Welcome to the 2022-2023 School Year!
9/28/2022 6:16 pm
July 28, 2022
Dear Scottsdale Unified Families,
We are excited about welcoming our students back for the 2022-23 school year! I hope you had an enjoyable summer break and that your family is ready for the amazing learning opportunities that await as we return to school on Wednesday, August 3rd. There are a number of important topics that I am sure are top-of-mind, and I want to address those here:
School Safety and Security. Following the tragic events that unfolded in Uvalde, TX, at the end of the last school year, SUSD staff, in partnership with the Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Phoenix Police departments, have reviewed our current safety and security protocols and discussed ways to improve and enhance our efforts in order to ensure we are doing everything within our power to minimize the risk of an event like Uvalde happening in Scottsdale. The safety and well-being of our students and staff is our highest priority, as outlined at https://www.susd.org/safety and in our new Safety and Security Brochure. In addition to the many enhancements already in place, we are focusing on three key areas, based on our review of potential vulnerabilities:
- Doors to classrooms will be locked.
- Identification badges will be required of all staff, students, and visitors/volunteers when on campus and must be visible.
- Gates will be closed and locked if not staffed.
What we learned from Uvalde and other school shootings is that decisions not to enforce security measures resulted in the opportunity for the shooter to freely access campuses and take innocent lives. As our director of security says frequently, safety measures are inconvenient, and that makes it inconvenient for anyone with bad intentions, as well. To date, no school shooter has breached a locked door - they simply move on until they find one that is unlocked.
Gate to gate. On the first day of school next week, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade parents may walk with their students to their classrooms. These parents will be required to present identification and sign in, so patience is appreciated. We know security measures can be inconvenient, but there is no greater priority. All other students who do not ride the bus must be dropped off at the gate in the morning and picked up at the gate in the afternoon in order to manage the volume of parents on our campuses.
Safety is everyone's responsibility. This message has been communicated with our staff during our back-to-school events. It will also be communicated with our students, and we need to enlist your support for these simple, yet very important, practices: locked doors, ID badges (including signing in when on campus), and secured gates. Together, we will create safe and supportive learning environments for our students and staff.
COVID. Like you, we had hoped that COVID would be in the rearview mirror as we start the new school year. Unfortunately, the virus continues to mutate and infection rates have been very high in Maricopa County this summer. Our protocols regarding isolation when a positive case has been confirmed will continue to be driven by the guidance from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health and CDC. We will not be contact tracing, but if a student is sick with COVID, they will be required to remain home for 5 days from the onset of symptoms and may return on day 6 if they are fever-free and have resolving symptoms. Wearing a mask for 5 days is encouraged upon the student's return. If your student is COVID-positive, please contact your school nurse so the absence can be appropriately documented. As with any illness, please do not return your student to school until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
In-person learning is essential for our students. In order to maintain a healthy learning environment, it is important to keep students home when they are sick and to monitor for symptoms if there is a known exposure to COVID. SUSD will not require masks, but students and staff are permitted and encouraged to wear them when transmission rates are at a high level, such as they are now. We ask that individual choices be respected as we work together to navigate this ongoing challenge.
Elections. The November election includes the District Additional Assistance Override (DAA) request, as well as seating two new Governing Board members. Information about the Override can be found here. We will be holding meetings in each Learning Community in September to ensure our community understands the specifics related to the DAA request. During any election year, it is important to remind our staff and the community that electioneering on school grounds is prohibited by state law. While district staff can provide factual information regarding the DAA override, they are limited in their engagement while at work (A.R.S §15-511). We are not permitted to advocate for or against the proposal while on the job. The same is true with respect to candidates for the school board. We encourage everyone to become fully informed prior to voting and to remember to vote on November 8th ‒ it is a core part of our responsibility as citizens.
SUSD is hiring. As we get ready to welcome our students back to school, we are also working to fill many part-time and full-time positions around the district, specifically in Nutrition Services, our before- and after-school Community Education programs, Security and Transportation. A full list of opportunities to work and support Scottsdale students as employees or volunteers can be found here.
Each new school year brings with it excitement and endless potential for all students. Our staff eagerly awaits getting to know your children and guiding them through the journey of academic and personal growth. We are committed to engaging all students in world-class, future-focused learning, and appreciate that you have chosen SUSD.
Scott A. Menzel, PhD