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COVID-19 in Valley schools: See case dashboards and mitigation strategies for school districts

Multiple Maricopa and Pinal county school districts are facing spikes in COVID-19 cases. Here are how the districts are responding.

ARIZONA, USA — As kids head back to in-person classes to start the 2021-22 school year, districts around the Valley are confronting increasing COVID-19 cases among students and staff.

Hamilton High School in Chandler was the first school in the Valley to report a confirmed outbreak of COVID-19 cases on Aug. 3. Tempe Union High School District and JO Combs Unified School District have also reported high amounts of cases throughout their institutions.

There doesn't seem to be any help coming in the near future either, at least legislatively. 

Schools are limited from mandating school-wide mask policies by Arizona law, and Gov. Doug Ducey has said repeatedly that he won't budge from his decision.

RELATED: Ducey calls new mask recommendations 'discrimination' while ADHS recommends students wear masks in the classroom

Here is how COVID-19 is affecting Valley students and schools throughout Maricopa and Pinal counties:

Maricopa County school districts:

Agua Fria Union High School District

The district will not require students to wear masks, but will everyone on the district's campuses will be required to have a mask on their possession at all times.

Additionally, the district will only make students or staff who have tested positive for the virus quarantine. Anyone who was in contact with the person who tested positive will not have to quarantine.

"We will not require close contacts to quarantine, however, we might strongly suggest those measures and ultimately respect your decision and choice," Superintendent Mark Yslas wrote in a note to parents on July 30.

This district does not appear to have a COVID-19 case dashboard for its schools on its website.

Read more about the district's protocols here.

Alhambra Elementary District

The district on Aug. 5 made masks mandatory and is recommending all parents check their children every day at home before they leave for school.

"Children WITH COVID-19 symptoms, or children who have tested positive for COVID-19, or students with family/household members isolating for COVID-19 MUST stay home," the district's website said.

This district does not appear to have a COVID-19 case dashboard for its schools on its website.  

Learn more at the district's health services website here.

Avondale Elementary District

There is no mention of a mask policy on the district's website.

The latest update that this district has made to its website in regards to COVID-19 was from June 8, letting parents know that in-person instruction will begin on Aug. 2.

"This aligns with Governor Ducey’s March 3rd Executive Order 2021-04 regarding returning to in-person instructional models no later than March 15," the district said.

This district does not appear to have a COVID-19 case dashboard for its schools on its website.  

Read more on the district's website here.

Balsz Elementary District

Students and staff are not required to wear face coverings, but the district encourages anyone who has not been vaccinated to follow the guidance of health officials by wearing a face covering. Anyone who chooses to wear a face-covering for any reason has the option to do so at any time.

The district's COVID dashboard can be found here.  

Buckeye Union High School District

Face Coverings and masks will be optional for both students and staff on all campuses.

"We will still follow the CDC guidelines for social distancing to the best of our ability, but students will have a more traditional look to their classes and lunch times," the district said in an Aug. 3 update.

Students and staff may be asked to quarantine or isolate should there a positive COVID 19 case identified on a school campus. Any staff member or student that tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate per CDC guidelines.

The district's COVID dashboard can be found here. 

Cartwright Elementary District

The district sent out an update to parents saying the district's expectation is that all of its staff will wear a mask whether they are vaccinated or not.

Additionally, the district has a warning pop up on its homepage saying that all students and staff are required to wear masks on district-owned vehicles including buses and vans.

"We thank everyone in the Cartwright Community for your continued support," the district said.

Read more about the district's plan here.

Cave Creek Unified District

There is no mention of a mask policy on the district's website.

The district's COVID information can be found here.

Chandler Unified District

There is no mention of a mask policy on the district's website.

The district's website can be found here.

Creighton Elementary District

The district is enforcing its existing mask requirement of universal indoor masking, regardless of vaccination status, according to its website.

"If this requirement is not a fit for your family, please call your principal to discuss available options," the district said.

Find more information on the district's mitigation plan here.

Deer Valley Unified District

Face masks are optional at the district and any student with visible COVID-19  symptoms will be taken to an isolation area where parents will be contacted for pick up, the district said on its website.

"Parents should contact the school nurse well in advance for students with unique health considerations (e.g. chronic allergies, etc.)," the district said.

Additionally, the district said it will be updating its COVID-19 case dashboard on Aug. 30. 

Read more on the district's website here.

Dysart Unified District

The district is encouraging face coverings for students, staff and visitors, but has no requirement in place.

"Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies will be readily available and frequent hand washing and good hygiene continue to be encouraged," the district said. "Students must be kept home if they are sick or are experiencing symptoms of an illness." 

The district's COVID-19 Update page can be found here.

Fountain Hills Unified District

There is no mention of a mask policy on the district's website and the district does not appear to have a COVID-19 case dashboard for its schools.

The district's website can be found here.

