In-Person Learning

The heart of our decisions remains the safety of our students and staff. We are following current recommended CDC, State and County Health Guidelines. At this time, we know that in-person learning is what our students need and we can provide with our plans and mitigation strategies. Additional updates may be made in accordance with Arizona Department of Public Health (ADHS), Maricopa County Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Executive Orders issued by Governor Doug Ducey and the decisions made by the district's Governing Board and Leadership Team. Some procedures and protocols may vary by school based on enrollment or layout of school campus and will be shared with parents by school principals

Please review the details of the in-person learning model below.

Student learning in mask
Elementary K-6 Instructional Minutes
Social Emotional Learning
30 minutes
Balanced Literacy (Reading, Writing, Language)
2.5 hours
1.5 hours
Social Studies & Science
1 hour
50 minutes
40 minutes
7 hours

The exact order of content will be set and communicated by your child’s school and will vary by grade level and sometimes by teacher.

Middle School 7-8 Instructional Minutes
Social Emotional Learning
30 minutes
English Language Arts (Reading & Writing)
1 hour 17.5 minutes
1 hour 17.5 minutes
Social Studies
1 hour 17.5 minutes
1 hour 17.5 minutes
50 minutes
Lunch with Socialization
30 minutes
7 hours

The exact order of content will be set and communicated by your child’s school and will vary by grade level and sometimes by teacher.

  • As much as possible, students will remain static with the same groupings and the same staff throughout the day to limit mixing between groups as much as possible.
  • Where possible, student seating will be arranged to maintain as much physical distance as possible. Desks will be faced in the same direction, rather than facing each other; or students will sit on only one side of tables, spaced apart, in assigned seats.
  • When feasible class sizes are set for 25, while COVID-19 is still a health crisis, but expect classes may be smaller as we have hired more teachers to bring class sizes down for both academic and pandemic proactive planning.
  • Where possible, physical distancing will be maintained in open or common areas, such as hallways, gyms, and playgrounds.
  • Each student will utilize their own school set of supplies and keep their belongings separate throughout the day.
  • Students are encouraged to bring a bottle to school that can be refilled from one of our water-filling stations on campus.
  • To limit exposure to other students and staff, structured breaks will be separated by classes.
  • Signage will be posted in all rooms and common areas explaining hygiene practices to prevent spread.
  • Specials will occur, the model of implementation will be communicated by your school and teacher.
  • Special education gifted and English language services will resume under the close direction of our educators and individual IEP Team.

Because there is a low threshold for illness in schools, you may have to keep your child home for illness or be asked to pick them up more frequently than usual. If students demonstrate any signs of illness, parents will need to be able to pick up a student soon after an illness is identified. Please provide an emergency back- up contact who would be able to pick up your child, within 20 minutes, should you not be available.

  • The UESD Governing Board has mandated that masks be worn by all those who enter our schools and classrooms. Masking helped us get us through the peak of the pandemic and it will carry us through until the spread of COVID is gone. We encourage parents to support our efforts to eliminate COVID from our schools and community by supporting their students in wearing a mask while at school.
  • If a student needs a face mask the school will be able to provide one.
  • Face coverings are not recommended outdoors.

Students will enter restrooms in groups no larger than the number of stalls/urinals in the restroom and will be highly recommended and encouraged to wear face masks. We use Ehall pass to help us monitor students that are outside of the classroom, this strategy is critical for limiting the number of students out of the classroom at a time and for contact tracing with our students. Posters reminding students of handwashing expectations will be displayed. Restroom capacity signs posted will support social distancing.

Achieving high levels of COVID-19 vaccination among eligible students, staff, and household members are one of the most critical strategies to help school safe resume full operations. People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are at low risk of symptomatic or severe infection and may be less likely to transmit COVID-19 to other people that are not fully vaccinated. The District is hosting many vaccination events in 2021-2022 school year and we are highly recommending and encouraging eligible staff, students and household members to participate.  You may also visit to find out where you can be vaccinated. Once child(ren) are fully vaccinated, we ask all parents to forward a copy of your vaccine card to your child’s health office.

Frequent hand washing/cleaning will be encouraged at regular intervals throughout the day with both soap and water or hand sanitizer. Instructions for handwashing include:

  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available at every school site in the high-traffic areas.
  • All classrooms will have access to handwashing and students will be instructed to use soap and water, and scrub for 20 seconds, followed by rinsing.
  • Classrooms without handwashing stations in them will have access to a minimum 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Parents and guardians will be expected to screen their child's health daily prior to heading to school or the bus stop. Please use the Daily at Home Health Screening, Appendix A.
  • Students must stay home if they feel ill or are exhibiting symptoms of respiratory infection or other COVID-19 symptoms.
  • If a teacher has concerns based on a visual check of the child, the school nurse/principal will be contacted prior to sending the student to the nurse's office.
  • Parents and guardians will be expected to have a backup plan in the event their child(ren) become sick while at school.
  • We ask parent to pick up students within 20 minutes of calling. It is important for symptomatic students to be picked up in a prompt manner.
  • Emergency contacts will need to be updated with the front office to ensure we have back up contacts in the event parent/guardians are not available.

