PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Thousands of Arizona parents and their kids are making plans for at-home learning and delayed sports. Several more districts announced they're making the switch back to virtual classes, and the AIA postponed officially postpone winter sports until Jan. 5.
Paradise Valley Unified School District is one of the districts that announced a return to virtual learning on Monday. Dozens of parents showed up to district headquarters decked out in "Green For Go" before the governing board began its meeting Thursday night.
"We're really just advocating for a common-sense approach," organizer Jaime Kruzel-Thomas said.
Though one of the district's benchmarks is in the red category, the other two are in yellow. Parents like Kruzel-Thomas are upset the district is closing schools before the state metrics require them to (when all three benchmarks are in the red).
"The spread has been really low in the schools," she said. "So when you actually look at the numbers within the Paradise Valley schools, you're talking about a handful of cases. Very little community spread across those cases."
The order goes into effect immediately in all district and charter schools.
Lisa Farr is another mom at the rally who has a sophomore student in the district.
"We don't feel our board here should be able to make up their own metrics to make those decisions," she said. "We feel like it needs to follow the guidelines from the health department."
Other districts that are going back to virtual learning include Washington, Tempe, and Buckeye elementary school districts. Glendale Union High School District starts online learning on Friday.
"I know that there are teachers that want to stay in-person," Farr said. "There are definitely students that need to be in-person, and we need to look for ways to add that possibility for them instead of looking for ways to shut down the schools."
Several districts, including Paradise Valley Unified, will still offer on-site support for kids with special needs, along with curbside meal pickup.
Meanwhile, winter sports – basketball, soccer, and wrestling -- are getting a later start. The AIA says they can't start until Jan. 5 at the earliest. A condensed season will last through Feb. 19.
"Even if you get like three per week in the schedule for, like, soccer and basketball, you can get 18 games. Our maximum is 20. It's very doable to get pretty much a full season in," AIA Sports information coordinator Seth Polansky said.
Teams can begin games/matches anytime during that window, but players must have two weeks of practice before starting play. Playoffs and championships will still happen. Football and volleyball will finish out their fall seasons as planned.
School districts in the Phoenix-area are starting to alter in-person learning plans as COVID-19 cases grow in Maricopa County.
"Once we get a season up and going, we are not going to stop it unless it becomes too unsafe to continue," Polansky said. "A lot of folks out there are saying that winter sports is kind of getting a shaft here. We don't feel that's the case. We're getting them a full season with a championship afterwards."
Farr is OK with the AIA's decision.
"The AIA has been very reasonable, I think, in what they've done," she said. "Their metrics have been more generous than what our board has put forth."