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Hamilton High School changes mitigation strategies with rise of COVID-19 cases

Hamilton High School, Chandler
Posted at 3:10 PM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 21:31:02-04

CHANDLER, AZ  — The largest high school in the state will start implementing stricter mitigation protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19 after the number of cases doubled in just a week.

LIVE UPDATES: COVID-19 outbreaks reported at Valley schools, districts

Hamilton High School leaders alerted parents Tuesday, saying the school passed the 1% threshold of confirmed COVID-19 cases at the school. The school reported a jump from 32 cases to 68 cases in a week.

In May, the Chandler Unified School District adopted a plan that would require adjustments to mitigation strategies if certain criteria were met at schools. For high schools, that includes high community spread and 1% positive active cases.

Angie Henson has a ninth-grader at Hamilton. She said he has autism and hasn't been vaccinated, but they've been doing everything else possible to keep him and the family safe.

"Basically wearing a mask, washing his hands, he comes home, takes a shower, changes his clothes. Whatever he can," she said. "It's actually been really hard and confusing."

Moving forward -- enhanced safety measures at Hamilton will include:

  • Social distancing of three feet during all activities
  • Students exposed to a person with COVID-19 will have to quarantine... Though proof of vaccination may shorten the quarantine period
  • Field trips will be restricted
  • The district COVID-19 dashboard will be updated daily

"He told us -- he goes 'Well how are we going to be three feet apart when the class is full, the school is full?'" said Henson.

Henson, and several other parents, worry these changes won't be enough and that outbreaks and more disruptions are inevitable.

"He'll be quarantined probably this week, no doubt. We have gotten a letter every day saying that someone in his classroom had COVID-19 but there's no need to do further action," said Henson.

Some parents are hoping the district will start requiring masks, despite the state law that prohibits it.

A spokesperson for Chandler Unified said while masks are highly encouraged, as of now, there's no action item on school board meetings to require them.

You can access the CUSD COVID-19 dashboard here.