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Three Scottsdale high schools will go to online learning through rest of semester

The decision comes due to staffing shortages and "general non-compliance" related to the spread of COVID-19.

PHOENIX — Three Scottsdale high schools will move to online learning for the remainder of the semester beginning Tuesday due to staffing shortages and general non-compliance related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Scottsdale Unified School District said in a letter to families.

The three schools are Arcadia High School, Chaparral High School and Desert Mountain High School.

The semester ends on Dec. 18.

Superintendent Scott A. Menzel said in the letter to parents that the Maricopa County Department of Public Health continues to take the position that the benefits of in-person instruction outweigh the risks, especially for elementary and middle school students. However, it also reviews several factors when considering whether a school should move to online learning.

The department recommended Arcadia, Chaparral and Desert Mountain return to online learning for the remainder of the semester "as a result of staffing shortages and general noncompliance with public health mitigation strategies," according to the statement from the district.

A total of five Scottsdale schools did not open Monday after Thanksgiving break. The district said it closed the schools for the day because it had too many teachers absent.

A letter sent to families by Superintendent Scott Menzel said Arcadia High School, Chaparral High School, Desert Mountain High School, Cocopah Middle School and Mountainside Middle School would close Monday because there weren’t enough teachers or substitutes to cover classes.

Cocopah and Mountainside will return to in-person learning on Tuesday, the superintendent said.

Scottsdale Unified School District has not been able to tell 12 News how many teachers were out Monday.

Becky Williams, president of the Scottsdale Education Association said she believes there was a mixture of teachers who traveled for break, were exposed to the virus or were having symptoms and are staying home as requested by the district.

But, she added there are also those who felt safer staying home with the spike in COVID-19 numbers. Especially, she said, after posts on social media showing some students not following COVID-19 precautions at an away football game.

““It’s evident from things like that, that not all of the community is following those protocols and requests and those are the kind of situations that teachers feel aren’t safe returning to school,” Williams said.

Maricopa County’s latest report from the school dashboard shows Scottsdale Unified is currently at a “substantial risk” for COVID-19, with all of the benchmarks going up from the prior week’s data.

The SUSD governing board did not take any action to change the district’s teaching and learning models at it’s special meeting on Monday, Nov 23.

Williams said the union is calling for a return to virtual learning until the spike in cases passes.

"No one wants to go back to virtual teaching, but we want for things to be safe and we know this is a temporary mitigating strategy,” Williams said.

This year has certainly changed how we approach education during a pandemic. For more ongoing coverage of the Class of 2021 watch our YouTube playlist and subscribe.