By Councilwoman Debra Stark, District 3

As we continue to cope with the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19, “back to school” looked different this year. In coordination with Phoenix school districts, and ahead of the transition to in-class instruction, the City of Phoenix distributed more than one million pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help Phoenix schools safely reopen.

The PPE was purchased as a result of the Phoenix City Council allocating $2.5 million in CARES Act funds toward these supplies. Phoenix school districts, including the Paradise Valley Unified School District, received their supply packages that included items such as face coverings, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, protective gowns, and other PPE. The packages included masks with clear windows to avoid hindering communication between teachers and students with hearing impairments, students who are learning English as a second language, or students who are learning to read.

The PPE distributions support the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends that schools implement mask wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces as part of any school’s safe reopening plans.

In addition to PPE supplies, the Phoenix City Council also allocated $3.3 million of CARES Act funds toward distance learning and Wi-Fi access.

Outside of the classroom, the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department has expanded programming to keep kids active at home. The PHXPlays at Home Virtual Recreation series, launched earlier this summer, now includes fall programs. The virtual programming provides weekly, free, live-streamed activities.

In addition to free programming, fee-based special-interest programming will be offered, including ballet, yoga, and karate. Registration is required for free and fee-based programs. Visit phoenix.gov/parks.

Access to nutritious food is also critical so that students are ready to learn. The Paradise Valley Emergency Food Bank (PVEFB) offers food assistance to families in need who live within the Paradise Valley Unified School District boundaries. The PVEFB is also in constant need of non-perishable food items. To make an appointment for food assistance or to donate food items, visit pvefb.org.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, contact my office at 602-262-7441 or [email protected]