After blistering public comments, Gilbert Public Schools board votes to start spring semester in hybrid learning

Gilbert Public Schools
Gilbert Public Schools campuses will start the spring semester in hybrid learning. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Gilbert Public Schools campuses will start the spring semester in hybrid learning. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Gilbert Public Schools will start the spring semester in a hybrid learning mode for one week and use data collected that week to make decisions on which, If any, schools should remain in hybrid learning.

That was the compromise decision of the district governing board Dec. 15, passed on a 3-2 vote with Reed Carr, Lori Wood and Charles Santa Cruz voting for and Sheila Uggetti and Jill Humphreys against. The spring semester starts Jan. 5.

Humphreys had offered an original motion to be in hybrid for two weeks, with Carr offering a substitute motion to start the semester with in-person learning. After discussion seeking a consensus position, Carr amended his motion to be in hybrid for a week to collect data on where cases on campuses stand.

The data collected will then be measured against the metrics the board set at its Nov. 4 meeting: if 2% of an elementary school campus population, including students and staff, has active cases, it will move to hybrid learning for two weeks. A similar move would be made at 1.5% for middle schools and 1% for high schools.

The move came after a public comment period with more than 20 speakers urging the board to keep schools open to in-person learning. A few of the speakers angrily accused the board of hypocrisy, not caring for students, personally causing depression and anxiety among children, hiding behind arbitrary metrics and more. One said there is no pandemic anymore, just a “casedemic.”


Carr and Santa Cruz, though voting with the majority, said some of the public comments were offensive. Carr’s father died Dec. 12 from COVID-19 despite no co-morbidities, and he strongly pushed back against the notion the coronavirus poses little risk.

However, he said he believed community behavior outside school has been more dangerous than what happens in school, so he voted in support of keeping schools open to in-person instruction.

Santa Cruz, the board’s president, said he supported the idea of two weeks in hybrid but that he heard the community’s desire to keep schools open. He, too, decried some of the public’s comments.

“But that’s what we signed up for, I suppose,” he said.

Humphreys said she, too, believes being in school is best for students, but that the challenge was balancing those needs with safety during the pandemic. She said she hoped two weeks in hybrid would help make certain students and staff are around to enjoy in-person opportunities once the pandemic subsides.

Public comment did include one supporter for starting in hybrid learning or even remote learning on the secondary level. Gilbert Education Association President Amber Franco said the union’s membership supported such a move, though it meant much more work for the teachers.

GPS will start the spring semester in a hybrid learning mode for one week and use data collected that week to make decisions on which, If any, schools should remain in hybrid learning.

That was the compromise decision of the district governing board Dec. 15, passed on a 3-2 vote with Carr, Wood and Santa Cruz voting for and Uggetti and Humphreys against.

Humphreys had offered an original motion to be in hybrid for two weeks, with Carr offering a substitute motion to start the semester with in-person learning. After discussion seeking a consensus position, Carr amended his motion to be in hybrid for a week to collect data on where cases on campuses stand.
By Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


MOST RECENT

Lori Wood
Gilbert Public Schools adopts revised maintenance and operations budget of $263M

Gilbert Public Schools’ final revised maintenance and operations budget for fiscal year 2020-21 is the largest to date for the year.

Almost 3 million COVID-19 doses have been administered to Maricopa County residents as of May 4, according to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Nearly 3M vaccine doses have been given to Maricopa County residents

Almost 3 million COVID-19 doses have been administered to Maricopa County residents as of May 4, according to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

Laurin Hendrix
Gilbert Town Council gives preliminary approval to $988.25 million budget

For the second consecutive year, Gilbert Town Council is heading toward a budget that is smaller than the previous year.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites
Holiday Inn Express & Suites opens in east Gilbert

The 55,000-square-foot hotel has 98 guest rooms.

See a breakdown of COVID-19 cases, vaccinations and more local data. (Community Impact staff)
COVID-19: Vaccinations in Gilbert cross 100,000

Here is what you need to know about COVID-19 case counts in Gilbert and the state.

Here are the coronavirus hospitalization data updates to know across Arizona. (Community Impact staff)
ADHS: Hospitalization for COVID-19 increases slightly from May 2

Here is what you need to know about hospitalization numbers in Arizona because of COVID-19 cases.

Val Vista Drive
Val Vista widening project at 75% toward completion

The $34.28 million project improves Val Vista Drive to a major arterial roadway with three lanes in each direction with a raised median.

Randy Duren, Hair of the Dog
Pet-friendly Hair of the Dog opens in Gilbert

The wine bar, tap house and coffee shop is designed to be a dog-friendly neighborhood bar.

Mindy Waldon, Scott Waldon, Morning Kick
Casserole gives rise to Morning Kick food truck, which gives rise to restaurant

An 18-month-old picky eater, a grandma and a joke were the ingredients that changed the careers of Mindy and Scott Waldron.

Chandler USD Superintendent Camille Casteel announced she will be canceling an event planned to honor her years of service to the district ahead of her retirement at the end of the school year. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Chandler USD cancels event for outgoing superintendent; new businesses at The Post at Cooley Station and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Chandler and Gilbert areas.

More than 2.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Maricopa County residents. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Almost 1.3 million Maricopa County residents have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine

In the last week, an average of about 30,000 doses of vaccine per day were administered.