CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5 ) - On Wednesday night, the Chandler Unified School Board voted to go through with starting in-person classes next week on January 19, despite red metrics. But the vote was not unanimous.
Hundreds of parents and teachers have come forward to say it's still not safe to bring kids back in the classroom.
Many parents, teachers, and students, spoke out at the meeting. And one thing was very clear: whether to go back to in-person learning or stay virtual has been a very divided issue in this community.
Hours before the CUSD meeting, a group stood outside with posters, wanting to make sure their voices were heard to support in-person learning. “The reality is our children, when they’re in the classroom, they learn more effectively. They’re more motivated, and they’re doing it safely. We didn’t see a major spread prior to this when we were in person,” said CUSD parent Kerry Hamilton.
Hamilton has two elementary school kids in CUSD and said being a working parent right now is challenging. “It is a tremendous stress on families, especially working families to manage childcare and educating our children,” Hamilton said
Seventh grader Gianna Acre rallied with her peers for in-person learning too, tired of the difficulties at home. “If you have Wifi issues, if you don’t get something turned in on time, just small things like that is kind of difficult, and grades start slipping too,” Acre said.
But not everyone has been a proponent of going back in person with such a high number of COVID-119 cases right now. A group of teachers sent a letter to the school board asking to immediately extend virtual learning.
School districts in the Phoenix-area are starting to alter in-person learning plans as COVID-19 cases grow in Maricopa County.
Multiple teachers became emotional in front of the board Wednesday night, as they pleaded to stay virtual. "When I signed up for in-person, I believed the metrics that the board said they would follow, and now three are red and they put me in danger daily,” a Hamilton High School teacher said.
Several teachers brought up many health concerns they faced in person before, when metrics were better than they are right now. "On any given day, upwards of 50 students were quarantined. I personally had 3 students who were quarantined 2 or 3 times,” another teacher said.
There may be up to 600 teachers calling in sick from both districts.
The board also addressed the issue that there was a waitlist to get into their Chandler Online Academy if students didn't feel comfortable going back in person yet. The board said they've now added additional staff to accommodate the virtual needs for those who don't want to come back in person yet.