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SUSD Superintendent says 'activity outside of school' is fueling Chaparral COVID outbreak

Chaparral High School
Chaparral High School
Posted at 3:39 PM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 01:31:03-04

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — The superintendent of Scottsdale Unified School District is calling for community cooperation as more than 200 families now have to quarantine their kids because of a COVID-19 outbreak at Chaparral High School.

The number of active cases hit 18 just before the weekend, with 10 of those students reportedly on campus at least one day last week.

FULL COVERAGE: Safely Back to School in Arizona

At Chaparral High School Monday there were empty parking spaces and more than double the amount of usual absences. It is not how the school's student body president imagined starting his second week of in-person learning.

"A couple of my classes, there were more empty desks," Ryan Taylor said. "There are numerous student government members who are out on quarantine so that makes it hard for us to run activities and plan events."

The district just welcomed middle and high school students back to classrooms on Oct. 12. Other Chaparral students on campus Monday had mixed reactions to the rising case numbers.

"It's pretty crazy," said Gabo Arandi. "I never thought I'd have to do this before, but I guess it's the best thing to do for the situation we're in."

"I think that we should take more precautions about it," said Sophomore Timeo Jaouen. "We have to wear masks and we have assigned seats."

"I just got kicked off of campus for not wearing one," said Roy Wexler. "COVID isn't that serious, in my opinion, because the survival rate is very high. I'd say just keep open and whoever doesn't want to get COVID, they can just stay home."

The school declined to comment but Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel sent a letter to families Monday, detailing how they investigate reported cases and saying, "activity outside of school appears to be the reason for the increase in cases noted this past week."

He points to Fall Break travel, large gatherings and students knowingly going to school with symptoms, or even a known COVID-positive test that has not been reported to the health department.

"If students and families send sick children to school, our ability to remain open is in serious jeopardy," Dr. Menzel reiterates.

Governing Board Member Jann-Michael Greenburg echoed that plea during an interview with ABC15 on Sunday night.

"If you’re not reporting to the district, we cannot assure and work towards the safety of our students and it could put people’s lives at risk," Greenburg said.

The governing board meets Tuesday at 5 p.m. and the superintendent says he will give an update on where the district is and how they are responding.

A spokesman for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health says they "do not release data regarding specific individuals, locations or outbreaks."