TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona schools will be allowed to resume classes for the 2020-2021 school year.
In a news conference Thursday, Gov. Doug Ducey said the new guidance was informed by school administration, parents and public health experts.
“[Educators said] they were eager to get back inside a classroom,” said Ducey.
Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) teachers told KOLD News 13 they need to feel safe going back to work and they need their students to be protected, too.
That’s why planning is crucial.
“Superintendent Hoffman will release guidance for schools on Monday, June 1st,” said Ducey.
Dr. Cara Christ, the Health Services Director for the state, said there are several benefits associated with in-classroom learning.
“The thing that I, as a mom, can’t stress enough is that schools supply so much more than an education. So, it’s important to get these children back into school, back into a normal routine,” she said.
Christ says the state is weighing the benefits (like daily nutritious meals and a stable learning environment) against the potential health risk of reopening schools.
She says health and education leaders have discussed reducing class sizes, among other measures.
“Washing hands, hand sanitizer, physical distancing, not mixing at lunch, not doing big assemblies,” said Christ.
Still, teachers with underlying health conditions and students who are in a “higher-risk” category for the virus may not want to return.
“So, the idea is around flexibility; that we maintain the idea of distance learning where needed,” said Ducey.
The state is looking at providing additional funding to the districts to help with the anticipated costs of reopening.
TUSD estimates it will have to spend upwards of $20 million to implement new safety measures.
The conversation, looking ahead to Phase 2 of the reopen, came as Arizona hospitals saw a two-day spike in COVID-related emergency visits.
“We will continue to monitor it because it’s self-reported [by hospitals] a day or two, that may be a reporting issue,” said Christ. “What we are going to be looking at is trends in that data.”
Organized youth activities like summer leagues, summer schools and day camps can resume in the coming weeks. For details on guidance, click here.
The Governor also issued an executive order on Thursday, May 28th, requiring hospitals to update the state when there are bed openings and to accept the transfer of patients (when resources allow). If a patient is transferred to a hospital with more capacity, their care will still be considered “in-network” under their insurance provider.