Beautiful Balance

04-25-2021Nurse's LetterShannon David, RN, NCSN

I remember, as a child, playing on the teeter-totter with my best friend (the kids are all like, “A WHAT??”). The ups, the downs and the occasional hard bump, were all good fun. But, the greatest thrill lay in that strangely magical rare moment when we found ourselves perfectly balanced in mid-air. No teeter, no totter. Just two friends, on the opposite ends of a linear board, enjoying a tranquil state of equilibrium and stability--until one decided to jump off! 

Though often agents of change, we, human beings, fearfully and wonderfully made, crave balance! Finding balance has been one of the biggest challenges throughout the current pandemic, especially when it comes to implementing those measures aimed at establishing and maintaining a healthy school environment. On April 19, 2021, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order (#2021-10-Providing Schools Options for Face Coverings) that received immediate media attention and gave the impression that as of April 20, 2021, the use of face coverings, while at school, would no longer be necessary. However, if the Executive Order had been fully explained, it's very specific purpose--rescinding “Paragraph 5 of Executive Order 2020-51, Arizona: Open for Learning” which was signed on July 23, 2020, would have been clear. Further, the “Whereas” that precedes the “Now, therefore” in the above action reads, 

“ is possible to rescind prior directives that can be more appropriately addressed by ADHS.” ( To date, Governor Ducey has not rescinded, nor changed, any part of the Executive Order (#2021-04), issued in March 2021, that states, “The Arizona Department of Health Services shall immediately update their public health and schools dashboard to reflect the metrics utilized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and align their community transition phases with those identified in the CDC guidance Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools Through Phased Mitigation...” (

In essence, the most recent Executive Order points us back to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) for guidance on how to operate schools during the on-going pandemic. As stated in our “Smart, Healthy & Holy” Reopening Plans, the two data points we monitor as “health indicators” to guide our planning, are illness within the school and illness within the community. At school, we have 0 cases of COVID and 0 students/staff on quarantine. Since August, we have had three instances where we have needed to quarantine students due to an “at school” exposure. However, there have been 0 cases of school based transmission of infection and we have never been categorized in “outbreak” status. Since August 2020, 178 elementary schools, in Maricopa County, have had an outbreak of COVID-19; 22 schools remain in “open outbreak” status. In these outbreaks, 60% of infections have been in students and 40% among staff (SchoolsDashboard/MCDPH). Within the surrounding community, several areas are in a state of “high” (red) transmission with the majority being in the “substantial” range (orange). At this time, none of the communities we monitor are in the “moderate” (yellow) or “low” (blue) range. With these metrics, public health guidelines state that in-person learning should only continue with “strict adherence” to established mitigation measures. Our reopening plans were developed with one goal in mind: To remain fully open through May 27, 2021, serving our students and families in a safe and healthy environment. We will continue to adhere to our policies for hand-washing, physical distancing, appropriate masking and staying home when sick. In reality, it is hard to know which of these mitigation strategies has had the greatest impact on our success. Just weeks shy of accomplishing our stated goal, it would be foolish to abandon any one of the measures and disturb the beautiful balance we have achieved. Here we are and here we will stay, for now.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12).