Scottsdale Unified School District is taking a strategic step in streamlining COVID-19 information by hiring a COVID-19 specialist.
The department recently hired Whitney Jennings to be the nexus between the district and the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. Jennings will have multi-faceted duties, including coordinating the district’s tracking and reporting of student and staff COVID-19 cases and overseeing communication protocols.
Jennings graduated from the University of Arizona and worked as a legal assistant and in human resources before starting this position in early December.
According to SUSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel, “Jennings will essentially be our ‘quarterback,’ the person who directs SUSD’s efforts to ensure we are taking a consistent approach with our reporting to the county and with our communications to families and staff.”
“In consulting with MCDPH and based on ongoing conversations with other Valley superintendents, it is clear that COVID is going to be with us for a while. I hope we don’t need this position for long, but we certainly need it now,” Menzel said.
Jennings will communicate directly with nurses, principals and district leadership regarding confirmed cases. She will report to Dr. Jed Bowman, SUSD assistant superintendent of human resources.
According to the district, Jennings’ primary duties will be gathering information on positive cases, determining close contacts of positive instances, advisement on quarantines and facility mitigation efforts, all following public health recommendations and SUSD guidelines.
“This is a critical position and will hopefully be a timesaver for the administration at SUSD,” Governing Board Member Sandy Kravetz said. “It will free up the time of the administrators on-site and in district offices.”
Jennings will also be interacting with symptomatic, exposed or COVID-19 confirmed employees to provide guidance.
“I am incredibly honored to join the SUSD team, and look forward to assisting our school administrators and nurses with the new and difficult work they have taken on this school year because of the pandemic,” Jennings said.
Every Thursday, after MCDPH posts its weekly COVID case dashboard in the morning, SUSD analyzes the new data for the 15 zip codes from which they draw the majority of students. That analysis is posted, also on Thursdays, on the SUSD website at susd.org/metrics.