Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee today issued the following statement.
Dr. Chad Gestson is doing what he has done throughout the pandemic and his entire career: acting in the best interest of his students and staff, based on the conditions in his community and the advice of medical experts, including the CDC and local health authorities. He has appropriately noted that the vast majority of students do best when they attend school in person. After two disrupted school years, families in Phoenix have made clear they are relying on the district to bring kids back into the classroom for full, uninterrupted, face-to-face learning.
For months, Dr. Gestson, his team, and partners have been working toward this goal. Last spring and over the summer, they held a number of community Covid vaccination clinics at schools across the city. Like many places in the United States, however, Phoenix is experiencing a surge in Covid cases largely due to the Delta variant. The vaccine is safe and effective. It is the best way to prevent the spread of the virus, and Phoenix Union will continue its dedicated push to vaccinate everyone who is eligible.
In the meantime, the new school year in Phoenix starts on Monday. Until enough people are vaccinated and conditions improve, masks will be an important part of the local effort to protect health and ensure students can not only come back to school buildings, but can enjoy continuous learning and all of the other things they have been missing for so long—like clubs, sports, and quality time with their friends and teachers.
Leadership often requires difficult decisions—decisions that some people may not like. But Dr. Gestson is driven by what is best for his community, and he understands what is at stake. He has carefully assessed every aspect of the current reality in Phoenix: the local conditions; the scientific research and health guidance; the urgent moral imperative to address students’ academic needs and social and emotional wellbeing; the input of families and the broader community; and myriad other considerations. One cannot ask for more in a leader. Chiefs for Change is proud that Dr. Gestson is a member of our network. We fully support him.