Chandler Unified School District Board Vote For Virtual Learning, Gilbert Public Schools Extends Hybrid Classes

By Rocio Hernandez, Jill Ryan
Published: Tuesday, January 5, 2021 - 9:12am
Updated: Tuesday, January 5, 2021 - 9:14am

Chandler Car Rally
Rocio Hernandez/KJZZ
Rachael Clawson helped organized a car parade Jan. 4, 2021, against in-person classes planned for Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, at the Chandler and Gilbert school districts. They are asking their governing board to reconsider.

The Chandler Unified School District's governing board voted Monday to start its next quarter on Wednesday with two weeks of virtual learning, instead of in-person classes as it had planned prior its winter break. Chandler officials made this decision as Arizona continues to break COVID-19-related records.

Parents and educators had also held a rally on Monday in support of at least a two-week virtual instruction.

Chandler teachers had expected to stage sickout on Tuesday in response to in-person classes. Instead the district is allowing them to use Tuesday to prepare for virtual instruction and distribute devices to students who need them. Students won't attend classes that day. 

The Chandler district will provide special education services and childcare options and distribute meals during these two weeks.

Chandler Car Rally
Rocio Hernandez/KJZZ
Parents and educators held car rallies Jan. 4, 2021, to urge Chandler and Gilbert school districts to shift to virtual learning when students return to school from winter break on Jan 5, 2021.

The Chandler governing board had considered a motion to keep classes virtual until the county recommended its safe to shift to hybrid or a five-day school week. But Board President Barb Mozdzen and other board members instead opted to shift to virtual for two weeks. 

“We all know that in-person learning is the absolute best for kids and I truly feel that if we have open-ended virtual learning for kids that we are doing our most vulnerable kids a huge disservice," Mozdzen said. 

The board also voted to lower the threshold that triggers temporary closure of an individual site to 1.5% positive active cases at the elementary level, 1% at the positive active cases at the junior high level and 0.75% positive cases at the high school level. Before the thresholds were 2%, 1.5% and 1% positive active cases at each respective level. The board will study this issue at its Feb. 10 meeting. 

Meanwhile the Gilbert Public Schools governing board voted Tuesday to have all schools return to hybrid classes now through Jan. 29. The district had initially planned to stay in hybrid only for the first week of its third quarter. 

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