TUCSON (KVOA) - Tucson Unified School District has yet to formalize COVID-19 safety protocols for the upcoming school year, which starts Aug. 5.
The TUSD governing board met Tuesday night to discuss potential guidelines. It will likely make strong recommendations for mask use and social distancing. Rapid antigen tests will be offered in the nurse's office for students and staff.
The district is also launching a virtual learning program, called Tucson Unified Virtual Academy. TUVA will offer full-time teachers, dedicated to teaching only virtual classes.
So far, 1,200 students have enrolled and TUSD superintendent, Dr. Gabriel Trujillo thinks this is in part driven by Arizona's ban on allowing mask mandates in public schools.
"We have seen some marked growth in popularity in TUVA since the very, very public prohibition against mandatory masking for school districts and schools," Trujillo said.
TUSD is also working with the Pima County Health Department to create guidelines for COVID-19 exposure.
If students or staff display COVID-19 symptoms they will have the option to provide a doctor's note to return to class or be symptom free for 24 hours and provide a negative COVID-19 test.
"Some of the things we did during the first reopening we are still going to continue to do because we are still in the middle of a pandemic," said Pima County Supervisor Adelita Grijalva. "Numbers are increasing and I think it's a big concern for our community."
Dr. Trujillo also says TUSD will not ask students or staff about vaccination status due to potential legal issues.
"When you ask students or staff if they're vaccinated, you are already creating an environment that can potentially pressure the student or pressure the employee," he said. "The employee could use that as a claim."