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Some students waiting to go back to school

Posted at 10:33 PM, Jan 03, 2022

PHOENIX — The debate over COVID-19 in schools is reignited.

While some students are returning to the classroom this week after winter break. Other parents are choosing to keep their kids at home as they way for the holiday surge of COVID cases to slow down.

"We actually decided to keep them home this week because we could anticipate that there would be a surge," says Rebecca Garelli, parent and part of Arizona Educators United.

Rebecca Garelli is part of Arizona Educators United. She also has three kids within Mesa Public Schools, one who is immunocompromised.

"I don't care how many days they miss. If we cared about that, if that was the number one priority of the districts, then mask mandates would be in place, HEPA units would be in place, increased ventilation, upgraded filters in all of the buildings would have been done," says Garelli.

ABC15 also spoke with a Phoenix Union High School District teacher about the first day back after winter break. She wanted to remain anonymous in fear of retaliation.

"I mean, in my 35 person class today, I had 14 of them which is not usual, especially for a Monday because they have all their classes on Monday,” says Phoenix Union High School District teacher.

Phoenix Union is one district continuing to enforce a mask mandate. But, that teacher telling me not everyone is on the same page.

"Staff just walking through the hallways and it's hanging from one ear, so it's not on… whether you say it is or not, it's not over your mouth and nose, so it's not on. Then students do the same thing or pull it down to their chin,” says Phoenix Union High School District teacher.

Governor Ducey chimed in Monday, saying:

“At the state level, we'll be working to ensure in-person learning continues.”

Ducey goes on to claim that union leaders are currently telling parents to prepare for remote learning.

It’s an option some parents and teachers tell us they hope to have.

"If we could go back to online today, I would,” says Phoenix Union High School District teacher.