Chandler USD, Higley USD and Gilbert Public Schools are all in the "substantial risk" category for the spread of COVID-19 as of Nov. 23, according to the district-specific data dashboard from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

The dashboard, updated every Thursday, reflects the case rate per 100,000 people, the percentage of positivity in testing and COVID-19-like illness in hospitals. The recommendation from the county when a district moves into the substantial category is to "prepare for virtual with on-site support," according to the county website.

The county recommended the following guidance earlier this year to school decision-makers about when to consider pulling back in-person learning based on increase of community spread over two consecutive weeks of data.

  • When an area's risk level has gone from minimal to moderate, the county recommends school decision-makers begin planning a transition from traditional learning to hybrid learning to reduce in-person learning at physical locations the first week that the data changes. If the geographic area—the school district or the district's ZIP codes—remains at the higher level of community spread for a second consecutive week, the county recommends that schools shift from traditional to hybrid or virtual with on-site support. If the second week of data reverts back to the lower level of community spread, no change to the current learning scenario is recommended.

  • When an area's risk level has gone from minimal to substantial or from moderate to substantial, the county recommends school decision-makers begin planning a transition from traditional or hybrid learning to virtual with on-site support the first week the data changes. If the geographic area remains at the higher level of community spread for a second consecutive week, the county recommends schools shift to virtual with on-site support. If the second week of data reverts back to the lower level of community spread, no change to the current learning scenario is recommended.


The school boards for the three districts have all had discussions about what to do as cases continue to rise across the county and the state. As of Nov. 23, none of the three districts had transitioned students out of brick-and-mortar buildings.