The Chandler USD governing board voted Dec. 9 to develop a plan to temporarily expand students' virtual learning option through Google Meet for students in grades 7-12 beginning Jan. 5 through Jan. 15.

This means CUSD teachers will teach from the classroom—where students will be present—and broadcasting through Google Meet live to students whose families elected to keep them home immediately following the holidays. Board member Lindsay Love abstained from the vote, but the other board members unanimously approved the plan. The vote came after the state, county and city have seen increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases daily.

The plan was not drafted by CUSD staff, but was presented by outgoing board member David Evans after he said he spoke with teachers, administrators, parents and school staff.

Evans said he hoped this would be a starting point for the new board to further tackle the issue of virtual learning. He also said he wanted the district to get back to having a sense of community and camaraderie.

"We've actually really worked together for decades," Evans said. "That's why we are this district. That's why we have been so successful. That's why people have come here."


Superintendent Camille Casteel said during the meeting that she knows not everyone will be happy with the board and the district's decisions.

"I always find myself at a loss for words; based on my emails right now, we have disappointed a lot of people," Casteel said. "A lot are celebrating and a lot are frustrated as it has been with every other decision we have made since March. There is just absolutely no win. Our five board members are well intentioned—and my cabinet and the administration and the teaching ranks—we don't agree with each other, but I know we are all well intentioned. I'm sorry that we've disappointed some of our staff and families. It's not like we wake up in the morning and say, 'How can we upset people today?'"

Love abstained from the vote and during the discussion said she felt that the district needed a plan to address the spike in cases that would occur after the holidays. She said the parents who travel and will be gathering will not be the parents to opt out of in-person schooling.

"This is us kicking the can down the road again; we don't even have a plan," Love said.


Board member Lara Bruner said she was disappointed that there was not a more robust plan to address climbing case counts.

"We know what we are doing is wrong," Bruner said. "We know that we should be following the metrics of the county. The metrics say we should be virtual, and we aren't even hybrid right now. As usual, I am disheartened. ... We are not following the science."

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health dashboard for reopening schools has CUSD in the "substantial risk" category for COVID-19 spread. The county recommendation, according to the dashboard, is that the district prepare for virtual learning with on-site support for students who need it.

Katie Nash, president of the Chandler Education Association representing the teachers and support staff of the district, asked during the meeting that people continue to stay home and wear their masks.


"For most of us, we are getting by right now, but it's just a lot," Nash said of teaching and accommodating students who are attending class via Google Meet while quarantining after a potential COVID-19 exposure. "We keep hearing one more thing, one more thing. We are reaching the point of it being too much to add another thing."