SCOTTSDALE, AZ – The Scottsdale Unified School District announced on Sunday that Arcadia High School, Chaparral High School, Desert Mountain High School, Cocopah College and Mountainside High School will close on Monday, November 30, due to understaffing.
“Unfortunately, we learned over the weekend that we do not have a sufficient number of teachers or substitutes to cover all teacher absences tomorrow,” reads a letter sent to families in the district on Sunday evening. .
The latest update to the Maricopa County Public Health Department’s Schools Scorecard shows the district in the substantial spread category, with 241 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of 9.98%. The district’s COVID-19 case dashboard shows a total of 36 active confirmed cases across the district as of November 24.
The district pleaded with community members to follow mitigation measures and limit gatherings so schools can stay open, attributing much of the spread to activities taking place off campus.
Last month, the Chaparral High School COVID-19 outbreak led the district to ask more than 200 families to self-quarantine.
At the last Governing Board meeting on November 23, Superintendent Dr Scott Menzel said it was increasingly difficult to staff classrooms properly, especially in high schools.
“Our biggest challenge so far this year has been Chaparral,” said Dr. Menzel. “We had counselors, social workers, assistant principals and even the principal filling classrooms to cover.”
Dr Menzel discussed what is known as the “underfill rate,” which is an indicator of the number of locum requests actually met by professional locums. The district’s current rate is around 71 percent. Last year it was closer to 90 percent.
“I’ve heard stories where teachers can be in adjoining rooms, and they cover two classrooms, and it’s getting worrying for me because we have to have a submarine in each classroom,” said Dr Menzel. “It becomes an indicator that we are overloaded beyond our capabilities.”
As the Thanksgiving holiday approached, the board discussed the possibility of reverting some school sites to distance learning if there were not enough staff to adequately cover the classrooms.
“I’m worried that after the break we’re going to find that in a few of our buildings we might be in a position where we might have to close a few buildings and go back to virtual because of this,” Dr Menzel said.
The District Administrative Council will meet on Tuesday, December 1 at 5:00 p.m.
Read the full letter sent to parents below: