PHOENIX — Phoenix Union High School District, one of the largest high school districts in Arizona with 21 schools and more than 28,000 students, will continue to teach its students virtually through at least the end of the year, as a majority of the zip codes within its district remain in the ADHS' "substantial" spread category.
"Unfortunately, in the Phoenix Union community, the spread of COVID remains at substantial levels. And in order for schools to return to in-person learning, schools must have minimal spread within its boundaries," Superintendent Dr. Chad Geston said in a video message sent to parents on Monday.
"Almost every one of those zip codes remains in the red," he said.
He said the district's team is preparing a plan to resume in-person instruction in January. However, "we are not certain what COVID will look like in the middle of flu season - health metrics have and will continue to dictate when and how we return to schools."
"However, we know that the best and safest place for our youth is on campus, in classrooms, with their teachers and mentors, surrounded by their peers, engaged in positive and healthy activities," the district said in a news release. "We miss and love our students tremendously, and we know they wish to return as soon as possible. But we will only return when it is safe to do so."
Also, the district will be adding more on-site support services and activities for students, part of "PXU Remote Learning 2.0," including career and college counseling, food services, learning activities, and ongoing support for its teachers.
The district said if the state's COVID-19 downward trends continue, fall sports would be allowed to begin workouts in early October, with competition for some sports beginning in the weeks following. The fall timeline would differ from the AIA. However, the district said it plans to "fully participate" in the AIA's winter and spring 2021 schedules.
Earlier this summer, ADHS released a set of benchmarks regarding the spread of COVID-19 that must be met to determine what level of instruction districts were allowed to conduct.
Using the number of COVID-19 cases, the percent of positivity, and the percent of people hospitalized with COVID-like illness, counties and zip codes are given a grade of minimal, moderate, or substantial spread.
Under substantial spread, districts teach remotely; under moderate, a mix of in-person and virtual; and under minimal spread, traditional in-person instruction.