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FUSD changes course for COVID-19 health leader

FUSD changes course for COVID-19 health leader

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Flagstaff Unified School District is pivoting its search for a health official to help guide its school reopening plan and COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.

In a meeting of the governing board Wednesday afternoon, Superintendent Michael Penca explained the setbacks with filling the new Chief Health Administrator position, an effort that was discussed throughout the board’s summer meetings and approved on July 16. The job was posted Aug. 7, according to the FUSD website.

The district had interviewed several qualified candidates, but the one to whom an offer was made declined, and the others would not be able to start prior to December.

As an alternative to speed up the process, the board, following staff recommendation, approved assigning the role to FUSD Nurse Supervisor McKenzie Bevirt and approved a different job opening for a subordinate Disease Investigator.

“We believe that this alternative would address our most pressing needs, would provide continuity with our nursing supervisor, who’s currently serving in this role, and we think this is a more cost-effective option to consider compared to the Chief Health Administrator position,” Penca said Wednesday, adding later that the move would cut the expected cost by about half.

Human resources director Dawn Anderson said Bevirt currently meets all the minimum qualifications for the administrator position, which she would hold for the remainder of the contract year, making her responsible for managing the district’s COVID-19 response, including health and safety measures and contact tracing.

The Disease Investigator will report to the Chief Health Administrator and assist with contact tracing through activities such as communicating with staff and families about potential COVID-19 exposures, documenting cases and educating the FUSD community on quarantine procedures. They will be trained in Coconino County Health and Human Services’ new contact tracing program.

The position requires an associate degree and experience with public health services. Those who applied to the Chief Health Administrator position but were underqualified would have to apply again to be considered for the Disease Investigator position, Anderson said.

The board will hear more of the salary structure of the new position and the stipend for Bevirt at its next regular meeting on Oct. 13. It will discuss options for reopening FUSD schools during a special meeting Tuesday.

Kaitlin Olson can be reached at the office at kolson@azdailysun.com or by phone at (928) 556-2253.

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