ARIZONA NEWS

Chandler schools staff wants virtual learning in January due to virus spike

Dec 10, 2020, 11:32 PM | Updated: Dec 11, 2020, 1:17 pm

(Facebook Photo/Chandler United School District)...

(Facebook Photo/Chandler United School District)

(Facebook Photo/Chandler United School District)

PHOENIX — A Chandler education group said it was aware of a planned teacher sickout Friday, but schools opened without delay, the district said.

The Chandler Education Association executive board said in a letter posted Thursday on its website that while it “has not promoted a sickout due to the many different views that our members have on this complex issue, we are not at all surprised that a number of our educators are angry enough to demonstrate their frustration in this manner.”

Staff asked Chandler Unified School District leaders in a letter on Thursday for virtual-only learning to return when classes resumes in January. The letter, obtained by ABC15 cited the spike of coronavirus in Arizona.

On Friday morning, the district told KTAR News 92.3 FM that its schools are open. The district confirmed that 349 teachers called in sick Friday, 105 more than the previous Friday.

“We encourage staff to report to work in the best interest of their students and colleagues,” the district said in an email.

“We understand this is a stressful time and invite teachers to work directly with administration as we seek ways to lessen any negative impact on them.”

The district voted Wednesday night to temporarily expand virtual learning and allow students in grades 7-12 to choose to learn remotely beginning Jan. 5 and lasting through Jan. 15, with elementary students returning to campus as planned.

The letter accuses the school district of broken promises regarding not being expected to teach virtually and in person at the same time as well as returning to virtual learning if one coronavirus metric went into the substantial category.

Maricopa County in the state’s COVID-19 dashboard is in the substantial spread range for the second straight week in cases per 100,000 individuals and percent positivity, with hospital visits for COVID-like illnesses in the moderate transmission but rising closer to substantial.

The Arizona Department of Health Services recommends hybrid instruction but instruction options are up to each district.

After beginning the school year virtually in August, Chandler schools welcomed back elementary kids to classrooms in late September and secondary students on Oct. 13.

Cases per 100,000 individuals and percent positivity were both in the moderate range when the students returned to in-person learning, with hospital visits for COVID-like illnesses being in the minimal transmission category.

In the letter, district staff asked for a response by Dec. 18, the final day before holiday break and that multiple site representatives, teachers and classroom staff from each school be involved in the decision on reopening.

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Chandler schools staff wants virtual learning in January due to virus spike