‘This is stressful’: More than 100 Arizona classrooms quarantine over COVID-19 in 12 districts

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By Yana Kunichoff | Arizona Republic

Tucson parent Abbie Hlavacek says she has spent much of November in overlapping COVID-19 quarantines for two of her three children. Her middle child was exposed in early November, tested negative and spent most of the month in quarantine. A week after he entered quarantine, she found out her kindergartener had been exposed the week before.

“This is stressful,” said Hlavacek, whose three children attend Marana Unified School District.

While all of her children were vaccinated this fall, the ongoing exposures have kept her from feeling the expected comfort.

“Shockingly, I’m not feeling that relief yet,” she said.

At Marana Unified, eight classrooms at one school closed in mid-November, bringing the total number of quarantined classes this school year to 25.

Staff members out due to COVID-19 made it even more complicated. Amid Arizona’s ongoing shortage of full-time and substitute teachers, 146 staff members in the district tested positive for COVID-19.

“Managing the school’s daily operations with many staff members out due to COVID is extremely challenging, and we are grateful for our healthy staff members who continue to step in wherever assistance is needed,” the district, which recommends but does not require face masks, said in a message on its site.

And Marana is not alone. At Phoenix Elementary School District, which does have a mask mandate, about 70 entire classrooms have had to quarantine for anywhere from two to 10 days so far this school year. At Yuma School District One, 16 classrooms of students have had to pause in-person learning.

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