Arizona educators will continue their strike Monday, forcing all of Tucson's major school districts to extend closures that have already shut down schools for two days.
Joe Thomas, president of Arizona Education Association, announced that the walkouts would continue into at least Monday at a rally at the state Capitol on Friday. He noted that lawmakers in the state Senate shut down for a long weekend early Thursday afternoon before protesters could make their voices heard.
“I think we have to come back here Monday because they closed shop and ran away from us yesterday. We have to show them that they don’t get to run away from our students,” he told a crowd of thousands that amassed at the Capitol.
Meanwhile, local schools are preparing to extend school closures that they hoped wouldn’t drag into next week.
Tucson Unified School District, Sunnyside Unified School District, Marana Unified School District, Amphitheater Public Schools, Tanque Verde Unified School District, Sahuarita Unified School District, Flowing Wells Unified School District and Catalina Foothills Unified School District all announced on Friday they would not be able to open Monday based on the number of teachers who have already called out.
The Vail School District followed suit on Saturday due to insufficient staffing, Superintendent Calvin Baker said in an email to parents.
"We are hopeful schools will be open on Tuesday," Baker said.
Marana Unified School District said more than 500 teachers had already called out for Monday, making reopening impossible.
“While the last thing we want to do is close our schools, the Marana school district cannot appropriately supervise students and ensure student safety,” a district news release said. “The Marana Unified School District is committed to re-opening schools as soon as possible. At this time, it is unknown how long schools will be closed.”
In the event that schools will be closed on Tuesday, May 1, the District will inform parents no later than 3 p.m. on Monday.
Sahuarita Superintendent Manuel Valenzuela told parents in an email that the district surveyed its teachers, and 65 percent said they wouldn’t be at work Monday.
“This is even a little higher than the first survey. Unfortunately, this means that our schools will need to remain closed on Monday,” he said in the email.
Catalina Foothills Unified School District also said it would keep its schools closed until the walkouts end, whenever that happens.
CFUSD superintendent Mary Kamerzell wrote in a message to parents that the district has “reason to believe that the walkout will continue into Monday. This means that as of this moment, there will be no classes on Monday.”
She wrote that the district will be monitoring the situation closely and if there is news of a resolution over the weekend, they will notify parents via email and post on social media.
Amphitheater Public Schools Superintendent Todd Jaeger told parents via a recorded message that he was disappointed lawmakers didn’t bother to listen to the educators who showed up at the Capitol.
“I would have hoped, with so many parents, teachers and students coming to the Capitol to express their concern, that our legislature would have at least shown the courtesy of listening to them,” he said. “Now, however, it appears the #RedForEd participants will continue their demonstration into Monday, when the legislators are back in session, and when they hope to be heard.”