GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Gilbert Public Schools and the Chandler Unified School District are reportedly preparing for the potential of a massive teacher sickout in January.
A spokesperson for Gilbert Public Schools confirmed to Arizona’s Family on Wednesday morning that they have received notification of a possible sickout and are starting to prepare.
School districts in the Phoenix-area are starting to alter in-person learning plans as COVID-19 cases grow in Maricopa County.
According to the spokesperson, the district is working with teachers and preparing a pool of substitute teachers should they be needed.
A couple of teachers and parents confirmed to Arizona's Family teachers at CUSD were planning a similar sickout next week, too.
There may be up to 600 teachers calling in sick from both districts. It's unclear if it's a sickout for one day or all week.
Both districts are anticipated to welcome students back to campus on Jan. 5 despite a surge of COVID-19 cases in the month of December. Gilbert is offering the option of hybrid learning for the first week. Chandler is offering a virtual option for the first two weeks.
But many teachers insist those plans aren't good enough since it still requires them to be on-campus and in-class with students, who may have spent the holiday traveling and visiting with friends and family.
A Chandler teacher, who wanted to remain anonymous, said with coronavirus cases still skyrocketing, this isn't the time to go back to in-person learning.
"With the numbers the way they are, and with hospitals overflowing we are very concerned that going back to school is going to increase numbers in our community as a whole, not just in our schools," the teacher said.
Tony died the evening of Dec. 2, and Lisa died the morning of Dec. 3.
"Chandler Unified has lost a coach - a student lost both parents who were heavily involved in school and I think teachers are finally getting to the point where they are thinking about what's safe and right for them and their students," said Kerri Jones, a Chandler parent.
It was just a few weeks ago teachers in Chandler held a one-day sickout to protest in-person learning.
Arizona's Family obtained a letter from staff to the board members and district officials, which calls on the district to move to virtual learning-only in January .
Parents like Shanna Mosley tell us the uncertainty makes life more difficult for a lot of families.
"How are these classes going to be covered? What is situation going to be? That's obviously concerning to me," said Mosley. "I know district has permanent subs, but I think that's just one or two and that's not going to be able to cover hundreds of teachers out."
There are a large number of parents in favor of the districts plans to return to in-person learning. In fact, a number of social media sites have been set up to support it. But Jones thinks it's unfair to put teachers in this situation.
"We're in this together and if our teachers don't feel safe they have a right to feel safe, their job and responsibility to my children should not be their priority. Their health, their family is their first priority," Jones said.
Gilbert Public Schools sent Arizona's Family the following statement.
"We are working with our teachers and preparing our pool of substitute teachers should they be needed. Our goal will be to ensure appropriate coverage for all classes and no disruption to student learning. We will keep our parents and families informed as needed and we look forward to seeing our students on Tuesday, January 5, 2021."