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School closures in TUSD due to coronavirus won't hurt student grades
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School closures in TUSD due to coronavirus won't hurt student grades

From the April's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: 1,200+ Pima County cases, stay-home order extended series

Susan Nelson, teaching assistant for Tucson Unified School District, hands educational packets to Paola Hagemann, right, and her son Ian Montaño, a seventh-grader at Gridley Middle School, at Harold Steele Elementary School, 700 S. Sarnoff Dr., in Tucson, Ariz., on March 31, 2020.

TUSD students don’t have to worry that their grades will suffer because of the sudden switch to remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Students can use their grades earned in the third quarter before schools were closed as final grades for the fourth quarter, the TUSD Governing Board decided Tuesday, April 7.

In sixth through 12th grades, the work students do this quarter through remote learning can only improve their grades, not lower them. Students can also redo third-quarter work to improve their grades if the teacher allows.

In kindergarten through fifth grades, no fourth-quarter grade will be issued at all.

In addition to making accommodations for end-of-year grades, the TUSD board decided that seniors who were on track to graduate before the closures occurred will be able to do so regardless of the grades they earn during this last quarter. 

Seniors are considered on track to graduate if they have completed or were enrolled in all required classes, earning a D or better, by the end of the third quarter when the school closures began. 

Any senior who wasn’t on track to graduate at that time can work with their teachers to get back on a path to graduation.

Trujillo said every school will call parents and guardians if a student is in a “danger zone” to work on bringing up the failing grade so the student can graduate.

The requirements approved by the TUSD board come following an Arizona Board of Education vote on March 31, which included a number of measures to help schools and students finish out the school year remotely.

Board President Kristel Foster said the accommodations acknowledge the situation many high school seniors find themselves in right now, as many take on additional responsibilities at home, including caring for younger siblings.

“So many of our high school students are stepping up in a real parenting role right now to help out their families, and they’re also trying to graduate at the same time,” she said. “I think this plan takes that into consideration.”

Though the decisions made Tuesday apply to the current school year, Tucson's largest school district is also considering what the fallout of the closures could be next school year. 

Trujillo says students going on to the next grade level who completely fell off the radar after the closures will have to be handled on a case-by-case basis as they come back to school in the fall.

What he called an “intensive re-entry plan” could include monitoring attendance, being assigned to a mentor, regular check-ins and a re-entry meeting with the parents. 

“That’s another large challenge and an issue that we’re going to have to build a system and a process around to be ready to support our students when they come back,” Trujillo said.

Contact reporter Danyelle Khmara at dkhmara@tucson.com or 573-4223. On Twitter: @DanyelleKhmara

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