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Metro Phoenix school district to offer in-person learning starting Monday

(Facebook Photo/Combs Unified School District)

PHOENIX — A metro Phoenix school district will begin offering in-person instruction Monday, going against recommendations provided by state health officials.

J.O. Combs Unified School District, located in San Tan Valley, told families Tuesday in a letter that its governing board voted 3-2 on Monday in favor of restarting in-person learning Monday instead of a recommendation for Oct. 6.

The district’s decision comes less than a week after the Arizona Department of Health Services unveiled three COVID-related benchmarks counties should meet before schools return to in-person instruction.

Pinal County met one of the three benchmarks in the first data released Thursday.

“The decision to reopen on Aug. 17 was not taken lightly and was driven by the AZDHS data benchmarks as well as tremendous feedback from community members who expressed a strong need for their children to return to the classroom,” District spokeswoman Kayla Fulmer said in a statement to KTAR News 92.3 FM.

The return of students to campus won’t affect the other learning options available in the district, including remote and hybrid choices.

Combs Superintendent Gregory Wyman said in the letter he expects some families will choose to keep their students in virtual learning, therefore lessening the total amount of students present at school.

The district also unveiled its in-person learning plan, which includes several extra measures that will be taken.

The plan includes daily temperature checks, mandatory face masks, social distancing in classrooms and enhanced sanitation practices.

“Because local districts were empowered to make these decisions using the voluntary recommendations, the Governing Board felt that it was necessary to return Aug. 17 for the safety and social and emotional needs of our students,” Fulmer said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit

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