An Arizona school district has been forced to cancel a planned Monday reopening after more than 100 teachers called in sick.
“We received an overwhelming response from staff indicating that they do not feel safe returning to classrooms with students,” J.O. Combs Unified School District superintendent Gregory A. Wyman said in a statement. “In response, we have received a high volume of staff absences for Monday citing health and safety concerns. Due to these insufficient staffing levels, schools will not be able to re-open on Monday as planned.”
The future of the school year is unknown.
“At this time, we do not know the duration of these staff absences, and cannot yet confirm when in-person instruction may resume,” Wyman wrote. “Please know that we are acutely aware of how polarizing this issue is, and how challenging these ongoing developments are for our entire community. We will continue to work closely with our employees and our families to develop solutions that provide a safe and healthy return to school.”
“The district said that all classes, including virtual learning, would be canceled,” Arizona Central reported.
“Of the 600 employees in the district, approximately 250 are teachers, a district spokeswoman said Friday. Of those, 109 certified staff had put in for absences on Monday. Since the district voted to reopen in person, two certified employees and two classified employees have resigned. The district has had 23 employees resign for various reasons since July 1.”
The move comes after teachers from the two other Phoenix-area districts announced earlier this week that they would resign or sit out of classes in protest following votes to reopen schools, Arizona Central reported.
Arizona’s school system’s cancellation comes as some schools are set to reopen — but only as “learning centers.”
A half dozen schools in the Durham Public Schools (DPS) system in North Carolina will operate six “learning centers,” and families who send their children there will pay $140 a week, plus a $35 registration fee.
“Opening our school year remotely is the right decision to protect our students and staff from COVID-19,” said DPS Superintendent Pascal Mubenga, WRAL reported. “However, there are many families in Durham who need additional support during the school day. It will take a community effort to support each of these children, but DPS is doing its part.”
The DPS Learning Centers will provide a safe space to complete online learning, meals and snacks, and social-emotional activities. Students will be assigned to small pods with daily wellness screenings, distribution and required use of facemasks, and planned circulation and seating of six feet social distancing.
The plan was ripped on social media. Corey DeAngelis, director of school choice at the Reason Foundation, said the fees are unconstitutional.
“BREAKING: Durham is reopening public elementary schools as “learning centers” They are charging families up to $140 per child per week. That’s on top of what families already pay through property taxes. That’s unconstitutional,” he wrote on Twitter.
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