Arizona school district cancels classes after teachers call out sick over coronavirus concerns

A school district in Arizona has canceled its plans to reopen Monday after several teachers called out sick, leading to “insufficient staffing levels.”

“We have received an overwhelming response from staff indicating that they do not feel safe returning to classrooms with students,” Gregory Wyman, the superintendent of the J.O. Combs Unified School District, said in a letter to families posted online Friday. “In response, we have received a high volume of staff absences for Monday citing health and safety concerns.”

All classes, including virtual learning, will be canceled, he said.

“At this time, we do not know the duration of these staff absences, and cannot yet confirm when in-person instruction may resume,” he said, adding that the district will continue to monitor the situation and will share an update no later than 5 p.m. Monday.

The J.O. Combs school district in San Tan Valley outside Phoenix includes seven schools, according to its website.

Wyman said the Governing Board had decided last week to resume in-person instruction Monday.

“Please know that we are acutely aware of how polarizing this issue is, and how challenging these ongoing developments are for our entire community,” he said in the letter. “We will continue to work closely with our employees and our families to develop solutions that provide a safe and healthy return to school.”

Some schools in other parts of the country have struggled to safely open.

A Georgia school district said Sunday that it will close a third high school through the end of the month amid a COVID-19 outbreak. The Cherokee County School District decided to close Creekview High School after 25 students tested positive for the coronavirus and 500 of its 1,800 in-person students were under “precautionary quarantine,” it said in a statement.

Creekview is the third high school to close in the Georgia district outside Atlanta, in addition to Etowah and Woodstock high schools. All three schools are tentatively scheduled to reopen Aug. 31.

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