Arizona is currently an COVID epicenter. Our schools should not open for face-to-face classes on Aug. 17. I am a mother of two and a former teacher at FHHS, so I understand both parent and staff concerns.

Virtual, online classes are the only truly safe alternative, given our current situation. About 60 Arizona school board members have petitioned Governor Ducey to start the in-person school year Oct. 1. Why does our state and community feel students can be together safely Aug. 17? Without rethinking transmission vectors like public schools, in-person schooling puts everyone in the community at risk – children, their families, school employees and any members of the public with whom they interact.

I get it – people need to get back to work and kids need to learn. The biology of this pandemic does not accommodate itself to our wants and needs. There will be cases in schools. Even with a low fatality rate in children, we are only just beginning to document the long-term medical complications they could suffer.

In order to reopen, detailed plans must be in place and the “in-person” part five days a week has pitfalls galore. Will the state allocate money to reduce class sizes? Six feet apart is impossible in a class of 30-plus. Masks must be mandatory. What will be done about contact tracing, protecting people with pre-existing conditions, establishing protocols to close in case of an outbreak, having enough substitute teachers?

Dear Fountain Hills School Board: Please do not open in-person classes Aug. 17! Go strictly with online options until such time as we can physically return in a safe manner.