More Valley students test positive for COVID-19 as new school year kicks off

As a new school year kicks off for students across the Valley, more and more students are testing positive for COVID-19, as the state experiences a new surge in cases.

High school football practices put on hold at Ahwatukee high school

At Desert Vista High School in Ahwatukee, 105 students in its football teams are impacted by a pause on football practices, after six players tested positive for COVID-19. The six players, along with an additional 16 players, have been placed on quarantine.

Officials with the Tempe Union High School District say practices are anticipated to resume on Aug. 9, following guidelines recommended by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

"Everything's guidelines. It's just recommendations. There's no mandate right now regarding what's going on," said Seth Polansky with AIA.

Polansky says AIA will work with conferences if the pauses impact games during the regular season.

"So, if we do have situations where games are being postponed to push to the end of the season, we will work hand in hand with those conferences and with those schools to try to get a representative schedule in, just to make sure everybody is eligible for the postseason," said Polansky.

Under AIA guidelines, an athlete who has tested positive for COVID-19 will need to be cleared by a medical professional after a minimum of ten days since the date of the positive result. Then, there are five stages before a 'return to play,' ranging from light activity for 15 minutes or less, to more complex and intense training.

Polansky says health is the priority during this ever-changing landscape.

"We're really encouraging everyone to really listen to their schools administration and their district administration to really follow what they put forth," said Polansky

According to Tempe Union High School District's COVID-10 dashboard, there are currently 33 active cases, involving 31 students and two staff members. Of the cases, 11 of them involve students or staff members at Desert Vista High School, while 13 of them involve students at the other high school in Ahwatukee: Mountain Pointe High School.

3rd grade class placed on quarantine following positive test

On Aug. 4, Tempe Elementary School District officials say officials with one of their schools have placed an entire third grade class on quarantine as a result of a positive COVID-19 test.

In a statement, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communication Brittany Franklin said the quarantine was put in place on Aug. 3. According to a letter sent to parents of those affected, children who were placed in quarantine may return to school on Aug. 16.

"We understand that this is a frustrating situation," read a portion of the letter. "Hudson Elementary is committed to implementing measures to protect our community from exposure to COVID-19."

The letter did not specifically identify anyone who tested positive for COVID-19.

In the letter, officials asked parents and guardians of students affected to quarantine for up to 10 days, in accordance with CDC and Maricopa County Department of Public Health recommendations, and end the quarantine if they do not develop any symptoms after 10 full days.

FOX 10 has learned that the class affected will have access to a Chromebook for online learning during the quarantine.

Parents react

One parent, Carla Miller, has a daughter who is in the class affected by the quarantine. She said the school handled the situation well. She received a direct phone call from the principal, and plans to get her daughter tested as soon as possible.

"We’re very grateful that the kid that came in with COVID yesterday was choosing to wear a mask and my daughter was choosing to wear a mask," said Miller. "We know the statistics show that if you’re wearing a mask, it helps reduce the spread. We’re hoping that class remains safe 'cause of that boy’s choices, but also we recognize that this could happen several more times during the year."

Other parents are also sounding off on what the school has done.

"I guess that’s just the sign of the times, but we just gotta deal with it for right now," said Anthony Lewis.

"As long as they're doing what they need to and taking precautions and quarantining as needed then I’m okay for my kids to continue to go to school I feel like it’s important for them to go to school."

School mask requirement debate continues; lawsuit filed

As the delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, school districts in the Valley are starting to institute a mask requirement, even though there's a state ban on such mandates.

Phoenix Union High School District is one of the districts that will implement a mask mandate. That decision is the subject of a lawsuit filed by Douglas Hester, who is a biology, environmental science and math teacher at Metro Tech High School.

Related: Phoenix teacher files lawsuit to stop school mask mandate

Besides Phoenix Union High School District, Osborn and Phoenix Elementary have also decided to implement mask requirements. 

In the East Valley, Kyrene School District, which serves elementary and middle school students, say they strongly encourage face coverings, as the state has banned districts from requiring masks.

The issue of mask requirement also came up at the Creighton School District meeting.

"In person school is what’s best for my child," said one parent, during the meeting's public comment section. "As a 10 year old, he’s unable to be vaccinated. Please do everything in your power to protect him and other children.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services website, Arizonans age 12 and above are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. This means many elementary school students are currently ineligible for vaccination.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

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COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 Vaccination (In Spanish/En Español)