PHOENIX - As COVID-19 cases spike across the state, more and more schools are shutting down classrooms and going back to remote learning, in an effort to prevent the continued spread of the virus.
School districts across the Valley are putting aside state guidelines and voting on their own criteria, to decide whether to temporarily stop in-person learning, and go back to a hybrid or virtual model.
During the week of Nov. 2, several high schools announced closures because of an alarming jump in the number of cases and positivity rate. Some campuses logged nearly a dozen active COVID cases.
Apache Junction Unified High School officials abruptly decided the night of Nov. 5 to cancel in-person classes at Apache Junction High School beginning Nov. 6, moving to virtual-only for at least two weeks.
Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers
District officials confirmed 11 COVID cases among students and staff at the campus. Camp Verde High School in Gilbert, and five high schools in the West Valley, also returned to remote learning because of COVID outbreaks.
"Our real intent is we want kids in school.. not just jumping at shadows," was stated at a Gilbert Public Schools board meeting.
Leaders in the Agua Fria Union and Gilbert Unified Districts pointed to the sharp rise in the number of cases and percent positive rate in the last two weeks, citing those two metrics as grounds to close down classrooms.
Public health experts say schools' mitigation strategies are being tested right now.
"See if you can identify critical control points that you can improve on, so when you do open back for in person instruction, you can do better. I have a sense some of the schools might discover that some of the competitive athletic programs were at the root at some of the issues they’ve been having," said Will Humble of the Arizona Public Health Association.
Many districts have notified parents and community members throughout the week about closures. Apache Junction Unified held a virtual emergency meeting with parents and community members about COVID-19 and the temporary closure.
In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Monitor your health daily
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