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Phoenix Union High School District to stay with remote learning rest of 2020

PHOENIX – The superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District said Monday students at the 21 campuses will remain in remote learning until next year.

Originally, the district had announced plans to stay with distance learning through the first quarter, which ends in early October.

That has been extended to the entire semester, Chad Gestson said. The second quarter runs through December.

“We made a commitment this summer [to] make decisions about in-person … quarter by quarter. Not week by week or month by month,” Gestson said in a video posted to YouTube.

“As we look to the month of October, we have come to the realization that it will not be possible for our community to move from substantial to moderate and again, from moderate to minimal in just the next few weeks.”

More than 27,000 students attend school in the district.

He added more space will be opened and more activities, including arts and athletics, will be allowed on campuses at a later date, and “we’ll be safe.”

Maricopa County has met the coronavirus benchmarks recommended by the Arizona Department of Health Services to safely return to in-classroom learning.

Data released last week showed that while there was a slight uptick in cases, the number still met levels to allow for hybrid learning, combination of in-person and virtual instruction.

Gestson said COVID-19 remained “at substantial levels” in zip codes across the 220 square miles the district serves.

“Almost every single one of them remains in the red,” but they are moving toward yellow, he said.

The health department defines the spread level into three categories: green for minimal, yellow for moderate and red for substantial.

“We do know through conversations and focus groups with many of our families, that several of our parents and caregivers will choose to keep their students home until there is a vaccine, regardless of our in-person learning status,” Gestson said.

The virtual option will be available for the entire school calendar year, he said.

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