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West Valley teachers form 'alliance' over COVID-19 concerns

School, education, teacher, student
Posted at 2:47 PM, Jan 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-03 19:45:26-05

Teachers in the Dysart, Peoria and Deer Valley school districts have formed what they’re calling the “West Valley Alliance” to amplify concerns over a return to in-person instruction amid a statewide surge in coronavirus metrics.

Students and educators in the Dysart Unified School District and Peoria Unified School District are set to return to classrooms tomorrow while Deer Valley will begin its return to in-person learning on January 19th.

“It’s not fair that other school districts are valuing teachers more than where I’m at,” Sara Mendoza, an art teacher and member of the Dysart Education Association executive board, told ABC15. It’s “easier to teach in person, that’s for sure, that’s my preference,” she said, “but when it’s not safe, that’s not OK with me. This is where I draw the line.”

Mendoza and other teachers joining with the alliance are planning to wear black this upcoming week to “mourn the [COVID-19] metric system,” Mendoza said. “It’s basically dead in districts that are not choosing to put that into their decisions when looking at data.”

An online petition to Dysart superintendent Dr. Quinn Kellis calls for a “phased-back virtual-learning approach” to instruction for up to three weeks following winter break. As of Sunday afternoon, the petition had gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

On Saturday, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman called on Governor Doug Ducey to mandate virtual learning statewide for two-weeks. C.J. Karamargin, a spokesperson for the Governor’s office, issued the following statement:

"Gov. Ducey will not be considering this request or issuing this kind of mandate. This is a local decision, the online option is already available, and the governor has repeatedly made his preference clear: Kids have already lost out on a lot of learning, and he wants schools opened, safely."

ABC15 has also learned up to 750 teachers in Gilbert Public Schools and Chandler Unified School District could be preparing for a week-long “sickout” to protest against the decision to resume in-person instruction.