SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Some schools in the Scottsdale Unified School District could see a return to virtual learning due to an uptick in coronavirus cases.
The announcement came from the district superintendent in a Friday newsletter, telling parents that plans are being made to transition away from in-person learning. The schools are in ZIP codes with a high percentage of coronavirus cases: 85251, 85018 and 85253.
“The trend in the metrics in those areas of our district has triggered the need to begin preparing for the potential return to virtual learning where substantial community spread is occurring,” the letter from Superintendent Scott Menzel said, according to the Scottsdale Progress.
A spokesperson for the Scottsdale Unified School District did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The schools affected include:
Echo Canyon School
Navajo Elementary School
Pima Traditional School
Arcadia High School
Hopi Elementary School
Ingleside Middle School
Tavan Elementary School
Chaparral High School
Cherokee Elementary School
Kiva Elementary School
The school district is currently reporting 40 active cases on campus, according to its data dashboard. Chaparral High is responsible for for 23 of those cases, with the district asking over 200 families from the school to quarantine amid the outbreak Oct. 20. The district welcomed students back for in-person learning on Oct. 12.
In a previous letter, Menzel said behavior off-campus was to blame for the cluster of cases at Chaparral.
"While our students and staff are doing their part while at school, activity outside of school appears to be the reason for the increase in cases noted this past week," he wrote. "Many people traveled for fall break and groups of students who traveled together have become ill. Others participated in larger gatherings with friends (unmasked and not physically distanced), which also appears to have been an environment where the virus was passed to others."
The district has had over 77 cases to date, as of Wednesday. Saguaro High, Hopi Elementary and Arcadia High and Ingleside Middle School were among the schools with a handful of cases each.
Maricopa County currently recommends that schools make plans for virtual learning if the areas in which schools are located see 100 or more cases per 100,000 people. The transition will take place if the number of nearby cases stays above 100 for two consecutive weeks, according to the county's learning benchmarks.
The Scottsdale Unified School District is currently at 80.17 cases per 100,000 people, which means the county recommends a hybrid learning model with campus support.
The next data report will determine if Scottsdale's students will return to learning at home.