Classes begin this week in some Arizona school districts, including Phoenix Union, Chandler Unified and Mesa Public Schools, and the debate over how to safely bring kids back to school amid the pandemic is now hitting home for many parents.
"I would hate for this thing to shoot up in numbers because we want to use our kids as an experiment. It's not fair to families, teachers and staff," says Kara Ellis, parent of an incoming sophomore at Perry High School in Gilbert.
Parents are making decisions on what the school year will look like for their kids in the middle of a global pandemic.
"The school district gave us options. They can do traditional school or 'iSchool' which is online school full time," explained Leticia Padilla, a parent of four children.
One of her kids is heading to college and three are in the Dysart Unified School District. After a hard conversation and two of her kids having asthma, she says "iSchool" was the best option.
"Even for my daughter that doesn't have asthma, sending her to school if she brings it back home ... On the other side of things we were worried about the social interaction with other kids, just school functions, the classes they're missing because some classes are not offered," Padilla said.
Ellis agrees with the socialization aspect but says she'd rather be safe than sorry. Her son Landin has a compromised immune system and so do members of her family.
"I don't want him to bring home anything to compromise us or them. You have to think about the trickle-down effect and he does need socialization, but at the same time is that how much his life if worth? Because you need to go out and talk to your friends?" Ellis said.
Of course, there are some parents who want their kids to go back to in-person learning.
"The system destroys students to participate in fine arts, visual arts, and sports. Students cannot learn what is only taught on stage, through a screen. It destroys any hope of preparing for college auditions, college sports scouting, and even simply doing what students love. Most students don’t go to school for their academics, they go for their electives," a parent said.
For more on how Arizona school districts are handling the pandemic, visit https://www.fox10phoenix.com/school