If students are exhibiting COVID-like illness, Rapid Diagnostic testing will be available in the health office on an opt-in basis. 

  • Rapid Diagnostic testing is available on an opt in basis for all symptomatic staff, students, and immediate household members. If a child is symptomatic with COVID-like illness, parents may contact each school’s health office to set up same day test. Test results will be given in 15-20 minutes. Rapid Diagnostic testing is a fast and easy COVID 19 diagnostic test. A trained staff member, such as a member of the school health office uses a nasal swab to run a few times around the inside of each nostril and in 15 minutes, the test provides a positive or negative result for COVID 19 antigens. 
  • This will allow us to determine if your child(ren) is positive with COVID-19, so that you may make decisions that are best for your family’s health and wellbeing and allow us to begin next steps in determining close contacts and proper notification.
    • If you do not consent to Rapid Diagnostic Testing, you may provide a doctor’s note with an alternative diagnosis, alternative negative COVID-19 test result, or your child may need to remain home for the full quarantine period.

Because COVID is still substantial in our community and students cannot yet be vaccinated, the Department of Public Health is encouraging staff & students to participate in pooled testing to help determine positive cases in our schools. This will allow us to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the chances of transmission of COVID-19 at our sites.

  • Pooled screening testing will be available on an opt-in basis to staff and students on a weekly basis to determine if there are positive cases of COVID-19 in schools. Depending on results, follow-up diagnostic testing may be conducted.  Pooled testing is a fast easy, non-invasive nasal swab that may be self-administered.  Once completed staff and students will place the nasal swab in an unmarked non-personally identifiable container with up to 24 other swabs.  The container is then tested for COVID 19 antigens.   If positive, everyone in the pool is retested with a follow-up diagnostic test to determine which individual is positive to allow for proper care and follow-up contact tracing.

Should you or your family need testing. The County continues to offer free testing. Visit www.maricopa.gove/5588/COVID-19testing or contact our school health office for additional assistance.

  • Additional disinfecting of high touch point areas, such as countertops and door handles will be completed by the site lead on each campus.
  • All classrooms will have an EPA N-list registered disinfectant available for staff to disinfect high touchpoints as needed throughout the day.
  • Continued air quality will be maintained by cleaning all HVAC unit coils and changing air filters as scheduled.
  • All soft, porous surface furniture, to include couches/overstuffed chairs/non-District purchased rugs have been removed from communal areas.
  • When weather permits staff may increase the amount of outdoor air circulating in rooms by opening doors.
  • There is reduced occupancy in areas where outdoor ventilation cannot be increased.
  • Air purifiers with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters have been placed in some communal spaces and higher-risk areas such as the health office or isolation rooms.
  • Updated MERV-3 filters have been installed in our A/C Units.
  • Following CDC guidance, parents/visitors will not be allowed to walk students on or off-campus before or after school and will not be permitted on campus during school hours.
  • Meetings with outside visitors/parents that must meet in person, will meet in one specified location in the front office (or nearby location) that will be thoroughly cleaned after each appointment. Each principal will provide details on this process as the need arises.
  • At this time, school volunteer options on campus are suspended and will be reevaluated during the school year.
  • Front office staff will disinfect shared surfaces routinely throughout the day.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available to visitors after using shared pens and/or paperwork.
  • Masks are highly recommended and encouraged for all.
  • Mask will be offered.
  • We recognize that many students may struggle with processing our new normal and each of our schools are prepared to aid our students in any way. All schools have a student support team to assist in addressing the social & emotional needs of students. Social emotional learning is built into the daily schedule for all students.
  • Union Elementary School District has school counselors at each site to assist with student emotional or behavioral health needs & to connect families to community resources. You can reach them directly at: Dos Rios, Ms. Richardson 623-474-7006; Hurley Ranch, Ms. Reed 623-478-5119; and Union Elementary, Ms. Rutledge 623-478-6004.
  • The District will follow CDC protocols regarding reported cases and take specific guidance from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
  • School nurses will follow established screening and isolation protocols and consult with public health officials to determine how to handle students or staff who display or develop COVID-19 symptoms.
  • As parents permit students are given a diagnostic test, Binax now, to determine if the student is positive with COVID.
  • As parents permit students will participate in pooled screening testing, this self-administered screening test is conducted with a nasal swab and placed in the cohort group. The container is then tested for COVID 19 antigens. If positive everyone in the pool is then administered an individual Binax now test to identify and isolate individuals with COVID.
  • Isolation areas will be set up within health offices for students or staff who may be sick.
  • Students exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be supervised in the isolation area of the nurse’s office until a parent arrives. If a student is exhibiting distress, 911 will be called.
  • Parents are asked to notify the school nurse if members of the household become sick or test positive for COVID-19.
  • Arrival and dismissal protocols have been established for each campus.
  • Assigned gates will be made for entry to reduce numbers at each gate.
  • Visual screenings will be conducted at entry, see Visual Screening Appendix B.
  • Students will go straight to their classrooms upon arrival at school.
  • Car Drop Off- parents must remain in the vehicle. Only one vehicle is unloaded at a time to limit students entering the gate at the same time.
  • Students use hand sanitizer upon entry.
  • Students are allowed into bike enclosures 2-4 at a time to lock bikes.
  • No entry through the front office prior to the tardy bell.
  • Students may arrive at staggered times based on school determination and specific grades.
  • All schools are equipped with floor stickers & signage to encourage physical distancing.
  • Students are dismissed at staggered times depending on school and/or grade level.
  • Bussed students will wait supervised in a designated zone specific to their bus marker.
  • Car pick up- Parents are to remain in vehicles. Parents may not park cars and walk to the pick-up area. Students will enter through the passenger side of the vehicle. Students wait under teacher supervision. Elementary parents picking up students will have the student's name printed in a large, easy-to­ read format, displayed on the vehicle's dashboard.
  • After School Care-Students who attend after-school programs are dismissed to the assigned area and staff ensures they are accounted for by the program leader.
  • Walkers or bike riders-Staff members will assist with walkers and bike riders. Students are allowed into bike enclosures 2-4 at a time to retrieve bikes.
  • Students will depart campus through assigned exit points.
  • Walking students will be escorted to leave campus quickly.
  • Siblings will meet at assigned dismissal area, not at the classroom.
  • Students who are not picked up on time are accompanied by assigned staff members to the holding area large enough for social distancing practices. Students will be checked out through the office upon parent arrival.

