SURPRISE, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Another Valley school district had been planning a "sickout" on Monday amid the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, but that has since been cancelled.
On Sunday afternoon, Arizona's Family learned that around 160 teachers in the Dysart Unified School District planned to call out sick on Monday, Jan. 11.
However, a spokesman for DEU (Dysart Educators United) later emailed us saying that the planned sickout had been cancelled. "The Sick Out action will not proceed, due to being way too close in staff numbers inputting their absences," read a statement from DEU. "At this point, it will simply add stress to our coworkers without helping us toward our goal of virtual until safe metrics are met."
The DEU statement continued:
Our district leadership has and is still showing how little they value the data they had previously used to fully reopen our district to in-person instruction. This is while having teachers meet weekly to review student data... and will keep us going in the classroom, while juggling virtual students and quarantined students, packing them full without any limits.
By no means was this defeat, because now the severity of the district’s safety problem is out in the open, and the district knows they have work to do to try and keep employees for another year.
Many Arizona teachers have been pushing for online learning, amid the recent rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in our state.
"We love what we do, and that is why we go to work every day," said Valley Vista High School PE teacher Maureen Anderson. "But we are asking for our district who hired us because they thought we were good teachers to please, please value us. That is all we want."
A statement issued by the district Sunday afternoon said that schools would remain open Monday, even if many of the teachers called in sick.
The statement read:
Our staff absence data indicates we will have a number of teachers absent on Monday, January 11. At this time, our schools will remain open, as we have plans in place to cover staffing shortages that may occur, and are confident that campuses can remain open in a safe manner. We will continue to monitor the situation and notify parents if any changes are made. With over 75% of our families choosing in person learning at this time, we are dedicated to keeping our in person classes available to our community, and have extensive health and safety protocols in place to keep our campuses safe and healthy.
This all came on the heels of the Peoria Unified School District announcing that a number of its schools planned to remain closed Monday, Jan. 11 because of a lack of staffing. However, district officials announced that all 42 of their schools are adequately staffed for in-person and virtual learning on Tuesday, Jan. 12.
On Friday, the district had said the schools didn't have enough educators to "support a safe environment for students."
Here is a list of Peoria schools that were affected Monday:
- Alta Loma
- Country Meadows
- Santa Fe
- Peoria High School (PFA and MET will remain open)
- Sunrise Mountain
The closures impacted both in-person and virtual instruction at the listed sites. But it appears the closures were just for one day. "I appreciate your patience and support through the changes," read a statement from Superintendent Jason Reynolds." I recognize that learning in a pandemic has not been ideal, but I am proud of our community and how they have persevered through adversity.
Many teachers have been fighting to keep learning online as COVID-19 numbers in our state continue to soar.
Just last week, as many as 600 educators in the Chandler Unified School District and Gilbert Public Schools said they would be calling out sick, protesting the return to in-person learning.
Monday evening, the Governing Board for Chandler approved all students going back to the classroom on Jan. 19, with online-only learning going from Jan. 6 to 15. The board will readdress online learning during a meeting on Jan. 13. That's when they'll decide whether to extend virtual learning for another two weeks.
Virtual learning will be from Jan. 6 to Jan. 15 for Chandler while Gilbert will be in hybrid mode until Jan. 29.
Meantime, also last Monday, the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board approved that instruction should stay in hybrid form for all students until Jan. 29 or until teachers started getting vaccinated. Board members said that could start in the next week or two.
With cases skyrocketing and no new mitigation efforts in the state, some health experts say in-person learning just isn't safe yet.
Last week, Arizona Superintendent Kathy Hoffman called on Gov. Ducey to halt in-person learning for at least two weeks. The Governor responded, saying he would not be considering her request.
Hoffman said she wanted to make sure the state was doing everything possible to help healthcare workers and keep teachers and students safe.