Charter and public schools take on COVID-19 challenges in their own ways

Amidst a global pandemic, reopening schools safely has been a controversial subject. Between charter school and public school funding, each school has decided to take separate ways to ensure students receive a proper education. 

While asking for details of charter school, American Leadership Academy’s COVID-19 regulations and mitigation strategies, director of marketing and PR, Melanie Hudson provided a link to the school’s mitigation plan. The school enforces basic social distance, mask wearing, and sanitation practices, such as frequent hand sanitizing stations, similar to Perry’s precautions. 

At the beginning of the year, students had the option to transfer to another ALA campus that has a lower population. 

Currently, there are three active cases at their school. Each person that tests positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for at least 10 days and be symptom free with no medication for three days. 

When exposed to COVID-19, students and staff are required to quarantine for two full weeks, except essential staff who are permitted to come back to work unless they have any symptoms. This practice is similar to the Chandler Unified School District’s policy of contact tracing. 

Contact tracing in CUSD quarantines students for two weeks who have been sitting within six feet of a student who tested positive. At that point, students are required to continue their school work online through Google Classroom. According to Perry principal, Dan Serrano, some students have been quarantined up to three separate times. 

As ALA also uses Google Classroom, its main usage of Classroom is to teach students who opted to stay in school online and continue distance learning. In contrast, CUSD students who opt to transfer from in-person high school for distance learning must enroll in Chandler Online Academy and take classes that are no longer associated with their previous high school. When questioned about the motives and specific regulations that made each school feel safe to conduct in-person school, neither school responded. 

In order to close such a large school like the size of Perry with 3400 students, the school must reach a capacity of active COVID-19 cases, specifically .75%, to shut down within 48 hour notice for five days. 

“Some of them have gone to Chandler Online [Academy], some have gone elsewhere,” Serrano says in response to the 400 student loss since COVID-19. 

“Everything that I am dealing with right now is COVID related,” Serrano explains. He says that the hardest part about dealing with COVID-19 in a public school is the fact that families and staff all have vastly different views from each extreme about COVID-19. 

While each school strives to make the unprecedented 2020-21 school year as normal as possible for students, everyone is guaranteed to have to adjust to the new reality.