Yavapai County School District Cancels Classes Due To COVID-19 Cases
A small school district in Yavapai County has had to cancel classes this week after students and staff tested positive for COVID-19.
The Ash Fork School District, which serves about 280 K-12 students, is about two weeks into the new school year, but already five staff members and 13 students have tested positive for COVID-19 and others are quarantined.
“We have about 40 staff and then out of that 40 staff, you only have about 13 teachers or so. So if you have four teachers or five teachers unable to come to work either they got their positive or someone they are living with is positive, makes it almost impossible to run a school district," said Superintendent Seth Staples.
COVID-19 cases among the community were stable prior to the start of the school year on July 19, Staples said. He's not sure if the increase in cases is due to the district's COVID-19 testing resources, which are improved from last school year, but he thinks this could be an indication of what's to come for other school district in his area that are starting their school year soon.
"I am trying to let them know, ‘Be ready, ’cause there’s a good chance this is going to hit your district as well,’” Staples said.
The Ash Fork district's goal is to have kids in the classroom learning, but do so safely and sometimes those two goals don't jive together, he said in a Tuesday video statement.
Remote instruction doesn’t really work for the district located in an area with limited cellphone service and with a high poverty rate among students.
The district is considering resuming classes for younger students next week, but keeping high schoolers at home.
In Pima County, the local health department closed a fifth-grade class at Senita Valley Elementary in the Vail Unified School District earlier this week after three students tested positive. Another three students are symptomatic. The class remains closed and will reopen once the district gets the OK from the health department, the district said. Students are receiving remote instruction in the meantime.
The Vail district and the Ash Fork districts both started the new school year on July 19.