Teacher, school official speak out as students start new school year amid COVID-19 pandemic

Students in Arizona's largest school district had an unusual first day of school.

Instead of returning to school, they stayed home, and that's what many other Arizona students are doing as well amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Teacher describes first day in class

The first day of school was also unusual for teachers like Jessica Pio, who teaches the third grade. For Pio, it was a good first day of school, despite some students feeling the effects of the new way of learning online.

"Some of them came in a little sad today," said Pio. "I know a couple that they wish they were in school, and they understand that school won't look the same, but they still would prefer to be in person, but we talked about how right now, that's not the option."

Pio says many students are much better with technology than some teachers, and socialization, who it's not the same, is still possible, even through a screen.  

"For the socialization, the students will be having specials and music and PE, that all starts on Monday," said Pio. "They will leave my class and go, so they will get that interaction and get up and start moving."

School district reviewing plans

On August 3, the Phoenix Union High School District started their online classes. Superintendent Chad Gestson says in an ideal world, students will be back in person, engaging in electives, but it's important to prioritize the health and safety of everyone.

"We are all remote until it's safe to do so," said Gestson.

The district will go quarter by quarter, and make decisions from there.

"We were able to provide a laptop and hotspot to every family who needed one we're going to allow them to plan quarter by quarter so they don't have to adjust last minute. 

Education official speaks out

The Arizona Department of Health Services will soon release public health metrics to help districts decide how and when schools can safely reopen in person. Meanwhile, the state's Superintendent for Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman, has said it's unlikely any school will be able to reopen by August 17th.

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On CoronavirusNOW.com, you'll find extensive coverage about COVID-19, including breaking news from around the country, exclusive interviews with health officials, and informative content from a variety of public health resources.

COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19


https://espanol.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19


https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/es/covid-19/index.php#novel-coronavirus-home (In Spanish/En Español)