Parents react as Madison Elementary School District returns to virtual learning amid COVID-19 pandemic

For thousands of students in Phoenix's Madison Elementary School District, they are now back to attending classes online, as the district's board voted on the night of Nov. 17 to stop in-person classes, which resumed in October.

While it is a blow to students and working parents who don't have options, the district voted to have all but pre-school students return to virtual learning, due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases and staffing issues.

The district took all the precautions, but COVID-19 still caused more than two dozen infections and one death since in-person learning resumed. In a letter read during a virtual Board meeting, one teacher with the district wrote:

"In the two weeks we were back, people were exposed. Someone I personally knew died from the virus. People we know are dying. COVID is a very real part of our community right now."

Many parents were disappointed with the 3-2 decision to return to all-virtual learning. Tricia Pringel, who has two children attending school within the Madison Elementary School District, says the arrangement takes a horrible toll on children.

"When I told my 7th grader this morning, he broke down crying. As a parent, it means so much to him," said Pringel.

Pringel, who is also a licensed naturopath, feels the risk of infection was slim when looking at how kids suffer without school. Meanwhile, Alex Castaneda had hoped to send her son, who attends classes virtually, back to in-person learning next quarter. She says she’s disappointed, but understands where teachers are coming from.

"These teachers are truly putting their lives on the line for our students. I can't imagine going into work every day just worried. Am I going to get sick? Am I going to bring it home to my family? I 100% support the teachers," said Castaneda.