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COVID-19 cases increasing in East Valley school; Ellsworth Elementary 5th, 6th grade going remote for 1 week

Hamilton High School currently has 32 active COVID-19 cases associated with the school while another East Valley School district added more cases too.

CHANDLER, Ariz. — Chandler Unified School District is now reporting an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at Hamilton High School.

Currently, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, there are 32 active cases at the school out of more than 4,200 students and staff.

Hamilton High Outbreak

According to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, Hamilton’s active cases are currently leading the district with the highest percentage of infections. In total, .75% of the students and staff at the campus make up the active cases. 

A spokesperson for the district told 12 News they’re working with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health and follow their protocol when an outbreak is identified.

The spokesperson said the cases are “random” and are not associated with any particular program on campus.

However, the cases meet the criteria of an 'outbreak' of COVID-19, which was defined by the spokesperson as "two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases among students/staff from separate households, with onset within 14 days in a single classroom or core group." 

RELATED: Phoenix Union teacher suing school district over mask mandate

‘It’s been concerning'

Amy Eby sent her daughter back to Chandler Unified after enrolling her daughter in another school because of the pandemic.

Eby’s daughter, Anna, is now a freshman at Hamilton High School.

“We felt pretty confident moving back into the classroom,” Eby said.

Anna is vaccinated against COVID-19, Eby said. However, because of recommendations made by the CDC and the Arizona Department of Health Services, she’s having her daughter wear a mask at school.

“It was pretty concerning when she went to school the first week and she was one of the few that was wearing a mask and it really hasn’t improved,” Amy Eby said.

Chandler Unified sent a letter to parents last week reiterating the recommendation to wear a mask, saying state law bans them from requiring masks to be worn on campus.

Eby said she’d like to see masks be required again.

“I’m worried about the other families that may have students that are not vaccinated or may still be vaccine-hesitant themselves because those are the families that are totally unprotected,” Eby said.

A spokesperson for the district told 12 News Monday that updated COVID-19 protocols would be released Tuesday. 

The modified protocols read as follows: 

  • Reinforcement of social distancing among students and staff -  3 feet or more where feasible.
  • Enforcing directional flow of students.
  • Recommending that large group gatherings be held outdoors if unable to meet social distancing of 3 feet or more.
  • Capacity for athletic events is currently under review.
  • All field trips will require mitigation strategies.
  • Volunteer access is limited to non-student space only.

RELATED: More than 110M COVID vaccines sent to 60 countries, US says

Cases at JO Combs Unified School District 

Across the East Valley at JO Combs Unified School District, their dashboard shows 19 active cases at Ellsworth Elementary and 13 at Combs High School.

Those numbers were updated Tuesday afternoon, with more cases added to both of the schools.

A district spokesperson told 12 News that several cases at Ellsworth Elementary are associated with particular classrooms and grade levels, with more students impacted by the virus than staff.

The district on Friday said all 5th and 6th-grade students at Ellsworth will move to remote learning the week of Aug. 9-13.

As for the cases at the high school, the spokesperson said the cases are random.

The district also sent a letter to parents on Friday outlining new COVID-19 measures including the COVID-19 dashboard, contact tracing and closing off visitor access.

The letter also reiterated the recommendation for everyone to wear face masks at school.

Cases at Chandler Unified School District

Tarwater Elementary School has announced on Wednesday that the Maricopa County Department of Public Health identified an outbreak at the school. 

The statement did not specify how many people have tested positive, but they are asking that anyone who tested positive or direct contacts quarantine at home for seven to ten days from exposure. 

Read the full statement here.

RELATED: Arizona inpatient bed use increases 120%; other COVID numbers increase over past month

Higley Unified School District

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health on Aug. 9 identified 20 cases of COVID-19 at Higley High School.

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