/ Modified apr 13, 2021 3:33 p.m.

Learning in person, vaccinating tribal members, immigration policy shifts

Arizona 360 visits a school in Tucson that has welcomed back most of its students for in-person learning.

For close to a year, the pandemic has dramatically altered education in Arizona and in classrooms across the country. Today schools continue to grapple with balancing safety and students’ needs by opting for either all virtual learning or a hybrid approach. This week Tony Paniagua visited the International School of Tucson where most students have continued to attend classes in person throughout the pandemic.

Paniagua also heard from 14-year-old Nanan Dramé. The teen has attended the International School of Tucson since preschool. She shared her experiences attending school during the coronavirus crisis.

The desire for schools to resume in-person learning is shared by education leaders across the state, including Pima County Superintendent of Schools Dustin Williams. Williams told Tony Paniagua he was optimistic that most districts could begin calling students back to the class by late March as the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to trend downward. He also described some of the challenges facing schools as they address issues that stem from the pandemic that include learning loss.

The Gila River Indian Community is overseeing its own COVID-19 vaccine distribution like other tribal nations in Arizona and has administered about 10,000 doses so far. Members ages 18 and up are currently eligible to receive the vaccine. At a recent event at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park 600 people received their first dose. Organizers were prepared to give up to 2,000 shots. Lorraine Rivera attended the event and learned more about their efforts from Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis. She also learned more about the tribe’s collaboration with the Arizona National Guard from Col. Tom Leeper.

Soon after the Department of Homeland Security unveiled a process to allow some asylum seekers affected by the Trump Administration’s so-called “remain in Mexico” policy apply for entry into the United States, Tucson’s Catholic Community Services put a call out for more volunteers. The nonprofit offers temporary shelter to immigrants through its Casa Alitas Welcome Center. While Arizona’s ports of entry are not currently on the list of locations where immigrants enrolled in the Migrant Protection Protocols program can be admitted into the U.S., director of operations Teresa Cavendish explained that she still expects Casa Alitas will begin to house more asylum seekers in the near future. She also described new protocols meant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among volunteers and guests.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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