Following two weeks of school since the new academic year started, Deer Valley Unified School District is being “greatly impacted” by the spread of COVID-19.
DVUSD sent an email to families on Sunday, Aug. 15, to detail the latest transmission numbers, which the district reports as more than 150 student- and staff-positive cases of COVID-19 that have resulted in more than 2,000 district-wide students already being identified as a close contact.
“We have also had parents knowingly send their children to school when sick,” the letter stated.
As a result, Deer Valley Unified has had to transition several classrooms to a temporary virtual learning format because of the numerous students and staff becoming ill.
“This puts an enormous strain on our campus leaders, nurses, front office staff, teachers and support staff,” the letter explained. “This level of strain is also being felt by all of our neighboring school districts. The end result is less in-person school time for our students. We also recognize this strain is felt within our student and parent communities as they must adjust to shifting learning environments with minimal notice.”
This comes after COVID spreads disrupted in-person learning at DVUSD, as with every other Arizona school district, in the spring of 2020 as well as the 2020-21 school year.
After DVUSD transitioned to virtual learning in the spring of 2020, hope for a return to in-person learning the following academic year in the fall was dashed when the district decided to delay on-campus learning through mid-October because of COVID spread numbers state health officials deemed unsafe.
The district eventually returned to in-person learning, but then delayed and staggered a return to campus after the Christmas holiday break when regional numbers again spiked.
DVUSD eventually returned to on-campus learning in the spring, and then opened the 2021-22 academic year two weeks ago with full in-person learning.
Rising cases, however, are becoming an issue.
“Our reality is the level of COVID-19 spread within our community continues to increase,” the Aug. 15 letter stated. “While just over a month ago, virtually none of our ZIP codes were in high transmission, we now find ourselves in a position where all of our ZIP codes have had substantial increases in their case counts and fall into high transmission.”
The district explained that last week the Maricopa County Department of Public Health revised its quarantine measures to respond to this increase. As a result, effective Aug. 16, all student quarantines will be required per this recent MCDPH mandate.
If a DVUSD child is identified as a close contact and parents receive the MCDPH quarantine letter, the district is required by law to not permit the student on campus during the duration of the quarantine period.
This change of quarantine requirements will be applied to new positive cases and close contacts on and after Aug. 16. Students will be able to continue learning from home.
Public Health, the district states, does allow for exceptions for students who are identified as a close contact to return to school without being quarantined. The provisions allowed by CDC and MCDPH include:
The CDC and MCDPH strongly recommend that eligible individuals get vaccinated, and that all individuals wear a mask when indoors. Visit maricopa.gov/5641/COVID-19-Vaccine.
“We know how much you want your child to attend in-person school. This sentiment is shared by our administrators, teachers and staff,” the district letter noted. “But, in order to do this we need your support. We do not want to risk canceling in person events such as athletics and fine arts competitions, or having to continuously transition in-person classrooms to virtual learning. Please keep your child at home if he/she is sick and follow all quarantine requirements if your child is identified as a close contact.”