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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A school district near Phoenix, Arizona, said it will not reopen on Aug. 17 as planned because too many teachers have refused to show up over health and safety concerns.

By the numbers: More than 100 of the approximately 250 teachers who work for the district said they would be absent on Monday, a district spokesperson told AZCentral on Friday.

The district, which encompasses seven schools, opted to move forward with its reopening even though it had fallen short of benchmarks for in-person schooling set by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

What they're saying: Gregory Wyman, superintendent of J. O. Combs Unified School District, said in a letter to families posted Friday that the district received an "overwhelming response" from staff indicating they do not feel safe returning to classrooms because of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • "Due to these insufficient staffing levels, schools will not be able to re-open on Monday as planned," Wyman said. "This means that all classes, including virtual learning, will be canceled. At this time, we do not know the duration of these staff absences, and cannot yet confirm when in-person instruction may resume."

Student will still have access to breakfast and lunch services.

Go deeper: The pandemic’s disruption to education will have social, economic repercussions for years

Go deeper

Updated Nov 24, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Sen. Kelly Loeffler to return to campaign trail after 2nd negative test

Sen. Kelly Loeffler addresses supporters during a rally on Thursday. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Sen. Kelly Loeffler's (R-Ga.) campaign announced Monday that she "looks forward to getting back out on the campaign trail" after testing negative for COVID-19 for a second time, following earlier conflicting results.

Why it matters: Loeffler has been campaigning at events ahead of a Jan. 5 runoff in elections that'll decide which party holds the Senate majority. Vice President Mike Pence was with her on Friday.

Updated Nov 23, 2020 - World

Oxford University says its coronavirus vaccine is up to 90% effective

A scientist working during at the Oxford Vaccine Group's laboratory facility at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, England, in June. Photo: Steve Parsons/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The University of Oxford announced Monday that a COVID-19 vaccine it's developed with AstraZeneca is 70.4% effective in preventing people from developing symptoms, per interim data from Phase 3 trials.

Why it matters: The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is shown to work in different age groups and can be stored at fridge temperature. It is much cheaper than other vaccines in development and is part of the global COVAX initiative, designed to ensure doses go where they're most needed.

Operation Warp Speed leader: COVID vaccine push is "isolated from a political environment"

Moncef Slaoui in the Rose Garden on Nov. 13. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Moncef Slaoui, the White House's top scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, told Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the Trump administration's efforts to accelerate the development of a coronavirus vaccine is "isolated from a political environment" and that a change in administration "doesn't, frankly, make a difference" on its efficacy.

Why it matters: Slaoui told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that he has not yet had contact with Joe Biden's transition team, as the president-elect prepares to inherit one of the country's biggest crises ahead of an expected vaccine distribution effort that would require massive logistical cooperation between states and the federal government.