When the governing board of the Queen Creek Unified School District in Arizona voted for all schools to have full-time in-person classes, teacher Matt Chicci resigned. He said the school didn’t meet the standards set by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which was the reason behind his decision.
“The infection rate is still high [in] Maricopa county, that we live in,” he told CNN’s Jim Sciutto. “Our superintendent of public instruction has even said that schools in Arizona shouldn’t be opening. And so if the county health department and our superintendent are saying it’s not safe to reopen, it’s not safe to do so.”
“It was an agonizing decision to make, but for me and my family, it was the right one.”
One of Chicci’s family members is also at high risk, which was a factor in the decision-making process, he said.
“So if I’m put into a classroom of 30 or more kids, it’s a small room, there’s one exit, the ventilation isn’t all that great for schools. They did increase the air flow, but that doesn’t mean they put in the proper filter to filter out virus particles. So it’s not a good situation,” Chicci said.
He emphasized the need for positivity rates to decrease and better social distancing plans before reopening schools that would help him feel safe to return.
“The other thing is being able to social distance. In a class of 30 I can only keep them two feet apart. We did the math and we need classes of 10,” he explained.
While the school district said in a statement that parents were given the option to choose between online or in-person learning, the same choice wasn’t given to teachers, Chicci said.
“It wasn’t an option. We weren’t given the option to teach from home,” he said. “A lot of us would have stayed if we had had that option or if we even had some kind of hybrid option to where we had smaller class sizes.”