All Arizona K-12 schools to remain closed through April 10 for CV-19
Arizona's schools will remain closed for a further two weeks than previously ordered, with Gov. Doug Ducey and state schools chief Kathy Hoffman announcing the extension of the coronavirus closure Friday afternoon.
"Our goal is to get kids safely back in the classroom as soon as possible while providing parents and educators certainty so they can plan and make decisions," the governor said in a press release.
"Our number one priority is the health and safety of all Arizonans, especially our kids," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Hoffman. "Our office continues to work closely with school administrators and partners to provide parents, families, and schools resources and flexibility to mitigate the impact of school closure."
Ducey and Hoffman asked schools to:
School administrators should make every effort to provide continued education learning opportunities through online resources or materials that can be sent home.
School administrators should work with the Arizona Department of Education to provide breakfast and lunch services for Arizona students.
As demand rises on healthcare professionals and first responders, schools should consider expanding child care programs currently available to ensure minimal disruption to these critical jobs as a result of the school closure.
When school resumes, school administrators should develop and implement precautions to ensure schools are a safe learning environment, including social distancing measures, regular intervals for administrators to wash and sanitize their hands, and guidance on how to properly and frequently sanitize election equipment and common surfaces.
Ducey and Hoffman initially ordered schools across the state to remain closed at least through March 27.
"The safest place for children during this time is at home," Ducey and Hoffman wrote last Sunday. "They should not be cared for by elderly adults or those with underlying health conditions, including grandparents and other family members."
The closure affects all public district schools and charter schools in the state. The order does not apply to private schools or daycare centers, which are not directly regulated by the Arizona Department of Education.
Friday, the pair of elected officials wrote that:
We also appreciate the partnership of our state legislature in order to provide continued assistance and flexibility to our schools. On Thursday, legislators passed legislation to waive requirements related to educational assessments and ensure teacher and school staff pay is not disrupted, legislation that will be signed as soon as it is received by the Governor’s Office.
Daily meals continue to be provided at schools throughout our state to any child under 18. To view a list of meal sites, visit azed.gov. There you can also find additional information, such as special education considerations and learning resources for families and educators.
As it relates to graduation, the Arizona Department of Education is working with education leaders at the local, state and federal level to provide guidance to schools regarding high school graduation. We will provide additional information to schools in the coming days and weeks.
Sunday's move by Ducey came after Arizona's main teachers union called for all students, regardless of any announced closure, to stay home over concerns about the viral outbreak.
That move came after the governors of at least 28 states — Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana,Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Vermont, Washington state, West Virginia, and Wisconsin — had ordered the closure of all schools, with more than 30 million students affected. Some districts in New York, California and elsewhere were also shut down because of COVID-19.
About 1,125,000 students attend publicly funded K-12 schools in Arizona. About 923,000 of them attend one of more than 2,000 district public schools, with the rest attending one of more than 700 charter schools in the state.
Earlier, school leaders said the state must plan for a "longterm inevitable shutdown" of schools in the state, with the state teachers union calling for a student strike if plans are not announced. The University of Arizona joined Pima Community College and the other state universities in halting in-person classes and moving online.
"A long-term closure of schools in Arizona is inevitable" due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said a group of school superintendents, including TUSD's Gabriel Trujillo, asking for the state to adopt a "clear plan" for budget and educational impacts of the virus.
The Tucson Unified School District chief joined more than 50 other K-12 leaders from around the state in asking officials to respond to "essential recommendations that will be necessary for Arizona — our students, our school systems, our communities, and our economy — to survive the unavoidable shutdown."
The state teachers union said Sunday, before the closure announcement, that students should stay home from school until Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona education and political leaders "can present a detailed plan that assures students will be returning to safe classrooms" during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Arizona Education Association sent a letter to Ducey on Sunday, calling for "students to remain home" and for the governor to call a special session of the Legislature "to swiftly and directly address this unanticipated crisis."
78 cases in Arizona, 8 in Pima County
Seventy-eight Arizonans have now tested positive for COVID-19 as the pandemic continues Friday. Eight Pima County residents have been diagnosed, and a case has been found in Santa Cruz County.
A new case was confirmed in Pima County on Friday morning, bringing the total here to 8. Officials said the new case is a woman in her 60s who is isolating and is not in the hospital.
Another 14 patients live on the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona, and have not been included in the daily tallies released by the Arizona Department of Health Services. A small community on the reservation has been placed under quarantine, deemed a "hot spot" in the outbreak.
Two COVD-19 patients who had been hospitalized in Tucson have been released, Pima County Health Department officials said. They would not provide details on which of the earlier patients were cleared to leave the hospital.
No deaths have yet been reported in Arizona.
A case was also diagnosed in Santa Cruz County, and one in Yuma County was announced Friday, the first in each county.