Fowler Elementary District

The district has no mask requirement but does have an optional mask policy for its students and staff.

"Students whose parents prefer that they wear masks will be encouraged and reminded to mask during the school day," the district said. "For parents desiring that their child(ren) mask during the day and at the request of that parent/guardian, the teacher of record will communicate with the parent/guardian regarding masking habits."

The district's COVID-19 mitigation plan can be found here.

Gila Bend Unified District

The district has no mention of a mask policy on its website.

Read more on the district's website here.

Gilbert Unified District

There is no mention of a mask policy on the district's website.

The district has a list of guidelines when students should stay home. That information can be found here

Glendale Elementary District

The district says it has mitigation practices in place for the health and safety of students, employees, and families. 

"Arizona public schools have been provided with contradictory information as it relates to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 by county, state, and federal level officials. As you can imagine, this leaves Arizona public schools with the difficulty of balancing the various guidance from each agency," the district's website says. 

There is no mention of a mask policy on the district's website.

The district's COVID dashboard can be found here

Glendale Union High School District

Masks are not required, but the district asks parents to question their children about COVID symptoms every day. 

COVID information can be found on the district's website here

Higley Unified School District

The district is asking individuals to stay home if they:

  • had contact with a positive COVID-19 individual
  • are having symptoms of COVID-19 (see below)
  • been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting test results

"Public Health is working closely with administration and staff to prevent further spread of the disease," the district said.

Read the district's COVID-19 mitigation plan here.

Horizon Honors Elementary

The elementary school said that all students in the 3-4 White classrooms are to quarantine at home effective immediately due to 12 reported positive cases. 

In a statement, the school said that students can return on August 23. 

Isaac Elementary District

The district is strongly encouraging mask-wearing for its students and staff and is using a bright yellow sign to do so.

"We remain focused and committed to the health and safety of our students, staff, and community," the district said. "You and your students will see this bright sign at all of our schools highly encouraging everyone to wear mask indoors. Help keep everyone healthy!"

Read more on the district's website here.

J O Combs Unified School District

Masks are not required but are encouraged. 

The district's COVID dashboard can be found here

RELATED: J.O. Combs Unified School District reporting more than 60 positive COVID cases

Kyrene Elementary District

The district has a COVID-19 data dashboard with current, active cases throughout the district's schools.

"Under state law, face coverings will remain optional on campus, barring a state or federal government mandate (such as an Arizona executive order)," the district said.

Read more on the district's website here.

Laveen Elementary District

The district is not implementing a mask requirement inside schools due to Arizona law, but does have one in place for school buses and is strongly encouraging students and staff to wear a mask indoors.

"Federal guidelines require face-coverings on public transportation which includes school buses," the district said. "Students utilizing bus transportation are required to wear a face-covering while onboard."

Read more on the superintendent's letter to schools here.

Liberty Elementary District

Face coverings and masks will be optional for all staff, students and visitors at the district, according to a recent decision made by the governing board.

There will also be "less restrictive social distancing and student grouping measures in an attempt to return to more normal operations," the district said.

Read more on the district's website here.

Litchfield Elementary District

The district is not mandating masks indoors but will keep with federal regulation to require children to wear face coverings and masks on district-owned buses.

Read more on the district's website here.

Littleton Elementary District

Masks are strongly encouraged for students and staff as directed by public health and will be optional under "Model A" of the district's mitigation plan.

Read more on the district's website here.

Madison Elementary District

The district updated its Mitigation Plan requiring face coverings for students and staff through September 29 with a limited opt-out option.

The district made the announcement in a recent update on its district website here.

Maricopa County Regional District

There is no mention of a mask policy on the district's website.

The district's COVID information can be found here.

Mesa Unified District

There is no mention of a mask policy or a COVID dashboard on the district's website.

Visit the district's website here.

Morristown Elementary District

Face coverings, whether they are masks or shields, are optional for students and educators at this district.

"Classrooms will reflect social distancing of desks, but may be less than 6 feet apart," the district said. "Health protocols in place for large events, with additional cleaning and hand sanitizer provided."

Read more on the district's website here.

Murphy Elementary District

There is no mention of a mask policy or a COVID dashboard on the district's website.

Visit the district's website here.

Nadaburg Unified School District

There is no mention of a mask policy or a COVID dashboard on the district's website.

Visit the district's website here.

Osborn Elementary District

Osborn Elementary's board voted to uphold its mask mandate across its seven schools.

The board also asked Superintendent Dr. Michael Robert to create an opt-out option for parents in the future.

Read more on the district's website here.

Palo Verde Elementary District

There is no mention of a mask policy in the district's mitigation plan. 

The district's staff members will educate and remind students regularly to maintain at least 3 feet of distance between individuals at all times possible, according to the district's website.

Read more on the district's website here.

Paradise Valley Unified District

The district says masks are optional.

The district's COVID dashboard can be found here. 

