Valley schools continue to see surge in COVID-19 cases

Posted at 9:18 PM, Nov 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 00:47:53-05

As COVID-19 cases grow to alarming numbers in Arizona, ABC15 is looking at cases in Valley schools.

The Maricopa County school dashboard updated Thursday morning, and it showed six zip codes in the Mesa Public Schools district in the "substantial" spread category.

A spokesperson with Mesa Public School said Mesa High School on Monday transitioned to a two-day modified in-person model until at least November 13 as a mitigation strategy because of active positive cases within the school community and public health data for the area. According to the district's dashboard, there are eight active cases at Mesa High.

There are several more zip codes all over the Valley showing red, including in the Paradise Valley and Scottsdale Unified School Districts.

In the Chandler Unified School District, there was a jump in cases at Casteel High School, currently reporting 16 active cases and almost 200 students are currently in quarantine.

According to Maricopa County health, there have been 53 outbreaks in schools... And 235 COVID cases associated with these outbreaks.

Chris Kotterman with the Arizona School Boards Association said school leaders are keeping a close eye on Maricopa County's growing case numbers and have been having conversations about potentially having to return to virtual learning.

"The name of the game here is containment of spread of if that means they have to cancel football games or go virtual for two weeks in order to snuff out a potential spread, they're willing to do that in order to preserve school for most students over the longer term," said Kotterman. "If you want your schools open, comply with the mitigation plan the school set out. If you don't do that, you're running the risk of having the school go back to virtual instruction."

According to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, 38 football teams have had to cancel at least one game this season due to COVID, three of those happening this week.

Thursday, the AIA released metrics for winter sports, showing Maricopa County does not meet the metrics. If an individual school does meet the metrics, leaders can decide to have sports.

ABC15 has learned that Gilbert Public Schools, Chandler Unified School District and Tempe Union High School District sent letters to parents saying winter sports have been delayed.

"Those short-term inconveniences are what's necessary to keep schools open," said Kotterman.

A spokesperon for Maricopa County health said it's important that families try and stop the spread often happening outside schools. They ask for students to stay at home if they're sick and for families to keep wearing masks, social distance and wash hands.