PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. - The Governing Board of the Paradise Valley Unified School District has voted to implement a staggered schedule for a return to in-class learning, which will start in October.
The issue of whether to reopen classrooms or stick with online learning has been a controversial one amongst parents. The district has been utilizing distance learning since the fall semester began a few weeks ago, implementing their own metrics system for reopening, a system many parents say is impossible to reach.
"I know there are a lot of parents, like me, who want their kids back in class," said Lynda Naranjo. "Our last rally, we had more than 100 people."
A group of parents rallied outside of the district's board meeting on Sept. 18. The meeting will determine whether schools may move forward with a reopening plan for classrooms.
Paradise Valley parents chanted phrases like "open our schools" and "we want a choice" on Friday morning. They believe their point of view is being left out of the equation; as they see other districts reopen classrooms, they’re stuck with distanced learning.
They feel the threat of the virus to students is much smaller than the threat of them falling behind academically and emotionally. Working parents also said they felt the strain of dealing with childcare.
Several of the parents said if the district didn’t offer in person classes right away, they would pull their children out of the district.
Plenty of parents, however, have submitted comments for the meeting, asking the district to stay the course and err on the side of safety.
Some teachers explain that social distancing does not work in the classroom, and that there are coronavirus outbreaks at several other schools.
All of this is causing extra stress for teachers, with many of them quitting or thinking of resigning.
"Everyone wants to get back to the classroom. The question is really what we think is safe," said Susan Chubrich Seep, President of the Paradise Valley Education Association.
Now, the district's governing board has voted to loosen its COVID-19 metrics, and decided to allow young students to return to classrooms on October 8, followed by middle-grade students on October 12, and high school juniors and seniors on October 19.
There will be strict rules on mask-wearing, and if cases jump beyond the districts new metric guidelines for one full week, the classrooms will close again.
Close to 30,000 students attend schools within the boundaries of the Paradise Valley Unified School District.