New Tempe billboard demands kids be allowed back in school

Vaccinating teachers in Arizona has been a top priority, but some parents believe it's time to bring kids back to class even if teachers and staff haven't recieved the COVID-19 vaccine.

Now, a new electric billboard has popped up in Tempe near the I-10 and Elliot Road demanding that students be allowed to return to class.

It reads: "The Tempe Union High School District is failing our kids. Open our schools."

Whoever put up the billboard is still a mystery, but it's sparking plenty of debate.

"It’s killing our kids. And hurting a lot of parents," said Arnold Payne. "We have to get them back in the classroom. They’re going to be paying for this for years to come."

Payne is part of hundreds of Tempe parents demanding in-class learning.

"If other parents don’t want their kids to go back to school, great. Keep them at home as long as you want," said Payne. "Don’t force us into the same situation."

Tempe Union High School District, with more than 13,000 students and staff, tried virtual learning and then pivoted to a hybrid model. When cases spiked a second time, the students went back home.

Officials insist they are following state and county metrics to a tee.

"We're paying the price for not doing what we should’ve been doing, and now, here we are," said Beatrice Williams, who is a parent and a teacher.

Williams says she knows students are struggling, ad that parents are being pushed to the limit. She wants to be back in class herself, but no billboard is going to tell her it’s safe to bring students back to school, especially in a district with a high minority population.

"As soon as we get some sick students, then people are gonna be calling us again complaining that we open. It’s a tough situation," said Williams.

Officials with the Tempe Union high School District have released a statement, which reads:

"At this point, we do believe that we will be able to bring students back safely, most likely four days a week, after Spring Break. Bringing students back is what we have been working on and planning for throughout the pandemic."

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