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Bisbee Unified
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Pandemic major blame for drop in test scores across county

With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, test scores from the statewide Arizona’s Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching — known as AZM2 — assessments dropped in the 2020-21 school year.

Statewide, scores on the statewide assessment dropped the most in mathematics with 11% decrease. English Language Arts or ELA, saw only a 4% decrease.

Here's some additional information from my conversation with Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.

"Math is a skill that — it really builds from skill to skill — it can be more challenging for students to learn on their own or without having structured instruction," said Hoffman in regards to the larger drop in math scores statewide. "If [students] miss a section of their math instruction, it’s really hard to go back and to learn that skill without having that sort of intervention in place. Whereas with reading, I think there is more success in families being able to support reading skills and be able to build on those skills at home without there being as much structure needed.”

She recommends that teachers and parents/legal guardians continue to keep communication lines open.

"I think another area that the families can be very helpful in is monitoring their child’s social emotional well being and keeping an eye on how they’re doing socially with other kids," said Hoffman. "That can be a point of collaboration between the school and how a child is developing with a social-emotional standpoint as well.”

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Masks vs. no masks: School districts reveal their policies

With a Sept. 27 ruling from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper stating the state law prohibiting school mask mandates is unconstitutional, school districts in Cochise County are rapidly reassessing their mask policies.

SVUSD Public Information Officer Valerie Weller said the governing board will be hosting a special meeting on Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. to discuss the mask policy for the district. As of Sept. 28, masking is required by all SVUSD students, staff and visitors.

She said members of the public are welcome to attend the special meeting in-person or via live stream on SVUSD's YouTube channel.

Bisbee Unified School District Superintendent Tom Woody said there will be no immediate changes to the district's mask policy — where masks are optional for students and staff — until the school board discusses the matter in its Oct. 19 meeting.

Douglas Unified School District Superintendent Ana Samaniego was not immediately available for comment on the Sept. 27 ruling, but stated previously that the district plans to abide by the state law. As of Sept. 28, masks are required by all DUSD students and staff.

How did this debate begin? What happens now? To find the answers to these questions and more, check out our feature HERE.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree with Judge Cooper's ruling on House Bill 2898? Should school districts have the authority to enforce mask mandates? Why or why not? Feel free to share your thoughts with us below!