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Agua Caliente parents say outbreak wouldn’t have happened if COVID-19 protocols were in place

Principal Chris Rietz said 50-percent of students were absent over the past two days after more than 40 people tested positive for the virus.
Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 7:46 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Agua Caliente Elementary School (ACES) will remain closed until Nov.15 due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

In a letter to parents, Principal Chris Rietz said 50% of students were absent over the past two days after more than 40 people tested positive for the virus.

The school told KOLD News 13, they send parents notifications when there is a COVID-19 case. But sometimes there are delays identifying positive students and possible exposure.

Some ACES parents did not get the memo.

“The email that went out to at least some of the parents, regarding having her classroom having an active and positive case of COVID-19, I never received that,” said ACES parent.

A group of parents who don’t want to be identified, are outraged with how the school has handled COVID-19 cases.

They said three of the four schools in the Tanque Verde School District are doing a good job with keeping COVID-19 protocols in place.

“Teachers, administrators and students are all on board with masking and they have had very little COVID outbreak” said ACES parent.

But they say Agua Caliente Elementary School is the problem. It does not have a mask mandate in place. But masks are encouraged.

Now, the school will close for 10 days through recommendation from the Pima County Health Department.

“We saw over 40 cases of COVID-19 and the school has close to 400 students in it,” said PCHD Epidemiology Intelligence Program Manager Matthew Christenberry.

The school district made the final call on the closure and said in statement, “...due to the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and the percentage of students absent at the school over the past two days.”

But parents said this could have been avoided all together with better communication and mandates in place.

“No mandates, you close school. Mandates, apparently you avoid one heck of a lot of pain and anguish and danger on behalf of kids and their families,” said one ACES parent.

During Tuesday night’s governing board meeting, more than 50 parents signed a letter of support for a mask mandate.

200 signed a letter to keep masks optional.

The board will take up the issue at the next meeting on November 17th.

Students will remain home doing virtual learning until the school can re-open. Tanque Verde School Districts says they really want to focus on the availability of the Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds.

They are partnering with Tanque Verde Pediatrics who’s offering a clinic next weekend for students to get the vaccine.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.