CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The school board for the Chandler Unified School District approved some big changes so students can return to class for the fall semester.
At the board meeting on Wednesday, members unanimously voted to require face coverings for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. All staff members must wear masks as well. The board also voted to move the 2020-21 school year start date back two weeks to Aug. 5. To make up for that, fall and spring breaks will be reduced to one week each. In a 3-2 vote, the school board voted for their return plan that offers two options for students when classes resume. Option 1 will be in-person instruction where students will report to classrooms five days a week. Option 2 will have students learn digitally through the Chandler Online Academy. Families may choose to switch back to in-person learning at the quarter or semester breaks.
The next governing board meeting is scheduled for July 15.
Sanitizer plus stands have already been bought for the district and will be installed soon. The district has also purchased face shields and gloves.
Chandler Unified is the second-largest school district in the state with more than 46,000 students and 43 schools.
What Other Districts are Doing
Chandler Unified isn't the first district in the state to mandate that students and staff wear masks. The Kyrene School District approved that measure last week. Brophy Prep made the same announcement earlier this month. Parents have raised concerns that forcing younger kids to wear masks all the time at school is going to create more problems.
Staff members will visually check each student when they arrive at school for any coronavirus symptoms.
"I can guarantee you, every morning they're not going to want to go to school because of the masks," said Ahwatukee parent Renee Ziegler.
Another issue facing Chandler could be the lack of options for kids to return to school. They will be either all online or all in-person classes for at least a quarter before they can switch. Mesa Public Schools offers a third option, which is a modified in-person learning experience where students would go to the school building two or three times a week. In Mesa, more than 60% of parents said they would prefer in-person learning and only 10% were leaning towards remote learning.