Arizona leaders, groups ask Gov. Ducey to act now to slow spread of coronavirus

Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman wants statewide mask mandate and testing of seasonal
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 2:44 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - One of Arizona’s top education officials and a large public school employee association are demanding Gov. Doug Ducey do something immediately to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman sent out a tweet Monday, Nov. 16, asking the state to make several moves to protect “our healthcare and education professionals and institutions, including our students and families.”

Hoffman said she wants Gov. Ducey and the state to do the following:

  • Issue a state-wide mask mandate. The state has mostly left it up to local governments to issue those mandates and many have done so.
  • Require seasonal residents, also known as snowbirds, to be quarantined and tested for the coronavirus
  • Put a limit on social gatherings. As of now, Arizona limits gatherings to 50 people but allows local governments to approve larger groups if safety guidelines are followed.
  • Suspend winter sports, like basketball, soccer and wrestling for high schools and club teams. The Arizona Interscholastic Association, which oversees high school sports, said Monday it is considering postponing the start of the winter sports season. A final decision could come this week. but the idea is to start the season in January.
  • Increase outdoor dining spaces

Also on Monday, the Arizona Education Association sent out a letter and started a petition to demand Ducey implement a statewide plan.

“Educators and students cannot wait any longer, they need you to take action now,” the AEA wrote to Ducey. “We are still here and ready to work with you on a statewide approach that ensures all educators and students have access to safe and just schools. Governor, it is time for you to lead.”

The AEA, the state’s largest association for public education employees, is asking for the following:

  • Mask mandate for all schools until the end of the school year
  • Schools in zip codes that have more than 100 cases per 100,000 people for two straight weeks should switch to hybrid learning. If the infection rate continues for a third week, the schools should move to distance learning for at least two weeks.
  • Additional funding and support for districts that move to distance learning mode
  • Safety protocols for districts include: timely notification of exposure for students and staff, time off for staff to quarantine, requiring symptomatic students/staff to quarantine for 14 days and test negative before returning
  • More funding for PPE and cleaning supplies, inspections of buildings, upgrade to HVAC systems and air filters.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego on Tuesday, Nov. 17, also called on the governor to enact a statewide mask mandate.

The mayor made the request during her virtual state-of-the-city address asking for the mandate to be in place across Arizona until a widespread vaccine is made available. Right now, the state has held back on implementing a statewide mandate and such policies have been left up to city and county leaders.

However, the state health department has recommended widespread mask use to curb the spread of the virus.

To watch Gallego’s full state-of-the-city address, click here.

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