Elite Phoenix private school faces backlash from families over policy to shield campus from COVID

Elite Phoenix private school faces backlash from families over policy to shield campus from COVID
Elite Phoenix private school faces backlash from families over policy to shield campus from COVID

Brophy College Prep gives students and staff a choice: get vaccinated or get tested. The Concerned Parents group would like changes and advice on legal action.

PHOENIX – The director of Phoenix’s Brophy College Prep stands firm behind the elite private school’s COVID-19 mandates in the face of a legal threat backed by hundreds of people around the school who say Brophy went too far.

Brophy instituted what is perhaps the most comprehensive school mandate in the state.

Pupils, lecturers and employees of the boys’ school have the choice: Get vaccinated against COVID-19 until September 10th or get tested for the coronavirus twice a week.

Free pooled tests for students are available on campus and a free vaccination clinic is held on campus on Friday.

“Our job is to make decisions that we believe are best for the entire school community,” said headmaster Bob Ryan in an interview Tuesday.

“Things changed quickly over the summer when the delta (COVID variant) began to rise and we saw the case numbers rise. Neither of us wanted that.”

McCains and Ducey’s sons received a Jesuit education on the green campus of the 93 year old school north of central Phoenix.

RELATED: These Arizona school districts still have mask requirements

“Empathize with the parents”

But COVID-19 has cast a shadow. The students were away from campus most of the year last year.

“We want to get back to normal and finish a school year the best we can for our children,” said Ryan.

“I have real empathy for parents trying to figure their way through this. Science is moving forward, there is a lot of conflicting information out there, and we are seeing this affect the whole state.”

Since the announcement of the mandates in early August, the number of students at Brophy’s High School has fallen by 106 students to 1,336, according to a Brophy spokeswoman.

RELATED: Governor Ducey Signs Enforcement Order To Strengthen Enforcement Against Vaccine Mandates

Hundreds character letter

A group called Brophy’s Concerned Parents posted a nine-page letter to the Brophy Board of Trustees last week. It was signed by more than 800 student family members, alumni, donors and supporters. They asked the board to revise the COVID policy.

“We are proud to be associated with Brophy,” the letter reads. “It has been a positive force in our community for many years, helping our sons, grandchildren and friends grow into better men. It is a wonderful institution that has earned our support, affection and gratitude.”

The letter goes on to say:

“The government’s recently announced vaccination mandate should be thoughtfully discussed and ultimately revised. In its current form, the school’s new policy is materially both under- and over-inclusive.”

RELATED: Hospitals in Arizona are seeing an “exponential” increase in pediatric COVID-19 cases

Deadline for Trustees

The letter concludes with a warning of Brophy’s potential legal liability and student transgressions.

“The families of at least 100 students are actively considering withdrawing from Brophy because of these serious problems,” the letter said.

The letter gave trustees a deadline of Wednesday close of business to make the changes they wanted or to schedule a meeting with the board of directors for next Monday to discuss possible changes with parents.

No person took responsibility for writing the letter. It is written in the style of a statutory warning letter. A new Twitter feed publishes updates.

12 News could not receive a comment on this story.

One of the most notable signatures of the Parents’ Letter is Kari Lake, the former TV news anchor running for governor in the Republican primary. Her daughter graduated from All-Girls Xavier College Prep, a sister school of Brophy.

Lake rejects any mandates that would protect school communities from COVID-19.

RELATED: Ducey provides $ 163 million in funding to schools under state law and enables in-person tuition

Client: Trustees Back Policy

Ryan said the school’s guidelines have the backing of the board of trustees.

“Our board of directors has met frequently to review our policies, analyze our position, and consider any perspectives that have contributed,” he said. “The guideline reflects the contribution and support of our board of trustees.”

Two of Ducey’s sons are Brophy graduates. The governor’s name is not on the letter.

Private schools like Brophy are unaffected by the state ban on COVID mandates that Ducey has signed.

With several school districts in Arizona resisting the impending ban, the governor is providing financial incentives to keep public schools from mandating.

School districts and charter schools could receive grants of up to $ 1,800 per student for compliance with mask and vaccination bans.

Parents planning to leave a child’s school due to mandates or school closings could raise up to $ 7,000 for educational needs like private schooling.

Ducey’s influence on the Brophy mandate?

Ryan rejected the idea that Ducey’s rejection of mandates made his job difficult.

“We have a great relationship with the governor and the governor’s office,” said Ryan.

“We respect his work and do our best for our school community.”

Ryan said the Jesuit School Mission provides information on everything it does.

“We know we are connected to the wider community,” he said. “We have a responsibility for the common good. So that has had an impact on all the decisions we have made.”

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