Pendergast Elementary District

The district will continue to recommend, but won’t require, staff and students to wear a face-covering during school hours and on school property, the district's website said.

"As part of our ongoing commitment to student and staff health, we will not have visitors on campus until health conditions in our community have improved," district Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Cruz said in a letter to parents.

Read more on the district's website here.

Peoria Unified School District

The district's website says masks will continue to be optional, but are recommended for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals while indoors, during times of substantial or high transmission, per the CDC and Arizona Department of Health Services.

The district's COVID information can be found here

Phoenix Elementary District

The Phoenix Elementary School District Governing Board held an emergency Board meeting on  Aug. 2 and voted to amend the health and safety protocols to enact a face-covering mandate with a limited opt-out provision.

More information can be found here. 

RELATED: Phoenix Elementary School District to require masks across campuses

Phoenix Union High School District

Phoenix Union began the school year on Aug. 2 enforcing the existing Board-adopted mask requirement of universal indoor masking only, regardless of vaccination status.

Find more information here.

Queen Creek Unified District

Face coverings are optional at the district and cleaning and disinfection practices will be intensified.

"All sites will be cleaned on a scheduled basis with electrostatic disinfecting machines," the district said. "Playground equipment will continue to have regularly scheduled disinfecting."

Read more on the district's website here.

Riverside Elementary District

There is no mention of a mask policy on the district's COVID-19 resources website page.

"We require any student deemed to have been in close contact with the positive individual to stay home for 14 days from the exposure date," the district said. "Only students determined to have had close contact will need to be quarantined."

Read more on the district's website here.

Roosevelt Elementary District

Roosevelt School District will require all students, staff, and visitors to wear a face mask per CDC guidelines, its website says. 

Visit the district's website here.

Saddle Mountain Unified School District

Face masks are optional.

Read the district's full COVID mitigation plan here

Sentinel Elementary District

There is no mention of a mask policy or a COVID dashboard on the district's website.

Visit the district's website here. 

Scottsdale Unified District

Masks are welcomed and encouraged, according to the district, but are not required. 

More information on COVID mitigations can be found here.

Tempe Elementary School District

The Tempe Elementary School District "expects universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools while COVID-19 transmission remains high or substantial in our district community," the district announced Aug. 9. 

The full mitigation plan can be found here

Tempe Union High School District

There is no mention of a mask policy on the district's website.

The district's COVID dashboard can be found here

RELATED: 26 COVID-19 cases reported at Tempe high schools; Desert Vista football activity 'paused'

RELATED: Tempe school district urges Arizona lawmakers to allow mask mandates to slow the spread of COVID

Tolleson Elementary District

The district highly recommends all students, teachers and staff wear a mask indoors in its schools, on school buses and within all school facilities.

See the district's COVID updates here

Tolleson Union High School District

The district "requests and highly recommends" that students and staff wear masks in school facilities. 

See this district's COVID mitigation plan here

Tucson Unified School District

Tucson Unified's board voted unanimously during an emergency meeting on Wednesday to require that all students and staff wear masks on campus.

Tucson Unified is Tucson's largest school district with 89 schools and approximately 47,000 students.

Union Elementary District

The district cited recent changes to Arizona Law prohibiting a local governing board from mandating masking in schools, but still strongly recommends mask-wearing.

" ... because most of our students are under 12 and not eligible for vaccinations, to start the year we will be highly recommending and encouraging masking indoors," the district's website says. 

See the full mitigation plan here

Washington Elementary School District

At an Aug. 5 special meeting, the WESD Governing Board voted to modify the district’s plan to include a provision that masks be required at all district facilities for both students and staff while they are indoors.

COVID updates from the district can be found here.

Wickenburg Unified District

Face masks are recommended but optional for all students, staff and visitors, with a few exceptions. Students and staff riding in or operating school vehicles, including school buses will be required to wear a face mask if physical distancing cannot be maintained.

The district's full mitigation plan can be found here. 

Wilson School District

Masks are considered optional, according to the district's mitigation plan. 

See the full plan here.

Pinal County school districts:

Apache Junction Unified District

There is no mention of a mask policy or a COVID dashboard on the district's website.

Visit the district's website here. 

Casa Grande Elementary District

The district encourages mask-wearing. 

One class at Ironwood Elementary and three classes at McCartney Ranch Elementary were moved to quarantine and will resume online learning until Aug.12. An additional preschool classroom at McCartney Ranch has been moved to quarantine; those students will return on Aug. 16, the district said. 

Visit the district's website here. 

Casa Grande Union High School District

Masks are not required. 

Visit the district's COVID benchmarks page here. 

Maricopa Unified School District

Masks are encouraged but not required. 

The district's mitigation plan can be found here.

Sacaton Elementary District

There is no mention of a mask policy or a COVID dashboard on the district's website.

Visit the district's website here.

   

COVID-19 in Arizona

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