SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The Scottsdale Unified School District may have to go back to virtual learning if the spread of COVID-19 isn't controlled among its students. Superintendent Scott A. Menzel said in a letter to parents on Friday that since school started on Aug. 4, there have been 78 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on-campus and 31 cases of students who didn't come to school. One hundred fifty students were sent home and 632 students have been quarantined because of being in close contact with someone with COVID-19.


File photo of Scottsdale Unified School District building.

Trish Olson has three kids in Scottsdale Unified Schools. Her son was sent home to quarantine after coming in contact with another student who tested positive. She says they knew this was a possibility, but her kids were looking forward to returning to campus. "They were excited to see their friends. They were excited to see their teachers because there was a large portion of the last school year where they were not face-to-face with their teachers," Olson said. "And I know better than anyone that teachers can do for my kids what I'm not able to provide them."

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Menzel points to last year when there were "very few cases" of on-campus spread because of students and staff wearing masks and a different strain of COVID-19. This year, there have been coronavirus outbreaks at five of the 22 schools already. Menzel called on the community to take action to stop the spread. "This trend, if not disrupted, will invariably require not only quarantining even larger numbers of students but potentially require us to also close classrooms or buildings for significant periods of time and return to virtual learning," Menzel said.

Scottsdale Unified doesn't have a mask mandate and Manzel said he saw no masks on the first day of school in some places and 70%-80% of people wearing them on campuses at other schools.

Menzel pleads with everyone in the community to mask up while indoors on the campuses. "COVID does not discriminate based on partisan politics, and it is circulating more rapidly now than ever among our school-aged youth," said Menzel.

Dr. Shad Marvasti with the University of Arizona College of Medicine says we're in a dangerous period of the pandemic when it comes to children. They aren't eligible for the vaccine yet, there with fewer mitigation measures on campuses and the more contagious delta variant is in play, he says. Dr. Marvasti says the rest of the year will be much of the same.

"The best thing to do to ensure in-person learning continues, because in-person learning is the best for all aspects of development and well-being of children, the best thing to do is to allow the requirement of masks and mitigation measures as well as frequent testing isolation and quarantine," he said.

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