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Phoenix Union school district to have remote classes through first quarter

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Union High School District)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Union High School District plans to have remote learning through October, Superintendent Chad Gestson told CNN on Saturday.

“We will not open until it’s safe and reasonable and responsible to do so,” he said.

Gestson said the district considered different options before deciding to commit to online learning through the first quarter.

Over the last couple months, he said, nine different task forces worked on four different models for education possibilities including in-person and hybrid before they decided it would be more prudent to focus on preparing for online teaching.

“We realized over the last couple of weeks that we were spending so much time on how many kids fit in a class, how would we do temperature checks for tens of thousands of staff and students every single day, we got ourselves away from the core of our work, which is teaching and learning and wellness of our community,” he said.

“We ultimately decided that we were ignoring the inevitable … it was time for us to focus on remote learning.”

As coronavirus cases and rates in Arizona spike, Gov. Doug Ducey and State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced in-person education will be delayed until at least Aug. 17.

Gestson said parents and staff of the district, which has more than 27,000 students and 3,000 employees, preferred to have an established, committed plan instead of waiting for coronavirus updates to dictate their action with less than a month before the first day of school.

“Our parents and our community, and our staff, were really clear that they don’t want week-by-week decisions,” Gestson said. “So we made an announcement to start school remote and we will go through remote learning all the way through October at the earliest so that our community can plan better.”

The district website says remote learning will begin Aug. 3 and will remain online through the first quarter. The first term is scheduled to end Oct. 2 and fall break on Oct. 9.

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