MESA, AZ —
Editor's note (March 14, 2020): Mesa Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Pete Lesar announced late Saturday evening on the district's website that schools would not open on Monday, March 16 and that it was not known how long schools would be closed. However, school-based and district-based employees were expected to report to work on Monday to check in with their principals or supervisors. View district's statement.
Mesa parents have created an online petition urging the leaders of Mesa Public Schools to close schools and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
As of Saturday at 4 p.m., the petition had more than 8,100 signatures on Change.org.
On Thursday, Interim Superintendent Pete Lesar said the district was working with local and state health partners to monitor the coronavirus situation locally.
In his statement, he wrote "At this time we will not be closing schools, but if we do, it would be in close consultation with public health authorities."
Several parents told ABC15 they think keeping their kids at home is the best way to prevent the virus from spreading in the community.
Jenna Foote has three kids in the district -- two in elementary school and one in middle school.
"I know a lot of my neighbors work full-time, both parents, I work from home so even though I’m here it’s a distraction from my job to have my kids here. But I just think this needs to be a community effort and help where we can," said Foote.
She said she’s worried about her kids missing their education but says it’ll be worth it.
"This is so serious and it will just be for a short time. And we can mitigate the impact of this virus if we can sacrifice a week or two. They can always tack on at the end of the calendar year," said Foote.
Amanda Knight has a fourth grade son at Pomeroy Elementary.
Knight works full-time and said though it’d be tough for a lot of parents, this is the best option to keep people safe.
"We need to worry about everybody. Sending all of our kids to school to congregate in large groups and then potentially take that home to somebody who is immune-compromised or older or in a higher risk group is dangerous and irresponsible,” she said.
The district, however, says it is cooperating with information provided by the Department of Health Services.
The district released a statement Friday that read in part:
"State and county health authorities, and state education leaders do not recommend closing schools. According to Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona remains at minimal risk for coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19. The district will continue to monitor the rapidly changing situation.
Thank you for your patience as district leadership makes decisions that affect our community during this unprecedented time. We recognize that people will have different viewpoints on these decisions, and may have unique family circumstances."