CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Gilbert Public Schools and the Chandler Unified School District decided on Monday how to return from winter break with the increase in COVID-19 cases.

By a 3-1 vote (one board member abstained), 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. Martin Luther King Day is Jan. 18 and all students are off. 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.

LIST: Phoenix-area school districts alter plans as COVID-19 cases grow

The vote is what the school district originally planned, which was going with virtual learning for two weeks after winter break. Parents, kids and teachers protested before the Monday night's meeting with a car parade and then a demonstration at the district's offices.

"Relieved, amazed, ecstatic. Relieved for our educators that they feel like their voices were heard this time, they feel like their safety is a priority," said Katie Nash, a teacher who attended the meeting. "When we decided to go back to in-person instruction, the community spread was much lower. Our community was respecting all of the mitigation practices we had in place. We know mask wearing prevents the spread of the virus and like our board members mentioned, people have been lax about it."

The CUSD board also lowered the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases at a campus needed to be met for that school to temporarily go to online learning once in-person learning resumes.

  • Elementary school is now 1.5% (was 2%)
  • Middle school is now 1% (was 1.5%)
  • High school is now .75% (was 1%)

For Gilbert Public Schools, the Governing Board approved in a 3-2 vote that instruction will 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. The district originally was only doing hybrid during the first week back from winter break. But like Chandler, some teachers and parents don't believe that's long enough due to rise in COVID-19 cases in Maricopa County. 

About 600 teachers in the two school districts planned a "sickout" for Tuesday to protest coming back from in-person learning too early. The district said Tuesday is a teacher work day.


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