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KNAU's Morning Rundown: Thursday, February 25

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FUSD ‘Reaffirms’ Dates For Return To In-Person Learning

The Flagstaff Unified School District Governing Board has approved several dates for a return to in-person learning. The phased return will begin after the district’s spring break. Students in kindergarten, first through third grade, along with some high school students, will return the week of March 22. Students in fourth through eighth grade, and other high school classes will return the week of March 29. 

The Governing Board says it amended some benchmarks used to determine the return to in-person learning — shifting to benchmarks set by the Arizona Department of Health Services. The board said a return to the classroom under the new benchmarks was appropriate. As of March 19, FUSD reported a substantial level of COVID-19 cases, a substantial level of percent positivity, and a moderate level of COVID-like illness.

Remote learning will remain available for the remainder of the school year, and teachers will conduct sessions simultaneously in-person and online, FUSD announced.

More Alcohol Use Amid Lockdown, Arizona Researchers Say

A study from the University of Arizona reports harmful alcohol use increased among communities during stay-at-home orders prompted by COVID-19. Researchers assessed 5,931 people in 50 states and Washington, D.C. By one metric, “hazardous alcohol use” was present among 21% of participants in April 2020 and increased to nearly 41% of participants by September 2020. Researchers say participants who were not under lockdown restrictions did not did not show significant changes in alcohol consumption.

‘Text To 9-1-1” Initiative Launches In Parts Of Coconino County

The Coconino County’s Sheriff’s Office, along with Flagstaff police, have rolled out a program allowing the public to send text messages to 911 during an emergency. The initiative launched Tuesday; the messages will automatically connect individuals with dispatchers. The department announced the text message system can be used for people with hearing and speech impairment, along with people lacking phone reception and those who may not be able to speak due to the nature of the dangerous situation. The department says the service is not available in all parts of the county, and users may receive an automatic message asking them to call 911 instead.

Navajo Nation Ramps Up More Vaccinations, Reports Consistent Drop In COVID-19 Cases

Tuba City Regional Healthcare Corporation will hold several first dose COVID-19 vaccination events on and off the Navajo Nation next week. Healthcare workers will administer vaccines in LeChee on Tuesday, March 2; Cameron on Friday, March 5; and Flagstaff on Saturday, March 6. The corporation recommended bringing a driver and interpreter for elders receiving the vaccine.  

The Indian Health Service will also host vaccination events today and Friday at the Kayenta Health Center. Navajo Nation health officials estimated Tuesday 116,611 vaccine doses had made it into the arms of residents. The Nation reported 25 new cases Wednesday, and — for the first time in days — no recent deaths related to the virus. President Jonathan Nez says Wednesday was the 10th day in a row the Nation reported fewer than 50 cases. A stay-at-home order remains effective.

“Now is not the time to travel to border towns or cities off the Navajo Nation,” Nez added.