School districts in the valley grapple with reopening or continuing online education
PHOENIX - President Donald Trump and many parents are pushing for schools to reopen on time this fall during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, there are also plenty of school employees afraid of being in confined spaces crowded with students as the virus spreads across Arizona.
As of July 14, state guidelines cap large gatherings at 50 people, and most classrooms are smaller than that. However, school busses often carry more than 50 students twice a day.
Asking students to social distance and follow other health guidelines is one thing, but having them actually follow the guidelines is another.
As the coronavirus spreads faster and faster, Daniel Fourmy delivers about 300 kids every day in the Paradise Valley District.
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“I’ve kept myself away from everybody but now we’re supposed to go back to school. The children, I don’t know where they’ve been. Their parents, I don’t know where they’ve been," he explained.
Fourmy is a single father of two with a pre-existing condition. All of them live with his aging parents.
He doesn’t want behind the scenes workers to be left out of the safety equation.
“The teachers also don’t have 65 children inside of a vehicle. They’re able to distance themselves from the physical barrier. I’m not," Fourmy said.
Kareem Neal is the 2019 Arizona Teacher of the Year. He teaches special education school students at Maryvale High School. He has mixed feelings about virtual teaching his students he considers family.
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“I can’t lie. I was one of those like, 'Man, I’m ready to go back,'" Neal explained.
The Phoenix Union District is delaying in-class learning until at least mid-October.
Neal knows online learning isn't the same and that many parents will be put in a predicament with no place to send their children during the day.
Learning an Arizona teacher died from the virus after teaching summer school taught Neal a lesson. Safety comes first.
“It really brought me back to the thought of a person in our school contracting it and dying from it. That was just too much for me to think," he said.
The Paradise Valley School District said it'll start on time but will be online. In-person learning will be considered to begin after Labor Day.