Three Scottsdale Unified schools to finish semester online

The Scottsdale Unified School District announced five schools will be closed on Monday, Nov. 30, in-person and online, due to teacher shortages.

In a Sunday, Nov. 29 post on the district's website, the closures of Arcadia High School, Chaparral High School, Desert Mountain High School, Cocopah Middle School and Mountainside Middle School were announced.

On Monday, the district announced Arcadia High School, Chaparral High School and Desert Mountain High School will remain closed for in-person learning and remain online through the semester.

"This afternoon, I had an opportunity to confer with leaders at Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH). We reviewed the current situation with respect to rising COVID cases in the county, as well as discussed specific concerns in the Scottsdale Unified School District," said the district's superintendent, Dr. Scott Menzel.

He points out the Thanksgiving holiday travel that some students, faculty and staff took part in, but didn't say specifically that anyone actually contracted the virus.

"Please note that although tomorrow’s closures are not the result of any known COVID outbreaks in our schools," Menzel explained of Monday's closures.

He asks that anyone who traveled or took part in any large gathering to quarantine and learn from home, saying, "It is for this reason that I again ask every family that chose to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday or to host, attend or participate in a large gathering where social distancing did not take place, such as a sporting event, to please keep your children home and have them participate in remote learning for the next two weeks."

He says the loss of the school day will likely need to be made up at the end of the school year.

This is not the first time a school district in the Valley had to close schools due to a lack of staff. In August, officials with J.O. Combs Unified School District in the far East Valley had to cancel classes due to low staffing levels.

"We have received an overwhelming response from staff indicating that they do not feel safe returning to classrooms with students. In response, we have received a high volume of staff absences for [Aug. 17] citing health and safety concerns," read a portion of a statement released by district officials on Aug. 14.

In addition to Scottsdale schools, other schools across the Valley have announced a return to virtual courses, including schools within the Tempe Union High School District, Tempe Elementary School District, and Kyrene School District.

Parent reacts

"The fact a number of teachers have called out, and there’s difficulty securing substitutes didn’t surprise me at all," said Kaye Taylor, who went on to say this is a difficult time for kids to suddenly switch modes

"This is a busy time for students to wrap up final projects and prepare and review for final exams, which are really important to their grades," said Taylor. "A closure like this perhaps could be a wakeup call to some families to really begin to take this more seriously than they have."