Chandler Unified returning to online learning for 2 weeks at urging from parents, teachers

Some parents and teachers organized a car parade ahead of Monday’s governing board meeting advocating for students to learn online for at least two weeks.

CHANDLER, Ariz. — A Valley school district will return to online learning for at least two weeks at the urging of parents and teachers as COVID-19 rates continue to rise throughout Arizona. 

The Chandler Unified School District Governing Board voted Monday night to keep students in an online classroom after winter break. 

Classes are tentatively scheduled to reopen on Jan. 19, but another board meeting will be held before then. 

Some parents and teachers organized a car parade ahead of Monday’s governing board meeting advocating for students to learn online for at least two weeks.

“Our teachers aren’t expendable,” Chandler parent Molly Nygren said.

“I think it’s the students and what they’re doing outside of school and bringing it into our classrooms,” Chandler reading teacher Carol Wood said. “It’s not safe.”

Teachers and parents wrote on their cars calling for a return to the benchmarks that were put in place, and to return to virtual learning until it is safe.

Katie Nash, president of the Chandler Education Association, and a Chandler High science teacher said the union is wanting to see students learn online for at least two weeks and into the quarter until community spread slows down.

“People understand that other folks in the community have not been good about staying home, staying socially distanced, wearing their masks,” Nash said.

The district met with about 100 teachers and support staff on Monday going over metrics with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health as staff provided feedback for how they want to move forward.

Nash recognized some want to see kids back in the classroom right away.

“The best place for kids to learn is in person, we fully acknowledge that, but right now it doesn’t seem like that is the safest place for students and staff to be,” Nash said.

Arizona Superintendent Kathy Hoffman called on Gov. Doug Ducey to move all schools to virtual instruction for two weeks following the holiday.

The governor’s office said it would be up to the districts.

Deer Valley Unified School District is returning to virtual learning for all grades for at least two weeks.

Mesa Public Schools, the largest district in the state, will also be virtual learning for at least two weeks after winter break. Then it will look at the data from those two weeks to determine what the next learning model will be.

Scottsdale Unified School District is phasing their students back to the classroom, while districts like Peoria Unified School District and Dysart Unified School District will return to in-person learning.

Gilbert Public Schools said the district is returning Tuesday for one week of hybrid learning and will resume in-person classes five days a week on Jan. 11.

A spokesperson with the Arizona Department of Education released this statement:

“Superintendent Hoffman has and will continue to advocate that school leaders use the ADHS benchmarks, alongside input from local health departments, to guide decision-making processes for determining the model of learning. Currently, virtual learning is recommended in all fifteen counties, corresponding with a devastating rise in COVID-19 cases across the state and the anticipated trajectory after the holiday season. She has called for all schools to remain in distance learning for a limited two-week period to align with quarantine protocols and current benchmark recommendations.”

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