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3 Scottsdale high schools pivot to online learning amid rising virus cases

(Twitter Photo/Scottsdale Unified School District)

PHOENIX – Three high schools in the Scottsdale Unified School District will pivot to online learning on Tuesday for the rest of the semester as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the state, district officials said in a letter to parents Monday night.

Scottsdale Superintendent Scott Menzel said Chaparral, Arcadia and Desert Mountain high schools will make the shift after he met with officials from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health on Monday.

“This was not an easy decision, but it is one that was made following the guidelines established by the governing board regarding determining potential return to online learning on a school-by-school basis in consultation with public health officials,” Menzel said in a letter to parents.

“It is our hope that this will also result in freeing up enough substitute teachers to cover other buildings and allow the district to continue offering in-person instruction through the end of the semester.”

The letter said that select special education programs would remain open on campus.

In a separate letter, Chaparral administration said the football team and winter sports would be permitted to continue practicing if they followed guidelines outlined by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

The transition comes following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Menzel had requested students and their families voluntarily quarantine if they traveled over the weekend.

The district announced Sunday night that five schools, including the three high schools, would be closed on Monday because there were not enough teachers or substitutes to cover teacher absences.

Cocopah Middle School and Mountainside Middle School were also closed; however, they will reopen for in-person instruction on Tuesday, according to the district.

On Monday, Arizona health officials reported 822 new coronavirus cases and five additional deaths, bringing the documented totals to 326,817 COVID-19 infections and 6,639 fatalities. It was the lowest daily report since Nov. 9, although Monday COVID-19 updates have consistently had lower numbers compared to other days of the week.

Since August, Maricopa County has reported 94 coronavirus outbreaks in schools. An outbreak is defined as two or more confirmed coronavirus cases who were in contact with one another but not from the same household.

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