JO Combs Unified School District cancels Tuesday, Wednesday classes

Aug 17, 2020, 1:59 PM | Updated: Aug 18, 2020, 7:43 am
(J.O. Combs Unified School District Photo)...
(J.O. Combs Unified School District Photo)
(J.O. Combs Unified School District Photo)

PHOENIX – After canceling classes Monday due to a large number of teachers calling out, J.O. Combs Unified School District canceled classes for Tuesday and Wednesday for the same reason.

The San Tan Valley district had planned to resume in-person classes Monday but won’t return to instruction until at least Thursday because of the staffing shortages.

A district spokeswoman said 90 of the district’s 600 staff members called out for Tuesday after about 110 did for Monday’s classes.

The district set a meeting for 6 p.m. Wednesday to discuss its next steps for reopening.

“We are fully aware that a timely resolution to this matter is critical, and are committed to providing updates to our families as soon as they are available,” the district said in a statement.

The J.O. Combs governing board’s decision to resume traditional in-person classes on the first day allowed under a statewide executive order was controversial because Pinal County, where the district is located, didn’t meet all three of the state’s recommended COVID-19 statistical benchmarks.

The state gave districts final say in deciding when to resume in-person classes and provided the coronavirus benchmarks as guidance.

Superintendent Gregory Wyman said those against reopening were concerned about the benchmarks not being met, as well as the availability of personal protective equipment and class sizes.

He said the district has a 72-page manual detailing the steps it will take to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Wyman said support and opposition of the opening plan was about equal, calling it a “50-50, 60-40” split.

“We have individuals on both sides with very strong opinions and so we’re trying to see if we can come up with a solution that meets the needs of everybody, most importantly our kids, but we still have to have enough individuals to be able to teach all of our students,” he said Monday afternoon in an interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Neighboring Queen Creek Unified School District, which is in Maricopa County, successfully resumed in-person instruction on Monday. Maricopa County, like Pinal, only meets two of the three COVID-19 benchmarks.

Public K-12 schools in Arizona that aren’t yet offering traditional in-person classes were required to provide on-site support services starting Monday for students who need a place to go or have specific needs.

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

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JO Combs Unified School District cancels Tuesday, Wednesday classes