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Some Valley parents still worry about sending their children back to school

(Guysi Family Photo)

PHOENIX – Though Maricopa County as of Thursday meets the recommended health benchmarks for schools to safely begin reopening for in-person learning, some parents still have concerns about the coronavirus and aren’t ready to send their kids back to school.

Nicole Guysi, of Glendale, said her 4-year-old son, Blake, attends preschool three days a week. But the risk is too high for her 9-year-old daughter, Brooke. She was born with a rare genetic condition that makes her immunocompromised.

“On-campus learning, unfortunately, is not an option no matter what protocols might be put in place on our end, on the school’s end,” Guysi said. “It’s just not something she can do this school year.”

But online learning at Sahuaro Ranch Elementary School isn’t the best alternative either. Brooke has progressive vision loss, and Guysi said she and her husband worried it “could worsen her vision.”

“We did try it out at the beginning of the school year,” she said. “But we just saw that long exposure to technology, screentime, is not best for her with her vision diagnosis.”

After looking at various options and consulting with Brooke’s doctors, home schooling seemed like the best route to take.

Guysi said she applied for the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program and was approved.

The program will provide her state dollars to pay for a home-school curriculum and tutoring services.

“Our hope is that next year, she’ll be safe enough to go back to school,” she said.

Steve Gomez, of Gilbert, and his wife are in a similar situation. Their 5-year-old son, Anthony, had a heart transplant as a baby. They also have a 6-year-old son named Zachary.

“We’ve elected to keep both of our boys home and do the remote option mainly because we can’t take the chance,” Gomez said.

“Anthony is immunocompromised, and the thought of possibly exposing him either directly or through Zachary was just something we couldn’t fathom.”

Anthony and Zachary are online learning through Christ Greenfield Lutheran School, a private school that has been offering in-person and online classes since Aug. 17.

So far, Anthony seems to be doing well with online learning but Zachary not so much.

“He needs to go back,” Gomez said. “He needs his friends. He needs his teachers. His love language is touch. He likes to hug. He likes to be around people.”

Gomez and his wife are keeping a close watch on the COVID-19 numbers and hope to be able to feel comfortable sending their sons back to school soon.

“If everything goes well, then we’re looking to hopefully be in before the semester is over and look at having them in person maybe at least part time,” he said.

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