Chandler teachers want to return to classrooms when virus metrics decline

Jan 6, 2021, 4:45 AM

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)...

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Chandler Unified School District resumes classes virtually instead of in-person on Wednesday following a governing board decision earlier this week.

Teachers in the district are hoping they can go back to their classrooms in two weeks, as voted on by the district’s governing board, but only if COVID-19 numbers are trending downward.

“Hopefully the numbers are down and we can return to in-person instruction because that’s really where we would like to be,” Katie Nash, a science teacher in the district, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“As long as everybody is doing their part to allow us to return to school safely, then we are absolutely happy to be back in the classrooms.”

Nash is also the president of the Chandler Education Association, which called on the district’s governing board to delay in-person classes citing COVID-19 concerns.

Her group surveyed 1,200 staff members in mid-December. It found about 65% of them did not feel safe returning to work in-person right after the holiday break and about 70% preferred virtual instruction for at least the first two weeks.

The Chandler Unified School District’s governing board voted Monday night to delay a return to classroom learning until Jan. 19. This allows students and their families to quarantine if they traveled or attended large gatherings over the holidays.

“Most of us are really happy with this decision,” Nash said. “It is allowing us to just sort of press reset and get everybody back into that mind of being careful.”

She acknowledged that “it’ll take a while” for the COVID-19 numbers in Arizona to go back down but is optimistic.

She also noted that as students return to in-person classes in two weeks, teachers will likely start getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad on Monday that teachers are expected to start getting the COVID-19 vaccine in about two weeks.

Educators are in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan. Pinal and Gila are the only counties in Arizona that are in Phase 1B as of Tuesday, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Nash said she “absolutely” is planning to get in line for the vaccine.

“I am a science teacher, so I have read some of the studies about it,” she said. “The way that it works and its effectiveness is pretty high, as well as its safety.”

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Chandler teachers want to return to classrooms when virus metrics decline