Arizona superintendent takes school safety concerns to national stage

Posted at 8:40 AM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 09:14:32-04

A local superintendent speaking out on a national stage about why he thinks it is not safe for students to return to the classroom.

Jeff Gregorich is the superintendent of the Hayden Winkelman Unified School District in Gila County. Over the past few weeks, he has spoken with Good Morning America, ABC15, and most recently wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post.

In the piece for the Washington Post, Gregorich, spoke about how one of his teachers, Kimberley Byrd, died after contracting coronavirus while teaching summer school. Two other teachers in the same classroom came down with the virus but recovered.

Gregorich says 11% of his staff, in fact, tested positive for coronavirus, and many teachers are considering retirement. He also points out the district faces budget cuts if they don't reopen.

"Every time I start to play out what that looks like on August 17th, I get sick to my stomach. More than a quarter of our students live with grandparents. These kids could very easily catch this virus, spread it and bring it back home. It's not safe. There's no way it could be safe," Gregorich wrote in his opinion piece.

"I wish August 17, there was a miracle and we can all be COVID-free, or there wouldn't be the level of COVID, but Arizona is not in that situation right now, nor are some other states. And I worry about teachers throughout America and what they're kind of being forced to do right now, and it's kind of scary," he said.

Gregorich says they are doing everything they can to protect students and staff by decontaminating classrooms. They even went so far as to order plexiglass partitions, but they haven't arrived so they are forced to use shower curtains in the meantime.

Shower Curtains in front office to protect office stafff.jpg

State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman reached out to the district and said they may qualify for a waiver to keep students and staff safe while protecting their funding.