CAVE CREEK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – Even though the first day of in-person classes was canceled at Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek because too many teachers called out, dozens of students still showed up to campus.
Police would not allow them to park or be on school grounds, so about 40 people, mostly Cactus Shadows students, gathered outside the gates. Many of them had signs.
"We just want our lives back."
"We're here. Where are you?"
"Students Lives Matter. We need our teachers."
Junior Kaitlyn King has a message for the teachers who called out sick. "We need them," she said. "We need them to learn. ... We just need our teachers more than ever right now."
Many who came to the rally wanted to show support for the Cactus Shadows principal, who announced Monday that in-person learning will resume Wednesday regardless of staffing level. "Students will attend classes in rooms with all available teachers and substitutes," the principal said in a letter to parents and students. "If coverage is not available for a classroom, students will be directed to a safe area for attendance and to complete work assigned by the absent teacher."
Some parents showed support for the solution, saying it's better than keeping kids at home. Others, however, were a little more critical.
"I'm not going to send them to school and sit in a lunchroom or wherever they plan on doing without a teacher," said mom Blair Roberts. Her boys are in the ninth and eleventh grades. "That doesn't make sense to me. It's not a good resolution for this."
Twin sisters Victoria and Samantha Prosser were devastated when they learned the first day of in-person learning of their freshman year was postponed. They were looking forward to starting a new chapter and aren't fans of online learning.
"I'm extremely bummed. Online doesn't work for me at all," Samantha said. "I can't learn online. I can't retain the information online."
Victoria said she feels a bit "cheated."
"I show up to school, and it could be I do have a class and learn, or I just sit somewhere and wait for my next period," she explained.
Both sisters are anxious to find out if their teachers will show up when in-person learning begins Wednesday. The teens' dad, Simon Prosser, is equally concerned.
"It's still in this unknown phase, and we don't know how things are going to pan out," he said. "We'll have to see, because if they're truly going to school and they're coming back each day telling me they missed so many hours again with no teachers around, then I'm going to be more than just upset."
According to the district's superintendent, Dr. Debbi Burdick, 24 teachers called out for Tuesday. As of Tuesday morning, only six had called out for Wednesday.