QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. — Classes are set to start in the Queen Creek School District next week with students learning inside the classroom.
This is happening despite the fact that Maricopa County doesn't meet two-thirds of the state's recommended health benchmarks for opening classrooms.
Queen Creek School District students will go back to the classroom Monday with an option for online learning.
The district board came to the decision Tuesday after it says a majority of parents surveyed said they want in-person instruction. So far they are expecting 9,000 students in the classroom.
Brad Charles used to teach at Queen Creek High School. He resigned after learning even though he is at high-risk for COVID-19, he would have to go back to the classroom.
Charles says social distancing isn’t possible in his classroom.
“The district has told us we will be responsible until they can find a suitable replacement,” says Charles.
“If you look at my classroom it’s impossible to do that. In order to fit all the desks in my kids would have a foot or two apart,” says Charles. Because the district uses a third party for online courses, he doesn’t have the option to teach online.
The school district has laid out a plan on its website. It lists different sanitation and social distancing measures, including that all students and staff over the age of five must wear masks.
However, a closer look at the facial covering policy shows a number of exemptions to that rule. Included are exemptions for people with qualifying medical conditions, students who are socially distancing, and people who have trouble breathing, among other exemptions.
12 News obtained guidance shared with teachers, that says with the exception of homeroom teacher, “if kids do not wear a mask, do not say anything to them.”
Mark Linter has a child that goes to Queen Creek High School. Linter decided to sign her up for the online option because he thinks the classroom is too risky.
Although the district’s plan does provide social distancing guidelines, it doesn’t appear to limit classroom sizes.
Linter’s decision comes at a cost.
“In the classroom, there are definitely more options than online,” says Linter.