Skyrocketing COVID positivity rate triggers mitigation efforts at some Valley schools

Posted at 9:25 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 00:14:34-05

MESA, AZ — Some Valley schools are implementing COVID mitigation efforts again after new Maricopa County data shows skyrocketing positivity rates.

“I have positive cases in all my classes,” said Mesa math teacher and Mesa Education Association President, Kelly Berg.

If calculus wasn’t already hard enough, COVID-related absences are making it even more of a challenge for Berg and her Mesa students.

For those already behind from pandemic pauses last year, Berg has seen little change this year.

“When I walk in that day, I’m not sure how many students are going to be there,” said Berg.

COVID data from Maricopa County doesn't track school data but it does share what's going on around the district.

Communities in nearly every school district are seeing over one-thousand cases per capita this week.

Positivity rates for districts like Gilbert, Chandler, Gilla Bend, and Mesa are all around 40%.

“This is the first time we’ve seen numbers anywhere like this, as far as positivity rates,” said ABC15 Data Analyst Garrett Archer. “In last winter’s surge, the positivity rates were around 25% and now 40% is just unheard of. The rate of spread, if you will, is so much higher than last winter’s surge.”

In a notice to Mesa school families, the associate superintendent acknowledges COVID creating significant absences and disrupting school.

The notice states, if just 3% of student and staff population are COVID positive, the entire school will be required to wear a mask for 10 calendar days.

Individual Mesa Public School classrooms or programs may be required to wear masks to due reported cases.

“I’m worried as a mom, I’m worried as a teacher, I’m worried as a community member,” said Berg.

Dobson High School and Kerr Elementary are at least two campuses implementing more COVID mitigation strategies.

ABC15 reached out directly to Mesa Public Schools but didn’t immediately hear back on Thursday.

The CDC no longer recommends changing learning models based on community transmission. Instead, districts should use that info to increase their mitigation strategies to keep kids in class.

“We know what works to fight omicron and other COVID-19 variants: vaccines, masks, and staying home when you’re sick,” said Sonia Singh with Maricopa County Public Health.