this is a very good number based on the limited tests, according to health experts.  On Benchmark #1, our county is slightly over 100 per 100,000, but in our actual zip code, the number of cases contributing to this total is only a handful, so it is very good for the area our school serves..  Our numbers are continually improving.

Resuming In-Person Learning

Using county metrics, and after consulting with county health officials, our goal was to get the message out early for parents and staff that we would most likely open on September 21st.  We are confirming that we are moving to full in-person learning on September 21st!  We want to send a big thank you to our community for doing what’s needed to be done to control the spread of the virus, supporting us through different learning models, and following our reopening protocols so far.  

Our staff has been preparing to reopen for full classes and we ask that everyone review our reopening protocols as we will be following Phase 3 procedures and masks are mandated on school campuses by Executive Order 51.  Staying home when symptomatic, wearing masks, and frequent hand-washing are the most effective deterrents to the virus spreading quickly.  Even if we have some isolated cases pop up, these practices could help us stay open with full in-person learning.  Below is directly from our reopening protocols:

At home

Inform students and parents that students must not come to school if they exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, or chills;
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;
  • muscle aches;
  • sore throat;
  • headache;
  • fatigue;
  • congestion or runny nose;
  • cough;
  • vomiting; 
  • diarrhea; or 
  • new loss of taste or smell.

Also, inform parents via registration documents, on the school website, and via email reminders that they should screen students for the above symptoms each morning, should self-report symptoms, and must keep students at home if any symptoms are present. Assure parents that students will have the opportunity to make up work missed due to symptoms of COVID-19. 

Obviously, there is less social distancing when we have all students and staff on campus and busses.  It’s just not feasible.  Again, it is so important we continue to follow the mask and sanitation protocols.  Everyone has been doing fantastic with this and we so appreciate it!

We go back to something we’ve stated all along.  We believe in-person learning is the most effective way to instruct students and build social skills.  We are VERY excited we are at a point where we can start this mode of learning and look forward to keeping it going!!!

SUSD Administration