Editor, Casa Grande Dispatch:
As Dr. Bebee and members of the CGUHSD board consider whether our schools should close because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in our state and in Pinal County, it is important to look beyond the benchmark data released by AZDHS. That information is two weeks old and not an accurate representation of how dire our situation currently is. The decision to have a two-week lag in the data was made over the summer when there was a weeks-long backlog of COVID-19 tests. We didn't have real time information in July and August on the number of cases or the percent positivity; therefore it was decided to wait two weeks so schools could make decisions with the most accurate information possible.
The board made the decision in September to physically open the high schools on Sept. 28, regardless of whether the benchmarks were hit, as long as the data was trending in the right direction. They should follow the same logic and close the schools, regardless of whether the specific benchmarks have been hit, because the numbers are dire and trending horribly in the wrong direction.
Making the decision to close the schools immediately after Thanksgiving will give parents time to prepare for having their children at home. It will give local businesses time to prepare for their parent employees to need a little more flexibility with their work schedules. It will give teachers and staff time to prepare their students for what is expected of them and most importantly, it will give students time to mentally prepare for the rigors of at-home distance learning.
COVID-19 is running rampant through our community and the responsible thing to do for our students, for their families, for our business community and for our educators is to make the decision to close the schools immediately after the Thanksgiving break.