Support Services

Education is more than what happens in the classroom. We are dedicated to your child’s health and safety outside the classroom as well.

  • Students will be spaced to maintain physical distancing, to the greatest extent possible.
  • Staff members will clean and disinfect high touch-point areas as well as shared materials during instruction and between the am and pm groups.
  • Students will only be served in individually wrapped items during snack time.
  • Centers will be limited to four or fewer student
  • Activities such as school assemblies and awards will be conducted in a virtual format or classroom cohort.
  • No extracurricular athletics will occur in accordance with most recent CDC guidance and until the spread of COVID decreases.
  • School events and large gatherings, such as festivals or fundraisers, will be held in accordance with ADHS/CDC guidelines.
  • Clubs can continue to meet virtually in accordance with CDC guidance.
  • Field trips will not be permitted until further notice
  • Students will be educated about their role to help support a safe and healthy environment.
  • Union Elementary staff will be provided with training and information to recognize the signs and symptoms of illness in others. They will also be provided training to self-monitor their own health according to the employee Health Guide, Appendix A. Staff will be asked to stay home if they believe their health may be compromised.
  • Families will be provided with information about COVID-19 symptoms, risk factors, CDC guidelines and the protective efforts to reduce the spread in our community and the Health Guide, including how to conduct a Home Health Screening, Appendix A. Parents will be expected to conduct this screening daily before sending the child to school.
  • Ensure that school counselors and staff have training and time to address the social and emotional needs of our students.
  • The district will create signage, in-school announcements, social media reminders, email messages, phone calls and texts to ensure that all are aware of emerging safety procedures and how to maintain a healthy environment.
  • Food & Nutrition Services will provide meals or students may bring their lunch to school.
  • Students will eat lunch in classrooms, spread out in other large spaces with their class, or when weather permits, students may enjoy lunch in the school's outdoor areas.
  • Food and condiments will be served in individually bagged or cupped containers.
  • Students will not sit face-to-face while eating. No sharing of food will be permitted.
  • Transportation will be provided for students who reside one-mile or more from school or receive specialized transportation.
  • Bus staff and students are required to wear cloth masks on the buses.
  • On all school provided transportation, students will be asked to comply with physical distancing guidelines when waiting at the bus stop, during boarding and exiting the bus.
  • Bus riders will board from the back to the front of the bus and then unload from the front to the back to minimize passing others in the center aisle.
  • Siblings/household members may be required to sit together.
  • High touch-point areas, like handrails, door handles and the driver area will be cleaned in between bus runs and the buses will be thoroughly sanitized each night.
  • Windows may be open by staff for increased air circulation during seasonal times of year.
  • Families are encouraged to transport their children to school to reduce the number of students on a bus.
  • Students will have access to fields during scheduled recess time. Structured activities will be supervised by staff. Playground equipment will be closed for at least the first quarter.
  • Students will wash their hands or use sanitizer before and after structured recess.
  • To limit exposure to other students and staff, recess will be separated by classes and grade level cohorts.
  • Cohorts of students will mimic the size of a standard classroom on the campus and physical distancing will be maintained inside and outside of the classroom, when feasible.
  • Families will be grouped together and communal spaces will not be used by multiple groups at the same time.
  • Students will wash their hands upon entering the program and before leaving for home.
  • Morning students will receive a visual check upon arrival.
  • Families will sign in and out directly outside the classroom where hand sanitizer will be provided.
  • Belongings will be stored in backpacks.
  • Union's before and after school programs have collaborated on all protocols and procedures and will continue to work together to ensure the programs maintain the same safety standards.
  • Student clubs will be encouraged to explore virtual meeting options rather than suspending their activities. Club procedures will be evaluated after the start of the school year.