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Paradise Valley Unified School District going back to virtual learning due to COVID-19 rise

“Is it time for school districts across Arizona to go back to virtual-only learning? Unfortunately, I think it is."

PHOENIX — As new COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the state, the Paradise Valley Unified School District has decided to return to virtual learning-only starting Nov. 23.

On Thursday, PVUSD Superintendent Dr. Jesse Welsh sent a letter to PV families with the news pointing to the districts increase in percent positivity. 

“When we saw that we were over the 100 cases per 100k and our positivity now is up above 7%, we acted on the criteria we had in place,” said Dr. Welsh. 

According to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, the district’s percent positivity increased from 5.36% to 7.12%, and cases per 100,000 people increased from 78.84 to 106. 

“It’s a tough decision for everybody,” said Welsh. “We’d obviously really like to be back for the second semester and be back in-person at that time. We will continue to watch those metrics and hopefully we see cases go down and we can do that.”  

New COVID-19 cases are raging across the country and here in Arizona. Just this week alone, the state has seen two days of more than 3,000 new cases. Hospitalizations are also rising. 

12 News asked Dr. Shad Marvasti with the University of Arizona if it's time for school districts across Arizona to go back to virtual-only learning.

“Unfortunately, I think it is. Everything is moving in the wrong direction. The holidays are coming. We have folks coming in from out of town. It’s wise at this point, we’re not anticipating it’s going to be closed for one or two weeks and then open back up. We should think about a strategy for the winter,” said Marvasti.  

Maricopa Public Health guidelines place Paradise Valley and other school districts in the “red light” category, signaling a stop to in-person instruction.

Marvasti says the state needs to have a comprehensive plan to battle this new surge including a state-wide mask mandate and increase testing. If not, Arizona’s students will keep having déjà vu. 

“Until that plan is in place it’s always going to be back and forth, one step forward, two steps back and no clarity,” said Marvasti.