Now that kids as young as 5 years old are getting the COVID-19 vaccine, the conversation about what's next at school is heating up.
The topic is now a hot-button issue for parents on both sides -- those who want their kids to get the shot and those who do not.
ABC15 Mornings Anchor Kaley O'Kelley talked with Steve Watson, the Maricopa County School Superintendent. He is a former teacher who also has five children enrolled in Arizona schools.
"Every district has a little bit different culture. You know, you can look on an election map, right? And see where people on the right generally live, and where people on the left generally live. And our school districts kind of reflect those communities."
Watson also says, "I think our schools want to have kids in-person learning. And so we just know, statistically, there are some parents who are going to sign their kids up from day one to have the vaccine. And we know that not every parent is comfortable on day one. And that's OK."
Watson says, he generally believes in local control of schools and that parents should have a say in the educational process.
So are COVID-19 vaccine mandates for kids coming?
Watson says, "I don't think it will be mandated for kids at school. Just because we recognize, especially here in Arizona, you know, we have this kind of parental choice vibe in our society. We have a lot going on. And like I said, we are already making it work right now. It's not insurmountable. If a family doesn't choose to vaccinate their child, we still want them in school, we still want them being educated."
Since the beginning of the pandemic, more Maricopa County parents have considered educational options.
"Parents have choices, they can always choose what's best for their kids. Public, charter, private, homeschool, we just have so many options here in Maricopa County, and in Arizona, and it's great as a parent myself, it's really great to have those options for my kids," Watson says.
For those considering a school change, The Office of the Maricopa County School Superintendent is full of resources.