PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - One by one, schools across the state are going back to virtual learning as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.

The Madison School District in Phoenix is the latest to announce it's suspending in-person education, starting Nov. 30.

Madison Middle School

The Madison School District in Phoenix is the latest to announce it's suspending in-person education, starting Nov. 30.

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"The safety and welfare of our students, teachers and staff members and our families is our No. 1 priority," said Nicole Rodriguez, with the Madison School District. "That's why we did make the decision to go to virtual."

State health experts have set up guidelines for school districts to follow when determining whether students should continue in-person learning. But not all school districts are following them. At least seven Valley school districts are in the "red," or at the high-risk level for the spread of COVID-19, yet they continue to bring kids on campus.

According to the Queen Creek School District's website, they have no plans to transition to all virtual learning. The same goes for the Higley School District.

Other districts in Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa are evaluating COVID-19 numbers on a school-by-school basis, with select campuses going online or moving to a hybrid schedule.

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Nikkie Whaley, with the Arizona School Boards Association, said that a lack of strict guidance from the state has put school boards in a no-win situation, having to decide when schools should stay open and when they should go online.

kids in school

At least seven Valley school districts are in the "red," or at the high-risk level for the spread of COVID-19, yet they continue to bring kids on campus.

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"I will definitely say that it's been really difficult for school board members because they are getting pitted against each other," said Whaley. "'Well, my kid goes to a neighboring district and are doing this - why can't you do that, too?' So it puts boards in a really tough place."

Emergency physician Quinn Snyder said that when COVID-19 cases climb in our communities like they are now, everyone needs to do their part to stop the spread, including schools.

"I think in certain districts in particular, where they are really not doing a great job containing the spread of the virus among students, I think it's high time they consider rolling back in-person instruction," said Snyder.

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
 
 

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