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Ellsworth Elementary to temporarily move 5th, 6th grade to remote learning due to COVID-19 outbreak

Ellsworth Elementary School
Posted at 3:55 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-07 01:23:49-04

SAN TAN VALLEY, AZ — A San Tan Valley elementary school has announced they will be moving all students in the fifth and sixth grades to remote learning after seeing "a significant increase in active COVID-19 cases."

The J.O. Combs Unified School District superintendent made the announcement in a letter sent to families of students at Ellsworth Elementary School.

The district says all fifth and sixth-grade classes will temporarily move to remote learning until Friday, August 13, 2021.

In-person learning for those grades is set to resume on Monday, August 16, 2021.

According to the district's COVID-19 data dashboard, Ellsworth Elementary has 53 active cases.

What grades those cases are in is not specified.

J.O. Combs Unified School District data dashboard

"It's heartbreaking because I don't know if my kids are going to end up in the hospital. I don't know what's going to happen," says Jennifer Castaneda, parent.

Jennifer Castaneda found out about a positive case in her daughter's class but when calling the office, she says she was told quarantining was not necessary. Castaneda ultimately decided to keep her daughter home, which proved to be a good decision since she tested positive just days later.

"I'm just upset that the school keeps encouraging people to go to school and it makes me very mad because if I sent my daughter to school, she would have gotten more kids sick," says Castaneda.

Unfortunately, though, her son is now infected as well.

J.O. Combs currently has 98 active covid cases district-wide, with the majority of those at Ellsworth Elementary.

My kids, right now, they are both lying in bed. They can't get up, their eyes hurt, their bodies hurt, their fever keeps rising," says Castaneda.

Many parents are unsure of what to do in this situation. Local pediatrician, Dr. Kristin Struble, weighed in with her perspective.

"We don't want kids to miss school, we don't want them to be sent home, we don't want them to go back to online learning so just wear masks. It's not ideal for a lot of people; it's not fun for a lot of people. Kids want those masks off eventually, but they also need to be in school," says Dr. Kristin Struble, Camelback Pediatrics.

Dr. Struble reminds the public that there are still many unknowns with the new Delta variant.

The district also says, "Although we cannot mandate mask wearing, students and staff are also strongly encouraged to use face coverings at school to help prevent transmission."

"Is it possible that it can spread to somebody sitting across the room? Maybe. I think it is very unlikely, but we just don't know," says Dr. Struble.

Dr. Struble says masks can also help protect against other viruses that pediatricians are seeing right now, like RSV and croup.

"At this time, case information does not support a schoolwide closure. Ellsworth Elementary School remains open and students in grades Pre-K through 4 at Ellsworth Elementary are still able to participate in in-person learning," said Dr. Gregory A. Wyman Superintendent in a statement.

Read the full letter below: