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Mesa Public Schools pivoting to remote learning for 2 weeks after break

(Mesa Public Schools Photo)

PHOENIX – Arizona’s largest public school system will pivot to online learning for the first two weeks of the spring semester, Mesa Public Schools announced Thursday.

The district will conduct virtual learning from Jan. 4 to Jan. 15 to re-establish a school-level database of COVID-19 cases.

For the rest of the fall semester, the district will continue to make decisions about learning models on a school-by-school basis.

The district plans to return to its modified in-person learning format on Jan. 19.

“We must continue to work together to prioritize the safety of our students and staff,” Superintendent Dr. Andi Fourlis said in the letter.

Mesa Public Schools, and other districts in the state, track coronavirus spread based on weekly benchmarks from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The metrics are based on cases per 100,000 residents, percent positivity for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and COVID-like illness. If all three benchmarks are red, state and county health officials recommend transitioning to virtual learning with onsite support services.

As of Thursday, two of the three metrics—cases per 100,000 and percent positivity—were in the substantial transmission range.

Coronavirus cases have steadily increased in recent weeks across Arizona, pushing many districts to revert to virtual options.

In Maricopa County, 105 schools have reported coronavirus outbreaks since August with 490 total cases. Of those outbreaks, 62 are still active.

An outbreak is defined as two or more confirmed coronavirus cases who were in contact with one another but not from the same household. It is considered officially closed when a school goes 28 days without a new case.

On Thursday, Arizona health officials reported  5,442 new coronavirus cases, the second most ever, with 82 additional deaths, bringing the state’s documented totals to 346,421 COVID-19 infections and 6,821 fatalities.

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