School absences are on the rise for some Valley districts

Teacher of the year AZ
Posted at 9:10 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 00:18:32-05

PHOENIX — The second semester for some Valley schools is off to a slow start as rising COVID cases have led to more students and teachers being absent.

“It’s disheartening because you know [students] need to be at school and they can’t be,” said Nancy Parra-Quinlan.

Mesa Middle School teacher Nancy Parra-Quinlan was chosen by the Arizona Education Foundation as the teacher of the year.

Part of having that honor was being invited to spend the first day of the new session at the Arizona Capitol with Senator Christine Marsh to share the ongoing challenges of what it’s like to be an educator during a pandemic.

While at the statehouse, Nancy got a call that her Substitute teacher had COVID and she had to race back to teach her class.

She says – this is far from the first time a Sub has a COVID call-out.

”It’s at least once a week where we have to give up our prep period to cover someone else’s class because there are no subs out there, that are A) willing to come in and B) available because so many people are out sick,” said Nancy Parra-Quinlan.

While not all absences are COVID-related, following winter break, there have been more empty desks at some Valley schools.

According to KTARThe Cartwright Elementary School District in Phoenix reported about 20% of students absent as classes started back up.

The Madison School district saw 12% of students absent after winter break.

Kyrene School district show 10-12% of students were absent every day last week.

At Creighton schools, we’re told 33 teachers were out on Monday.

Dysart schools measures about 12% of staff were for a variety of reasons to start this week.

”I think trending numbers are better than an individual number,” Dr. Ross Goldberg.

Medical Insider Dr. Ross Goldberg of the Arizona Medical Association there shouldn’t be a need to shut down schools due to a certain number of COVID cases.

He says instead of focusing attention on the number of cases, districts can help mitigate spread by focusing on trends of where cases are.

Goldberg says a combo of vaccines for those eligible, masking, distancing and testing are part of the blueprint to keeping classes safe. He adds each school should have its own COVID mitigation plan retrofitted for them.

”It’s being creative, there really is a local level response and they need the flexibility to do that. To make sure they create a safe environment for their staff and the kids,” said Goldberg.